Dannevirke teenager Niamh Barnett knows first-hand how nerve-racking bidding at a livestock auction can be.
The 17-year-old bought some Hereford cows at the Woodlynd Polled Herefords dispersal sale in Gisborne in February 2018.
"I went with a price I was prepared to pay for each animal. I just hoped I didn't get outbid," she laughed.
Those in-calf cows will be the founding families in her stud Te Rangitumau Herefords.
"It's a really exciting feeling knowing that I have started breeding my own herd. It's been a goal of mine since I was young," she said.
"The first calves were born last spring. I'm really keen to see how they go."
Barnett's passion for Hereford cattle runs in her blood. Her father, Philip Barnett, is a fifth generation Hereford breeder.
Philip and Niamh's mother Lyn own the Kaitoa Hereford Stud, which can trace its origins back to a cow imported in 1882.
Barnett's in her final year studying at Iona College in Hawke's Bay, where she's a member of the school's TeenAg club.
"I joined the club when I was in Year 8. Lucy Collin got me involved," she said.
Barnett has been an active member ever since, and last year was named best TeenAg club chair on the East Coast.
"It was such an honour to receive that award. But I couldn't have achieved it without the help of the entire club," she said.
Barnett chaired the club from 2017 to 2018. She credits a unique course run by NZ Young Farmers (NZYF) for helping to grow her leadership skills.
"The course was called Raising the Standards. It's run for TeenAg members. I really recommend it. I came back buzzing with ideas," she said.
"One of the best things about the course was meeting people from other TeenAg clubs."
Barnett cites former NZYF territory manager Isabelle Crawshaw as a major role model.
"Isabelle was such a big help and really inspiring. I'd had heaps of questions about running a TeenAg club and she always made plenty of time to answer them," she said.
Barnett is a role model in her own right. In June 2018 she attended the Hereford Australia National Youth Expo in Wodonga.
"The aim of the event is to help young people build their knowledge and understanding of the beef industry and to network," she said.
Barnett is looking forward to New Zealand hosting the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown next year.
TeenAg clubs are run by NZ Young Farmers and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).