City girl with a feel for farming

Julia Beijeman is a city girl who was drawn to the rural sector from a young age.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand environment projects manager grew up in Christchurch but has always enjoyed connecting with farmers.

"Our rural sector is a massive part of our country and there’s only one degree of separation," she said.

"While I grew up in town, I used to go out and stay on friends’ farms and helped with lambing and things like that."

Ms Beijeman studied forestry science at the University of Canterbury before embarking on a career in policy analysis and environmental management.

"When I graduated in 2005 there were only three women in my year. I have always been interested in the natural world and the environment and forestry seemed like a good option.

"It’s applied science and includes commerce, the environment and chemistry, and it was a good taster to set me up in different careers."

Since graduating, Ms Beijeman has worked in Vietnam, where she taught English, travelled through Africa and worked in Western Australia and Wellington in environmental-type roles.

Having previously worked for Beef + Lamb in other roles, Ms Beijeman took over as environment projects manager in January, based in Christchurch.

"I’m really fortunate in my role. I like to get out and work with farmers as much as possible, but it’s about making sure things are ticking along, so I’ve been able to do it remotely."

The role has included overseeing four targeted catchment projects, including Thompsons Creek in Central Otago and the Mimihau catchment in Southland.

"It’s about getting the farmers together and helping them to develop catchment plans and then preparing the farm environment plans to work in with that.

"Farm environment plans are a good initiative but when you can start to connect these at a catchment level, you can have a greater impact on the environmental outcomes.

"You might find that 80% of the sediment is coming from 20% of the catchment, so by pooling the resources you might make more of an impact on the overall catchment."

While a lot of her work is done behind the scenes, Ms Beijeman enjoyed talking to farmers and offering advice.

"I’m happy for farmers to ring me and if I can’t provide the advice, I can certainly connect them to the right people."

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