When i was younger, I always wanted to be a dairy farmer. Random “dream” to have, but I loved cows, I loved being outdoors, and I though riding motorbikes would be wicked. Fast foward to when I was 17, I was working in the dairy industry. I worked on two different farms, the first one for one year (which i hated, but that’s a different story) and the second one for about four years (which I really did enjoy!) I decided somewhere along the way that I wanted to do something different. i loved farming, but I saw the impact it had on our environment. Plus I knew there were other farms out there who did a horrible job (the first job, for example!).
So I took myself off to uni, I studied a Bachelor of Environmental Management and Planning. My ultimate end goal would be to either work for my own iwi in an environmental capacity, or to be a farm advisor. I think I need to do a few more courses yet (namely some nutrient management or something? Unsure). But another thing I always wanted to do was work for regional council. When I worked on my second farm, I always saw the place I work for, on the farm, undertaking inspections, making sure everything was ticking along in an environmental capacity. And in my last year of uni, I went on a field trip and there was a rep from the regional council there, I spoke to her about her roll and what type of things she does. It sounded right up my ally! Being on farm? Helping community understand environmental issues? Helping fix things? Hell yes!
A few months after I graduated, I landed a roll doing exactly that!! I thought this next update should be about my new job! I work for the regional council. It’s a full time job, however it’s through a recruitment agency, so I’m not a permanent staff member (yet!).
I work mainly in the rural sector, at the moment I deal with effluent consents. I use a lot of my previous experience on dairy farms to help me out, as well as knowledge gained from my degree in regards to environmental effects. It’s a pretty cool job. I met a lot of people, mainly farmers, and I’m outside a lot (I’ve had a few comments on my tan!). I really enjoy being out in the community, trying to make a difference.We’re pretty lucky in our Zone though, I think a lot of farmers are already trying their best to work towards a better environment.
I get to plan out my work which is nice. An average day for me would be coming in to the office, checking emails, maybe grabbing a quick coffee or a bite to eat (the cafe on site makes the best cheese scones!) and then heading out the door. I plan who I visit at least a day in advanced, but last week when the weather was bad, I planned my whole following week (I was sick, and wasn’t keen on heading out in the rain!). When I visit farms, I’m checking their effluent consent. So I’m making sure effluent isn’t entering surface water / ground water (eg: ponding (effluent application too thick)) or anywhere that it may enter these places. I’m making sure equipment is in good condition so that it won’t fail and cause issues. I have a chat to the farmer, each time is different, so I’m there for varying amounts of time.
It’s great to see and hear lots of farmers talk about the environment, and things they’ve done to try and improve it. For example, quite a number in our zone have planted out drains with native plants, and fenced them off so stock don’t enter waterways. Some have even given up land to add more trees / native plantings. Adding small “forests” here and there can encourage native birds and insects, including those that pollinate important crops on the property, and surrounds.
After I’ve visited my farms for the day, I go back to the office and write up a quick report to send back to the farmer. Most of the farms I’ve visited are good and don’t require a revisit for awhile, but there are some out there which slip up.
It’s interesting being in this job, and having the background I do in dairy farming, and watching media, or talking to friends and family who are against dairy farmers (or farmers in general) (and still eat meat / milk / vegetables grown on crops from farms!). Sometimes I cop a bit of flack becaues in winter time, I also delt with water usage in my area, something which is of very high contention. I try to remain neutral, after all, we’re all contributing to negative environmental impact, but it can be frustrating when people don’t understand that the media take one story, and spin in to make it look like every Tom, Dick and Harry do the same thing.
I really enjoy my job, and I hope in future it will become more permanent. I love getting out and about, and the whole team I work with in my zone is awesome. This job is the exact thing i had in mind when I went to university, so I’m very pleased I managed to nab it.