From 1–5 July this year, the first Chemuniqué Student Programme was hosted by Chemuniqué, in partnership with Zoetis, under the theme of “Improving African agriculture, one student at a time”. This programme is aimed at addressing the gap between recent graduates and the animal science industry, and to help students transition smoothly into the industry. Two of the company’s young professionals, Elizabeth van Papendorp and Tlotlang Cleopas Lephallo, completed a national roadshow to all the South African universities offering a BSc degree in animal science to present the programme to final-year students. Finally, following receipt of many CVs and motivation letters and careful consideration by the admission team, 13 students were selected to participate in this year’s programme.
Nervous and shy, the students arrived on Monday evening for an introductory session and informal dinner. Work began in earnest on Tuesday, with discussions and workshops on topics ranging from the farm network, personal brand creation and maintenance, and discussions on the importance of finding your true purpose. Wednesday saw a deep and practical dive into the industry with interviews from veterinarians, research interns, sales managers, logistic specialists, and other influential roles in the industry. Students gained critical understanding of the myriad different roles of people and companies and learned to appreciate a broader scope of the industry.
Thursday was the pinnacle of the industry immersion experience, with concurrent full-day visits to a dairy farm, beef and sheep feedlot, feed mill, and egg-packing plant. By the end of the week, the students had received additional training in networking strategy, presentation, speaking and writing skills, multiculturalism, sales, self-assessment, and teamwork. The week was rounded out with site visit reports and a commitment to go back to their respective universities and spread the knowledge and skills that they developed over the course of the week. “Boy, did this week surpass even our own objectives,” says Cleopas. “The hunger for knowledge and absolute excitement to tackle the future head-on showed that there is indeed a gap that we as an industry need to bridge. We look forward to continue playing our role in mentoring future graduates, one step – and one student – at a time!”
“We thank Beefcor, Rossgro, Ethada Boerdery, and Southern Hemisphere Seeds for their time and their willingness to be involved in the development of the next generation of animal scientists,” says Alex Jenkins, a technical adviser in the ruminant team. “Chemuniqué is devoted to promoting lasting, positive change in the African agricultural sector and we are proud of the huge accomplishments already made by the students with whom we will be sharing the future of food production.” Visit www.chemunique.co.za to watch some interesting interviews with the students and learn more about the programme, including how to get involved next year.
Demi de Beer
Suné van den Berg