Amy makes finals
Murchison dairy farm worker Amy White is among five women who will go head to head with five men in a bid to become the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.
The winner will be named at a black tie dinner in Auckland tomorrow.
The contest's national convener Chris Keeping said the women this year showed they could match the guys, and that a dairy farming career was one they could excel in.
White, who works on the Todd dairy farm in Murchison but is about to move to a farm in Rakaia, said being selected as a finalist was "pretty cool", especially as she had to beat 18 others, including her brother Daniel White.
"He was pretty happy for me," she said.
White grew up on a Marlborough dairy farm. "I think there's a really good future for it and it's a good lifestyle if you can manage the work and having an outside lifestyle.
"It's hard work but there are plenty of benefits."
White said she also really liked cows, and working in an area of livestock where it was possible to build a rapport with the animals.
Keeping said the trainee finalists were highly skilled and educated, with five holding tertiary degrees, and another two having completed apprenticeships.
"They are young and ambitious, they enjoy what they do and they can see opportunities within a dairy farming career pathway that will lead them to their end goal of farm ownership, or the like."
Keeping said the youngest trainee finalist, Alice Gysbertsen from the Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa region, was only 19 years old but had considerable dairy farming experience having grown up on a dairy farm.
By contrast, Canterbury/North Otago's Isaac Vujcich, 28, was the oldest finalist. He has a business studies degree majoring in marketing and management, and worked in IT for four years before switching careers to dairying.
The trainees are on properties ranging in size from milking 180 cows up to 800 cows, from Kerikeri in the north to Winton in the south.
"The dairy trainee contest is now by far the largest and most competitive of the three competitions run by the dairy awards, with 292 entries received for the 2014 contest," Keeping said.
White said the co-ordinator at her training organisation, Primary ITO, encouraged her to enter the awards.
She first had to take part in a couple of practical modules, demonstrate basic farm skills, undergo an interview that included discussion on a planned career path and general farm knowledge.
The next stage of the contest that involved drafting cows and scoring their condition, basic motorbike maintenance skills, and a formal, 15-minute interview.
The dairy industry awards are supported by Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, RD1, Triplejump, and industry partner Primary ITO (formerly AgITO).
Friday's awards event will include announcement of the winner of the 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year. The winners will share in a prize pool worth more than $170,000.
The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year finalists: West Coast/top of the south, Amy White; Northland, Matthew Snedden; Auckland/Hauraki, Marion Reynolds; Bay of Plenty, Cameron Luxton; Central Plateau, Ruth Hone; Taranaki, Ben Frost; Manawatu, Hayley Hoogendyk; Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa, Alice Gysbertsen; Canterbury/North Otago, Isaac Vujcich; Southland/Otago, Josh Lavender.