Jess Cunliffe is feeling confident heading into the Aorangi Young Farmers regional final this Saturday.
Cunliffe, a member of the Pendarves Young Farmers Club, will pit her agricultural skills against seven other finalists, who just happen to be all male.
“It doesn’t faze me. It’s more fun because it’s great to watch the guys lose,” she said.
Although the comment is meant tongue-in-cheek, Cunliffe is well placed to give the other contenders a run for their money in her second attempt to make it through to the young farmers’ finals in July.
“I’m a lot less nervous than the first time.
“I’ve got the grounding for what it’s going to feel like, the people watching you, and the go-go nature of what I’ve already experienced.
“So I’m just preparing myself for those challenges.”
Cunliffe will be up against an impressive line of finalists from the Aorangi region at the Ashburton Showgrounds.
Peter O’Connor, also a member of the Pendarves club, will compete alongside Cunliffe with Levi Hart and Andrew Allan from the Hinds Club, Marcus Frost from Five Forks Young Farmers and George Campbell, James Bell, and Robbie Wigley from Glenavy Young Farmers.
Competitors will head into the regional final unaware of the tasks they will perform on the day.
“We go in blind, and I suppose that’s how they assess whether or not you can work through a challenge,” Cunliffe said.
“There’s such a wide range of challenges; you sort of have to be good at them all to get through. You can’t just be a great dairy farmer.
“You’ve got to be able to make fert recommendations, read soil tests, build a fence and shear a sheep.
“I suppose to be a young farmer, you have to be a farmer in all industries.
“You have to be adaptable to farming.”
Cunliffe grew up on an arable and horticultural farm just out of Ashburton and holds a bachelor’s degree in land and property management from Lincoln University.
She joined the Pendarves Young Farmers around six years ago, which she has found is “a great way to learn new skills and gain exposure to other industries”.
In addition to helping out on her parents’ farm, Cunliffe works as a property valuer for McLeod Real Estate.
“Mum and dad always encouraged me to have a skill set out of farming just in case adverse events happen.
“While they are still actively farming, I am using my degree in my job as a valuer.”
Cunliffe’s work gives her more flexibility than previous farming jobs that often conflicted with helping on her parents’ property.
“The valuation work lends itself nicely to also still being involved with the family farm after work, or in the weekends,” Cunliffe said.
- By Claire Inkson