A highlight of this year’s Dairy Industry Awards was the high number of migrant workers vying for the national titles.
"It has been priceless to be able to surround myself with like-minded individuals," she says. "The awards have been amazing and provided incredible opportunities for my career."
Walker has been farming for five years, and is in her first year managing the 218ha Kauri Moor farm in Huntly, milking 615 cows. She won $6,975 in prizes and two merit awards at the awards night this month.
With an ubran background, Walker says she was unaware of the variety of jobs within the rural sector.
"I have always been involved with large animals since taking a liking to horses at a young age. I originally went to university to become a very but changed after my first year to agriculture science."
The future of the New Zealand dairy industry looks bright to Walker who is pleased that urban schools are becoming more aware of farm life.
"Fonterra operating milk for schools and open gate farm days allows young people, like me, to question more about our industry and the opportunities it presents," she says. "I look forward to seeing younger people enter the industry."
Walker identifies Kauri Moor's environmental focus as a strength of the business.
"It gives the next generation the best chance of being able to enjoy the farming lifestyle like I have been fortunate to do."
"Evolving technology is another strength of our farm: from milk quality to feeding levels, the farm is always looking at ways to improve technology to make better decisions on farm."
Feeding and maintaining happy healthy cows, her staff and a desire to do better today than yesterday are a few things that drive Walker during the harder times on farm.
"I would change the few employers that still run very tough if I could," she says. "Mental health is so often compromised in the dairy industry and it is important we all look after our own and provide conditions and rosters that allow staff to perform at their peak."
Future farming goals include fine-tuning management decision, saving and building equity to buy into sharemilking within eight years.
Quinn Youngman was named Runner-up of the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager category and says he is driven to work hard and succeed in the dairy industry.
"I want to build a solid equity base through farming to ensure we have secure stable future."
He is farm manager for David Deans on his 320ha, 720-cow Mercer property and believes maximising the farm gate milk price through the A2 and winter milk premium is a hallmark of the business. Future farming goals include contract milking in the 22/23 season and progressing to sharemilking.
Rebecca Cassidy and Alexander Voysey were third place getters in the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager category.
The couple say their experiences through the awards programme have been invaluable.