Education seen as means

Bridget Huddleston, of Methven, is New Zealand Young Farmers lower South Island field officer and is keen to promote careers in the agricultural sector through TeenAg. She also wants to encourage more people to join Young Farmers clubs. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara.
Bridget Huddleston, of Methven, is New Zealand Young Farmers lower South Island field officer and is keen to promote careers in the agricultural sector through TeenAg. She also wants to encourage more people to join Young Farmers clubs. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara.
Bridget Huddleston, of Methven, sees education as a way to encourage more young people to consider a career in the primary sector, and uses New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) and TeenAg clubs as a vehicle to do that.

Ms Huddleston has been the NZYF lower South Island field officer for three months.

Part of her role is to look after the TeenAg clubs in Otago and Southland high schools, in addition to liaising with Young Farmers clubs.

''The first week of every month I am on the road, getting out visiting clubs in the evening and TeenAg clubs during the day,'' Ms Huddleston said.

''I like to spend lots of time organising that, killing as many birds with one stone and visiting as many clubs as possible.

''I think they appreciate a face to talk to rather than doing it by phone.''

One of her focuses was to increase membership for the Young Farmers clubs, she said.

''It is a bit of a team effort as everybody is trying to up the ante membership-wise and provide more activities to give more people an incentive to join.''

She also arranges leadership weekends for members.

A former primary school teacher, she is originally from near Lumsden and her family is now based in Hawea.

''I went to Lincoln University for four weeks and found it was not right for me at that time.''

She is now studying for a graduate diploma in rural studies through distance learning. Ms Huddleston is keen to encourage more young people to consider careers in the sector.

There are 45 TeenAg clubs throughout New Zealand and their role is to promote agriculture and agricultural careers to high school pupils and tertiary students as well as sending teams to compete in TeenAg competitions, which are held at regional and national Young Farmer Contest finals.

She is also involved in the career-focused Get Ahead programme, which gives young people information about the different and viable career opportunities in the primary sector.

''There is lots more to agriculture than just farming.

''It is a really important aspect of Young Farmers because, as New Zealand primary industries grow, we need all the global marketers, experts, scientists, economists and bank managers [we can get].''

She intends to establish a Young Farmers club at Telford and on the Taieri next year.

''When you belong to Young Farmers you get to see some amazing country and meet some amazing people and you don't necessarily have to come from a farming background,'' Ms Huddleston said.

She enjoys tramping and jet boating when not working.

• Young Farmers also runs AgriKidsNZ, a national club that promotes agriculture to primary school children and encourages teams to take part in competitions, which are usually held at regional and national Young Farmer Contest finals.

• Ag-In-Schools is a new programme that supports primary schools to develop structured learning through practical agriculture-based activities such as pet days.