She may only be 20-years-old, but Ruth Connolly has big plans for her dairy farming career.
Ruth works full time on an Ohaupo dairy farm. In just three years’ time she plans to begin her diploma in Agribusiness through Primary ITO, have enough money saved to buy a herd, and to become a 50/50 sharemilker.
Amongst all of that, she also entered this years’ New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, and won the Dairy Trainee of the Year for the Waikato.
Ruth will now represent the region at the national awards in the Dairy Trainee category – a role she describes as both an honour, and “terrifying”.
“Going into the awards confidence was my biggest weakness, which I really wanted to work on,” says Ruth.
“Throughout the process I’ve learnt a lot about myself and have done things I never thought possible.
“Just having the confidence to get up at the awards dinner and receive the award and is an amazing achievement for me.”
As well as the top award, Ruth also took out three Waikato NZDIA Dairy trainee of the Year merit awards: the FarmRight Farming Knowledge Award, Bluegrass Contracting Communication & Engagement Award and the DairyNZ Practical Skills Award.
Farmer at heart
Ruth grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Otorohanga. Her twin sister, Leah Connolly, was the Waikato NZDIA Dairy Trainee of the Year runner up last year.
“My sister, as well as my employers, encouraged me to enter. They all knew how much I’d gain from it,” says Ruth.
Ruth has been working for contract milkers Mark Nesbit and Annemiek Absalom on Rukuhia Holdings, a 796 cow, 259.6ha Ohaupo farm owned by the Glenn Family since her last year of school. She started as a relief milker, but it wasn’t long until the role became full time.
“It’s a very effective farm system,” says Ruth.
“The first herd comes to the feed pad on Batt-Latch in the morning. From there, one person takes that herd up to the yard and feeds out for the second herd, while the other person brings the second herd to the feedpad.
“We are both finished at the same time and are ready to milk – it functions really well.”
In the right place
Before getting the job with Mark and Annemiek, Ruth considered a career in nursing.
“With 100 per cent conviction, I know I’m in the right place.
“I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge that is definitely fulfilled by farming. I always want to learn more, which is part of the reason I enjoyed the DIA process so much.”
While the national leg awaits her, Ruth says she can’t recommend the regional awards enough.
It may sound cliche but you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.”