For AgWoman Ash-Leigh Campbell Canterbury has always been the place she has called home. Ash-Leigh was raised on a Canterbury lifestyle block, and fell in love with farming as a high school student, working as a relief milker for a local farmer who had a 200 cow herd of pedigree Holstein Friesian farm. Since then she has worked in various roles in the dairy industry around Canterbury. Her experience has been built on small and large scale properties interspersed with some overseas travel and university study.

Ash-Leigh's roles over the years have included managing a dairy dry stock unit on 530ha in the Canterbury hill country area of Sheffield before completing an AI apprenticeship with LIC.

In 2015 she made the decision to head to Lincoln University to complete my Diploma in Agriculture and says she got sucked in and completed the Diploma in Farm Management the following year. She says she was honoured to complete both diplomas while receiving a Whenua Kura Scholarship.

Ash-Leigh says being on the scholarship gave her the opportunity to discover her Māori heritage. She says "I am of Ngāi Tahu descent and whakapapa to Puketeraki marae at Karitane, Dunedin".

Fast forward to 2016 and this outgoing AgWoman was named as a finalist in the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Dairy Farmer Awards, becoming the first woman to make the finals of the dairy category in history of the competition.

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At the end of 2016 she decided to enrol in summer school at university to complete a Bachelor in Commerce (Agriculture) however the opportunity of a lifetime came up in the form of a dream job she couldn’t say no too.

Ngai Tahu Farming were creating a new role for a Sustainability Coordinator, so she put in an application and was successful.

As part of her new roles she worked with a sustainability matrix around the natural environment (land, sea, sky and water) and living things (animals, birds, insects and plants). Within the sustainability matrix there are 80 projects that the board had identified it wanted to be established. Ash-Leigh pinpointed the ones that had the most significance or value. Her role was then to collect data and monitor it.

Today her role has evolved a lot from what she was doing 6 months ago. Ash-Leigh now reports the GM of the Dairy Division at Ngāi Tahu Farming as the “Farm Technician/Operational Support”. She says her role is different every day! "Not one day is ever the same, I can be on the tools tagging 2000 heifers or coordinating our heifer mating programme to assisting our farm managers with software programmes we use on farm or even out and about the industry representing our business."

She also oversees the Synlait ‘Lead with Pride’ programme on the farms. Ash-Leigh counts herself quite fortunate to be able to ‘shadow’ the GM of Dairy (Shane Kelly) and due to the scale of the business and being an iwi organisation she has been exposed to many networking and personal development opportunities.

She feels fortunate to be working in such a progressive business that focuses on best practice farming. She continues to complete her degree part-time and will complete it by the end of 2019.

Recently Ash-Leigh completed her time as co-convenor for the DWN Lincoln group and chairperson for Tasman Young Farmers. She still remains heavily involved with both organisations. New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) sparked her desire for leadership something she is very grateful for. She credits the organisation for giving her confidence with public speaking, presentation skills and understanding how to work with others.

Last year she was also recognised as one of the inaugural winners of the NZYF Excellence awards which recognises young leaders amongst the organisation. Ash-Leigh was also the 2017 winner of the Matson and Allan Young Rural Achievers for the Selwyn District.

Currently she is working on going into partnership with her mother’s Bell-View Texel stud.

Ash-Leigh Campbell is one AgWoman who likes to work hard and play hard whilst living life to the fullest. She believes you just never know what’s around the corner so go for it! What a great attitude you have Ash-Leigh, you have mades some awesome achievements and should be very proud. All the best.