Libby Main takes on Westland

Libby Main takes on Westland Libby Main

5 November 2021

Libby Main (Harington 2012-2014) spends her her days four-wheeling across the Hokitika River in Westland taking water samples, or speaking with local iwi, councils or the Department of Conservation and Fish and Game.

They’re not the type of jobs that immediately spring to mind when you think about a career in Agribusiness. The 24-year-old is an environmental technician at Westland Milk Products and is about to take on a new role as an Irrigation Technician with Fonterra, at their Hautapu operation, just outside of Cambridge in the Waikato.

While Libby grew up on a 350-hectare dairy farm in the South Waikato, she says it wasn’t until she started studying Agribusiness at St Paul’s Collegiate School, that she grasped the breadth of career opportunities available in the New Zealand agriculture industry.

“I think people still view a career in agriculture as one where you are working on a farm every day, but the truth is there is so much more to it than just running a farm. There are so many support industries that need skilled workers,” says Libby.

Libby was one of the first cohort to study Agribusiness at St Paul’s, when the course was first trialled in 2014.

“I knew that agriculture was my passion but the course at St Paul’s gave me confidence that the industry was wider than working on a farm and it helped to show me there were good opportunities and career paths to follow.”

When Libby graduated from St Paul’s she went on to study at Lincoln University completing a Diploma in Applied Science (Agriculture) followed by a Bachelor of Environmental Management. During her second year she took an elective paper on water quality, and says she knew that was how she wanted to make her impact.

“It was while I was at university I discovered I really enjoyed the study of water quality and I knew that was the direction I wanted my career to go,” says Libby.

The variation in her day from heading out on site collecting water samples, to advising the executive management team on resource consents or new environmental legislation, is what she enjoys most about her job.

“I have the ability to plan my own day. I can break up the desk work with on-site jobs at my own discretion. I think the most surprising thing I have discovered since working is how short the industry is of highly skilled staff to do this work,” says Libby.

While she still considers herself early in her career, Libby thinks she would eventually like to move closer to working directly with farmers to help them improve their environmental management.

(Source: Nicola Martin - HMC)