Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference: March 2018, Zeewolde, The Netherlands

Photo: The New Zealand Continguent in Zeewolde, Netherlands

This year 80 Nuffield scholars from 12 countries met in the Netherlands, in Zeewolde an agricultural area around 40 mins from Amsterdam. The location as part of a marina apartment complex was ideal for group dynamics as it was some distance from the closest town, but across from a holiday park which had restaurants and recreation facilities. Despite the “Beast of the East” hitting with minus temperatures, spirits and social interactions were high. (Insert the photo of venue)
The diversity of the group was expanded with invitations extended to African, Japanese and other guests as well as the Nuffield International Scholars. The 2018 scholars followed the lead of the 2017 group and did a short tour together prior to the start of the CSC visiting organisations and attending events in France and the Netherlands creating a good bond and looking at things from a NZ perspective before meeting the wider group.
The following are the reflections of the Scholars of their eight days with different messages and sharing of insights picked up.
‘The Hunger Winter And The Evolution Of Subsidies’, Simon Cook
‘Strengthen Our Adaptability by Developing Collaborative Models’, Andy Elliot
‘The Future As We Know It’, Solis Norton
‘The Tiny Country That Feeds The World’, Turi McFarland

The time for change is now.

Executive Summary

If you talk to any vet out there, I can almost guarantee it wasn’t an offhand decision in their final year of high school that took them to vet school. The dream would have taken place years before. If you ask any vet, there will be a moment in their childhood; an experience or situation, that led them to say “I want to be a vet”. They then had to work hard at school and university to realise their dream and for the majority this became their focus and passion.

How sad is it then, that after ten years of being a vet only 60% of people are re-registering? What has happened to the fire and the passion over these years?

I surveyed 205 veterinarians and they have provided me with a lot of information about the good side and the down side to rural practice in New Zealand. I themed these up into 6 main areas:

  1. The job – the clients, the variety, after hours and job satisfaction
  2. The practice – the people, the culture and flexibility
  3. The lifestyle of a rural veterinarian
  4. The production animal industry- the changing role of rural vets
  5. Wellness – a look into stress, anxiety, mental health and wellbeing
  6. Other things that help retain vets – the side comments that I couldn’t ignore

It is up to all veterinary business owners and managers to ensure they do everything possible within their power to retain vets. Without young vets staying on and potentially they themselves investing in practices, what will the local veterinary practice look like in 30 years’ time? A few big corporate clinics over the whole country? Lay companies doing the ‘technician’ work and the odd ambulatory vet patching up the problems?
The main findings from my research were that although we cannot expect anyone to stay in their initial job after graduating there are fundamental problems within the rural veterinary profession that do need attention to help with retention issues.
Practices need to have good people work for them, who are supportive and aware and enhance the culture of the practice. There is a need for good strong leaders that also show understanding. Employers need to be innovative, flexible and adaptable; and ensure the healthy well being of all their employees.

The Time For Change Is Now – Kristina Dykes

Farming in a fishbowl: Insights from environmental leaders – James Ryan

Executive summary

In recent years there has been increased public and media scrutiny of the performance of dairy farming in New Zealand. As a result there are mixed views about dairying in New Zealand. In response to increased community pressure the dairy sector is implementing a range of significant initiatives to enhance its environmental performance. While it is opportune for the dairy sector to reflect on the improvements that it has made in recent years, it is also timely to consider what other initiatives can be undertaken to maintain and improve its reputation.

As part of my project I have canvassed the views of some of the sector’s biggest critics to consider what else the dairy sector could do to improve its environmental performance and reputation. The key recommendations arising from these discussions involve:

  1. Evaluate whether the dairy sector is consistently and clearly articulating its position on freshwater limit setting.
  2. Evaluate how environmental poor performance is currently managed and identify opportunities for improvement.
  3. Identify opportunities to tell environmental success stories more effectively including through the involvement of farmers and the environmental sector.
  4. Convene a workshop between the dairy sector and environmental leaders to explore opportunities for ongoing dialogue and partnership.
  5. Explore opportunities to articulate the extent to which the dairy sector is investing in the “value – added” component of dairy exports and communicate this to environmental leaders and other stakeholders.

Farming in a fishbowl: Insights from environmental leaders – James Ryan