Primary ITO programme sets trainee up for awards and career success

15 May 2023

Natasha Price grew up on a dairy farm but never considered a career in dairy farming. Her plans changed due to the Covid-19 disruption and now she’s an award-winning dairy trainee with goals for a successful future in dairying.

Natasha returned home to her parents’ Hauraki Plains dairy farm in 2020 at the time of Covid-19 lockdown, after graduating from Massey University with degrees in zoology and ecology.

“Science and animals have always been of interest to me. At that time I was stuck on the home farm and ended up helping Dad.”

To learn more about dairy farming, Natasha took a three-week Dairy NZ Go Dairy introductory course. From there she got her first job as a farm assistant at a Morrinsville dairy farm and enrolled to train toward the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Agriculture Dairy Farming with Primary ITO | Te Pūkenga.

“There is so much to learn and I am happiest when I am learning. I am currently focussing on learning about pasture management. Because New Zealand is a pasture-based system and that is our speciality it is important to get that right.” 

The winner of the 2023 Dairy Trainee of the Year for the Waikato region, and recipient of the NZ Farmers Livestock Ltd Farming Knowledge Merit Award, says her training with Primary ITO has set her up for success both at the awards and in her dairy career.

Natasha has almost completed the Level 3 part of the apprenticeship and says she finds the mix of practical on-farm learning and theory in the classroom useful.

“You understand what you are doing on-farm and why, and you can see how this will help progress your career and achieve your goals.”

Learners attend classes, and study days and nights at intervals during their learning. “I find the classroom work really engaging. The tutors are extremely knowledgeable and you can pick their brains on anything,” she says.

“It is also good meeting others in the same situation and at the same stage of their career. It helps to build your networks.”

Primary ITO training advisers set training plans and are in regular contact with learners to support their progress. They meet with employers and learners at least four times a year to help with progress.

Natasha says she has had excellent support from Primary ITO Training Adviser Marianne Awburn, who inspired Natasha to enter the 2023 Dairy Industry Awards after she had to pull out in 2022 due to other commitments.

I am thankful that Marianne strongly encouraged me to set the Dairy Awards as a goal again,” says Natasha. “I used my Primary ITO learning to prepare for that and I can see that this learning has increased my knowledge and confidence in what I am doing on-farm and why.”  

Entrants for the Dairy Trainee of the Year are required to complete a range of on-farm activities and explain their vision and farm management goals and aspirations to judges.

Natasha says learning with Primary ITO has also helped her set firm goals for the future. In years to come she would like to go 50/50 sharemilking, become an AI technician, and complete more Level 4 and 5 programmes with Primary ITO.

For now, her goal is to gain experience working in agriculture in Europe for a couple of years before returning to New Zealand in a farm manager role and continuing her study.

Rural Training Solutions NZ are the industry partner of the 2023 NZ Dairy Industry Awards "Dairy Trainee of the Year" category.

If you’re based in the Waikato region, contact your local Dairy Training Adviser Marianne Awburn on 027 248 5430 or email [email protected]

All other Training Advisers can be contacted on 0800 20 80 20 or email [email protected].

Click here to see the range of dairy programmes available.