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Dairy women’s network on the hunt for unsung farm heroes

Katrina Thomas, DCLA Winner 2017

Calling all rural committee members, calf club leaders, event organisers and advice-givers – nominations for Dairy Women’s Network’s 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Award open 11 September 2017.

The Dairy Community Leadership Award recognises a dairying woman who is making a significant contribution in her local rural community through leadership and support.

Dairy Women’s Network CEO Zelda de Villiers says this award is for the type of woman who keeps the wheels of groups and initiatives turning, often while continuing to help run a farm and raise a family.

“In any rural community you have those great people who, often unseen, organise events, coordinate initiatives, and offer help and advice to those who need it,” she says. “They are the unsung heroes of New Zealand.”

De Villers says no task is too small, or challenge too big, for these women, “and that’s what the Dairy Community Leadership Award aims to celebrate and recognise.”

The 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Award will be presented to a Dairy Women’s Network member at their annual conference, held in March 2018.

“The winner will be someone who embodies our values, is active within the Network, and is engaged in community activities and shows leadership,” says de Villiers.

Katrina Thomas received the Dairy Community Leadership Award in 2017, recognising her active participation and leadership within her community.

She was Dairy Women’s Network’s Invercargill regional convenor and helped set up a regional hub for the Otago and Southland regions.

As the hub leader she supports other network leaders in the region, represents the region at Dairy Women’s Network events and coordinates local marketing and communication with members.

She also has several volunteer roles in her community, including work with Southland Hospice and the local primary school.

She says the award was validation of the time she spent giving back to her community. “It was wonderful to be acknowledged in front of my peers, family and friends,” she says. “It’s great being able to work with all the new people I meet and help them settle in and see for themselves how great our community is.”

The 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Award will also mark 20 years since Dairy Women’s Network was established.

“In the early days, the Network was about connecting women with each other and sharing knowledge and advice,” says de Villiers.

“Now, we’ve evolved to adapt to the needs of dairy women – which have grown considerably.

“Our core driver is to give women in the dairy industry unlimited opportunities, and our members see value in gaining education and experiences within the sector; experiences such as the Dairy Community Leadership Award.”

Sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, the award includes a scholarship prize to attend a leadership programme in New Zealand.

The selection panel includes de Villiers, ASB and Tompkins Wake representatives, and a Dairy Women’s Network regional convenor. They will judge nominations based on who has demonstrated leadership in her community, played an active role in community organisations and events, and is an active member of Dairy Women’s Network and a good representative for the organisation.

It’s easy to make a nomination, and anyone can nominate a deserving dairying woman. Visit to find out more about the awards or to nominate. Nominations close 9 February 2018.

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