A young Kamo man hasn't looked back since receiving a leg-up from A&P
Ben Burgess was the successful recipient of the Whangarei A&P Society Scholarship in 2011.
A Northlander at heart and a keen show veteran, Burgess now shares his A&P knowledge and passion across the country, spending the past two years as president of the Manawatu West Coast A&P Association.
This year Burgess, who hails from Kamo, has been co-opted as chairman of the United Breed Society, alongside of course his day-to-day role with Fonterra as an area manager.
We ask him the past A&P scholar a few questions:
Where did you choose to study?
I chose to study at Massey University, Palmerston North. I enrolled for the 2012 intake.
What qualifications do you have now?
I qualified with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Agricultural Science and minoring in Animal Science.
What does your day-to-day job look like and do you like it?
I love my job! I am an area manager with Fonterra in the Taranaki/Manawatu/ Whanganui regions. My day job sees me out in the field growing, building and maintaining farmer relationships.
Becoming a trusted adviser for their family and farming business is a great feeling.
I also have the pleasure of working with community groups and schools with on-farm tree planting days, careers expos, and farming events.
What would you say to students thinking of applying for the scholarship?
Absolutely give it a go, but also get out and get involved with your local A&P show as that's the first step of being involved in a nationwide organisation.
The best part of that is support, competitions, a wealth of knowledge, and networks across the country from the A&P movement.
Having this at your finger tips is a truly valuable asset in the future.
What are expected earnings for someone in your profession?
Most rural professionals receive a competitive package with their role. For me that included a base salary, company vehicle and phone.
Although the salary and package are good, the best part for me is being part of a large team and having the opportunity within a large company to learn and grow. I have had so many new experiences and opportunities in my role.
When I left high school I didn't even know these existed.
What's your favourite memory of A&P shows as a child?
From a young age I was always involved in Calf Club. I then progressed into A&P showing for my family's Hereford Studs.
I always loved heading along to show to take my pet calf and compete against other kids from all over the country.
The most valuable part of the A&P show for me, however, was the step from showing cattle into judging cattle in a Junior Judging Competition.
The confidence in speaking to crowds over a microphone has been a huge help in my professional career, as it is something I do regularly in my day job.
Along with this, competitions such as the Rural Ambassador, Trans-Tasman exchanges, plus the scholarship, have helped me enormously.
All these experiences had a formal interview process with a panel of judges, which was great for practice and confidence building when going for job interviews at the beginning of my post-university career.
Are you still connected with the A&P Society?
With my shift to the Manawatu for university I got involved with our local A&P, the Manawatu West Coast A&P Association.
From joining up as a helper initially, I progressed to becoming a member of the committee, before becoming the president in 2017, where I remained for two years before resigning at the last AGM due to moving to another region.
Most recently I have been co-opted as chairman of the United Breed Society as part of the wider Royal A&P movement.