Sam Williams is the fourth returning Grand Finalist in 2012 after he won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final for The National Bank Young Farmer Contest on Saturday (March 17th).
Sam cruised to victory at the Mystery Creek Events Centre - winning by a margin of nearly 30 points.
The 27 year old last competed at the Grand Final in 2010 in Gore. Also heading back for their second chance at Grand Final is Otago/Southland's Pete Gardyne, Aorangi's Andrew Scott and Tasman's Michael Lilley.
Sam competed against Andrew and Pete in Gore and is keen to catch up with them in Dunedin in May. He's also excited to get another chance at Grand Final and will be looking forward to being protected from the elements in the Forsyth Barr Stadium on the Practical Day.
"Hopefully it won't be as cold as it was in Gore - and there should be less mud too!"
Sam had a year off from the Contest last year: "After Gore I knew I'd be back - I just wasn't sure when. But it was good to have a year off and it's paid off - I've done quite a few different things in the last 12 months."
That included heading to the USA for five weeks as part of a group study exchange with Rotary International. This gave Sam the chance to grow his knowledge by experiencing different farming systems on a very different scale to New Zealand. Sam has also been a member of toastmasters for the last couple of years and admits that his speech delivery on Saturday night was a bit better than it was a couple of years ago.
The experiences he's had in the past twelve months were evident in the weekend. Not only did he convincingly win a spot at Grand Final; he also took out the Lincoln University Agri-growth Challenge, the AGMARDT Agri-business Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-skills Challenge.
Sam holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) from Lincoln University and is an Agribusiness Consultant based in Otorohanga. He also helps out on the farm he part owns with his parents. Sam has a share in 134ha of the 366ha block. The operation includes a 360 cow dairy unit, 280 ewes are lambed and maize is grown for silage.
Sam said that the variety of his day-to-day job has helped give him the knowledge to cope with the variety of skills tested in the Contest.
"There's a lot to it [the Contest]. My financial knowledge helped with the exam in the morning and the modules were quite varied - it was the whole package."
Sam has been a member of the North King Country Club for six years and has held various positions within New Zealand Young Farmers at Club, District and Regional level. He is engaged to Brooke and the pair plan to marry in February 2013.
Sam took away over $10,000 worth of prizes for his efforts on Saturday. The generous prize pack included a Honda XR125 two-wheeled farm bike valued at $4000, a $1500 Lincoln University Scholarship, $1000 cash and $500 towards a capability development programme from AGMARDT, $1000 worth of Ravensdown quality fertiliser products, $1000 from The National Bank, clothing valued at $750 from Swanndri and Silver Fern Farms provided a package of quality produce valued at $500.
Dwayne Cowin was second followed by Dan Brice who also won the Silver Fern Farms Agri-sport Challenge. Fourth place went to Brett Steeghs.
The AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg Regional Competitions also took place at the Mystery Creek Events Centre. The top three teams from each competition were also invited to head to Grand Final in Dunedin on May 25th.
Representing the Waikato/Bay of Plenty AgriKidsNZ contingent are: The Gumboot Gang from Morrinsville Intermediate, Blue Lightening from St Peter's Cambridge and Ngahinapouri School and the Mighty Milkers from Te Kuiti Primary School.
Ben Brogden (St Paul's Collegiate) and Brendon Masters (Bethlehem College) were first in the TeenAg Competition followed by Dasham Singh and Kalbir Singh from Te Awamutu College. Third place went to Josh Hill and William Malcolm from Forest View High School.