Group started to help rural women

Oamaru farmer and Agri-Women Development Trust’s impact leadership escalator programme...
Oamaru farmer and Agri-Women Development Trust’s impact leadership escalator programme participant Jo Hay.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Life on the farm can be lonely, especially if you have been a school teacher and used to the company of others.

Add in first-time mum stuck at home and you have a recipe for isolation.

North Otago farmer Jo Hay decided to change all that. She set up a group called Lip Gloss and Gumboots, for agricultural women to meet, discuss their ideas, promote agri events in the region and further their own development.

‘‘Lip Gloss and Gumboots revealed a large drive among agricultural women to further their personal and professional development. Local professionals have been so supportive and since forming, our members have learnt from lawyers, accountants, personal development specialists and coaches.’’

Mrs Hay, a Ravensdown shareholder, was then sponsored by the company to participate in the Agri-Women Development Trust’s (AWDT) impact leadership escalator programme.

‘‘Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.’’

She and husband Ross have been farming sheep and beef at Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru, since 2006. Mrs Hay was a teacher in Oamaru for six years, returning to farm life after the birth of their first child. Then she took part in the AWDT course, Understanding Your Farming Business.

‘‘On the farm I had picked up responsibility for handling the accounts. But the farming business course really increased my knowledge of farm operations.’’

But the real discovery was the value of connecting with a group of similarly-minded farming women. The experience and the course inspired her to apply for the escalator programme.

‘‘The biggest value is that it connects women across agricultural communities, empowering meaningful, positive collaboration,’’ she said.

Through the escalator programme she had met inspiration agricultural women from across New Zealand, who were also active in their communities.

‘‘Graduation was such an amazing experience. Not only did our entire cohort meet

up, but previous escalator alumni members travelled to see us complete the programme. I feel really supported and privileged for being part of this amazing group.’’

 

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