Two young dairy farmers hope they have created a domino effect – with farmers funding other farmers to challenge their limits and build resilience at Outward Bound.
After 21-year-old Lincoln University agricultural student Emma Blom attended her Outward Bound course and developed new skills useful for farm life and her personal life, she wanted someone else to have the same life-changing experience.
“I love dairy farming and wanted to support another young farmer to attend Outward Bound to unlock their potential and take what they’ve learned back to the farm,” Emma says.
During lockdown, Emma ran a half-marathon around the garden of her flat, wearing gumboots and milking overalls, to fundraise and sponsor another farmer. Farmers, families, friends, businesses and people she’d never met donated.
“The run was a lot of fun and tapped into the skills of endurance and perseverance I learned at Outward Bound. You’re challenged mentally and physically, and we help each other out. It inspired me to give back to the farming community.
“I hope I have started a ripple effect, with young farmers supporting each other to attend Outward Bound for many years to come,” she says.
Emma is finishing an environment and society degree at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, aligning with her commitment to sustainable farming. She plans to work on her parents’ Southland farm when she returns to New Zealand in the new year.
“I highly recommend other young people consider dairy farming. It’s a great lifestyle, including working outdoors with animals, and the opportunity to work towards owning a farm.”
Emma selected Southland dairy farmer Victoria to go to Outward Bound, saying her drive to grow and passion for the sector made her the perfect recipient.
Victoria says she knew nothing about Outward Bound before she went, so it was an entirely new experience. The 30-year-old wanted to step outside her comfort zone and learn new skills she could apply to farming.
“Outward Bound helped me discover what I’m capable of. It’s something you don’t know until you are there living it, doing it,” Victoria says.
“Much of what I learned can be applied in everyday life. There were no phones, and spending two nights solo in the bush is a great chance to check in with yourself – to think about what’s happening in your life, what you’re grateful for and how you can improve.
“We’re all rushing around, trying to do everything and looking to the future. Sometimes we just need to stop and appreciate what’s in front of us,” she says.
Victoria says a key part of Outward Bound is being aware of the people around you and making sure they’re happy too. “Teamwork is an essential part of farming, and working well together gets tasks done while ensuring work is rewarding.”
Victoria is back on the farm now and wants to pass the baton to another Kiwi dairy farmer to experience Outward Bound. Meanwhile, she shares tales of her adventure with as many of her workmates and dairy cows as possible.
DairyNZ lead advisor for people Jane Muir says Emma and Victoria’s experience represents some of the best of the dairy farming community – connection, teamwork and learning.
“It’s great to see farmers making time for themselves where they can recharge their batteries, reflect and prioritise what is important to them,” says Jane.