Bridget Huddleston grew up in small rural towns in Otago and Southland within a farming orientated family. She completed most of her primary schooling in Lumsden, Northern Southland, where a lot of lessons were based around farming, adding real life context to learning. Bridget attended secondary school at Mount Aspiring College in Wanaka, agriculture wasn’t offered as a subject so she studied via Telford correspondence and video link.
Bridget always had it in her mind that she was going to Lincoln, but doubt crept in during her final year at high school, unsure what jobs an ag degree would lead to. Bridget started at Lincoln, then changed to Teachers College, her second, safer choice. Although she absolutely loved teaching, and learnt so much from her time as a teacher, she found she would spend all her spare time on the farm.
"This is why I LOVE my job! If I had attended a Get Ahead Day to experience the array of jobs in the Primary Sector, or had better access to recent graduates or agri-professionals, my path would be a lot different! Where was TeenAg when I needed it!?"
When Bridget saw a job advertised at New Zealand Young Farmers she jumped at the chance. Bridget now works as a Territory Manager for New Zealand Young Farmers in the Aorangi region, from Mid Canterbury down to North Otago. Just about the smallest on the NZYF map, but Bridget claims it is the prettiest and boasts the best members. She has a full time role which works around delivering various NZYF projects, depending on the time of the year.
Bridget spends a lot of time in secondary schools with TeenAg clubs (Young Farmers clubs based at high schools) and working with the leadership teams. As a Territory Manager she is charged with delivering on-going leadership programmes and also leadership camps with these students. Alongside these projects Bridget also helps facilitate Get Ahead Experience days promoting careers in the primary sector, Teachers Days Out and more.
"It is such a buzz seeing these young students work their way into leadership roles to become confident and capable leaders. I also work with school principals and teachers to share our resources, which are game changers! In a nutshell- we’ve got great, free, quality assured resources for core subjects that tie in the primary industries. The people that I meet, work with, the members, the industry movers and shakers are why I do what I do. I am so impressed and inspired by both the Young Farmer and TeenAg members every day in this job. They’re all volunteers and doing this for the love of the industry. As a sector, we may be up against some difficult times but I truly believe it’s in good hands with our future leaders."
Being an ex-teacher Bridget believes that education is the key. "The more that the industry can spread the good stories and encourage young up-and-comers to share what they love doing, we can then work on engaging and educating our urban communities."
By the sounds of it Bridget, having people like you and NZYF involved in helping get our young people aware and into jobs in the primary industries we are in good stead!
(Should you disagree with any of Bridget's claims around being part of the best NZYF region, please submit your AgWomen story to counter her claims.)