A 24-year-old Te Awamutu vet, who’s just been named Waikato/Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year, is one of only six woman nationally to ever qualify for the contest’s grand final since it began in 1969.
And Emma Dangen will compete alongside her good mate Georgie Lindsay, who’ll represent the Tasman region in the grand final – the first time in the contest’s 51-year history two women will be competing.
“Georgie is a good mate. It’ll be neat to attend grand final together,” says Emma, who grabbed her regional title in late-March, saying: “I’m speechless. It’s been a massive day” as she received a standing ovation from a crowd at the Matamata Racecourse.
Emma is also the first woman from the Waikato/BOP region to make it to the grand final since Louise Collingwood in 2004.
Emma’s journey in this year’s Young Farmer contest began by entering and winning the Waipa Skills Contest late last year – now she’s won the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Young Farmer of the Year contest she’ll compete in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final in Hawke’s Bay in July.
One of five siblings – with brother Tim Dangen this year competing Northern regional final – Emma grew up grew up on a farm at Muriwai Beach on Auckland’s rugged west coast.
She’s competed in three regional finals of the contest – placing fourth in 2016, and second in the Taranaki/Manawatu regional final last year – and says winning the contest has always been a dream of hers. “I’m really excited. This has always been a dream of mine. My brother encouraged me to enter because his boss Simon Hopcroft won the grand final in 2004.”
Contestants in the Waikato/BOP regional final in late-March had to tackle a series of gruelling modules, including a fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz. “We had to develop an international marketing pitch for a NZ smoothie product and construct a roadside stall to sell vegetables,” says Emma.
“We also had to assess the weight and age of dairy goats and determine the annual income from each doe. I really enjoyed that module.”
Emma’s parents Robyn and Lyall, her brother Tim, who farm together at Muriwai northwest of Auckland, and her fiancé Chris Poole were in the audience.
Emma won $12,000 worth of prizes, including an XR150 Honda farm bike. She also won the innovation prize and the award for showcasing food production.
Emma’s worked as a vet at Vetora in Te Awamutu since January, after completing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Massey University. She lives with her fiancé on a 750-cow dairy farm at Pirongia.
Contract milker Josh Cozens, 30, who represented the region at the grand final last year, came second.
Sophia Clark, 30, who’s a 50/50 sharemilker and a forage agronomist with PGG Wrightson, placed third. She won the prize for outstanding leadership, and the award for championing environmental best practice. Apprentice engineer Isaac Billington, 23, was named the most tech-savvy contestant.