A Taupo woman with generations of farming experience behind her is one of the two finalists in the 2018 Dairy Community Leadership Awards.

Dairy farmer Kylie Leonard from Taupo and Lorraine Stephenson, from Dannevirke have been nominated for Dairy Community Leadership Awards. The awards are a Dairy Women's Network initiative recognising the unsung heroes of rural communities.

This year's award will be presented at an awards ceremony during the Network's conference in Rotorua next week.

Sponsored by ASB and Tompkins Wake, the award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women have in leading their communities and sharing their time and skills beyond the farm gate.


Kylie milks 400 cows at Oruanui with her husband Rick and daughters Kate, 10 and twins Isla and Eloise, 6. Her family has a proud history of farming in the Central Plateau region, where her grandparents walked to Reporoa from Te Aroha in Waikato in the 1950s to establish their dairy farm.

Originally training as a teacher, Kylie's dream was to own a farm. In 2011 she and her husband entered into a farm equity partnership with her parents, where she continues to milk and rear calves while teaching children with dyslexia part-time.

She believes in setting a positive example to others, supporting AgITO students and chairing St Patrick's Catholic School's Board of Trustees. She is also patron of Taupo Family Playcentre and is on the Taupo board of the Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP).

Leonard says news of the nomination came as a surprise, and she hopes to continue to inspire others in the rural sector.

"Long term I would love to encourage more people to enter our industry and help them take advantage of the wonderful opportunities out there," Leonard says.

Dairy Women's Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers says both Kylie and Lorraine embody the community-centric values and a willingness to go the hard yards that can often go unrecognised.

"Kylie and Lorraine are those people you can leave a task to and know they'll get on with it and that it will make a difference to those around them," says Zelda.

"They both volunteer an extraordinary amount of time in their communities and place a lot of value on their network and relationships, which is essential for any rural community. "We're proud to announce them as finalists for the Dairy Community Leadership Award."

The winner is chosen by a panel from Dairy Women's Network, ASB and Tompkins Wake who will receive a scholarship to attend a leadership programme.