The new independent director for Young Farmers, Catherine McMillan is passionate about seeing young people find their place in the world.
The revamp is designed to entice more women to enter the iconic contest and to help showcase the country’s food story.
As part of the significant changes, the TeenAg competition will be rebranded the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year.
“We’ve just celebrated our 50th anniversary, which is an amazing achievement,” says Hinds dairy farmer and NZ Young Farmers contest board member Cole Groves.
“However, if we don’t make some major changes now, this contest won’t be relevant in another 50 years.”
The changes are outlined in a new strategy unveiled this month.
“There will still be a strong practical side to the contest, but our modules and to utilise technology more,” says Dannevirke banker and NZ Young Farmers Contest Board chair Rebecca Brown.
“In future contestants might have to use GPS technology to mark out and erect a fence around riparian planting.”
Contest organisers are keen to tap into innovation and technology being used and developed by sponsors.
“We’d like to inject a bit of excitement and unpredictability into the contest through the use of innovation,” says Cole.
Awards for the highest-scoring competitor in each of the five challenges – from agri-business to agri-skills - are being scrapped.
They’ll be replaced with new awards assessing contestants’ skills and knowledge across innovation, food, people, environment and technology.
“We’re hoping the changes encourage more women to give the contest a go,” said Cole.
“We want to expand contestants’ knowledge beyond just fencing and identifying different types of fertiliser.”
The NZ Young Farmers Contest Board hopes the much-needed strategy will instil some passion in the hard-working volunteers who organise the contest.