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From ''townie'' to New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year in three years, Simone Smail, of Invercargill, has come a long way.
Being presented with the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year award at Stadium Southland on Saturday night, Miss Smail (24)
thanked her family for their support, her bosses, Steve and Tracy Henderson, for giving her a start in the industry, and everybody else she had met along the way.
''I wouldn't be here without you and every little snippet I've picked up from you. Three years ago I did not think this would be possible.''
Growing up in Invercargill, she had a passion for animals that led her to the industry after studying as a veterinary nurse and a large animal technician.
She has worked for the Hendersons for the past three years and next season will move into a 2IC position on a different farm.
Off-farm, Miss Smail was continuously upskilling, and had studied general skills with Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre near Balclutha. She had completed milk quality and livestock husbandry courses and was working towards primary ITO level 4.
Judges said she showed anyone could go dairying and succeed if they worked hard.
''I'm very, very honoured to be dairy trainee of the year,'' Miss Smail said.
She also won the Dairy Trainee of the Year DeLaval Communication and Engagement Award Merit Award.
Runner-up was Donna McKinley, of Central Plateau, and third place went to Quinn Youngman, of Auckland-Hauraki.
The Share Farmer of the Year award went to Daniel and Gina Duncan, of Northland.
Runners-up were Chris and Sally Guy, of Auckland-Hauraki, and third place went to Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson, of Waikato.
Gerard Boerjan, of Hawke's Bay-Wairarapa, was named Dairy Manager of the Year, with Will Green, of Canterbury-North Otago second.
Southlander Jaime McCrostie rounded out the top three, being awarded third place.
Miss McCrostie also won the PrimaryITO Power Play Merit Award.
She is the farm manager for her employer, Steve Smith, and farm owners AB Lime on the 370ha, 930-cow farm at Winton.
The judges described Jaime as a ''machine'' who was extremely capable, energetic, focused and operating great systems on the farm.
Her excellent use of technology was commended.
Gore share farmers Simon and Hilary Valley won the DairyNZ Human Resources Award in the Share Farmer of the Year Merit Awards.