A 25 year old woman from Pahiatua who gave up working in a local accountancy office was tonight named the Rural Contractors NZ Trainee for 2023.

Jessica Bills grew up on her parents dairy farm and her proud parents Gary and Amanda Bills were with her last night at the Rural Contractors conference in Invercargill when she collected her award. Gary said it was not a big surprise she turned to contracting. “Whenever she got home from school and I was in the tractor, she’d kick me out.”

Jessica only joined Mabey Contracting in her home town last October. Andrew and Catherine Mabey were also there tonight and were among 10 firms recognised for the support they as employers had provided to the finalists including Jessica.

The runner-up was Caleb Turner from Sims Contractors in Otaki. Both won $1000 travel prizes sponsored by Tulloch Farm Machinery, Nufarm and RCNZ.

Jessica says she’s learning everything she can in the job, including raking, baling, mowing, wrapping and stacking hay and sileage as well as servicing machines in the workshop.

“I love every minute of it.” She hopes to stay in the rural contracting industry and eventually manage an operation.

Jessica Bills, 2023 Rural Contractors NZ Trainee of the year with runner-up Caleb Turner.