Mrs Weatherburn was awarded the 2023 Amabel Fulton APEN Award for excellence in extension by the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network at the organisation’s conference in Tasmania last month.
The award was in recognition for the design and delivery of the Generation Next programme, which aims to nurture and encourage current and future sheep and beef farmers.
In 2015-16, Mrs Weatherburn, along with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Southern South Island Council, identified the need for extension activity with the next generations of farmers in mind. They worked together to design and pilot Generation Next in Southland.
Described as a technical programme for practical people, it aims to help the current and next generation of farmers understand the financial basics and management of their business, develop better decision-making skills and understand technology and genetics within the industry, as well as understanding the importance of managing mental health and personal wellbeing, alongside industry goals and aims.
The programme involves three modules over six months. The first focuses on the farm business as a whole, the next on agri tools/technology and genetics and the final workshop is focused on meat appreciation.
The B+LNZ extension team actively supports the development of Generation Next from a regional to a national programme, reviewing and developing the content and delivery methodology. The programme is now offered across six locations — three in the North Island and three in the South Island.
The nomination form said Mrs Weatherburn was passionate about the primary sector and about supporting new entrants to the sector. The programme was testament to her commitment to effective extension, along with her energy and enthusiasm for seeing the sector thrive, it said.
Along with the B+LNZ Southern South Island Farmer Council and the B+LNZ extension team, she had helped make the Generation Next programme a very successful B+LNZ extension activity.
Mrs Weatherburn said the recognition came as "quite a surprise" and she did not think it had really hit home until she got home. The programme was very dear to her heart and she was very proud to receive the award. She was also very grateful to B+LNZ for the opportunity, as it would not have been possible without its support, she said.
"It’s one of those things that keeps giving, we keep developing and adapting it," she said.
Applications for the 2024 programme open in early January.