Dreams and schemes drive education efforts

Recipients of the 2017 Tom Cranswick Memorial Awards were announced at the Farmlands' AGM. The five $2,000 grants are organised and funded by Farmlands in honour of Tom Cranswick, a founding Director and Board member.


NICK SIMPSON is 2 years into a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University. He is shepherding for the summer before returning to Lincoln next year. Farm ownership is his long-term goal but he plans to travel after university before finding employment in farm consultancy.

He’s keeping his options open though “because a lot can change in 2 years at university as you get more specific in your papers”. That’s particularly the case with his course of study – “My core subjects are all science but you’ve still got the opportunity to go into the commerce and management sides as well.”

If he hadn’t enrolled at university, “to be honest I don’t think I would have pushed myself, university just opens your eyes to so many different options”.

One of those options is farm consultancy. The attraction there is the opportunities to keep learning. “You’re not restricted to one farm type or system, you’re continuously learning from the people you’re meeting.”


EMILY FRASER is 1 year into a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Massey University. Once that is completed, her plan is to find employment on a farm to build up her practical knowledge before moving long-term into the seed and fertiliser sector or nutrition.

She agrees on the importance of formal education to achieving her goals but also on the need for “out and about learning by experience – that’s the kind of learning I find the most beneficial”.

Her advice to those considering tertiary study is to give it a go. “I didn’t come to university with much of a plan but now I am here it has opened my eyes to other opportunities and other paths I can take.”

Emily took 2 years off after high school. The accomplished equestrian travelled to Europe and rode horses there for 6 months before returning home and working in a racing stable. “Horses are definitely my main hobby but I want a career outside that.”


ZAC JOHNSTON is from North Otago, “born and bred” on a sheep and beef farm, and is 2 years into a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) at Lincoln University. His long-term dream is farm ownership. “I love farming as a career, every aspect of it, particularly the hands-on, outdoors part.”

Education has been “pretty important” to him achieving his goals so far and has become easier to commit to as he has got further into it. “You’re studying what you’re interested in so it comes a lot easier.”

He is maintaining a broad focus in his studies at Lincoln so as not to close off future options – “There’s a lot of jobs that come out of my course so I’m just keeping it open at this stage.”

His advice to those considering tertiary education? “It’s only a few years and it can set you up for the rest of your life really. I hope to think you can then jump the pay packet in the long term and find yourself better jobs.”

COURTNEY BRAGG has spent 3 years studying towards a Bachelor of Management Studies majoring in agribusiness at the University of Waikato and hopes to continue her studies next year at honours level. A move into policy development appeals to her, “working with the farmers to make sure the policies are reasonable, compliant, something that is going to really benefit the farmers as well as be the kind of regulations that do need to come in”.

Born and raised in the Bay of Plenty on a dairy farm and kiwifruit orchard, Courtney enjoys returning to the family farm as much as possible “but for now it’s really cool to get out of my comfort zone”.

She sees tertiary education as “100 percent needed” for what she plans to do, but her advice to others is not to rush into it. “I took a year out after high school because there were so many things I could do that I didn’t really know what to do,” she says.

“At high school you’re so busy doing all sorts of things like sport and all that. When I had my year off I was at home quite a bit and helping out around the farm and that gave me a new appreciation for it. So have a look around and don’t rush into it.”

RORY HARRIGAN got hooked on agriculture after growing up on a lifestyle block near Feilding. He is finishing a 2-year cadetship at training farm Smedley Station and next year will begin 2 years of study at Lincoln University.

He wants his own farm one day “but that’s a long way off. In the medium term I’d like to get into a role in sheep and beef farming after university.”

He credits Smedley Station with giving him “really good, hands-on skills but also good theoretical knowledge to accompany that" by exposing him to the workings of a sheep, beef and deer farm that exists in both a commercial and training environment.

Education got him into Smedley, and now that experience has opened doors for him at Lincoln. “I’ve always had in my mind that it would be beneficial to go to university to get great exposure to different things and learn a bit more,” he says.

His advice to others is to “just get out there and meet different people and explore different options within agriculture. You need to put yourself out there a bit.

“I think it’s always worth being educated on different options around you because that can help you make a more informed decision, whether it’s on-farm or anything really. If you’ve got a bit of knowledge to accompany what you’re doing, it’s always going to help.”