For Lauren Cameron agriculture wasn’t something she started out doing. She grew up on a Beef stud farm in Gladstone, Wairarapa, but while at school, agriculture didn’t feature. Not knowing what she really wanted to do at University but having excelled at Design Technology at school, she decided that a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Fashion Design and Marketing was the way to go. Soon realising she didn’t want to be based in the city and fashion wasn’t really for her, the country girl at heart took the plunge and dropped fashion completely - a decision that she hasn’t looked back on.
Since getting her Business degree in Marketing from Massey University, Lauren has had roles working as Student Liaison for Taratahi, East Coast Field Officer for NZ Young Farmers and now as an Extension Manager for Beef and Lamb NZ. But it is her love for cattle that has seen Lauren excel.
There have been a few ‘light bulb’ moments in Lauren's career that have really ignited her passion for the sector. The first came when her Dad set her up to start competing in Future Beef. The next was winning the Allflex Beef Senior Ambassador at Future Beef in 2013. “Both occasions made me realise all of the opportunities in agriculture and that I really wanted to find my place in the industry, in particular with cattle.” This also gave Lauren the confidence to apply for other opportunities.
In 2013 she was awarded Beef and Lamb NZ Young Ranchers scholarship to attend the 2014 International Beef Alliance in Brisbane and Texas. “Through this experience, I gained an understanding of the importance of collaboration as the various nations came together to discuss the issues affecting the beef industry such as sustainability, tariffs and trade barriers.” That same year she was also team captain of one of three teams to represent NZ at the Angus World Forum. In 2015 she was the National Finalist RAS Rural Ambassador, representing NZ at Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Currently the Extension Manager for the southern part of Eastern North Island, she loves the job she is in. It was while she was at the International Beef Alliance in 2014 that she gained an insight into the key role B+LNZ plays for farmers. “I learnt about the respect and trust they have built with their farmers which is strongly attributed to the extension team. So when the role came up to work for B+LNZ in their extension team, I jumped at the opportunity. “
Working directly with farmers, she plays a supportive role to provide them the tools and resources to benefit their farm business. “I like a challenge and in this role we have to be adaptive and thinking outside of the box about how we may deliver the same message in a different format or just to meet the needs of farmers.”
Even though this keeps her busy, she still has time for pursuing her passion for cattle outside of her day job. Her ongoing commitment to the sector has also seen her involved in various committees such as Future Beef NZ, RAS National Youth Committee / Eastern Districts Youth Rep and Chief Cattle Steward for Masterton A&P Show. And now with the support of her parents, she has taken over their cattle stud. Lauren and her husband lease a 1500su sheep and beef property, which includes the Gelbvieh stud beef breeding cows. “We are really passionate this breed. They work really well in our system as we are not on the farm full time. They are a maternal breed that are incredibly docile and have high fertility. Over time I hope we can build the brand of Gelbvieh and their place in the NZ Beef industry.”
It is so hard to know what you really want to do when you leave school, and it takes a lot of courage to completely change your direction. Lauren, it sounds like you are now right where you should be!