Aug 10, 2023
The future, opportunity, and exposure.
We have just wrapped up the latest Next Generation Deer Farmers Conference and it was once again an excellent event with a fantastic group of energetic, enthusiastic young deer industry people. This event is one of our key happenings at a national NZDFA level and I believe that it really continues to deliver to the industry, NZDFA and the Next Generation. It is a privilege to be involved in Next Generation; it is always uplifting and energising to hang around the Next Generation feel their enthusiasm and hear their hopes, dreams, and goals. I would encourage any branch considering the opportunity to host Next Generation to jump at the chance, likewise if you are asked to get involved and help out. The Elk and Wapiti Society and Canterbury West Coast Branch pulled together a really good, varied programme. One of the best aspects of the programme was that it exposed the Next Generation to variety, everything from banking to large scale finishing.
I believe that we should take every opportunity we can as an industry to expose young people to the industry. Competition for the future of all industries is very tight and in agriculture the big industries get all of the exposure. While social media might be a little help, I think that deer are much more engaging that some shallow exposure on social media can do them justice and we can offer our best as an industry with real life exposure. Immediately prior to the Next Generation Conference I gave my first guest lecture at Lincoln University, to the Dip Ag. and the 2nd Year Sheep Beef and Deer Production students. We viewed this as a valuable opportunity to get the cool stuff about deer in front of Lincoln students, as this is something that has quietly drifted off the curriculum due to changing staff, times and demands. I have had good feedback, for me that is the sort of thing I can do to increase deer industry exposure. We can all do different things in our businesses, we also get students to do science internships over the summer break, many of you take other students from universities for placements. This exposure of young minds to the fantastic opportunities deer and deer farming offer can create the future to take the industry forward and give the rest of us the chance to retire one day!
For our industry to have a future, first and foremost we need more people entering and enjoying it. I would encourage everyone to look for any opportunity to engage young people with the deer industry. Frankly the tertiary students in many ways have already made their choice, at least in the general direction of their career. If we can get into the even younger generation then they can try deer on for size, while they are working through their possible future studies and careers. You will not regret it, you will be energised by their enthusiasm, thirst for knowledge and the joy you can share. Keep up the great work advocating for deer farming and the deer industry and think about ways you can engage new people with our super animal, and our super products. The more people we can get to love the deer business like we do the brighter our future.
- Jamie Ward, NZDFA Executive Committee Member