Taking young farmers reins

Ash-Leigh Campbell is the newly elected New Zealand Young Farmers board chairwoman. Photo: New Zealand Young Farmers
Ash-Leigh Campbell is the newly elected New Zealand Young Farmers board chairwoman. Photo: New Zealand Young Farmers
New Zealand Young Farmers has elected its second board chairwoman.

Ash-Leigh Campbell, a North Canterbury farm manager, was elected chairwoman of the eight-member board earlier this month, becoming just the second woman to lead the board after Hilary Phillips filled the role between 2004 and 2006.

''I'm super excited and privileged to be holding this role and the support from my fellow board members has been amazing.''

Ms Campbell was elected to the New Zealand Young Farmers board in July, as one of four women on the eight-member board.

''It's really exciting to see that diversity. I guess it just comes down to who's best for the role.''

She said she wanted to focus on continuing to grow the organisation and ultimately leave it in a stable position, encouraging young people to pursue a career in agriculture.

One of her first tasks will be announcing a new chief executive to replace Terry Copeland, who stepped down after last month's 50th anniversary FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final to take on the role of Federated Farmers chief executive.

''We have been impressed by who we have interviewed through this process and we hope to appoint someone in the next few months.''

Trevor McIntyre is filling the role of acting chief executive of New Zealand Young Farmers in the meantime.

The organisation has a network of almost 80 clubs, runs the iconic Young Farmer of the Year contest and works in schools to get students excited about career opportunities in the primary industries.

A major focus in recent years has been encouraging more young women to compete in the Young Farmer of the Year contest and Ms Campbell said this had been successful at district level, with two women going on to compete in each of the last two Tasman regional finals.

''We have been extremely successful in getting women to compete in the local competitions and it's just a matter of when, not if, a woman wins Young Farmer of the Year.''

Ms Campbell is a technical farm manager with Ngai Tahu Farming Ltd, overseeing the management of eight dairy farms and one dairy support farm at Eyrewell, near Oxford.

''I spend half the week in the office (in Christchurch) and half the week on farm. I love doing both, but especially on days like this it's great to be on farm in the sunshine.''

She is a previous Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award finalist and holds a diploma in agriculture and a diploma in farm management from Lincoln University. She is also completing a bachelor of commerce in agriculture.


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