Zeb Antonioli takes trip to New Zealand
August 22, 2018
A Carroll College bound Whitehall resident had the opportunity of a lifetime earlier this summer when he traveled to New Zealand with a 4-H Cultural Exchange program.
Zeb Antonioli recently took part in the New Zealand Outbound program where he was able to stay in the country 2 1/2 weeks. The 4-H program was in partnership with the New Zealand Young Farmers.
Antonioli has been involved in 4-H ten years and said he has experienced both highs and lows during the decade. He originally started with one animal, a pig, but expanded to doing seven to eight projects a year and found a great deal of success. This year he once again was one of the top local 4-H participants, including a Purple Ribbon and Overall Grand Champion in Display award for his project on Mycoplasma bovis in New Zealand.
He originally found out about the exchange program from Katherine Smith at the Madison-Jefferson County Extension office. Antonioli received an email with a link about the program two days before the application had to be filled out. He was able to complete the application in time and was selected.
His first four days in the country, Antonioli was in Invercargill, the southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand. During this portion of the trip he was able to witness a Young Farmers of New Zealand Competition sponsored by the Farmer Mutual Group. He said the FMG is a really big thing in the country.
Antonioli drew many similarities to the New Zealand and southwest Montana, especially in Queenstown where he said there were huge mountains with snow and amazing views. He said it was winter in the country when he visited and despite this it stays green year round, except in the very high altitudes.
As part of the program, Antonioli was able to stay with host families, an experience he feels showed him a lot more of actual life rather than just staying in a city and always doing things a tourist would do.
"I was actually able to see what life was like down there," he said.
During time with a family on the south island, he spent time moving cattle, taking care of their farm, pigs, and dairy cow, and learning how they did things in New Zealand. He also used the time as a way to see what things he was learning there he could bring back to Montana, as well as to show them how they did things in America.
While working with the families he found the way they do agriculture is extremely different. He said since it is green year round they do all intensive grazing where they have a main paddock split up by electric fencing, and every 24 hours move the cattle into a new section.
When examining the two countries, the 2018 Butte Central gradate said it was very interesting to see the difference in technology. He saw far less technology while staying with the host families in New Zealand, using clothes dryers as an example. He said they didn't really need them and even though it was winter, they could hang out their clothes on a clothesline, something unheard of during the colder months in Montana.
"It gave me an appreciation of being able to get clothes out of the wash and putting them in the dryer," he said.
Although busy helping the families, Antonioli was able to get some tourist type experiences and said one of his favorite parts of the trip was visiting Queenstown where he rode a gondola to an area with restaurants, shops, and what he called an incredible view.
Looking back on his time, Antonioli feels the trip was very rewarding.
"It was so surreal to be there and to be able to experience and become immersed in another country's culture," he said.
He is the son of Steve and Nancy Antonioli of Whitehall.