For 25 years the Dairy Women’s Network has been a haven for fostering education, connection and leadership opportunities within the dairy sector.
The organisation will be marking that quarter-century milestone in December with a number of events around the country to connect with as many of its members as possible.
DWN chief executive Jules Benton said there will be a major event on December 1 in Waikato at the Red Barn function centre. This is to bring all of its business partners together to acknowledge their support over the years.
“Without that support we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we have done.”
The regional celebrations, taking place as the will be around the year’s end, will be held at morning teas or lunches.
“We’re leaving it up to our incredible regional teams to decide what they want to do,” Benton said.
While the dairy industry has changed immensely over the past 25 years, Benton said, DWN’s focus on people has not.
“The industry is about people. It was about people 25 years ago and even before that. The founders found a need to connect, and that connection is still very much a part of who we are and what we do.
“It’s about connection and empowering those who are part of the sector.”
DWN is about women in the sector, but everyone is invited and often staff teams turn up at events.
“It’s about inclusivity and making sure that people feel that they belong and that it is a safe space.”
While the social connection was incredibly important for DWN, it is first and foremost a learning and leadership organisation.
“We’re a relationship organisation, a connector – connecting dots for our farming audience – and it’s a safe and trusted space for them to learn. They’re not judged and they come away with the tools and they have a support network within their communities.”
The organisation is producing incredible leaders and is supported by a large number of regional co-ordinators.
“That social connection is incredibly important. You get that social connections when you come to the workshops and conferences and the leadership forum that we host every year.”
Next year, DWN is holding a summit specifically to look at global issues and what the future holds, Benton said.
“We’re re-inventing what we do and how we do it and making sure that we have the opportunity to connect to all.”
Much of the learning the network offers is done face to face, but it’s increasingly being done through online webinars that give it the opportunity to reach more people without leaving the farm.
“That’s what we have been doing for 25 years and that’s not going to change. Yes, technology plays a huge role within the sector and will feature strongly in the future, but the people aspect won’t change,” Benton said.
“It’s bringing the next generation of farmers through and empowering them to be bold and to lead and to step up. It’s a sector based on strong values and people and the love of what they do in the dairy sector within their farming businesses, their farming teams.”