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Scholarship Win Opens Ag Science Opportunities

Massey University student Sophie Ridd has been announced as this year’s recipient of Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

Sophie, 19, is about to start her second year of study towards a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Massey University’s Palmerston North campus. She says the scholarship will reduce her financial burden and open up new opportunities for her to pursue tertiary study at higher levels.

“I am absolutely stoked to receive this support as it will enable me to pursue my passion even further.”

Sophie was encouraged to apply for the Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship by her parents, John and Jenni. The family are long-time Ravensdown shareholders and run an arable farm, along with sheep and beef finishing and winter dairy grazing, just north of Feilding.

Growing up, Sophie would regularly help her parents out on their farm. She says that is what led to her passion for agriculture.

“Mum and Dad are huge advocates for the agricultural industry. Growing up on the family farm taught me the virtue of hard work and kindled my interest in the science behind modern farm management.”

Agriculture touches on all aspects of Sophie’s life. Aside from being raised on a farm and studying agricultural science at university, she is also a keen competitor in cattle shows.

Last year Sophie was a reserve for the NZ Future Beef Team at the World Hereford Conference, and this year she will be heading down to Oxford to take part in the National Royal A&P Society competition.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting into cattle showing. I like the discipline as it teaches you how to interact, groom and control an animal, while also working on your own personal presentation. It’s a very grounding experience.”

Sophie says that while she is in the early stages of tertiary study, she has already found an area of particular interest.

“Coming from a crop farming background, I am really interested in learning more about how the nutritional profiles of crops affect stock development and growth.”

Whatever she specialises in, Sophie is confident her future is with the agricultural industry.

“The pace of change in New Zealand’s agricultural sector is incredible. Many of the jobs of tomorrow will come from innovations and breakthroughs from this country’s leading farmers and scientists today. I cannot wait to start my career and make a positive difference.”

The Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship provides the recipient with $5,000 per year for each year of a student’s undergraduate study in agriculture or horticulture disciplines at Lincoln or Massey University. The recipient will also be offered the opportunity for paid holiday work at Ravensdown if available.

The scholarship was founded to commemorate the late Hugh Williams, who was a Ravensdown Director from 1987 to 2000. Applications for next year’s scholarship are due by 3 December 2021.

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