Members hone their leadership skills – Environmental Leaders Forum

Members hone their leadership skills – Environmental Leaders Forum

Collective members Chris Paterson and member Sarah Coatsworth were two of the ninety six farmers from across New Zealand to attend the 2014 Environmental Leadership Forum in Wellington in December.

The forum has been supporting dairy farmers over the last decade to step-up and become environmental leaders on their farms, in their communities and in their industry.

“Dairy Leading Change: Collectively Managing Our Future” was the theme for the two day event where farmers participated in mix of sessions around sustainability, innovation, and leadership. Keynote speakers included Mai Chen, Nigel Latta, Damien O’Connor and Jamie Fitzgerald.

Chris Paterson found the forum a great opportunity to connect with the issues. “The key message from participants was that we are not alone in dealing with the changes and challenges farmers face around sustainability, but working on these issues together gives us confidence in developing a collective voice,” says Chris.

For Sarah Coatsworth, catching up with last years attendees was another highlight. “It was also great to see what others had achieved over the last year. These environmental successes were illustrated in an impressive ‘Wall of Achievements’, and ranged from forming catchment groups, upgrading effluent systems and building wetlands, to bringing school kids to farms to show them dairying in action and how farmers care for the land, animals and people.”

“We also got the opportunity to work with Mark Blackland and John Mitchel from Blackland PR on how to handle the media which is truly invaluable in this industry” says Sarah.

The forum dinner featured a “Great Debate” where three dairy farmers and three environmentalists argued whether farmers were doing enough to ensure sustainability. This debate, adjudicated by Land Information Minister and Minister for Women, Louise Upston, was a great opportunity not only to hone debating skills but also to convey industry and farmer achievements.