Auckland/Hauraki | Dairy Trainee of the Year

Emma Udell wants to explore the diverse on and off-farm opportunities dairying offers before cementing her long-term career goals within the industry.

“There are so many areas available, not just farm assistant or farm ownership, but whatever I do in future, it will definitely be within the dairy industry,” says the 22-year-old who is the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

In fact, Emma so enjoys dairying she wants to actively encourage other young people to consider it as a career. “There’s a big focus on staff well-being and a change in culture surrounding progression in the industry with new pathways being developed to allow people to move forward.”

She would also like to influence a change in the stigma surrounding environmental issues, and the public’s perception of the industry.

“My future farming goals are to continue working in the industry, encouraging other people to join and set an example for future generations who are thinking of joining.”

A first-time entrant, Emma was encouraged to enter the awards by a friend. Currently working as a farm assistant on KS & PK Kung’s 77ha Ngatea property, milking 240 cows, she won $4750 in prizes and the Keeper Life Communication & Engagement Merit Award.

Born and raised at Golden Bay in the South Island, Emma doesn’t come from a farming background, but an afterschool relief milking job introduced her to the industry.

“I realised how much I loved the industry, so I decided to continue on at the same farm post-schooling for one and a half seasons. From there, I spent some time travelling and exploring other career options, to find myself back full-time farming.”

That travelling included six-months in Canada where she worked in the equine industry. “Horses are a passion but for me the industry does not offer a viable career because it does not have the pathways that the dairy industry does, including through industry training, DairyNZ and the dairy industry awards.”

After her stint in Canada, Emma worked in Australia for three months as chaser bin driver for a grain harvester. Back in New Zealand in 2018, she worked in the equine industry until she was offered the farm assistant position on the Ngatea farm where she currently works.

Emma takes pride in knowing that she is reliable and trusted by her employers and has the skills and confidence to run the farm on a day-to-day basis.

“I’m quite social and like having a yak when I’m working with someone but once I’m into a routine of working on my own it’s easy to keep that momentum going.”

Next season, Emma is moving back to Golden Bay. “We will have been in the North Island for two years by then and it’s been awesome but it’s time to return home and I’ll be looking to further my career in the dairy industry there.”

Emma also intends to gain industry qualifications through Primary ITO or other tertiary study to build on her existing farming skills, including assisting with artificial insemination (AI), and to further investigate the opportunities dairying offers.

RUNNER UP in the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee category is Kaitlyn Lee from Mercer and Joel Mansell from Papakura was third.

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Joel Mansell

Agrifeeds Community & Industry Involvement Award – Kaitlyn Lee

Keeper Life Communication & Engagement Award – Emma Udell

DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Joel Mansell