Shenae Muirhead and George Faulkner are the inaugural recipients of the New Zealand King Salmon scholarships for students studying aquaculture at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT).
Shenae Muirhead of Nelson originally got involved with aquaculture while still at school through the Top of the South Trades Academy. Now in her first year of the Diploma of Aquaculture, Shenae says she has loved the ocean ever since she was a child and initially planned to study marine biology at university. However after learning about the NMIT diploma, decided to focus on aquaculture instead.
“The idea of being able to grow and farm marine creatures is so interesting and it’s changing and developing all the time,” she says.
George Faulkner of Takaka is in his second year of the diploma. After leaving school, he did seasonal work for New Zealand King Salmon for a few seasons as a hatchery operator before deciding to study. He says he has always been interested in fish and aquatic species, so the aquaculture diploma was a natural choice. He hopes to continue his studies to degree level before finding work in the industry.
New Zealand King Salmon Freshwater Manager Jon Bailey said the company was supporting the scholarships because they believed that the aquaculture industry at the Top of the South had unrealised potential.
“In order for it to grow, we need to develop the next generation of people with the technical skills, knowledge and the ability to engage in a rational debate about future sustainability,” he said.
The scholarships are designed to assist students financially with their fees as well as enabling them to enhance their understanding of the aquaculture industry. Paid work experience during semester breaks and summer holidays may also be offered to recipients.
NMIT Chief Executive Tony Gray said it was great to see new scholarship sponsors such as New Zealand King Salmon supporting NMIT students.
“When a business is willing to help support students in this way, there are huge benefits. Not only do the students receive financial assistance to help them achieve their qualifications, the company can also benefit through fostering direct links with high-achieving students,” he said.
NMIT offers the country’s first and only Diploma in Aquaculture. Launched in 2010, the first students graduated from the two year programme in 2012. Graduates are now working for companies such as New Zealand King Salmon, the Cawthron Institute, oyster and salmon farms in Australia and the Pacific, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, Ministry of Primary Industries, NIWA, Sealord, Kono and Plant and Food Research. Many have secured work before they had even finished studying.
For further information about NMIT’s aquaculture programmes and scholarships go to www.nmit.ac.nz