Dani McBride's love of plants is taking her places, including the Young Horticulturist finals this year.
The Mangawhai resident has taken top spot in the NZ Plant Producers Incorporated's Young Achiever competition.
For McBride the win means the ticket to compete against six other finalists at the 2021 Young Horticulturist finals event in November.
McBride, a dispatch and procurement manager at Rural Design in Kaiwaka, said she is "crazily excited" about the win and feels as if years of hard work have paid off.
"Through my time in this industry, I keep being surprised and excited by the opportunities and paths that become available to me, there is so much room for growth and so much room for ideas within the horticulture industry. We need to spread the word and get more people involved," she said.
The two days of competing for the coveted Young Achiever Award had provided a great opportunity to meet people from a range of businesses within the sector she works in.
During the competition contestants faced practical challenges related to propagation, machinery, and plant and disease identification - all within a nursery context. They also competed in a spreadsheet challenge, a mock job interview for a managerial position, and delivered prepared speeches.
Rural Design offers native revegetation planting services, ecological consultancy and wholesale native plant supply. McBride's overall duties include managing the dispatch of plants from the nursery to planting jobs and other contractors.
Her responsibilities also include procuring plants, and managing the propagation and production schedules to ensure the right species and quantities are grown for the up-coming season.
McBride has worked within the industry since leaving school six years ago and started with Rural Design three years ago, initially on the planting crew working on big restoration projects, then moving into the nursery to learn about propagation, potting and plant health. She took a shine to plant dispatching and has held a managerial position for the past 18 months.
In November she will face the winners of the other sector finals also vying for the coveted title of this year's Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau).
The others will be the Young Grower of the Year (Fruit and Vegetable Grower Association); Young Viticulturist of the Year; Apprentice Florist of the Year; Young Landscaper of the Year; Young Amenity of the Year award winner (NZ Recreation Association – parks and gardens); and Arborist of the Year.
Winners from sector competitions will compete in a two-day event on November 3 and 4 in Auckland.