Growing Great Dairy Farmers

11 February 2021

Coming from farming stock, Taranaki’s Jaclyn (Jax) Flintoff was always going to pursue a career in agriculture, but it was the television show McLeod’s Daughters that sealed the deal.

Essential viewing through her high school years, she decided that shepherding was the career path she wanted to follow after leaving school and that is exactly what she did.

Today Jax is a Training Adviser for Primary ITO and there is not a pair of boot-cut jeans or Akubra hat in sight.

As it turned out, the reality of shepherding bore little resemblance to what was portrayed on TV and at that time, didn’t offer the career pathway Jax was looking for.

Undeterred she shifted her focus to the dairy industry and other than a short stint managing a poultry farm, she has not looked back and has achieved her goal of working in the industry as a rural professional.

Completing Primary ITO programmes helped fuel Jax’s own career progression and she knows first-hand what’s like to be juggling long hours on the farm with study requirements. But she also knows the satisfaction that comes with completing the papers, applying her newly acquired knowledge and skills on the farm and gaining a well-recognised qualification.

It is this sense of satisfaction she strives to instill in the farm teams she is working with, as she identifies the skill gaps in the employer’s staff and encourages her trainees to fill those gaps while driving their careers forward.

“Every time I put anyone into a programme I think holistically, taking into account the needs of the employer and the employee.”

There is no such thing as a typical day for Jax. She will often start the day in the office before heading out to visit her clients on-farm.

“Every operation is different depending on the needs of the trainee. Sometimes they are new, sometimes they are people I have been working with for a while – they even know how I have my coffee.”

Jax’s passion for the dairy industry has not waned over the years and she loves watching future talent coming through and seeing their success as their career progresses.

She sees her trainees go from assistant to 2IC, and as a facilitator she feels fortunate to be part of their journey.

“I’m the lucky one really, I get to watch these amazing people flourish and become great dairy farmers.”

As a Primary ITO Training Adviser, Jax’s focus is totally on the dairy industry as she knows just how important that industry is to New Zealand.

She admits there are challenging aspects of the job such as long hours on the road and when trainees drop out of their programmes – usually through a loss of confidence.

“I will try and track them down because I want to see them succeed. I put a lot of time into individuals because I know what they are capable of achieving.”

Since starting in South Taranaki, Jax has been able to get Primary ITO programmes up and running in the Waverley and Patea catchments.

“I am super stoked to be able to offer more programmes in that area which means easier access and less travel for trainees.”

South Taranaki dairy farmers Tanya and Phil Nixon have found Primary ITO programmes and qualifications benefit their business through having employees who grow in confidence as well as skills.

“We always see a difference with their understanding in the day-to-day work. They come and talk to us about what’s happening and it helps join the dots, which is ultimately better for us and our business,” says Phil.

“They are more confident to go ahead and take the initiative.”

The type of Primary ITO programmes their staff undertake include stock handling, animal health, milking systems and pasture management.

The couple, who milk 330 cows in a split calving – so they are calving in spring and autumn and milking all year round – offer their staff the opportunity to study with Primary ITO.

Phil says while they do gently encourage their staff to undertake study through Primary ITO, they need to be committed – they have to want to do it.

The couple and their staff have found Jax to be very good at both supporting their employees and understanding their business and skill requirements.

“It is a three-way stakeholder arrangement. Jax, as an educator, has an understanding of our business and our staff, and will marry them all together.”

Phil, who as South Taranaki Mayor has a lot of off-farm commitments, says they all value Jax’s support and help.

“Tanya is always saying how understanding she is.”

Sydney Porter works for Phil and Tanya and is learning through Primary ITO. She is almost lost for words when it comes to describing the support she receives from Jax.

“I don’t know what to say, she’s friggin awesome, she’s just always there when you need her.”

Sydney, who has been working in the dairy industry for two years, believes part of what makes Jax so outstanding as a Training Adviser is that she has also done the programmes and the hard-yards on farm. She understands the struggles and knows what it’s like to juggle work and study.

“She has ways of explaining things that help me understand because she knows what she is talking about. She has been there and done that.”

Last year Sydney completed a livestock husbandry qualification and is now studying livestock feeding.

While she admits to loving the livestock husbandry – because she is passionate about animals– she is enjoying getting her head around feeding.

“I definitely look at things and understand why we are doing what we do. It helps puts the puzzle together.”

Learn more about our dairy programmes here

As of 1 July 2020, the Government will cover training fees until 31 December 2022 – so there’s never been a better time to connect with Jax. Phone 027 446 6267 or email [email protected]