ella wharmbyASSISTANT Farm MANAGER
Ella had barely stepped foot on a farm before embarking on a career that combines her passion for food, animals and the environment.
SCHOOL: Waikato Diocesan School for Girls
TRAINING INSTITUTE: Massey University, Bachelor of Agri-science (Agriculture)
CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Assistant Farm Manager
“I saw farming as a career that married all the things I enjoy and a fairly secure pathway; people will always need to eat, therefore agriculture will always have its place.”
Ella’s interests are food, food production, global food security, working with animals and working in the great outdoors.
“Massey held a breakfast in Hamilton for prospective agri-science students and I went along not thinking it would be something I’d do but more to learn about the degree.”
With minimal exposure to the dairy sector Ella admits she hadn’t realised the variety of opportunities available.
“There are so many pathways depending on what you’re into, from agronomists to consultants and even banking. I saw farming as a career that sort of married up all the things I enjoy doing.”
Ella was thrown in the deep end come her first semester of her bachelor of agri-science degree at Massey. She came to realise that unlike her, most of her peers were off a farm. They were up with the play on farming terminology, jargon and had a robust understanding of the sector they were studying.
“One of my first lectures at Massey they started talking about stock classes. I had no idea what they were talking about.
“That first year I learnt so much and the entire degree gave me a really good understanding of the farming sector. If I had to learn that on the job it would have taken me years.”
As part of the degree students had to find a job in the sector for the summer break and produce a report. This experience sparked Ella’s keen interest in the dairy sector.
“I think for me, coming from a non-farming background, things like environmental sustainability and animal welfare are really important.”
Ella now works as assistant farm manager on a farm in Matamata for people who have the same values.
“One of the things I’ve learnt since stepping up to assistant farm manager is that it’s really important to self-reflect. To make a farm run well the team has to be efficient. If you as a leader can’t inspire them and get that efficiency by teaching them and creating a positive engaging environment, then you won’t get very far.”
“This sounds a bit cliched but there’s not really any jobs on farm I don’t like. I enjoy them all for different reasons, even weed spraying on the hills. You get a workout in (no gym memberships needed here) and in the coming weeks or months you get to see clean paddocks.”
“I’d love to work for a company or business that have multiple farms so the next step is a farm manager role, which I’m working towards. Next season I’ll take on some more responsibilities and keep looking at ways I can improve and learn.
“The great thing about my degree and farming in general is that I could turn my hand to other careers outside the farmgate. Farming isn’t just milking cows, there are a range of options, from sales reps to bankers and consultants. There’s something for everyone.”
“It’s an amazing sector. There are people out there willing to give you the chance you need. You just need to keep a positive attitude and prove your worth. There are so many opportunities for you to grab.
“Farming is one of those careers that you can never really understand until you’re there in the moment, living that life and making those decisions. You see all these negative things on social media and the news but it doesn’t paint the whole picture.
“People should experience a day on a farm. It will them a whole new perspective.”
Adapted from Farmers Weekly Walking a mile in her gumboots