Recreation Aotearoa Crowns the 2023 Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year

Last week, Recreation Aotearoa awarded the winner of 2023 Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year, Renee Johnson from Bark Limited.

This esteemed programme aims to inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators in Horticulture across New Zealand. It was a very tight competition, and we thank all the competitors for their contribution and hard work.

The Young Amenity Horticulturist competition, an annual national event organized by Recreation Aotearoa, was run as an online programme in partnership with Botanic Gardens New Zealand this year. Our judges praised Renee's outstanding performance, noting her well-researched speech, clear articulation during interviews, and her innovative initiative of creating newsletters for retirement villages to keep residents informed about ongoing horticultural projects.

Reflecting on her victory, Renee Johnson said, "After falling in love with gardening, I heard about the competition in my first year in the industry. Since then, I'd been quietly working towards getting my qualifications and confidence up so I could enter. This year, with some encouragement from my training advisor, Clint at Bark Ltd, I was ready to go for it. There were some thought-provoking questions asked by the lovely judges throughout the interview process, and the other entrants brought their A-game with the speeches they prepared." Renee eagerly anticipates the opportunities her win will open in her horticultural journey.

The Young Amenity Horticulturist competition serves as a remarkable platform for young enthusiasts to enhance their skills, knowledge, and professional development, ultimately leading to participation in the Young Horticulturist of the Year Grand Final. Mentoring and support are integral aspects of the journey, culminating in the winner representing the ‘Amenity Horticulture’ sector for awards, prizes, and recognition among peers from various sectors of the horticulture industry.

Garrett Blair, the Parks, Play and Open Spaces Programme Manager at Recreation Aotearoa, commended the competition's finalists, stating, "The 2023 Young Amenity Horticulturist of the Year competition identified very special, intelligent, and inspiring young leaders. The passion they all exhibited for the industry they represent could be felt throughout the competition. The industry is very fortunate to have them, and they will undoubtedly become leaders for the future."

Renee Johnson has been selected as the winner to represent the industry at the National Young Horticulturist of the Year competition in Auckland on 7-8 November. Recreation Aotearoa extends its heartfelt congratulations to Renee and eagerly anticipates her performance in November.

Recreation Aotearoa remains committed to representing Amenity Horticulture and continuing this programme in the coming year, aligning with its broader objective of advocating for high-quality recreation opportunities that benefit New Zealanders, particularly the next generation.

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