The Burnside Hart Co-operative Education Trust and Silver Fern Farms are inviting shareholders to apply for a new Co-operative Governance Scholarship.

Up to two annual scholarships are available for farmer shareholders to assist them in applying to take part on the Fonterra Governance Development Programme and sit for a year as an observer on the Silver Fern Farms Board.

The Burnside Hart Co-operative Education Trust is administering the scholarships which subsidise the course fees and Board participation. The value of the scholarships is up to $20,000 per person. The Trust is a charitable trust established in 2008 by Silver Fern Farms to advance education and leadership training to those interested in enhancing their personal and governance skills for the benefit of the primary sector.

The Fonterra Governance Development Programme is an advanced course on co-operative governance for aspiring farmer Directors.

Chairman Rob Hewett says the Silver Fern Farms’ Board recognises the responsibility they have to grow the skills of aspiring farmer directors for the future of the co-operative as part of the Board’s succession planning programme.

“Through the Co-operative Governance Scholarship we intend to support those farmers who want to develop their capabilities to take on significant leadership roles in agriculture in the future. It is suitable for those looking for governance roles in New Zealand agri-business co-operatives.”

“We need motivated farmers to take a stake in the value chain, to develop themselves so they have the skills and capacity to take a leading role in their co-operative in the future. Our business and many other agri-business co-operatives in New Zealand are large, complex entities. To maintain farmer control, we need to ensure our farmer shareholders have the opportunity to develop their governance skills so when opportunities to govern their co-operative appear, they are ready to go. Successful applicants to this programme, and the observer role on our Board should assist in that.”

The scholarship builds on the introductory LEADing Board workshop run by the Burnside Hart Co-operative Education Trust.

Applications are to be made through the Burnside Hart Co-operative Education Trust. Applications open 4 March and close on Monday 20 April.