In a quirky twist of fate, a pair of spirited young dairy farmers have kicked up their gumboots to fund a life-changing adventure at Outward Bound, hoping to sow the seeds of resilience and growth in their farming comrades.
Emma Blom, a 21-year-old agricultural whiz from Lincoln University, embarked on an Outward Bound course that not only equipped her with skills fit for the farm but also unleashed newfound potential in her personal life. Inspired by the transformative experience, she donned her gumboots and milk-stained overalls during lockdown, traversing her flat's garden in a half-marathon spectacle.
Emma's gumboot run wasn't just a whimsical display of farming fashion; it was a fundraiser aimed at sponsoring another young farmer's Outward Bound journey. The grassroots effort attracted support from farmers, families, friends, businesses, and even strangers, creating a ripple effect of generosity.
“The run was a lot of fun and tapped into the skills of endurance and perseverance I learned at Outward Bound. It inspired me to give back to the farming community," she reflected.
"I hope I have started a ripple effect, with young farmers supporting each other to attend Outward Bound for many years to come.”
Emma, currently pursuing an environment and society degree at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, emphasises her commitment to sustainable farming. Her future plans involve returning to her parents' Southland farm, where she envisions putting her newfound skills to practice.
Passing the baton of opportunity, Emma selected 30-year-old Southland dairy farmer Victoria as the recipient of the Outward Bound experience. Victoria, initially unfamiliar with the program, sought to step out of her comfort zone and acquire skills applicable to farming.
“Outward Bound helped me discover what I’m capable of. It’s something you don’t know until you are there living it, doing it,” Victoria shared.
Her experience included a digital detox, spending two nights solo in the bush, and gaining a profound sense of self-awareness.
“Sometimes we just need to stop and appreciate what’s in front of us,” Victoria mused, highlighting the importance of pausing in our fast-paced lives.
She also stressed the relevance of teamwork, a crucial aspect of both Outward Bound and farming, in accomplishing tasks and making work rewarding.
Back on the farm, Victoria is eager to share her adventure tales with fellow farmers and their bovine companions. She now hopes to pass on the torch, encouraging another Kiwi dairy farmer to embrace the Outward Bound challenge.
DairyNZ lead advisor for people, Jane Muir, applauded Emma and Victoria's initiative, noting that their experience exemplifies the best in the dairy farming community—connection, teamwork, and continuous learning.
“It’s great to see farmers making time for themselves where they can recharge their batteries, reflect and prioritize what is important to them,” said Jane, emphasising the importance of personal well-being within the farming community.
In the heart of New Zealand's farmlands, a pair of gumboot-clad visionaries are proving that sometimes, all it takes is a whimsical run to kickstart a life-altering journey for the greater good of the farming fraternity.