NZ Young Farmers: Growing leaders
4 December 2018
Taranaki dairy farmer Dylan Brunton credits NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) for growing his skills and making it easier to meet people.
The 26-year-old is in his second season as a herd manager on a 500-cow farm in Cardiff near Stratford. He arrived in Taranaki from Massey University three years ago and knew hardly anyone.
“I joined Central Taranaki Young Farmers to meet other like-minded people,” says Dylan, who was raised in Dannevirke. “It’s a great way to make friends. Some of my best friends are people I have met through the club.”
Dylan’s first job in the dairy sector was on a 600-cow high-input farm in Okaiawa.
“I started as a tractor operator. It really suited my interests. We did a lot of crops, such as maize silage,” he says.
He progressed to second-in-charge on the split-calving farm, taking on more management responsibility. When he joined Central Taranaki Young Farmers, the club only had a handful of members.
“That core group was determined to grow the club so it could provide more opportunities for young people to socialise. That’s the best thing about NZ Young Farmers clubs – if you’re new to an area or work alone, they’re an easy way to make friends.”
Central Taranaki Young Farmers’ membership hit 50 people last year and it was named the country’s best NZ Young Farmers club. It has an official meeting once a month, but active members see each other quite frequently.
“The great thing about NZ Young Farmers is you get out what you put in. This week I’ve hosted a pot luck dinner to organise a nude fundraising calendar which our region’s five NZYF clubs are producing. A group of us covered a local farmer’s silage stack, plus we had our club’s AGM” Dylan says.
Dylan also competed in a qualifying event for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year, making it through to the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final in Wellington earlier this year.
“It’s an awesome day. You get to meet people from other clubs and I always learn a new skill. One of the aims of the contest is to showcase New Zealand’s food producers.
“We were competing right in the heart of the capital. It was a real buzz to have people from town interested in what we do.”
Dylan’s involvement with NZ Young Farmers has also provided opportunities for him to develop his leadership skills.
He’s a mentor to the TeenAg club at Stratford High School, vice-chair of the committee overseeing Taranaki’s NZ Young Farmers clubs, and has just been elected chair of his club.
“Succession planning is a big part of our club. We encourage younger members to take on small roles, so when older members age out they can step up and replace them. I’ve served as the club’s vice-chair for the past two years. That’s been a fantastic grounding.”
Dylan encourages anyone under the age of 31 to give NZ Young Farmers a go.
“Most clubs are really active in their local communities, so if you’re new to an area it’s a great way to get your name out there. If employers have heard positive things about you that can be beneficial when you’re looking for a new job.”
The organisation has a network of almost 80 clubs across the country and you don’t have to be a farmer to join.