Jessie Waite is your classic, ‘townie’ who fell in love with the primary sector.
Growing up in rural Taranaki, Jessie was always surrounded by the country life, but it wasn’t until her family moved to a lifestyle block on the outskirts of New Plymouth, that her passion for all things rural began.
“As kids, we spent early mornings down on a neighbouring farm, feeding out, shifting breaks and even dehorning,” she says.
“So at high school, I elected to study Ag & Hort and also did Land Based Training through school.”
Another passion through highschool for Jessie was English, and after some encouragement from her school, and a local tutor at the Polytech, Jessie enrolled herself into the Diploma of Journalism.
After nearly two years working at the Stratford Press in Taranaki as a junior reporter, Jessie packed up the car and moved to Oamaru, a rural town in the South Island of New Zealand, to work for their community paper.
It was in Oamaru, that Jessie immersed herself into New Zealand Young Farmers, becoming the chair of her local club, Five Forks and also elected on to the Aorangi regional committee.
“Funnily enough, I originally joined Young Farmers so I could go on a trip with my friends for their annual club trip to Black Forest Station, but I soon got involved in the club, and as they say, the rest is history.”
Jessie is now the chair of Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Young Farmers, after moving back to her hometown of New Plymouth in 2016.
Landing a job with Federated Farmers, Jessie was able to continue her passion for the primary sector, through local events, interactions with the rural community and learning everyday on the job.
Not one to turn down an opportunity, Jessie also took up the roles of regional coordinator of the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and Super Admin for Grass Roots Media.
“I really enjoy being able to share the incredible stories within the primary sector, especially all of the fantastic work Taranaki farmers are doing for the environment through riparian planting and pest control,” she says.
Her efforts in her local community, notably throughout the Taranaki drought, saw her awarded the New Zealand Young Farmers Excellence Award in 2018.
“That was such an incredible surprise. We are so incredibly lucky in New Zealand to have such a high calibre of leaders so to be recognised by my peers was very humbling.”
Looking forward, Jessie’s is optimistic about the future of the primary sector in New Zealand.
“We are world leaders, and have some of the worlds best growers and producers,” she says.
“The opportunities are endless for New Zealand and I am excited to be a part of that.”