Timaru agri-manager Hannah Wallace embraces the rural life

Fieldays and farming have always been part of Hannah Wallace’s life and she has channelled that into her career.

“Fieldays is a real tradition for our family and we have been going for as long as I can remember,” says Ms Wallace, 23, an agri-manager for fertiliser company, Ravensdown, based in Timaru.

“Now that I’m older and working in the primary sector, Fieldays is a great opportunity to see what is new and upcoming in the agricultural space.

“I think the social aspect of Fieldays is a big draw card for people too. It’s a good opportunity to catch up with people and network.”

Together with her sisters Alana and Louise, Ms Wallace grew up on a dairy farm at Pukeatua, south of Cambridge. The family’s agricultural heritage and passion for the land saw all three sisters find work in the agricultural industry as adults.

Eldest sister Alana is a crop monitoring coordinator for PGG Wrightson, while middle sister Louise is a farm investment consultant for FarmRight.

Agriculture is in Ms Wallace’s DNA and she has always had an interest in farming.

“My fondest memories of growing up on the farm definitely revolve around calf club. It was a big passion for me to have a calf for pet day every year,” she says.

“Doing jobs on the farm together was great family bonding time. During calving, Mum would pick up my older sisters off the school bus and we would all go down and help out. It was a non-negotiable thing.

“Growing up on a farm I developed an interest in agriculture,” she says. “Seeing my sister Louise study agricultural commerce convinced me it was the path I wanted to pursue too.”
In 2015, Ms Wallace graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce majoring in farm management from Massey University.

“During my university holidays, I worked on the home farm and also helped with yearling preparation on a couple of horse studs over the summer. I also did some relief milking during the semester for a bit of extra money.”

Ms Wallace says it is exciting that agriculture is such a big part of the New Zealand economy.

“I am really proud to be part of an industry which helps feed people,” she says. “My job gives me the flexibility to work in the office and out in the field. It’s given me the opportunity to work with a wide range of farmers in all farming types, from arable to dairy.”

Ms Wallace believes the opportunities for women to work in agriculture are endless.

“Women are just as capable as men,” she says. “I personally would like to see more women taking on more senior leadership roles in the industry.

“Fieldays is an awesome place to learn more about what options there are for a career in agriculture. The Fieldays Career and Education Hub is a great place to start and there are so many rural professionals and farmers who are always happy to chat.”

“Fieldays means a lot to us because we got to see our grandad every year,” says Ms Wallace.

Their grandfather, Des James, was the founder of James Engineering Limited based in Gore. Every year he travelled to Mystery Creek as an exhibitor, to showcase his company’s soil aerator equipment.

“Grandad would come and stay with us in Pukeatua for a week following Fieldays and come out on the farm with us. He always gave us the best hugs!”

Although her grandfather passed away three years ago, Ms Wallace says Fieldays still has a special place in her heart and is a ‘must see’ event on the agricultural calendar.

The Wallace Sisters’ story will debut as a 30-second television commercial during Country Calendar on TVNZ 1 this Sunday June 10 from 7pm. A longer version of Wallace Sisters’ story is available in the new documentary box set Fieldays Stories, available on TVNZ OnDemand (TVNZ.co.nz).

“We are super proud to be part of such an awesome campaign,” says Ms Wallace. “Hopefully it will help encourage other young women to pursue a career in agriculture, because there are plenty of job opportunities out there.”

Marketing manager for New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays, Taryn Storey, says the Wallace sisters’ story captured her heart because they represent the true spirit of Fieldays.

“They’ve been attending Fieldays since they were young, in buggies and backpacks. Now, years later, they are coming back as rural professionals. For them, it’s a tradition they will carry on with their own families for years to come.”

Ms Storey says they discovered the Wallace sisters’ story as part of a social media campaign.

“We went through a process of asking people to share their stories and their memories of Fieldays. The five stories we chose are completely genuine and none of it is scripted. Everything they said is from the heart and in their own voice. That’s what makes it so special.”

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