Phoebe Topp is counting down the days until she embarks on an educational trip to learn about farming in Brazil.
The 21-year-old vice-chair of Lincoln Young Farmers has been awarded a sought-after Prime Minister’s Scholarship.
She’s one of 65 students from Lincoln University given the scholarships to study in China, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil.
“I’m really excited. About 15 of us are going to Brazil in November. We’ll get to attend lectures at several universities and visit different agri-businesses,” said Phoebe.
“It’s going to be interesting comparing Brazil’s farming systems with what I’m familiar with in New Zealand.”
The scholarships are designed to help improve understanding of the business practices and culture of New Zealand’s trading partners.
Brazil has a population of 210 million and is the largest country in South America.
It has the world’s biggest commercial cattle and beef herd and is the largest cattle meat exporter, according to Trade and Enterprise NZ.
Brazil is also the world’s top producer of coffee and sugar cane.
“I was awarded the month-long scholarship after applying for it. A motto I live by is ‘you have got to be in it to win it’,” she laughed.
“A lot of people don’t apply for scholarships because they think they’re not the smartest or that they won’t get it. My advice is to have a go.”
It’s advice the third-year Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) student lives by.
Phoebe was recently awarded a $5,000 scholarship from Silver Fern Farms. She applied after seeing a post encouraging applications on a NZ Young Farmers social media account.
“I was astounded to be named as a recipient. It’s a cool feeling. I’m going to put the money towards my student loan,” she said.
Phoebe got to attend the co-op’s three-day shareholders’ conference, which had an impressive line-up of thought-provoking guest speakers.
“I learned so much. There were lots of forward-thinking ideas, it definitely got my brain ticking over and engaged,” she said.
Phoebe’s already secured employment at West Wanaka Station when she returns from Brazil.
The station runs 14,000 breeding ewes, 2,000 deer and 1,500 cattle.
“I got the job through word of mouth. I’m extremely fortunate. A lot of students still don’t have jobs to go to after their exams finish,” she said.
Phoebe grew up on a sheep and beef farm just out of Martinborough and has experience working on large-scale operations.
Over the past summer she spent 11 weeks on Siberia Station near Hunterville as part of a practical work placement for university.
The farm has 19,000 breeding ewes and just under 2,000 cattle.
“The job involved lots of yard work like dagging and drenching. There were eight of us working during weaning and shearing,” she said.
Phoebe admits she’s going to miss being part of Lincoln Young Farmers, which is the country’s second-largest NZ Young Farmers club.
“It’s a very active club. There are 24 studying weeks in the university calendar and we have 27 club events during that time,” she said.
“One of the biggest benefits of belonging to the club is that you get to know students in younger and older year groups. It’s a great way to make friends.”
Phoebe’s short-term goal is to gain valuable experience on-farm, before branching out in the agri-business sector.