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Ms Zwagerman’s parents are dairy farmers at Isla Bank, near Invercargill, and she is studying for a bachelor of science (human nutrition) at Otago University.
She and 10 other scholars were hosted by the MIA in Wellington earlier this month and spent the day listening to speakers from several meat industry organisations, the Ministry for Primary Industries and AgResearch, and people who had various careers within the sector such as trade, food safety, nutrition, science and engineering.
"I was interested to hear from speakers with a science focus, including speakers from Beef + Lamb New Zealand," she said.
"They talked about the role of nutrition in domestic markets, which was particularly interesting to me."
She also attended the networking dinner to meet the other students.
By going on the trip, she found there were many career opportunities within the meat industry and, in particular, careers that were science-focused.
"When I first went to Otago University I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, and I thought medicine was an option.
"This trip showed me that this [food science] was what I wanted to do, although I just didn’t know it, and I am trying to keep an open mind and take opportunities as they come, but I know I am on the right career path."
Every year, the MIA offers several undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, worth $5000 and $10,000 respectively, to encourage young people in studies that meet the wide range of career opportunities the industry can offer.
Miss Zwagerman, who also has a mentor, recommended students in similar positions apply for the scholarships.
MIA is now inviting applications for its 2021 programme.
MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the visit to Wellington was part of a mentoring and networking support programme that MIA had developed for the scholars.
"The initiative was a great opportunity for potential future leaders of the industry to meet and hear from the organisations that take New Zealand’s red meat to the world."