Name: Sophia Clark

Age: 29  

Job: Dairy farmer

City/town: Waharoa, near Matamata

What does your job entail? Every day I milk 250 cows. Depending on the season, I’ll be fencing one day, driving the tractor, then feeding calves. Other days I’m a plumber or a builder. There’s an element of routine but not every day is the same. I get bored easily so I like the variety.

How long have you been doing it? Eight years.

What attracted you to this line of work? I’ve always loved animals. And food’s never going out of fashion is it – people have to eat. I liked the career pathway, and I love being outdoors. Not many people at 29 are in charge of quite a big business alongside their partner – we’ve built our own business.

What training was involved? I did a Bachelor of Commerce in Agriculture at Lincoln University, which is not necessary to be a farmer. I did it because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school. I’ve mostly learnt on the job. I’ve done some short courses through the PTO, like chain-sawing.

What do you love most about your job? The animals, being outside, being my own boss.

And what are the worst bits? You’re at the coal face of life … you see births and deaths. There’s lots of heartbreak and happiness working with animals.

What motivates you in your work? Working for myself and seeing what I’ve achieved.

What are your career goals? We’re 50/50, which means we own our herd of 270 cows. I’d like to have 500 cows, and in the future own my own farm.

Do you have any key mentors or people who have influenced you? I’ve had some good bosses. There are always people in the agricultural industry who are willing to help you. Those who’ve been there a while who are wise. Youthful enthusiasm is great but many of the older ones – there’s a reason they’ve lasted so long. I’d like to give back one day too.

Where did you grow up and what was it like? Onepu, Bay of Plenty. I went to Whakatane High School. School could have gone either way. I wasn’t that flash academically. But if you work hard and make good choices you can make something of yourself.

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