A former cadet at Smedley Station in Hawke's Bay has been named the inaugural MYF Rural Student of the Year.
Nathan Handy, 22, took out the title after winning the hotly-contested event in Palmerston North last night.
"I can't believe I won. I don't usually enter these sorts of competitions, they're a bit out of my comfort zone," he said.
"But a couple of mates told me to give it a go, so I did. It was a tight result and winning has definitely boosted my confidence."
The competition saw 21 Massey University agricultural students tackle seven practical modules testing their farming skills.
The challenges focused on stock handling, dairying, farm mechanics, agribusiness skills, tractor driving, fencing and culinary skills.
"I really enjoyed the calving module. It involved correctly positioning a calf inside a cow mannequin," said Handy.
"It's the same equipment used to train veterinary science students. I learned quite a bit doing that module because it's not something I have done a lot of."
Competitors then went head to head in a quiz, with the top five facing-off in a short speech competition at the Masonic Hotel.
The event was organised by Massey Young Farmers, which is the country's largest NZ Young Farmers club.
"We decided to launch this competition to help our members learn new skills, test their abilities and grow their confidence," said club chair Megan Robertson.
The practical modules were held on the oval at Massey University.
"It was a great way to expose other students on campus to the career opportunities within the agri-food sector," she said.
Lachlan Chittock, 20, placed second. Matthew MacDonald, 21, was third.
Shaun Rowe, 20, took out the health and safety award. Alex Tomkins, 19, won the quiz.
They shared a prize pool of almost $3,000.
Handy grew up on the Coromandel Peninsula and started a two-year cadetship at Smedley Station in Hawke's Bay in 2015.
He's undertaking a Bachelor of AgriCommerce majoring in farm management at Massey University and plans to go shepherding next year.
"I want to work my way up the management ladder as quickly as possible and my ultimate goal is to own a sheep and beef farm," said Handy.
Massey Young Farmers hopes its new competition will encourage more of its members to enter the iconic FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
"I'll be keen to have a crack this year. Entering the Rural Student of the Year has helped show me what skills I need to work on," he said.
The MYF Rural Student of the Year was supported by Stockade, Palmerston North Rotary, Property Brokers, Farmlands, Skellerup, MUSA, Turton Fencing, Norwood, City Honda, Farm Services Massey and DairyNZ.