NORTH-West dairy farm manager Keegan Scholte is not one to shy away from new opportunities.
Mr Scholte works on a farm at Henrietta and when the chance to participate in a program for young farmers came up, he jumped at the opportunity.
Along with three other Tasmanians, Mr Scholte recently took part in Fonterra’s inaugural Proud to be a Dairy Farmer program.
The program included 12 participants from the company’s four dairy regions.
A three-day workshop was included in the program, which provided opportunities for participants to network and learn.
The program aims to help address the long-term challenge of attracting, retaining and developing people in the dairy industry.
Mr Scholte said meeting people from other dairying areas was also a highlight.
“That was another part of it because it was good to get together and talk about dairy farming and all the aspects that go along with it,” he said.
“I went there not knowing anyone and by the end of it we were really good friends.”
Mr Scholte grew up on a small hobby farm at Wynyard.
After studying conservation and land management at TAFE, he said he realised dairy farming was the job for him.
“Someone said why don’t you give farming a go, so I went to the agriculture TAFE course and enjoyed that a lot more,” he said.
“I wanted to make a career out of it because I enjoyed it so much. My parents knew a couple of dairy farmers, so I got my first job with Richard Duniam from Sisters Creek, and he showed me the ropes.”
Mr Scholte started working on Duncan McDonald’s Yolla farm about 11 years ago.
After working his way up, he is managing Mr McDonald’s 550-cow farm at Henrietta.
“I like the outdoors and I don’t like being cooped up in an office,” he said.
“There’s so many things you can do, it’s not just about milking cows.”
Mr Scholte said many young people were probably not aware of the career opportunities the dairy industry can offer.
“I’d say to young people starting out, just hang in there,” he said.
“When you first start small you get the crappier jobs but if you really push into it and try your hardest and have a good work ethic it does pay off and you will get somewhere.”
Mr Scholte said he would like to work towards share-farming.
“I would like to share farm and I would also like to try working an organic dairy farm one day because I like change and learning new things,” he said.
As part of the Fonterra program Mr Scholte and other participants also went on farm and factory tours and discussed opportunities to move up on the career ladder.
“We also talked about mentoring which is important.”
“It’s good to have a mentor in dairying and that extra person behind the scenes who you can bounce ideas off.”
Mr Scholte said the program also dealt with issue of mental health and achieving a good work-life balance.
“That was probably one of the best parts of the program,” he said.
“They talked a lot about healthy minds… I’ve got a young family and at times like calving it can be hard to maintain that balance so that was really good.”