Wedderburn Tavern owner Angela Stockdale had a problem common to many rural businesses — finding staff in a small community.
The answer to her search was not what she expected — digital marketing professional Jen Kirchhofer — but the new hire has become not only accepted but loved by the local community.
Ms Stockdale said she posted ‘‘yet another ad’’ searching for staff, the title simply reading ‘‘All round good sort required’’.
It caught the eye of Aucklandbased digital marketer and strategist Miss Kirchhofer, who originally hailed from the United States, and she sent an application.
‘‘Jen wrote a very detailed cover letter detailing how she works in digital marketing, her ability to be able to work remotely and also her passion for the hospitality industry, which resonated with me a lot,’’ Ms Stockdale said.
Miss Kirchhofer happened to be visiting the area the following week so set up a meeting.
Ms Stockdale said when Miss Kirchhofer arrived ‘‘she was very positive and had great energy, which is obviously important working in hospitality’’.
Ms Kirchhofer accepted the live-in part-time position, knowing she could continue teaching post-graduate digital marketing for the New Zealand Institute of Education remotely.
Ms Stockdale said the locals were at first sceptical of the American behind the bar, but ‘‘now love her’’.
Part of that love and respect is because of Miss Kirchhofer’s enthusiasm for learning about rural life and what she terms her ‘‘country cultural experiences’’.
Although she had never dealt with livestock before, she went out with local farmers to feed stock, round up and move livestock and on her fourmonth ‘‘Wedder-versary’’ last week, helped a local farmer scan his ewes to determine which were pregnant.
She said she knew she had been accepted when locals started teasing her, and she gave as good as she got.
‘‘Heckling is my love language,’’ she said.
She finds it hard to explain to friends and family at home that although she lives only 15 minutes from the nearest town of Ranfurly, it does not have many of the norms common in a US town.
Her home town of Newhaven, Indiana, has a population of 20,000 but is itself a suburb of Fort Wayne, with a population of 300,000.
She does not feel at all isolated though, and the balance between her teaching, private consulting, bartending and learning about farming has given her a lifestyle she loves.