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Zayn Jones: Taranaki Manawatu FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

Manawatu good sort Zayn Jones has a lot on his plate. 
 
Spending his days contract milking on a 540-cow dairy farm, and evenings as Chair of the Fitzherbert Young Farmers Club, the 31-year-old knows how to balance work and play. 

It’s not so hard, he says, when you love what you do. 
“Before my partner and I were contract milking, I was managing, so this new step is quite exciting for us,” he says.  

“The Young Farmers Club keeps me busy, and at the moment, we’re working with the leadership team to direct where we want the club to go in the future, getting people involved in the community, and developing some strong leaders and good people who really fit into the rural community we have here.” 

Being a member of Young Farmers has been huge for Zayn’s personal development. Building his confidence, and pushing him outside of his comfort zone, Zayn says the club gave him opportunity after opportunity, including a spot on the Taranaki Manawatu Regional Exec Committee as the Manawatu Vice-Chair. 

“Their support encouraged me to enter regionals for the first time, compete with my partner Natalie in tournaments, and come away with titles – and that’s all from joining the club and taking the first step. When I entered Regionals for a second time this year, I really gave it everything, hoping I would come away with an entry to Grand Final.” 

Getting his name read out, he says, was the cherry on top after a couple of busy but rewarding days.  

“I’m really grateful to be able to represent our region amongst the country’s best young farmers this year,” he adds. 

He’s hoping to support other shy young farmers, like he once was, to get out of their shell - especially for those who, like him, didn’t grow up on a farm. Zayn trained as a Graphic Designer before he fell in love with the farming lifestyle. 

“I got out into the ‘real world’, then realised it wasn’t what I wanted to pursue. I was staying with a mate on his parent’s farm and tried out a bit of shearing, a bit of fencing, farming maintenance and that sort of thing, and I haven’t looked back,” he says.  
“I found that you can work really hard with design, but you don’t see what you’re creating at the time. Whereas with farming, you could shear a sheep, you can build a fence, and get the direct reward for what you’re doing.” 

After graduating with a Diploma in Agriculture and Farm Management from Lincoln University, Zayn moved to the Kāpiti Coast to switch up his career.  

“I worked for a really awesome boss who had a huge impact on my life. He took me under his wing, gave me so many opportunities to grow my skills, and understood where I came from, as he had come from an urban background too.” 

Zayn hopes he can take a similar approach with the younger generation, and pass on the favour.  

“When I first got into farming, it was incredibly rewarding to take that first step at Lincoln, and then watch my horizons broaden with roles on-farm,” he says. 

“The Young Farmer competitions, the clubs, and just being a part of the community all help to support young farmers to get out there and connect with one another. To now be a part of that support and help others like they helped me, and to know you are making a difference, that’s the biggest reward.” 

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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