Cambridge’s only Rural Catch contestant won the hearts of the public during Fieldays week. Charlotte Leach was awarded People’s Choice in the four-day rural singles competition.
Heading into the competition the 21-year-old’s main focus was more on the social side than the competitive – hoping to meet new friends in the industry and maybe even that special someone.
Having walked away with Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers for her victory, she said she took away with much more than just prizes.
“The highlight for me was meeting everyone, it wouldn’t have been the way it was without them,” she said.
“Definitely the people – the supporters, the sponsors, but most of all my fellow contestants. They were fantastic to go around the challenges with.”
Charlotte won three competitions during Fieldays week.
First was the “Don’t fence me in” challenge alongside Trent Hill, where they had to put up an electric fence quickly and efficiently. Next was the Innovations challenge where they had to program a robot to do tasks in an orchard – which she won alongside Sam Harvey.
Charlotte also won the Swanndri challenge by herself, which involved going to the Swanndri site and taking a creative photo with a creative caption.
The 2015 Cambridge High School graduate said farming skills weren’t necessarily what she developed the most during the competition, but rather her own self confidence.
“The highlight I think was definitely the growing confidence, a lot of the challenges had to do with chatting and selling yourself,” she said.
Not one to steal the limelight, Charlotte was quick to thank her sponsors and supporters for helping her toward success. “I just want to say thanks to everyone who came out to support me,” she said, “and to all the awesome people I’ve met along the way.”
After growing up in Karapiro on an alpaca farm, three years ago Charlotte switched her focus to the dairy industry and began learning anything and everything about cows as a Dairy NZ technician.
“I’m based in research, so we focus on finding ways to increase farmers’ market returns,” she explained. “We basically conduct trials around scientific research – from grass to cows to people, all aspects. It takes me to different parts (of the country) which is pretty cool.
“Since working at Dairy NZ I’ve realised there are endless paths that you could follow.”
Despite moving to Hamilton about a year ago, Charlotte proudly says, “Cambridge is still where my heart is.”