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The ANZ relationship associate, based in Ashburton, represented his home region of Taranaki in the competition and is now getting back into a normal routine since taking the national title.
“It was definitely a roller-coaster afterwards with lots of celebratory messages, interviews, emails and what not, so now things have settled down I’ve got my life back a bit.” he said.
Jake’s roots go back to Inglewood, Taranaki, where he grew up on his parent’s dairy farm, so he’s no stranger to practical farming work, despite his current role being in an office.
His role at ANZ sees him supporting relationship managers in their customer-facing roles and helping manage more than 100 customers.
He said being FMG Young Farmer of the Year helped him prove his credibility to rural customers not aware of his farming background.
“They love having a wee chinwag about Young Farmer of the Year, and it shows them that I’m not some city-slicker that sits in the bank and doesn’t get their hands dirty. It proves that I can do all the practical farming stuff too,” he said.
Fellow title winner James Robertson made history in 2019 when he became the youngest person to win the title.
He said Young Farmers had been a source of inspiration since he was little and being a part of Young Farmers over the years had presented him with a wealth of opportunities.
Like Jake, James grew up on his parent’s dairy farm. The farm is based in Cambridge.
James currently works as a technical assistant at Fonterra. He has worked for the co-operative over the past four years on a range of projects. His current role is fast-paced and varied, as he assists Fonterra’s managing director of co-operative affairs.
“Recently, I’ve spent time on the road consulting with farmers for the current capital structure review and have been working with the core team to sift through their feedback.
“Doing that groundwork resonates back to my upbringing and farming background which makes my role really fulfilling.”
Ahead of the grand final, competitors attended Fieldays at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, for a pre-grand final contest, and to get a feel for what they faced competing at a large agricultural event.
“It’s such a great place to connect with everyone. I caught up with so many people I wasn’t expecting to: school mates, industry contacts, university, work colleagues, and all sorts,” James said.
Jake and James are passionate about inspiring the next generation of young farmers.
James, who is on the Young Farmers board and the contest subcommittee, said the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year contest was a way young people could showcase their rural skillset among their peers.
“It’s rare that you see a competition that recognises school students who spend their weekends helping their parents on farm or farming as their part-time job.’’
During the grand final, finalists were required to give a speech. Jake’s topic was “What I wish school leavers who are non-farmers knew about opportunities in ag”.
“People think working in ag is just milking cows, mustering sheep and driving tractors, but there’s also opportunities available in science, marketing and business. I have mates from uni with non-farming backgrounds that are now on farm or in working in the primary industries,’’ he said.
“We should all be champions for our industry and tell our stories to kids, so they can realise the wealth of opportunities on offer and get inspired about New Zealand being a leader in this field.”