A Whanganui-born developer and freelance agricultural journalist has won an international award that will take her to the United States.

Samantha Tennent and nine others have been announced as recipients of the 2019 IFAJ/Alltech young leaders in Agricultural Journalism Award.

The recipients will attend the 2019 IFAJ Congress in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they will also do a leadership boot camp in July.

They come from all over the world including Ghana, Liberia, Germany, Sweden and the UK.


Tennent, 29, said it felt surreal to be selected.

"It's pretty prestigious getting picked amongst them. It's not like I was just against other Kiwis, I was the little Kiwi going against the world," Tennent said.

"It didn't feel real. You just get an email, you don't talk to people about it. Reality will hit me when I hop on a plane by myself and travel all the way to America."

Tennent lives in Palmerston North where she works for DairyNZ as a developer, a role that has her helping to convert scientific discoveries into something farmers can use.

She is also working as a freelance agricultural journalist, a role she got into less traditionally than others.

"I have a great-aunt on my granddad's side and she's based in Auckland. When I was finishing uni, we used to write letters or cards back and forth every now and then," Tennent said.

"One day she said to my granddad 'Sam writes such lovely letters, why doesn't she look at writing as a career'?"

At the time Tennent had finished studying at Massey University in Palmerston North and was looking for a job.


She contacted the publisher of her favourite magazine asking for a chance to write for them and they obliged, beginning Tennent's career in writing.

"I'm only just owning that now. I've been writing for quite a while. I started in 2012 really casually and not with any training," she said.

"Just before I started with Dairy NZ, my partner Johan Fourie and I set up our own business. We've got a little company and I do freelance work."

Tennent grew up in Whanganui where her parents Kim and Robert live on a lifestyle block in Westmere, but she had little to do with agriculture growing up in Gonville.

"I didn't have anything to do with agriculture until uni. I wanted to be a vet when I was young and when I got pregnant at 17 I had to decide what I was going to do," Tennent said.

"I looked at all the options available and went with the bachelor of veterinary technology. I thought 'this is cool, it's a compromise, I can have my baby and still be involved in the industry'."

Her first job following the course was working with LIC while living in Marton. While there she joined the Marton Young Farmers Club and is currently their chairwoman.

It was during a six month placement before university that Tennent came across dairy heifers for the first time and fell in love with them.

She is looking forward to seeing plenty over in the US when she flies out on July 23, set for a return on August 2.

"I'm really excited about the fact that the trip is so ag-specific and we are going to get the opportunity to see farms over there.

"That's the most exciting part, I get to go and see how another part of the world does it, what they're doing in that space."