Looking forward to a challenge

Michaela McLeod is the first South Island Agricultural Field Days organising committee chairwoman. Photo: South Island Agricultual Field Days
Michaela McLeod is the first South Island Agricultural Field Days organising committee chairwoman. Photo: South Island Agricultual Field Days
Michaela McLeod is proud to be leading a ''family-friendly'' committee.

The Darfield-based business woman and mother of two is the South Island Agricultural Field Days organising committee's first chairwoman.

Ms McLeod will preside over the 2021 field days at the Kirwee site, near Christchurch.

''I have kind of wanted to do the role for some time, so I've been learning as much as I can. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.''

She has a bachelor of agricultural science degree with honours from Lincoln University and runs an independent agricultural research trials business with husband Ben.

The couple have two children, Joe (3) and Harriet (8 months).

''Joe is tractor crazy and I think it's quite good for kids to see you in a role other than being a parent, so I take them to meetings and working bees.

''We are pretty family-friendly. A lot of our members have young families and bring their kids along to meetings and days at the site.''

While the majority of members graduated from New Zealand Young Farmers, Ms McLeod followed a slightly different path.

''I was working for Seedforce and the engineer who was fixing the things I kept breaking was on the organising committee, so he asked me if I would get involved.''

That was nine years ago and she has held various roles, including helping out on the gate and car parking, organising the agri-innovation awards, catering and running the lifestyle section.

''I'm as prepared as I can be. Sometimes you've got to take on the challenge and see how you go.

''The main thing is having the support of the committee and we have a committee of 25 volunteers and they're all such hard workers.

''They get stuck in and they all enjoy doing it.''

Ms McLeod said she would like to see more women get involved.

''It's certainly a great thing to be involved in. The ethos is on professional development through the planning and organising of the event, so it's such a great opportunity.''

She said the field days had a successful formula, so her main focus would be on fine-tuning and improving all aspects of the event.

''I would really like to think our event is a celebration of farming and farmers, because it's quite a grim place at the moment.

''I would like to encourage more public to come through the gate and see the great range of innovations on display.''

Ms McLeod said as the committee began planning for the 2021 field days over the next few months, she would like to investigate the possibility of developing a field days app.

The app would include anything from identifying trade sites to finding one's car in the car park.

''The site is so big now it's hard to put a map on one page, so we need to look at better ways to help people find their way round.

''We had someone report their car stolen last time and it turned out it was parked in a different spot to where they thought, so we need to help them get back to their cars in the paddock.

''It could be by putting row numbers on the signage in the car park or having that function on an app.''

-By David Hill

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