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Dairying women to deliver online training despite challenges

23 October 2012

Dairying women push through broadband challenge to access online training

A professional dairy industry women’s group will deliver an online training programme despite limited access to high-speed internet services in many rural communities.

The Dairy Women’s Network is the premier forum for women working in New Zealand’s dairy industry. With more than 3100 members, it works to develop the leadership and business skills of women in a changing agribusiness environment. It does this by providing a range of training and networking resources.

Chief executive Sarah Speight said that as dairy women’s lives were getting busier, the Network needed be innovative in how it delivered training to allow members to participate without having to be in a specific place at a specific time.

In 2010 the government committed to the Rural Broadband Initiative. The initiative will bring high speed broadband to 252,000 customers, and 86 percent of rural households and businesses will have access to broadband peak speeds of at least 5Mbps. Currently around 20 percent of rural homes and businesses have access to 5Mbps. (Source: www.med.govt.nz)

Mrs Speight said that while rural internet access and speed was still a challenge for many, rural New Zealanders expected the same access to online services as their urban neighbours.

“The Network was founded on using technology to empower dairying women. Our email forum which started in 2002 was a leading innovation at the time and is still really well-used.

“Sure, there are limitations to what we can do, but our members have said they don’t want limited access to broadband to stop the Network delivering innovative services that suit the rural dairying lifestyle.”

The Network’s traditional Dairy Days are a series of one-day workshops which run twice a year across the country covering a range of topics from essential business skills to on-farm practices. The virtual Dairy Day webcast is an extension of the training programme.

Mrs Speight explained that a pre-recorded webcast format, rather than a live webcast, would minimise some of the problems experienced by slower internet speeds. The webcast could be watched anytime online, or downloaded onto DVD or as an audio file for watching offline.

Dairy Women’s Network worked with OneFarm to develop the webcast. OneFarm is a joint venture between Massey and Lincoln Universities that is supported by DairyNZ and the Government’s Primary Growth partnership. It employs the skills of leading researchers, industry experts and rural professionals to develop education, training and professional development for the rural sector.

The first virtual Dairy Days webcast would focus on developing human resources skills for dairy farm employers, and would be available to Dairy Women’s Network members on 31 October.

About the Dairy Women’s Network
Began in 1998 following Willy Geck and Hilary Webber attending a Women in Agriculture conference in Washington DC. They came home inspired to use a technology approach to reach dairying women.

With support they created an email network, primarily serving dairying women in the Waikato. 2002 was a turning point for the Network when it expanded nationally.

In 2008, the organisation rebranded to become the Dairy Women’s Network. Today it has around 3100 members and runs 27 regional groups throughout the country.

Dairy Women’s Network Regional Groups currently operate in the following regions: Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Cambridge, South Waikato, King Country, Te Puke/Whakatane, Opotiki, Rotorua, Taupo, Huntly East, Te Aroha/Morrinsville, Pukekohe, Central Taranaki, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay, Takaka, Marlborough, Nelson/Tasman, Murchison, West Coast, Kaikoura, North Canterbury, Mid Canterbury, South Canterbury, Rangitata Island, Gore and Invercargill.

Head office in the Waikato, situated on State Highway One between Hamilton and Cambridge.

Visit www.dwn.co.nz for more information

ENDS

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