A chance to learn, connect and grow

Winners of the 2018 BOP Dairy Industry Awards at the regional field day.

Twenty people will be telling judges about themselves, their roles, goals and achievements on-farm this month as judging gets underway for the three categories of 2019’s Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards.

But DIA regional awards manager for the BOP, Jodie Mexted says the goal is no longer to win an award – that’s bonus if it happens.

Really, the awards are all about learning, connecting and growing – and they’ve changed the event’s motto to demonstrate this.

“The awards motto used to be ‘Passion for progression’. This year it is: ‘Learn, connect, grow – and this really sums up what the awards are about.

“It’s about ongoing learning from others in the industry – because a big part of actually entering is the feedback you get from experienced judges, farmers and rural professionals. And the growth you can experience from the awards process – both in your personal life and in your business.”

Jodie says this year entrants are from Whakatane, Opotiki, Matata, Galatea, Waimana, Te Puke and Pongakawa.

“And there’s a mix of entrants across the three competitions. We have farm assistants, 2ICs, farm managers, lessees, sharemilkers and contract milkers entered.”

The BOP regional preliminary judging round for the Dairy Trainee of the Year category is February 14, followed by Finals judging on February 25.

Preliminary judging for both the Share Farmer and Dairy Manager of the Year categories is on February 12-14, with finals judging on February 26-28.

Jodie says entrants in the DMOTY category have judges come onto their farm – and they have 1.5 hours to present what they do, to them. “You can get them to meet at the cowshed or in the paddock etc and take them through whatever you’re been working towards or are in-charge of on-farm.

“SFOTY entrants also have judges visit them on-farm for two hours. And DTOTY entrants have to meet judges off-farm for a practical and interview session.”

Jodie says while some enter to competitively vie for the top honours, many enter as a benchmarking exercise for not only their businesses, farming careers and operations but their personal lives.

“I am not competitive, but I entered in 2012 for Dairy Trainee of the Year – and I actually learned so much – it’s basically free education.

“You get all of this feedback, people willing to come to you and volunteer their time, give you all their advice for absolutely nothing.”

With a Bachelor in hospitality and tourism, Jodie entered because she had no qualifications in farming. “I wanted to get experience and learn from others through entering.”

“This is why we try not to say the word ‘competition’ anymore – we call it the awards programme – because we also don’t want to turn people away from entering.

“Because it’s not about winning – it’s a bonus if you do.”

Jodie says this quashes the idea people have to feel they’re at a certain stage in their farm goals or careers to enter. “It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at – you’ve got this huge opportunity to learn, connect and grow.

“And I think you get more out of the awards if you don’t win the first time. I know past SFOTY winners who won their first time entering and are now guttered they cannot enter again to learn more and get more feedback, from our judges, to improve.”

Plus the awards is also about getting off-farm and meeting others in the region and industry. “Quite often on farms people don’t get this opportunity – they are too busy in day-to-day operations.”

BOP regional winners will be announced at a Regional Awards Dinner on March 13, at TECT Pongakawa, The Action Centre. Regional winners then go into national judging against winners from 11 other regions, with national winners announced in May.


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