Brooke Woolsey isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.
As if running a 4000-acre sheep, beef and dairy grazing unit in West Otago with her husband and being mum to two small children didn’t make for a busy enough life, Brooke decided to take up distance learning as well.
She succeeded and in December 2018, walked the stage in Invercargill graduating with a New Zealand Diploma in Agribusiness Management.
However, it was not a straight path to this destination. Brought up in Otago, she moved to Christchurch to study beauty therapy after high school.
After graduating, Brooke decided to make the move to Australia and landed a job working in the mines in Boddington, Western Australia (WA), on the blast crew.
She spent six years in the mining industry as a shot firer, in both WA and South Australia, before returning to New Zealand to marry Karl, raise a family and farm in Rankleburn, near Tapanui.
“I realised I didn’t know a lot about the ins and outs of farming, even though I grew up on a farm.
“I wanted to study so my first place to look was the Southern Institute of Technology, being the closest to us, and knowing that they offer Zero Fees which is amazing.”
Brooke began studying through SIT2LRN with the first intake of the NZ Diploma in Agribusiness Management in February 2017, when her children were just two years old and three months old.
“If trying to run a household, help on the farm and having two young children wasn’t enough, I decided I needed to start using my brain again.
“There was only one catch for me with online learning. We can’t get the internet where we live so that made it made quite hard for those two years.
“After the first couple of months of study I decided to put my oldest into daycare in town twice a week [a 40 min drive away] and the little one came to the library with me. These two days were my ‘internet days’. I would print everything I needed from Blackboard and study away at nights when the kids went to bed.
“Some nights were very, very long and there were many times I felt like giving up, but I knew that the hard work and stressful days were all going to pay off eventually.”
Brooke is now using the knowledge she gained to build and grow the couple’s business.
“I have learnt so much from my study that has benefited us in so many ways, especially with health and safety and environmental management.
“I want to further my knowledge and do more study in either environmental or health and safety as these were the two areas of the diploma I enjoyed the most.”
But also knowing that once the kids are both at school, having my diploma is really going to help with future employment.