Thursday, August 18, 2022

New leadership at Young Farmers 

Chair and two new directors take up roles.
New Zealand Young Farmers elected directors (from left) Nicola Blowey, Sammy Bills, chair Jessie Waite and Chloe Belfield, and independent director Malcolm Nitschke.

Inglewood Young Farmer Jessie Waite has been named chair of New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF).  

Waite, 30, was elected to the position at the organisation’s latest board meeting, replacing Kent Weir, who ended his 12-month term as chair.  

“I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months working with the board, NZYF national office and members, who are our key stakeholders. It’s going to be exciting but also quite challenging, which I think is a good balance,” Waite said.  

South Waikato Young Farmer Chloe Belfield and Mackenzie Young Farmer Nicola Blowey have also taken their seats as board members, after being elected at the NZYF AGM in July.  

Two board positions are filled each year on a three-year term, and four NZYF members vied for these.  Waite, who was a board member for two years prior to being elected chair, said she is also excited to work with Belfield and Blowey, who have hit the ground running.  

“I was super impressed with their ability to get into the board meeting and have a good grasp on the discussions. They both have different skill sets and are each bringing something different and diverse to the board table, which will benefit us hugely,” Waite said.

“We’ve seen them grow from members to National Committee representatives and now board members, and I know they will flourish in those roles.”

Blowey, 28, is a former dairy farmer, currently working as a Dairy New Zealand extension officer.  

Originally from the United Kingdom, she landed in Aotearoa in 2016 and brings membership experience from other Young Farmer organisations across the globe, including in the UK, Canada and Europe.  

“My experience is in on-farm, grassroots members and my focus is on delivering for the membership to ensure the long-term success of our organisation,” Blowey said.  

She has held executive positions at club and regional level and also sat on the National Committee as the Aorangi delegate.   

Belfield, 24, has been a member since the tender age of 17.  

She works for Fonterra as a business improvement lead and has also started her own business, Jones Agri Fencing.  

“Young Farmers has provided me with a lot at a young age, and within an organisation that equally shares my passion for our rural communities and sector,” Belfield said.  

She has held a number of roles at club, district and regional level, most recently as the Otago Southland chair, which she said has helped to build her confidence, leadership, and governance capabilities. 

Waite said her key focus over the next 12 months as chair will be to continue the organisation’s growth and keep up the momentum.  

“We’ve recently launched some key projects to make the future of the organisation sustainable with the NZYF community, and to benefit our members with the new digital platform. I am really looking forward to hitting those targets and goals and also being part of other projects that are going to see our members thrive,” she said.

An OSPRI Regional Partner in Taranaki, Waite has been an NZYF member for nine years.   

“The biggest benefit of being an NZYF member is the friends and connections you make right across the country, which has been a huge highlight for me,” she said.

“People are the heart of this organisation and its legacy. Our members both former and present have made New Zealand Young Farmers what it is today and I feel beyond privileged to represent them.” 

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