Working on Waikaka Station has kick-started Lisa Bonenkamp's passion for Hereford cattle.

Bonenkamp (22) has been working at the Paterson family's property at Greenvale, near Waikaka, for the past two and a half years.

Waikaka Genetics includes a Hereford stud and working with the breed was something that she really enjoyed.

"They're such a great animal to work with, such great mothering ability and the carcass and beef with it," she said.

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She also found the stud breeding and genetics side "fascinating". The Paterson family were very supportive and encouraged her to give things a go.

That included putting her name forward for selection for the New Zealand team to compete in next year's Young Breeders Competition.

The youth event is being held in conjunction with the Boehringer Ingelheim World Hereford Conference being held in the South, based in Queenstown, in March.

It has attracted nine teams from around the world, including from Sweden, the UK and Australia.

When it came to putting her name forward, Bonenkamp said she had "nothing really to lose".

There was a selection weekend in Waikato at the beginning of the year that had various modules, stock-judging, and public speaking.

A panel of judges then selected the team, comprising captain Sam Tipping, who works in Timaru, Mark Murphy (Hokitika), Hannah Gibb, who is from Palmerston North and working in Australia, and Niamh Barnett, in her last year at Iona College, with Bonenkamp as travelling reserve.

The team was diverse but all laid-back and humorous. They were all part of the "Hereford family" and she was both happy and proud for them to all be in the team, she said.

Bonenkamp grew up on a dairy farm in Waikato and always had a passion for farming.
When Telford was mentioned by an agriculture teacher at secondary school, she headed south to tackle a certificate and diploma in agriculture.

While at Telford, she was involved in the Red Meat Network, a tertiary network designed to increase the number of high-achieving graduates entering the sheep and beef industry.

Last year, she did the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Generation Next programme; the programme was the brainchild of BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross and was taken up by the southern South Island farmer council.

Each year, 20 participants from the sheep and beef sector were selected to be part of a three-module programme to gain new information and skills.

Bonenkamp hoped to go overseas to travel and work for a few years and, on her return, she was keen to acquire some Hereford heifers and start her own stud.

Attending the world conference was an "incredible opportunity" to meet people from overseas and it would be attended by many of the world leaders from within the Hereford industry, she said.

The New Zealand Young Breeders team was heading to the 2019 Herefords Australia National Youth Expo in New South Wales early next month where each of them would be allocated a heifer to compete with.

Rebecca Paterson, who is co-ordinator for the Young Breeders Competition, said the aim of the trip was to gain experience, particularly in the show ring. The experience they would gain would be "huge".

The Young Breeders Competition was "loosely" based on the Young Farmer of the Year and included various agricultural modules, a quiz, public speaking and stock judging and handling.

The team that won the best speech, on an industry relevant topic, would then present to the world conference.

A Hereford feature show was being held in conjunction with the Wanaka A&P Show and the Young Breeder teams would be taking part in that.

Paterson was very grateful to those Hereford studs that were supplying animals for the teams to use, along with the other competition sponsors.

She was looking forward to the Young Breeders Competition in March, saying it was going to be a very exciting event.

New Zealand had a "brilliant team" who all had different strengths, along with some similarities.

Those competing in the event were the future of the Hereford industry and the networking opportunities they would be exposed to would be "amazing".

Registrations were now open for the World Hereford Conference. The four-yearly conference - last held in New Zealand in 1984 - would attract breeders from around the world for the week-long event.

There would be an opportunity to get on to properties looking at stock as well as listening to speakers on genetics and innovative agriculture, NZ Herefords manager Posy Moody said.

A pre-conference tour would be held in the North Island with a post-conference tour in the South Island.