Young Farmers post 'best job in the world'

Young Farmers field officer Biddy Huddleston covers the area south of the Rakaia River. Photo by NZ Young Farmers.
Young Farmers field officer Biddy Huddleston covers the area south of the Rakaia River. Photo by NZ Young Farmers.
Biddy Huddleston's job is all about putting Young Farmers ''out there''.

Ms Huddleston (24) is lower South Island field officer for New Zealand Young Farmers.

She covers a vast patch from the Rakaia River south, responsible for all the clubs and secondary schools in the Aorangi and Otago-Southland regions.

''I have the best job in the world ... driving around talking to Young Farmers and kids about agriculture,'' she said.

Based at Methven, where the organisation's head office is, Ms Huddleston grew up in Otago and Southland.

Her parents live at Hawea, and she has a brother and sister living in Central Otago, so always enjoys being back in Otago. After finishing secondary school, she was accepted into both Lincoln University and Teachers College.

She chose Lincoln but, after four weeks, made the decision to switch and headed to teachers college.

After completing her studies, she taught new entrants for two years before joining Young Farmers in August last year.

Not initially knowing what to expect, Ms Huddleston had been impressed with the warm welcome.

''All the clubs have been so cool. I have been incredibly lucky,'' she said.

While still learning the ropes, she joined Young Farmers about the same time as its new chief executive Terry Copeland, so that had been ''very cool''.

Membership of Young Farmers came in ''peaks and troughs''. There were currently 12 clubs in Otago-Southland, which she was ''more than happy with''. [North Otago comes under Aorangi].

Ms Huddleston hoped to see the establishment of a Middlemarch club and also one at Te Anau. Anyone keen to get involved in those potential clubs should contact her or any other Young Farmer member.

There was so much more than just tangible benefits in joining the organisation.

''It really is: you get out of it what you put into it,'' she said.

Each club was completely different, yet they all did some ''fantastic'' things for their communities. There was also the networking and personal development involved.

Otago-Southland had traditionally been a very strong region, particularly in hands-on practical competitions, and she intended pushing the ''next step'' that could be taken with Young Farmers, particularly personal development and leadership. The region was also very strong for AgriKids and TeenAg competitions.

The Young Farmers year was starting with some club training at Roxburgh on January 29 and Gore on February 12 and she was hoping for a good turnout.

The Otago-Southland regional final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest is being held in Alexandra on February 22.

The practical section will be held at Pioneer Park with the evening show at the Alexandra Community Centre.

The regional finalists are Simon Topham, Hayden Gentle and John White, all from Nightcaps YFC, James Gardyne (Waitane), Hamish Robinson (Lincoln), Dean Rabbidge (Wyndham), and Logan Wallace and James Lawn (Clinton/South Otago).

The Aorangi regional final is being held at Fairlie on Easter Monday, the practical section in conjunction with the Mackenzie Highland Show, and the evening session at the Mackenzie Community Centre.

The regional finalists are Stafford Adams and Cole Harris (Milford/Clandeboye), James Davidson (Hinds), Sam Bryan (Foothills), Nigel Woodhead (Pendarves), Sonja Dobbie (Five Forks), Marshall Smith (Upper Waitaki) and Steven Smit (Glenavy/Waimate). The grand final of the contest will be held in Christchurch in July.

Also on the calendar are a series of Get Ahead days, being held on March 3 at the Gore Town and Country Club and Totara Estate on March 5.

Similar to a careers expo, it was about ''putting primary industries out there'' for senior secondary pupils.