Farm Ireland

Saturday 16 December 2017

'It took me a year and a half before I realised that working in an office wasn't for me'

Watch: Incredible life of New Zealand’s top dairy trainee of the year

FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Clay Paton, is very focused on his career goals, and is a passionate advocate for the industry.

Clay, aged 23 years and works on Brent and Michelle Riley’s 163ha Wakefield farm milking 450 cows.

He grew up on and around farms, but didn’t envisage farming as his career until he began studying Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University. 

Despite doing very well, he realised he was on the wrong career path, and shifted his attention to the agricultural sector.

They say to be successful the first thing you need to do is fall in love with your work. I can tell you back in high school I didn't think that would mean me getting up at 4.30am every morning. But here I am living that dream.

"It took me a year and a half before I realised that working in an office behind a desk all day and night wasn't for me. I missed working outside and being the practical person that I am," Paton said.

He has got a bright future ahead of him, says Dairy Trainee head judge Andrew Reid from DairyNZ.

“He has a clear balance between his work priorities and life and family balance.  He is very driven but has a strong community focus and an awareness of the issues the industry will be facing in years to come.”

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“Clay is very family-orientated and wants a healthy and fun lifestyle for his young children. He sees the dairy industry as a way to progress his career and reach his life goals, and his goals of farm ownership must be right for the family.”

Clay’s video for the judges really told the story of where he’s come from and where he wants to head. “He had a really strong interview with the judges and is very articulate.  He had a good general knowledge as well as applied farm knowledge,” says Mr Reid.

“One of the things that stood out with Clay was his passion for the dairy industry. He believes that to be successful you have to fall in love with your work, and Clay definitely loves his work.”

“Clay is very professional and all the judges agreed that he will be a fantastic ambassador for the dairy industry and a great Future Leader, he said.

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