Havelock North’s Caleb Dennis is New Zealand’s Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015

13 November 2015

Pictured from left to right Andrew Keaney (Executive General Manager New Zealand T&G), Caleb Dennis, Max Spence (National Manager Fruitfed Supplies) and Malcolm Nitschke (General Manager AGMARDT).

The winner of the national Viticulturist of the Year sector competition and now the new Young Horticulturalist of the Year 2015, Caleb Dennis competed with five other finalists, all under the age of 30, in the grand final competition held over November 11 and 12 at the Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa, Auckland. 

Last night's horticulture awards concluded the 2015 competition, which assessed contestant’s abilities across multiple skills that reflect the diversity of skills demanded by a modern career in horticulture, including innovative product design, market research, public speaking, interviews with judges and a day of practical assignments.

Representing one of the three major sponsors (AGMARDT, Fruitfed Supplies and T&G), national manager Fruitfed Supplies, Max Spence, said today that each year the high calibre of contestants reinforces his faith in the future of the horticultural industry in New Zealand. 
“These competitors reassure myself and my colleagues that the future of our industry will be led by smart, resourceful and committed men and woman who understand the demands the markets will make on our industry.

“Regulatory standards and consumer expectations will require constant change across all aspects of our industry, meaning that tomorrow’s leaders will need to be informed and visionary, with the right skills to ensure New Zealand horticulture is judged ‘best in class’ by targeted markets capable of providing wealth back to our producers,” Mr Spence said.

Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust Chairperson Nicola Rochester said this year’s competition shows that horticulture is an industry that is far from boring.

“There are so many opportunities out there for personal and career development, and the 50 plus finalists that have been part of the ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ over the last 10 years are veritable proof, as they use their scholarships and prize money to travel and learn more about their industries and themselves.

“With the produce from the Horticulture industry estimated at $6.6b now and exports at $3.5b – and set to get to $10B by 2020 – the hunt is on for young leaders now that will help shape the exciting horticultural future of tomorrow.

“The judges had to make some tough decisions and came up with a worthy winner,” Ms Rochester said.

Finalists compete for a prize pool valued at more than $40,000.

1st Place
In taking home the ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ title, Caleb Dennis receives $7,500 of ‘study’ travel and accommodation to a horticultural destination of his choice, $1,000 worth of ICL Specialty Fertiliser products and $100 NZ Horticultural magazine subscription for one year. 

2nd Place 
Runner up from the Rolleston region and representing the Nursery and Garden Industry of New Zealand, Tom Ferguson, takes home a $5,500 Massey University study scholarship, $750 worth of ICL Specialty Fertiliser products and $100 NZ Horticultural magazine subscription for one year.

3rd Place
Wellington based third place winner Karl Noldan, representing the New Zealand Recreation Association sector, earns a $1000 cash prize, $500 worth of ICL Specialty Fertiliser products and $100 NZ Horticultural magazine subscription for one year.

The AGMARDT Market Innovation Project Winner
Kat Rennie – representing Floristry NZ Inc. and NZ Flower Growers Inc. ­– wins the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) Market Innovation Project prize for her idea of ‘Forever Fresh’ - a floral display stand that is designed to improve the way we care for flowers, and increase hygiene standards.

This challenge is designed to stretch contestants’ abilities to come up future thinking that adds value to the industry, and the winner comes away with a $5,000 cash prize.

Second place runner up Karl Noldan wins $2,500 and third placed Tom Ferguson earns $1,500.
A consolation prize of $500 is awarded to each contestant who completed his or her project.

The T&G Best Practical Activities Award: Caleb Dennis
The finalist who receives the best overall score for practical activities in the Grand Final receives a $3,500 travel scholarship.

The Fruitfed Supplies Leadership Award: Caleb Dennis

The finalist who demonstrates outstanding promise and leadership during the competition receives a $2,500 scholarship towards a Leadership or Outward Bound course.

The Bayer Best Practice Award: Tom Ferguson
The finalist who receives the highest score in a range of activities with a focus on crop management practices and sustainability during the Grand Final receives a $2,500 scholarship.

Primary ITO Career Development Award: Karl Noldan
The winner receives a $3,000 scholarship, to assist with further study or to attend a conference, and is adopted as a Primary ITO ambassador to promote training and career pathways in horticulture.

The Countdown Best Speech Award: Karl Noldan
The finalist who achieves the highest score for their speech receives $500 cash.

The competition is made possible through the generous support of: Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 competition partners AGMARDT, T&G and Fruitfed Supplies.

Young Horticulturist of the Year Supporters are Bayer CropScience, Massey University, Primary ITO, Countdown, NZ Gardener Magazine and Trillian Trust.



Event Manager
Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust
Email: event.manager@younghort.co.nz

Elle Anderson
RNZIH Education Trust Chair
Mob: 0210 442 057
Email: elle@afewbirds.co.nz

Colin Kennedy
Iron Road Communications
Mob: 027 2456060
Email: colin.kennedy@ironroad.co.nz


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