Nurturing new talent: An inside look at the Fairlight Foundation

Nurturing new talent: An inside look at the Fairlight Foundation

The Fairlight Foundation is known for its dedication to the farming industry and its hands-on approach to nurturing young talent. 

Its Executive Director Laura Koot told REX host Dominic George that the unique transition support that Fairlight offers to its interns as they move from education to the industry plays a critical role in preparing these future junior shepherds for their industry roles. 

"Every time I mention the fact that they've only got four months left of their time at Fairlight, they get panic-stricken faces," she said.

"But they are getting ready to graduate and move into the industry as junior shepherds that are going to be blimmin' proficient on farm tasks and have their professional hat on."

Key to this preparation are CV workshops, delivered by industry experts. 

"Nancy Ford used to be the head of recruitment for Parmu. She's in a different role now, but every year she comes in at about this time and holds a workshop with the interns to help them tidy up their CV and cover letter." 

Koot highlighted the importance of tailoring CVs to the industry and making sure to highlight not only technical skills but also interpersonal ones.

Aside from preparing for future employment, the Fairlight Foundation also exposes interns to various aspects of farming through industry visits. Recently, the interns attended Beef and Lamb workshops in Dunedin, providing them with a unique learning experience. 

"The interns have gone to these series of workshops for the last three years, and they are so valuable. 

"They're networking with other young farmers in the region."

In addition to these workshops, the interns are looking forward to a visit to Lake Howe Air Station, another opportunity for networking and industry exposure.

"Events like this are not just about the information that the interns are taking away. It's also about the networking and the chance to meet other people in our industry," Koot stressed.

Of course, training at the Fairlight Foundation is not all classroom-based. Koot gave a glimpse into the hands-on training the interns are receiving, from working with dogs to operating tractors. 

"Every year it is the most frustrating and challenging aspect of the program for interns, but also the most rewarding," Koot said of the pup training.

In all, the Fairlight Foundation seems to provide an all-round education for its interns, blending practical, on-the-ground experience with valuable industry insight and contacts. 

As Koot puts it, "The more exposure we can give them to different farms, different ways of operating, the more well-rounded their education is."

Laura Koot's passion for nurturing new talent in the farming industry is evident in her work with the Fairlight Foundation.

Indeed, with the dedicated team at the Fairlight Foundation and their commitment to training the next generation of shepherds, it's safe to say that the future of farming is in capable hands.

Listen to the full chat between Fairlight Foundation Executive Director Laura Koot and Dominic George above.

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