Growing up on 50 Acres in Taihape started Shelley Bath’s passion for all things Agricultural and Horticultural. Now fully immersed in the industry, Shelley lives and breathes the Ag industry, not only working full time for Horticentre Limited but also currently living on a Sheep, Beef and Cropping farm.
After an extended OE, Shelley started a degree in Equine studies but realised towards the end of her first year of uni that all the papers she had enjoyed had some element of horticulture in them; forestry, turf, pests; disease and vegetable cropping. She switched majors and graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science.
After graduating Shelley landed a role at Massey University as a Research technician. This position saw her working with Iwi throughout New Zealand via Tāhuri Whenua – the national Māori vegetable growers collective. Together they researched crops such as Kamokamo, Taewa (Māori potatoes) and Kānga (corn). Shelley then moved on to gain commercial experience working for Brownrigg Agriculture as a cropping technician, specialising in squash and maize.
Combining both experiences Shelley moved onto a career with Dow AgroSciences as a Development Biologist. In this role she conducted research and development trial work. This has led her on to where she is today, a Technical Field Representative for Horticentre Limited, specialising in Cropping and Outdoor vegetables. Twelve years working in the industry and Shelley has lost none of her passion for what she does. An active member of Hawke’s Bays Women in Horticulture, Shelley is proud to be an Agwoman.
“I feel that being a woman in hort is easier today than it was ten years ago” she explains. Women are more accepted in the industry now and Shelley feels that “although it can be difficult to juggle family and a career, people are more understanding these days and you can adapt, work from home, work in with colleagues if need be. Mobile phones and computers ensure that you are constantly in contact with growers and other Technical Field Reps throughout the country”.
Shelley’s greatest strength is her ability to build relationships with growers. “The ability to build strong relationships with clients is a key component of my role and once you do that then the job is relatively straightforward, walk the crops, identify any pests or diseases, look at the nutritional requirements and always ask yourself “Could this be done a different way that would be more advantageous to this crop/grower?”. That is why I chose to work with Horticentre, their core value of “Driving Crop Performance” coincides with what I want to achieve”.
When asked what her future goals are, Shelley’s response is very much aligned with her values: “My biggest goal would be to continue to help clients grow the best crops they possibly can – be that outdoor vegetables, forage brassicas, maize or pasture, through a combination of providing sound technical advice and walking their crops”. “I want to continue to grow my knowledge, things are always changing in this industry so you have to stay ahead of the game – look at the impact of Stemphylium disease in onions this year for example. I want to deliver the best service possible to my clients”.
Shelley this positive and “clients’ needs are most important” attitude is what makes you so well respected in the industry. Horticulture is a super important part of the primary industries, as well as our food chain!