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Lincoln students connect with key players in food and fibre sectors

09 August 2022 | News

Forming connections with future employers and celebrating academic achievement were on the menu for 160 students at Lincoln University’s Food and Fibre Awards and Networking Dinner last Friday.

Students, staff and members of the food and fibre sector shared an exciting evening together.

Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, presented awards to the top academic achievers in selected study programmes, with 25 food and fibre sector organisations sponsoring tables and a range of industry representatives on hand to meet prospective employees.

Two highly successful Lincoln graduates also attended to take part in a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities in the sector.

The event, conceived by Lincoln University PhD student Laura Keenan, was more than 18 months in the making, having been postponed several times due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards said it was exciting to finally have the chance to recognise student achievement and partner with industry to facilitate meaningful connections.

"Lincoln’s graduate employment rate is higher than that of any other university in the country, which reflects our commitment to producing work-ready graduates to help drive innovation in the food and fibre sectors.

"This event was a wonderful way to showcase potential career opportunities to our students and introduce employers to some of our best and brightest future industry leaders.

"We were also proud to acknowledge the academic success of our top performing students and hear from alumni whose Lincoln education has helped them to flourish in their chosen fields," he said.

The evening began with a networking hour, followed by messages from Professor Edwards and Minister O’Connor, and a Q&A session with Lincoln graduates, Kate Macdonald and Jake Jarman.

A fifth-generation farmer at Davaar Station, Kate completed her Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing at Lincoln in 2017 and has gone on to found Davaar & Co, a luxury farm-to-fashion brand.

The business uses crossbred sheep wool grown exclusively at Davaar Station to produce and manufacture woollen jerseys, with the entire production process completed in New Zealand. Sustainable and ethical practices are at the core of the brand, which Kate runs full time as its Creative Director.

Jake was born and bred in Taranaki on his family’s dairy farm, completing his Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) at Lincoln in 2018 and winning the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition in 2021. He now works for ANZ, recently moving into an Agri Relationship Manager role after spending the past 18 months as an Agri Relationship Associate.

The duo answered pre-submitted questions from some of the student attendees and discussed their career paths, both saying their journeys were not linear or planned and neither had any idea five years ago that they would be where they are today.

Their advice to the students was to be open to opportunities, work hard to expand their networks and try different avenues in their pursuit of success.

The panel discussion was followed by a dinner, sponsored by Silver Fern Farms, which included a buffet of New Zealand’s finest beef and lamb. Rossendale Wines provided sponsorship of the wine that was on offer during the evening.

The event ended with an awards ceremony to recognise the highest-achieving second and third-year students studying towards degrees in the food and fibre areas.

Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing student and Lincoln University Future Leader Scholar, Sasha van Beek, described the event as "fantastic". 

"Not only did we get a chance to celebrate the hard work of our friends and classmates, but we had a unique opportunity to talk in-depth with industry individuals we would never have met otherwise," she said. "The advice and insights they gave were amazing to hear.

"These conversations and networking opportunities have led to many of my friends and myself securing immersion experience days, where we will follow specific company employees around for a day and gain a better understanding of what their company is about."

The student award winners included:

Lincoln University Food and Fibre Awards 2022 Awards

Award winners

The top-performing second and third-year students in a range of food and fibre programmes were presented with awards.

Lincoln University Food and Fibre Awards 2022 Dinner

Enjoying a buffet-style dinner

The food was sponsored by Silver Fern Farms.

Lincoln University Food and Fibre Awards 2022 Networking

Networking

The evening began with a networking hour, where students could connect with potential future employers.

Lincoln University Food and Fibre Awards 2022 Panel Discussion

Panel discussion

Recent graduates, Jake Jarman and Kate MacDonald, spoke to the audience about their career paths.