With a passionate focus and upbringing in the rural sector, Southlander & Beef + Lamb NZ Extension Manager Olivia Ross was born an AgWoman. Brought up as a true country kid in Southland, she grew up learning the true value of achievement, hard work, loyalty, community and earning what you receive. She remembers a childhood of stock work, tractors, horses, machinery, hunting, adventures and pure enjoyment.

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A number of years ago she set a mission statement: To act as an inspirational agricultural leader in a passionate & friendly manner making a community contribution while focusing on a strategic plan that is not only enjoyable but provides a lifestyle and future for my family and those around me in a positive manner. Now as 2017 ticks away she is well on her path to setting that strategic plan and fulfilling the mission. 

Having finished school at Otago Girls High School in Dunedin in 2005 Olivia attended Lincoln University and completed 3 diplomas, Diploma in Agriculture, Farm Management and Applied Science. At that stage all she ever wanted to do was be a shepherd and over the years had a number of opportunities to work on a variety of wonderful hill country properties throughout Southland, Otago and South Canterbury. However due to a number of injuries to her back she had to make a decision between riding and farming and decided that horses were never going to not be part of her life. She made the decision in late 2009 to move into a position with Outgro Fertiliser Ltd as a technical field officer for 5 years. 

Since March 2015 she been an extension manager for the lower South Island for Beef + Lamb New Zealand based out of Gore. Her core role is to act as key representative for all levy paying farmers and stakeholders and contribute to continual development of farm best practise’s and polices. No day is ever the same and there is always something new and exciting emerging to work on.

“I love working alongside farmers every day and seeing their businesses grow, it also gives me the chance to grow myself as a person and the opportunities I have had over the years throughout the industry have really shaped the person I am today”

Positions such as a volunteer fire woman for the local brigade, vice president of the Balfour Young Farmers and 2nd Vice President of the Balfour Lions club make Olivia a community focused person who fits a lot into a week. “I look back on my diary some weeks in amazement that we achieved it all, but it’s so satisfying- being organised is the key”

Five years ago Olivia braved the property market and brought her self-six acres of land with a four-bedroom house with a good amount of infrastructure suited to running sheep and horses in the hills above Balfour in Northern Southland. This is now rented out while living on the 700ha Sheep & Dry stock property in Mossburn that her partner William works on.
As summer approaches Olivia hopes to get more time with her horses and dogs while enjoying what will hopefully be the end to another busy year and a reward for all the days spent on the Kellogg Rural Leaders programme she is currently completing.

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Opportunities are given to everyone every day; it is what you choose to do with those opportunities given to you that counts. In her mind life is not just about what you know it’s also about who you know and how you bring the two together that paves out overall success.

A true AgWomen from day one Olivia. You know what hard work is and have done just that to get where you are today. What an achievement!