Mark Woods has joined the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge team in the role of Rural Engagement Advisor.
Originating from North Canterbury, Mark (also known as ‘Woodsie’) has had an extensive career in the agriculture and stock and station industries, working from mid-Canterbury to Golden Bay.
With a highly empathetic and collaborative approach to engagement, Mark’s focus in this area has been strengthened through his personal farming experience, and most recently farmer engagement work with MPI on the Mycoplasma bovis disease eradication programme.
“We are very pleased to have Mark on board as our new Rural Engagement Advisor. This role is critical to extend the reach of Our Land and Water research into the agrifood and fibre sector,” says Dr Jenny Webster-Brown, director of Our Land and Water.
The Rural Engagement Advisor role will provide Our Land and Water with an additional link into agri-business, engaging with farmers and growers, farm advisors, industry-good organisations and Māori land trusts and incorporations.
Enthusiastic about joining the team, Mark is particularly interested in the possibilities opening up for farmers and rural communities.
“It’s powerful to see science and farming partnering through the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge to enable some really cool discoveries that are giving our farmers and growers new tools, solutions and opportunities,” says Mark. “Importantly, this can deliver real value at the farm gate, increasing productivity while looking after the health of our water.”
“This role is critical to extend the reach of Our Land and Water research into the agrifood and fibre sector”— Our Land and Water director Dr Jenny Webster-Brown
Juggling three jobs through his high school years, it was the experience of milking cows, shed handing for shearing gangs and working on a pig and poultry farm that cemented Mark’s passion for the agricultural sector, taking up his first full-time employment role with stock and station firm Pyne Gould Guinness Ltd.
After gaining experience in farm supply store management, TB testing, farm auditing and staff training, Mark took the opportunity to lease some farmland and begin his own farming business. This enterprise has changed over time, fluctuating in scale and ranging from cropping, lamb trading and grazing, to cattle finishing today.
In 2009, Mark moved back into the stock and station industry, this time as a livestock broker, servicing clients between Mid and North Canterbury, and over to the West Coast. He found this work complimented and challenged his thinking in his own farming operation.
“The power of conversation is quite often underrated as a tool, yet a number of fantastic innovations come off the back of a good yarn,” says Mark.
A decade on, the tool of conversation really came to the fore when Mark joined MPI and the Mycoplasma bovis disease eradication programme.
“As the engagement guy I wasn’t in the thick of the operational work, but there were still some difficult conversations. The skills of listening and enabling two-way dialogue were invaluable.”
Mark looks forward to the mutually beneficial conversations that lie ahead. If you’d like to connect, you can contact Mark over email or phone 027 656 0836.
For more information or to request an interview email Annabel McAleer, Senior Communications Advisor, Our Land and Water: phone 021480533
High-res photograph available via Dropbox