By JESSIE WAITE
Gemma Sturmer has found a real passion for farming.
The 21-year-old recently received her NCEA Level 4 National Certificate in Agriculture, which means she has completed her MA in dairy farming advanced.
She was given her modern apprenticeship certificate at the AgITO awards last month.
For the past two years, Gemma has been working on the Cloughs' farm near Eltham.
Farm owner Stephen, was also a recipient on the night, taking home the Trainer of the Year award.
``They make a really good team. They all get on well and get the job done,'' says Stephen's wife, Debra.
Gemma is going to have a break before commencing her Level 5 study, which entails management studies, which Debra has done.
Debra and Gemma nominated Stephen for the trainer of the year award and did a good job at keeping it quiet.
``I was stoked. I wasn't expecting it at all,'' he says.
AgITO allows students to be working on farms whilst learning and farm owners/managers mark them on their units.
``It's heaps better being able to do it on the farm, hands on. You learn everything a lot quicker,'' says Gemma.
Gemma is the Clough's second student to work on the farm.
``It's neat to see the kids come through and be able to teach them what we know,'' says Debra.
``They don't let me sit around and do nothing. There's always something to do,'' Gemma says.
Gemma found it difficult getting work on farms before being placed with the Cloughs', but Stephen says Gemma works just as hard as a male farmer would.
``She goes that extra mile. Even on her weekends off, she will offer to work if there's something that needs doing.''
Gemma enjoys being outside and now knows a number of cows by their number tags and personality.
``Stephen doesn't really encourage me to scratch them cause now there's a few that won't walk into the milking shed until they get a cuddle,'' she laughs.
The other recipients of awards were:
New to farming winner Sonja Werder, highly commended Erin Huckstep; best practical skills Irene Phillips; Dairy Woman's Network award Yoana Werder; outstanding junior trainee Larna Langman, highly commended Kirsty Luty; outstanding senior trainee Kane Brisco, highly commended Ed Whiting; production management winner Donovan Croot; graduated apprentices Sarah Winter, Donna Murray, Sam Humphreys, Stefan Read, Jessie Luond, Patrick McAree, Kylie Cresswell, Gemma Sturmer, Logan Kennett; outstanding modern apprentice Jessie Luond; excellence in agribusiness management winner Regan Kempson, highly commended Jason Kowalewski; top trainee of the year Kane Brisco.