New Zealand Young Farmers is an organisation that has evolved considerably since its establishment in the 1950's. One thing however has remained the same, the bringing together of young people in agriculture. This anonymous blog post shares the story of one young farmer, who's membership spans 11 years.
Hitting the ripe age of 18 I left school and with the help of my parents I started my farming career. I had a few friends, but I felt like something was missing. From a few conversations with mature co-workers and my parents the idea of joining New Zealand Young Farmers had come up.
Just to note, this is a time before the word of social media. 70% of NZ Young Farmers correspondence was done by a thing called the New Zealand Post Service and stamps cost 40c each. As a young 18 year old, it took a fair but of courage to make the call to NZ Young Farmers saying I was interested in making a new friends. There was a huge sigh of relief after that call.
Then the waiting game had begun, waiting for my local Young Farmers club to get in touch with me. However in this time, I had learnt so much more about Young Farmers. Like how my Dad planted Poplar trees for fund raising and how my neighbour meet his wife at a party, where lots of “lemonade” was involved. This opened a whole new world to what I thought Young Farmers was about. It also brought on a whole new level of excitement to the "Young Farmers-call-me" waiting game.
Then the day came, my local young farmers club contacted me. Telling me they played social touch rugby every Thursday and their meetings were held at a cafe the first Monday of every month.
So I tried to build the courage to go along to touch rugby and meet these strangers. Although, being a young man I chickened out and did not make it to touch rugby. Still feeling like I was missing something, I went for attempt two. I went to their meeting and found myself at the front door of the café second guessing myself. At that point I was spotted by a member and was made to go into my first meeting so after getting a…… ahhh “lemonade” to calm the nerves I started to meet new people. I thought to myself “I’m winning at life!” then, the moment came when the club chair started the meeting.
As he began to say “there are a few new faces in the room, so we’re going to go around and introduce ourselves” the nervousness hit a high. But, nevertheless, I made it through the process and met a guy who happened to be at his first meeting as well. I thought to myself, “this will be my safe buddy” as he was new as well. As we concluded the meeting, it was said again that social touch rugby was on. We were informed that the game of touch was training, and the bar after wards was the game. So I thought, being the elite athlete that I was, I would fit right in! Being sure the bar was the winner of the night. At the same time checking with my safe buddy that he was going to attend touch rugby as well.
So after attending a few games of touch and making sure the “lemonade” was cold and making a few more friends along the way, I was hooked as a Young Farmer member.
Being a part of such a cool group of people, the small financial price of being a member was nothing. When I found out the up and coming activities included things like fundraising by picking up hay bales and crutching sheep with “lemonades” and BBQ provided at the end of it was awesome.
As every member learnt how to stack hay on a trailer and how to crutch a sheep. Which then, funded our events like bus trips and fees for touch and squash and entries to regional activities. Learning about the growth you could get out being of a NZ Young Farmers member and the pathways it could lead to opened my eyes to a whole new world. My decision to ring my local NZ Young Farmers and fill the missing spot was an opportunity I have never regretted as I have now been a member for 11 years and counting.
I would encourage any person looking for something extra to tuck those nerves deep down and feel like a fish out of water, take a splash and join you local NZ Young Farmers club.