A new scholarship created through the funds from the now ceased Clutha Agricultural Development Board will provide support to the latest generation of Clutha youth wanting to train in agriculture and farming at Telford, the agricultural campus of Southern Institute of Technology – Te Pūkenga.
The Clutha Agricultural Development Board (CADB) was established 1994 as a response to a changing agricultural landscape, where it filled the need for a single group to co-ordinate farming and rural developments in the Clutha district. CADB funds were sourced from various farmer related organisations; it was non-political, involved all sectors of the farming community, and had strong, grass-roots support from farmers. The board was wound up in March 2023 with residual funds settled into an Endowment fund, to create the Clutha Agricultural Development Board (CADB) Telford Scholarship.
Murray Harris, who held the Secretary’s position with CADB for many years, said that while the board discussed at length how to use the funds, in the end it was quite an easy decision to allocate them to a Telford scholarship, due to numerous connections with the rural education institution over the years.
“There was a big affiliation with Telford ... we ran research projects and were involved in doing trials at Telford Farms, we used Telford facilities to run forums and field days, and we were very involved in the Farmsafe programmes which were run through Telford.”
Mr Harris had first hand knowledge of the quality and reputation of Telford graduates because of his involvement in student farm placements in the district. “Farmers would tell me, ‘we prefer Telford students,’” which was due to their stock management skills and other practical abilities.
“We’re looking ahead, to encourage more local young people into farming,” he said, adding it was also an opportunity for farmers to give to education in their region, as they hoped to increase the fund. “We’re really keen on farmers knowing they can contribute to this scholarship, which will support and further the education of young farmers here.”
The Clutha Foundation was chosen to manage the Scholarship, which includes investing the capital, providing governance, and ensuring compliance. Clutha Foundation Executive Officer, Alison Ludemann, said the foundation is very excited to have this endowment fund available to provide financial support for students from across the Clutha district who enrol in one of the full-time programmes offered at SIT’s Telford Campus. The annual scholarship is due to start in 2024 and is for up to $2,500, however, Mrs Ludemann said the foundation intends to grow the fund by gaining more local support, which could see two scholarships offered each year.
“As a rural farming community, it is extremely important that we encourage and support our next generation of farmers,” she added.
Telford Head of Faculty, Dr Sally Dobbs, agreed, stating the agricultural sector relies on growing new staff and the offer of the scholarship would enable more students to have the opportunity to receive quality education at the Telford campus. “Telford is strongly positioned within the Clutha region and we are extremely grateful to the CADB for the generous offer of scholarships to enable students to study there,” Dr Dobbs said.
Clutha district students planning to enrol in 2024 can find further information on the SIT website Scholarships.