Scholarship recipient wants to improve future farm resilience

Lincoln University student Ryan Redpath hopes to put his Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship...
Lincoln University student Ryan Redpath hopes to put his Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship towards his studies with the ultimate goal of helping farms get through natural disasters. PHOTO: RAVENSDOWN
A Lincoln University student is studying how to make farms more resilient to natural disasters after his parents’ North Island farm was in the path of Cyclone Gabrielle last year.

Second-year student Ryan Redpath has just been awarded Ravensdown’s Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship.

He plans to put the scholarship funds towards course fees and travel between university and the family farm in rural Gisborne.

For several days he was unable to make contact with his family. That hit home for Mr Redpath, 18, and convinced him he wanted to pursue a career that would help farms deal with severe weather events.

"I was a week into university when Cyclone Gabrielle hit the Gisborne region. I couldn’t contact home for a while which was a bit scary. It had a massive impact on our rural community. A lot of people lost effective land and tracks throughout their farm."

While studying towards a bachelor of agriculture and commerce, he has been thinking of ways to get through the next big natural disaster.

"I think it’ll become more important to diversify farm income streams that give off-farm income outside the usual stock profits. Finding different ways to diversify will ensure we can keep farming into the future."

He said the $5000 scholarship would take pressure off the financial side of studying and make it easier to help on the farm during study breaks.

"Growing up on the farm, I was always interested in agriculture. Dad was a big influence and invested a lot of time to teach me how to do things the right way.’’

Napier Boys’ High School agriculture teacher Rex Newman also helped foster his interest into a passion.

In his last year of school, he sat NCEA scholarship for agriculture and horticulture and placed second in the country.

He said his Lincoln courses were helping him work out where he wanted to be in the future.

"I’m definitely keeping my options open, but I’m keen to use my skills to help farmers, like in rural banking or as a field representative."

Ravensdown chief executive Garry Diack said Mr Redpath’s academic excellence and dedication won him the scholarship.

"Agriculture is under increasing pressure, from global supply chain disruption to climate events. It’s great to see the new thinking coming through from students like Ryan."

tim.cronshaw@alliedpress.co.nz