Agricultural scholarship winner Olivia Buick loves all things ag – be it the serenity of driving a tractor in the central high country, the fascination for how soil, science and the economy make up a farm system or helping others at Young Farmers.
Born and bred on a sheep and beef farm just out of Feilding, “nothing stood out for me like ag did”, the Massey University student says of her career choice. At Feilding High School, which has two farms, she started “delving deeper into what it’s really about”. She gained a diploma in robotic milking and helped manage the school’s milking operations. “As far as I know, it’s the only school in the southern hemisphere with that robotic technology,” and it makes her think about what the future of farming might look like.
“I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. I’ve done so much better because I went to an agricultural high school”, partly because she’s familiar with topics covered in her AgriCommerce lectures at Massey University.
Now in her second year of the degree, majoring in Agricultural Economics, she’s interested in “finding profitable ways that can sustain production”, and addressing the misperceptions of agriculture and its practices. “My whole life, I have been involved with agriculture and have learned to love the complexity of the combination of environmental, economic, social and governmental factors in plant and animal production”. She says it is amazing how these factors and sheer hard work act in unison to “create the backbone of the New Zealand Economy”. She wants to use her degree to predict the devasting impacts of the negative perceptions of agriculture on consumer demand, prices, profitability and the overall economy – and be a part of the solution. She is excited by the challenges of “today’s environmental and social climates”.
”I have every intention of researching environmental, social and economic issues on behalf of the industry and advising producers on viable, sustainable solutions.”
Being community minded, Buick is the Teen Ag Representative on the Manawatu/Taranaki Young Farmers Board, after being the Sheriff and vice-chair. She enjoys networking with industry professionals and organising events ranging from “skills days to pub crawls, and everything in between”.
“I have been humbled by the learning and networking opportunities I have been presented with in return. I’ve always got someone I can call if I need casual work or help with an assignment.”
Buick will use her $2,500 scholarship win from Agcarm to help fund her course fees and living costs. She says that the scholarship offers a “financial stress relief”, allowing her to spend more time studying and less time working.
Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says that the association is pleased to support someone so enthusiastic about agriculture and driven to improve the sector. “She is a champion for the industry,” he says.
In her spare time, Buick enjoys cycling and working on her family farm. “I work on the farm for fun,” she says.