The current assistant manager at a Taranaki Breeding Farm for meat chickens has won a top poultry industry award.
Sandra Armstrong started out in the industry 10 years ago when she saw an ad in the paper.
After working her way up through a variety of roles including egg collector, general farmhand and charge hand (a worker who leads others), her current role involves helping to run the farm day-to-day.
"A lot of people don't know what a Parent Stock Breeding Farm is," Sandra says.
"It's a breeding facility for roosters and hens that produces fertile eggs which are then transported to a meat chicken hatchery."
One of the things Sandra likes about her job is that every flock she helps to rear on her farm is different.
"There are challenges at times such as birds being of uneven sizes and varying times of sexual maturity, but our focus is on caring for the birds extremely well so they deliver the best results," she says.
The award of Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation.
Sandra's course was the National Certificate in Poultry Husbandry (Level 3), which is aimed at personnel currently in or progressing towards management roles. It comprises a mix of on-the-job training, written assessments and block courses.
Sandra says the PrimaryITO course was never boring.
"I had to sharpen my time management skills to keep on top of the coursework deadlines along with a full-time job, and there were also work-life challenges with study being done at home.
"But it was a great experience in terms of gaining extra knowledge and being in contact with lots of knowledgeable people."
John McBride, one of Sandra's local teachers for her course, says he recommended her as a suitable candidate for Trainee of the Year.
"Sandra completed a good Level 2 course in 2016, and was impressive in her dedication and ability in the 2017-2018 Level 3."
As part of her award, Sandra travelled to Auckland to meet the PIANZ Board and attend a lunch at which she was the guest of honour.
Executive director of the Poultry Industry Association of New Zealand, Michael Brooks says the poultry trainee of the year award reflects the industry's strong commitment to training and education.
"A highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce is vital for the growth and profitability of the industry. It is notable that the poultry sector has the highest number of personnel with PrimaryITO qualifications compared with any other agricultural sector. Our heartiest congratulations to Sandra."