Getting involved in the farm meant that I learned responsibility early. When I was 16, mum and dad headed off overseas for a couple of weeks during the school holidays, leaving me to look after the farm. At the time I was terrified, especially as it always seemed that something went wrong whenever mum and dad were away.
Although they had a lot more trust in me than what I had in myself. It was very stressful, and some days I had to milk before catching the school bus. Despite this, it increased the confidence I had in my own abilities, allowing me to learn the value of hard work – not many kids can say that at 16 they were in charge of the family business and main source of income!
So, I was very proud of myself when the farm was still in one piece when they returned.
Growing up on the farm certainly ensured that my future career would be in the agriculture or dairy industries. In the long run, I can’t wait to go back home and take over the family farm, but following dad’s advice, I’ve headed off-farm to first gain some experience working elsewhere.
After completing a Bachelor of Agriculture at The University of Melbourne, I joined Fonterra almost a year ago as part of the Farm Source Service Centre team. This role sees me helping farmers deal with issues including transport and milk collection, milk quality, and accessing monthly statements.
Having on-farm experience and knowledge allows me to better understand farmer issues and respond to them in the most helpful way possible. I know that when you’re up early and working out on the farm, you need whatever today’s problem is to be fixed quickly and efficiently.
We take around 125 calls a week. It’s good to know that we’re helping to make the lives of farmers a little bit easier, and I think they appreciate that I understand the day-to-day life of working on a farm, as well as the challenges they’re facing.
My mum has played a huge role in the path I’ve taken. For as long as I can remember, mum has been a full-time farmer and also worked part-time as a book keeper for a few local businesses. She’s also heavily involved in a lot of community group committees, which is really important in smaller, rural towns.
The biggest thing mum has instilled in me is a strong work ethic. She has taught me that I should always try my best and to not worry about things I can’t change – so I always try keep this in mind, although it’s sometimes easier said that done!