Roshean Woods has been crowned Tasman FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
In second place, Jonny Brown and third place, Peter O’Connor.
Now heading to the Grand Final in Christchurch in July to battle it out for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year national title, Woods said.
“Honestly, I’m a bit surprised to win. Like every other competition I’ve entered, I treated it like a learning experience. I never thought I’d get through to the regionals, let alone the grand finals!”
The eight regional finalists competed in eight modules and battled it out head-to-head in two time and point races at Malvern A&P Showgrounds on Saturday 27th March.
With the contest based around four strainers – technology and innovation, environment, people, food – finalists who earned the top points in each strainer also won awards. A written exam, as well as the famous FMG Young Farmer of the Year (FMG YFOTY) buzzer quiz also tested the regional finalist’s knowledge.
Woods, who works as a Farm Systems Scientist at DairyNZ, has competed at seven district competitions in the past. She’s grown as a competitor in both skill and confidence, but never thought she’d be heading to the Grand Finals.
“I first got involved with Young Farmers when I started studying at Lincoln University. I was encouraged to join a local club. I’m not off a farm, and I didn’t have the network or skills a lot of my peers had, so Young Farmers really helped set up my networks, and it’s helped me meet some amazing people and learn some great skills,” said Woods.
Going into the competition, she felt her biggest hurdle was going to be the practical elements, but her competition experience held her in good stead.
“I surprised myself a bit with the butchery module. I’ve never boned out anything, but I did it pretty ok. My husband does a lot of that, so I guess I’ve picked up a thing or two from him!
“The engineering module was something I was a bit nervous about. Welding has always been something that’s made me nervous, but it actually went ok. The module host was really supportive and helpful, too,” said Woods.
Woods, who won three of the four strainers, is a passionate advocate for the agricultural industry, but it wasn’t always a career she saw herself in. It wasn’t until a visit from Lincoln University and DairyNZ to her high school that she got thinking about the opportunities.
“I’ve always loved science and saw myself working in a lab of some sort. They came to visit my school and spoke on all the opportunities outside of farming within the industry. Agriculture was a way for me to combine my love of science with the outdoors. And also contribute towards overcoming the challenges the industry is faced with. I couldn’t imagine working in any other industry now.”
In the lead up to the Grand Final in July, Woods said she’s got some work to do on her practical skills and plans on tapping into her networks for advice and support.
“While I wasn’t really prepared to be in the position of going to the Grand Finals, I’m really excited, and it would be amazing to have a woman win it, so who knows!” she said.
Runner-up Jonny Brown said he was ‘equal parts relieved and disappointed’ after the competition but was impressed by how the competition was run.
“I wouldn’t say I learned anything new. The things I couldn’t do this morning I still can’t do this evening, he joked.
“But overall, I’m pretty pleased with my performance. It was a tight competition for the most part with only four points between myself and Roshean by the end.”
Jonny manages a Dairy Holding’s Limited farm in Bankside, milking 1,200 cows on 341 hectares. He’s spent his career working through the ranks of dairying and is passionate about making the industry a place where people want to work.
In 2020 he was prepped and ready to compete at the Regional Final, but due to COVID, he never got the chance. Coming back this year to finished what he started, he dominated in the quiz round, making up ground lost during the practical day.
“The modules provided a bit of a challenge this year; they threw a lot at me that I don’t have a lot of experience with. The engineering module and the velvet grading are areas I don’t know a lot about, but I gave it my best go and made up for that in my performance in the quiz.”
Jonny has been an active member of Young Farmers for many years. Along with meeting his partner at a Young Farmers speed dating event, he said being part of Young Farmers has forced him to get out of his comfort zone and learn new skills.
Third place Peter O’Connor said he was stoked with his performance and had an all-around great day despite a few frustrating mistakes.
“This was my second regional final, and I got fourth last time, so I’m stoked to have improved on that."
“The most challenging part of the day was probably all the little mistakes I found myself making. I spent a bit too much time doing certain things, but unlike last time, I remembered to do up my seatbelt in the tractor so, that’s a win!” he said.
O’Conner completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours from Lincoln University last year and said much of what he learned there helped him in today’s competition.
“I don’t think I would have fared as well as I did on some questions if it wasn’t for my studies, especially when it came to the environmental questions.”
O’Connor said he’ll be back next year with his eyes firmly fixed on getting a Grand Final spot but will likely competing in a different region.
The event was convened by Cheyenne Wilson.
“I am so so pleased with how the event turned out. We had an incredible turnout and a fantastic team to put together the day. I felt like I could pick up the phone, and things would happen. The contestants took everything in their stride. Even the weather was near perfect! she said.
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