Bay of Plenty dairy manager Bridie Virbickas has cooked up a novel way to fund being on the Fonterra Governance Development Programme.

To my surprise, I was recently accepted to do the Fonterra Governance Development Programme. To be honest, I thought I wasn’t going to be successful, but putting my name forward would give me a better shot at being accepted next year. I was thrilled. Then it dawned on me that I needed to find $7500!

I was trying to think of different scholarships I could apply for but instead I turned to fundraising, something that would get the farming community involved.

I decided to play to my strengths and run a few fundraising dinner parties. I absolutely love to cook for others, so I thought, why not charge people?!

The dinners have been a huge success, not only financially, but also bringing the farming community together in groups that they wouldn’t usually socialise with. A lot of the farmers who have attended have told me that it is great to see someone younger from the Bay of Plenty putting their hand up for these types of opportunities.

At local meetings, whether it be Federated Farmers, Fonterra, or any other meeting for that matter, I am by far the youngest and nearly the only one without grey hair. The people who fill the room are those who worked so hard over the years to make our industry so great. For years they have been attending meetings, putting their ideas forward and in some cases fighting their corner.

When I look around the room, I do wonder who will be sitting here when all these passionate farmers are no longer around. When the invite to my dinner parties went out, and they learnt I was doing the governance programme, I realised that a lot of the farmers sitting in those meeting rooms were having the same concerns.

They look around and see a room of grey hair and think, who are the young people coming up to take over from us? We are not going to be here forever!

If you are not a key decision maker or the person who holds the votes on the farm, it is still important for you to attend and support these meetings. We are the future of this industry and we need to get more involved! We need to keep our finger on the pulse and give our input when necessary as it is our future that decisions are being made for now, so why not have your say and show your support.

There have been some long days of prepping and cooking, but now the real work starts with the governance programme starting this month! I have always naturally gravitated towards leadership roles and feel that the governance development programme is a great next step for me and my career in the agricultural industry.

I have not quite reached my fundraising target so I will be running more dinner parties. If you are interested in attending a four-course meal in the lovely Ohope, don’t hesitate to get in touch! I have been told that I have missed my calling and I am wasted milking cows so the food must be okay…