10 October 2018 | Story UFS | Photo Leonie Bolleurs
Two from Kovsies win Agricultural Student of the Year competition
The competition was an opportunity to force yourself out of your comfort zone and to benchmark yourself against students from other universities. Chéri-Lynn Steyn is pictured here with Mario van den Heever, winner of the Animal Science category of the competition.

This year, two Kovsies won the Old Mutual and Plaas Media Agricultural Student of the Year titles. Chéri-Lynn  Steyn was named the best Agricultural Economics student, and Mario van den Heever was the best Animal Science student. 

Chéri-Lynn  is currently doing her final year of BScAgric in Animal Science and Agricultural Economics. After obtaining her master’s degree, she would like to write modelling programmes for livestock, either for feeding pens or grazing systems. “This is something which fascinates me,” said Cheri-Lynn.

On obtaining his master’s, Mario (currently a final-year student) would like to follow the entrepreneurial route. After winning the competition, he believes that his chosen study field was the right career for him.

The main objective of the competition was to encourage students to pursue careers in an agricultural field. Students are therefore motivated to critically reflect on the major issues within the agricultural sector.

Strong competition

Students from the agricultural faculties of the University of the Free State, the University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal participated in the competition. 

Among others, they had to submit an essay of 5 000 words on a prescribed topic. Following this, a semi-final was held at each university during which the students had to present their essays and the best student in each of the subject fields for that particular university was chosen. The students competed in the categories Agricultural Economics, Animal Science, and Crop Production. 

Great opportunity for benchmarking

In Agricultural Economics – the category in which Chéri-Lynn  was named the winner – the topic of land expropriation without compensation was investigated, and the question was put whether South Africa would derive any socio-economic benefit from the proposed expropriation.

In Animal Science – which was won by Mario – students had to investigate the South African meat classification system. The question which was asked was whether the current system could be reformed to meet the needs of modern meat consumers in terms of meat quality and whether an international grading system should be adopted.

The Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the UFS, Dr Frikkie Maré, said he was very proud of the students. Both of them are currently research assistants in the department.

“The UFS prepares its students very well for the workplace. There are many opportunities to get exposure in the industry; we have almost every week someone from a well-known company to talk to us as students, or even a course, a congress or a farmer’s day that we have to attend,” said Chéri-Lynn .

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