The Orchardist - - Citrus -

Then in 2016, when River­sun and Lin­naeus bought the as­sets of lo­cal busi­ness Hy­dro Tech­nolo­gies, she took on the role of deputy man­ager of the much-ex­panded lab op­er­a­tion, where the staff has more than dou­bled.

Added to the ex­ist­ing ser­vices of plant test­ing, Lin­neus now de­liv­ers wa­ter and food qual­ity test­ing to or­gan­i­sa­tions all around the re­gion.

It’s a lot of work, and get­ting busier by the day, but other chal­lenges also beck­oned.

In July Ms Hick­ling came in ahead of two other fi­nal­ists to win the New Zealand Plant Pro­duc­ers Young Achiever ti­tle for 2017, and a place as a fi­nal­ist in the young hor­ti­cul­tur­ist event.

“As well as con­tribut­ing to the in­dus­try, all these op­por­tu­ni­ties are amaz­ing for per­sonal and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment,” she says. “I have never been afraid of hard work so I just put ev­ery­thing I have into ev­ery­thing I do and treat it as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Shanna Hick­ling’s prize for be­ing the NZPPI Young Achiever was a trip to the Mel­bourne In­ter­na­tional Flower and Gar­den Show and, as her part­ner Cameron Cairns trained as a green­keeper be­fore he joined the New Zealand Po­lice, she reck­ons that qual­i­fied him to join her.

And he’ll also be on board when she uses her Young Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist $7,500 travel prize to travel to Cal­i­for­nia’s mas­sive Duarte Nurs­ery to study the tech­nolo­gies in play there.

“A team from Duarte vis­ited us ear­lier this year and I got talk­ing to one of their sci­en­tists who had been in­volved in the cloning of Dolly the sheep,” she says.

“That was a hugely fa­mous case that we stud­ied at univer­sity and here I was hav­ing din­ner with this guy in Gis­borne. It was mind-blow­ing.”

In fact, mov­ing back to Gis­borne was the best de­ci­sion she could have made, Ms Hick­ling says. Friends and fam­ily are all there; the cost of liv­ing means both she and her part­ner have been able to buy homes; and, when she gets time, she can in­dulge her twin pas­sions of hockey (as player/team man­ager) and wa­ter­ski­ing in nearby Wairoa.

“But I know how lucky I have been,” she says. “River­sun has not only sup­ported me, it has gone out of its way to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties so I can be the best I can be.”

How­ever, that could well change: three of the four 2017 fi­nal­ists were women and, as the con­test is con­sid­ered a strong in­di­ca­tor of who to­mor­row’s lead­ers in hor­ti­cul­ture will be, or­gan­is­ers say that bodes well for the fu­ture.

“Just mak­ing it as one of the fi­nal­ists is an achieve­ment be­cause ev­ery one of them must first win their sec­tor com­pe­ti­tion to be el­i­gi­ble,” says Elle An­der­son, chair of the Royal New Zealand In­sti­tute of Hor­ti­cul­ture Ed­u­ca­tion Trust.

“This year’s New Zealand top grower, top amenity hor­ti­cul­tur­ist and top nurs­ery grower were all women so the fu­ture of hor­ti­cul­ture looks bright. We’re very proud of these three young women, and our lone male con­tes­tant, who have all proven them­selves as the best-of-the-best in hor­ti­cul­ture.”

That en­cour­age­ment for women to en­ter the in­dus­try was echoed by Andrew Keaney, ex­ec­u­tive gen­eral man­ager (New Zealand pro­duce) for one of the prize spon­sors, T&G Global.

“It was ex­tremely pos­i­tive to see an in­creased num­ber of young women reach­ing the fi­nals of this year’s com­pe­ti­tion and demon­strat­ing not only prac­ti­cal but pro­fes­sional abil­ity,” he says.

“While the over­all split of our in­dus­try’s work­force is healthy, we need more women to reach lead­er­ship po­si­tions to en­sure hor­ti­cul­ture con­tin­ues to grow and re­mains at­trac­tive for to­mor­row’s em­ploy­ees.” Young Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist of the Year – Shanna Hick­ling (25); River­sun, Gis­borne ($7500 T&G study travel prize, $1000 worth of ICL Spe­cialty Fer­tiliser prod­ucts, and $100 NZ Hor­ti­cul­tural mag­a­zine sub­scrip­tion).

Sec­ond place – Tim Adams (30); Ob­sid­ian Vine­yards, Wai­heke ($5500 Massey Univer­sity study schol­ar­ship, $750 worth of ICL Spe­cialty Fer­tiliser prod­ucts, and $100 NZ Hor­ti­cul­tural mag­a­zine sub­scrip­tion).

Third place – Pippa Lu­cas (26); Auck­land Botanic Gar­dens ($1000 cash prize, $500 worth of ICL Spe­cialty Fer­tiliser prod­ucts, and $100 NZ Hor­ti­cul­tural mag­a­zine sub­scrip­tion).

AGMARDT Mar­ket In­no­va­tion Project – First, Pippa Lu­cas ($5000 cash prize); sec­ond, Shanna Hick­ling ($2500); third, Erin Atkin­son (30), Apata Group, Te Puke ($1500).

Bayer Best Prac­tice Award – Tim Adams ($2500 schol­ar­ship).

T&G Best Prac­ti­cal Ac­tiv­i­ties Award – Pippa Lu­cas ($3500 travel schol­ar­ship).

Fruitfed Sup­plies Lead­er­ship Award – Shanna Hick­ling ($2500 schol­ar­ship to­wards a Lead­er­ship or Out­ward Bound course).

Hor­ti­cen­tre Char­i­ta­ble Trust Com­mu­nity En­gage­ment Award – Erin Atkin­son ($1500 cash prize).

Pri­mary ITO Ca­reer De­vel­op­ment Award – Pippa Lu­cas ($3000 schol­ar­ship).

Count­down Best Speech Award – Tim Adams ($500 cash prize).

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