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CLIENT NEWS: Conference will mark 20 years of Dairy Women's Network

With Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) poised to mark its 20th year in 2018, its upcoming conference will celebrate the primary reason the Network was established in 1998 – to bring women in the dairy industry together.

Registrations are now open for DWN18 – Our Land, Our People which takes place 22 to 23 March at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua.

DWN CEO Zelda de Villiers says the conference will focus on the two key elements at the heart of the dairy industry, land and people, and celebrate the Network’s grass roots community and ability to bring people together.

“It’s very clear to us why our members are drawn to farming – they’re proud to be part of a close-knit, supportive community, it’s a great lifestyle for their families, and they enjoy working in the outdoors and with animals.”

The two-day conference will host three motivational speakers, including TEDx speaker Cam Calkoen, more than 30 exhibition stands, and nine practical workshops covering a variety of topics including finance, animal health, sustainability, and wellness. Anyone working in the dairy industry is being encouraged to attend – women, men, rural professionals, all farm workers, and organisations that support the industry.

Dairy Women’s Network was established in 1998 by several of New Zealand’s leading dairy women to develop and educate women to add value to the business of dairy.

Jodie Goudswaard chairs the DWN conference committee which is made up of seven volunteers from regions across the country. She says next year’s delegates will walk away from conference having built knowledge and gained new skills, and feel inspired and motivated for the year ahead.

“We want to continue to offer a conference that is up to date, with workshops that are relevant and timely to what’s happening in the industry,” she says.

“We’ve put more of a practical spin on this conference because we want everyone to come away with solutions and plans to put in place once they get home, and we’re offering more workshops and learning options than we have before.”

A new addition to the programme is the pre-conference farm tour, where attendees can visit farms in the area to see new farming technology in action.

Founding general manager Lynda Clark has seen her fair share of conferences and says over the years they have evolved to meet the changing needs of DWN’s members.

“Technical workshops addressing the key areas women are involved in on farm and ones focused on management and leadership are all topics which continue to be of interest to women in the dairy industry,” says Clark.

"Now, we’re also seeing full rooms for workshops in health and safety, sustainability, and ones that cover education on complex environmental issues such as nitrogen leaching. We’ve always had to be innovative and a step ahead in our offerings for our members.”

Whakatane dairy farmer Jodi Malcolm is looking forward to attending next year and says she has been to more DWN conferences than she can count. “I remember the first conference I went to I took my baby daughter in her cradle, and now she’s 20, so I’ve been going to them for a while,” she says.

“I think it’s important that we take the time to get off the farm and reconnect with our friends and fellow dairy women.

“For me conference is about celebrating this awesome community we have and being around like-minded people. There’s a sense that you’re all in it together, you can share experiences and talk through problems.”

The Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year and the Dairy Community Leadership awards will also be announced during the conference at a gala dinner on 22 March. DWN18 is sponsored by livestock management company Allflex.

To register for DWN18, visit dwn.co.nz/dwn18-conference