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Horizons invests in soil and farming students

Horizons Regional Council

Thursday 26 June, 2014

Horizons invests in soil and farming students

Horizons Regional Council has granted over $150,000 of scholarships to Science and Agriculture students over the past eight years in order to meet a demand for experts in the sustainable land use field.

Horizons Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) scholarships are available to students studying soil fertility, soil mapping and farm management papers at Massey University in Palmerston North. Horizons environmental monitoring coordinator Malcolm Todd says the scholarship encourages students to have a very particular skill set.

“SLUI aims to control hill country erosion and is a partnership between Horizons, Central Government and farmers. When SLUI was introduced in 2006, and initial targets for the programme were set, we identified we had a skill shortage to implement the programme,” says Mr Todd.

“One of the reasons for this is we’re a after a very unique skill set; not only do staff need a soil science background to encourage farmers to manage their soil better, they also need to understand the practical side of running a farm and be able to relate to farmers. For this reason our SLUI scholarships encourage students to have a combination of these elements.”

Mr Todd says by setting these restrictions for SLUI scholarship funding criteria Horizons is investing in the future skill set of potential staff.

“Of the 53 students who have received scholarships, 16 have worked for us over the summer months and nine have ended up with fulltime jobs with Horizons. A number of others have also gone on to work for other regional councils or sustainable land use focused organisations due to their skill set and summer working experience with us.”

Horizons also supports students doing research papers in areas helpful to the council’s goals such as soil quality, poplar trees and land movement.

“Last summer we got one of the SLUI scholarship students who was working for us to organise a field day near Taihape on the topic of land movement,” says Mr Todd.

“As a result of that field day, combined with the valuable experience gained by working for Horizons over summer, this student has been employed by Wellington Regional Council. We believe SLUI scholarship students are a valuable asset to any organisation and the success of our recipients speaks for itself.”

Applications for SLUI scholarships open every year around February and can contribute $2,000-$10,000 towards student fees. For more information visit the Grants and Sponsorship page of Horizons’ website www.horizons.govt.nz


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