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The pair, who are sharemilkers and equity farmers in Underwood, have been preliminary judges for the Southland awards for the past three years.
They said the passion and enthusiasm for the dairy industry coming from young people in Southland was exciting to see.
Mr Johnston has judged the trainee section of the awards. He said trainees would benefit largely if they found a good employer to work for at the start of their careers.
''The pattern we see is there are a couple of good employers who train really good staff.
''As a trainee, I think the focus should be more on who you work for, rather than your wages.
''At the very start, it's not going to make much difference what your wage is, but you can learn a lot of really good habits and systems if you work for people who will spend the time to teach you.
''Sometimes choosing who you work for can be the key to moving up in the industry.''
Trainees entering the awards were passionate about their jobs, went out of their way to help out farm owners, and always used initiative, he said.
Mrs Johnston said it was inspirational to see young farmers moving through the ranks and entering awards such as the NZDIA.
''There's a lot of different systems and problem solving they show us.''
People think outside the square and make the most of their property.
''The good managers we see are not just milking, they're managing the vats, planting trees, looking after the farm as a business and showing leadership with their staff.''
For the Johnstons, the awards were not only about the recognition of winning an award, but also a great way to network with others in the industry.
People could often find new jobs without even looking if they had a wide network, Mrs Johnston said.
While people entering the awards would be nervous during their two-hour presentation to the judges, it was important to know the judges were probably just as nervous, she said.
''It takes a bit of concentration to listen to a presentation for about two hours at a time.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Award National Awards Dinner and Anniversary Ball will be held on Friday, May 9 in Auckland.