Career dream furthered by internship

Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth scholarship recipient University of Otago student Ella...
Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth scholarship recipient University of Otago student Ella Zwagerman. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Southern students considering careers in the red meat sector were among the Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth scholarship recipients of 2021.

In a series, Shawn McAvinue asks them about their study, their future plans and how they intend to spend their $5000 scholarship.

This week, he speaks to University of Otago student Ella Zwagerman (18), of Isla Bank.

Ella Zwagerman knew the career to target after a summer job at a meat works, when she had finished at Southland Girls’ High School.

On the job, she checked the seal on packaging holding lamb legs at Alliance Group’s Lorneville plant on the outskirts of Invercargill.

The job opened her eyes to the many levels of production to get an animal from a farm to the market.

‘‘The whole process intrigued me.’’

She continually quizzed her boss about the operation and asked for a tour to show every part of the process.

The summer job was cut short after she broke her leg water-skiing but she had seen enough to know it was an industry she wanted to return to.

She is now in her second year of study at University of Otago, in Dunedin, working towards a bachelor of applied science degree, majoring in consumer food science and minoring in human nutrition.

She returned to work at the Lorneville plant last summer, after securing an internship as part of a product development team.

The internship — an office job including report writing — was secured from being a Meat Industry Association scholarship recipient.

‘‘The internship solidified my desire to pursue a career in the red meat industry — I learnt a lot in that role and really enjoyed it — probably to the point where I didn’t want to come back to uni because I loved my job.’’

She returned to university with more motivation to do well in her study to help chase down her dream.

The Lorneville plant is a 20-minute drive from her family’s dairy farm at Isla Bank.

She was 4 years old when her family moved to Western Southland.

Her family had been dairy farming in Wairarapa but there were more opportunities in the industry down South.

She never had aspirations to be a dairy farmer but was thankful there were other paths available in the agricultural sector.

Her parents supplied cattle to Silver Fern Farms and that connection was how she heard of its Plate to Pasture Youth scholarships.

The $5000 scholarship would be spent on university fees.

She intends to apply for Silver Fern Farms graduate programme at the end of next year.

Her dream job is to work at a meat processing plant, either developing new products or as a member of a technical team.

‘‘From there — once you have enough experience and you continue to upskill — the world’s your oyster, you can go anywhere.’’


Contratulations & Best wishes to Ella.I like to eat lamb and the vast majority of humans like to eat real meat.