Encouraging more Kiwis to get into the agriculture sector is a constant goal for those already within the industry. Furthermore, encouraging women in particular that a career in farming is desirable, rewarding and achievable is a specific goal of the Agri-women's Development Trust, which is hosting the 'Generation Change' event in Hamilton on Monday, October 2, to do just that.
Agri-Women's Development Trust General Manager Lisa Sims told REX host Dominic George that the Generation Change event is a beacon of hope and a guiding light for young women embarking on their journey into the food and fibre sector in New Zealand.
"The Generation Change is our one-day workshop and it's a mentoring program as well," she said.
"It's designed to support young women in tertiary study or training or early in their career to find a place and find a career that they love in the food and fibre sector."
A standout feature of this event is that attendees get to hear first-hand from Emma Poole, the young farmer of the year.
The Generation Change event isn't a one-dimensional affair. It is split into four key parts that include helping young women introspect on their strengths and values, inspiring them with leaders' stories, and building mentoring relationships.
"The first bit for these young women is really to work with them in a kind of facilitated way to help them kind of reflect on and connect with their strengths, their values, get them kind of in the zone when do they feel energized, what floats their boat, and that helps them to kind of start to think about where they might want to direct their energy."
Beyond the Generation Change event, the Agri Women's Development Trust also offers other enriching programs like Wahineo Te Whinawa and Escalator. According to Sims, these programs are setting positive ripple effects in motion, from women securing new jobs and roles they wouldn't have imagined, to some starting their own businesses.
As for personal development, Sims believes that looking at ourselves is the first step before we can lead others or create change in our sector. This focus on self-understanding and strength-based approaches is evident across all the Trust's programs.
"Once people start to get a sense of who they are and, probably more importantly, what really matters to them i.e., what are our values you can make those values lead choice about what you're doing.
"You know we're going to enjoy our work more, we're going to make more difference and we're going to hang in there longer."
In a sector traditionally dominated by men, initiatives like the Generation Change event and the work of the Agri Women's Development Trust are crucial in creating more opportunities and driving equality.
For all the young women ready to leave their footprint in the agri-sector, these platforms provide not just a starting point, but also a supportive community to thrive in their chosen career paths.
The future of New Zealand's food and fibre sector indeed looks bright, and much of that is thanks to the empowered young women who are ready to take the reins.
Listen to the full chat between Agri-Women's Development Trust General Manager Lisa Sims and Dominic George above.