Third time's a charm: Zac Thomas takes out Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year title

Third time's a charm: Zac Thomas takes out Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year title

It was third time lucky for Mataura's Zac Thomas as he took out the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Otago/Southland title on Saturday ahead of the other seven regional finalists vying for the title.

His journey is marked by an unyielding mental strength and practical farming know-how, attributes that served him well in the arduous competition that pushes contestants to their limits. 

Throughout the conversation, Thomas reflects on his experience, stating, "No, I didn't have any expectations coming into the weekend. I just was there to have a bit of fun."

Despite his humble approach, it was his ability to stay mentally focused and draw from past competition experiences that gave him an edge. 

"Experience definitely helps... the experience factor does play a big part in it." 

Thomas delves into the details of the competition, discussing how he excelled in the agri-sports head-to-head challenges and what might be called 'generic farm tasks', that he particularly enjoys. 

However, he candidly shares the hurdles he faced, including the pressure of public scrutiny and dealing with daily tasks, which were outside his sheep farming expertise. 

"Being a sheep farmer, dairy always gives me a bit of a hiccup," he reveals, underscoring the diversity of skills required in the competition. 

Listeners also get a glimpse into the revised format of the competition and how Thomas adapted to these changes. The new structure involved a preliminary contest the day before the main event, followed by an exam and practical challenges. His ability to cope with consecutive high-pressure days reflects his farming routine.

"I'm quite used to having to back up big days at work, so having to do it in competition wasn't any difference in that sense." 

Thomas' connection to his community shines through as he discusses his involvement with the Waitane Young Farmers Club and their collective efforts in local events and fundraisers. This community engagement highlights the broader role of farmers in rural society beyond the farm gates. 

As he looks forward to the grand final in Hamilton, he acknowledges the need to address his weaknesses and harness his day-to-day farm work as preparation. Facing the challenge of stepping into the spotlight, Thomas is set to push his limits once again. 

"It'll put me outside my comfort zone a bit... but I'm looking forward to it and hoping just to embrace it." 

Listen to the full chat between Zac Thomas and Dominic George above.

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