Wednesday 8 March 2017

Introducing: KERI JOHNSTON

As today is International Women’s day it seems fitting to be introducing our new inspirational H2Grow contributor - Keri Johnston director of Irricon Resource Solutions. Irricon won the Rural Women New Zealand’s Enterprising Rural Women Award in 2014 and Keri was a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards in the Rural category in 2015. Not surprisingly the H2Grow team are bubbling with excitement to have Keri sharing her great depth of knowledge and expertise with us all!

Keri Johnston

Hello everyone, and thank you to H2Grow for having me.  So, a little bit about me.  I was born and bred on a North Otago sheep and beef farm.  After leaving school I completed a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Natural Resources, specialising in water and land management.   I wanted a job that meant I wasn’t going to be stuck inside all the time, and I hate the sight of blood, so doctor or vet was off the table. While the degree starts at Canterbury University, the last two years were spent at Lincoln University. During this time, I met and fell in love with my now husband, who was dairy farming on Banks Peninsula at the time.  

Keri Johnston
As a new graduate I began my career working for Meridian Energy at Manapouri power station and was then based at Twizel working on dam safety.  I turned down a transfer to Wellington to get married and go dairy farming in Canterbury- I didn’t fancy the idea of a long-distance marriage!  

In Canterbury I took a job with the Regional Council working on consents. A job ironically, I disliked, but one that has stood me in good stead as it gave me real insight into the resource consent process and requirements.

I then moved within the organisation to a role carrying out the environmental management of river works.   At the same time, I had two children, and we were continuing to grow their farming business by moving to increasingly larger farming operations.  It has been a continual drift south, starting in Banks Peninsula and via several farms now settled in Geraldine, on our own 80ha dairy support and beef block near Geraldine.

In 2007, whilst on the drift south, I started Irricon Resource Solutions, an environmental consultancy. Irricon now has 15 staff stretching from North Canterbury to Duntroon and a head office in Timaru.  I still work mostly from home, around kids and the farm.  It also means I can sneak in a lunchtime horse ride or YouTube yoga session!  

I am passionate about what I do.  Helping farmers work out how all these new regulations affect them and trying to get them involved in the limit setting process early on.  This stuff is not going away, and you are better off to be at the table having the discussions.   After all, if you’re not at the table, chances are, you’ll be on the menu.