Young Farming Champion Sam Wan anounced as top wool broker for 2019

We are sooooooo proud of this fabulous young woman – Mega congratulations Sam.

The content for this blog was sourced from story by Terry Sim at Sheep Central

A YOUNG Australian wool broker who has made the industry her life by innovating to provide the best experience for service company staff and grower clients has won her sector’s most prestigious award.

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Elders wool technical co-ordinator and auctioneer Samantha Wan, 31, last night was announced the winner of the 2019 National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia Broker Award at the Wool Week Dinner in Melbourne.

In a hard-fought contest of live presentations, resumes and quizzing on industry issues, Sam was judged the award winner against Australian Wool Network wool and sheep specialist Russell Macgugan from Victoria and Western Australian Landmark broker Matthew Chambers.

Sam said she appreciated being part of the award alumni, especially among the several Elders brokers who have won the award and who she now looks up to.

“This is very much, as with anything I’ve ever done, a testament to all the people who have helped me get to where I am.

“Those who have given me a chance and supported some of the strange things I’ve decided to do and been prepared to give it a go and see how it flies.”

Although not born into the sheep and wool industry, after starting with Elders about seven years as a trainee, Sam said she has built her life around wool through her support role, advocacy, community work and involvement in industry programs.

“It’s all been because of wool, all the opportunities have been because of wool.

“So it’s not just a wool family, but it’s building a life around it,” she said.

“But it is very much a family and (tonight) I’ve been able to see some faces I don’t see very often and to have that support network — I know they are all there.”

The award’s prize includes an economy airfare, accommodation and Congress fees to attend the IWTO Congress in Tongxiang, China in May 2020 and a tour of the Chinese wool textile industry. The Award recipient will be exposed to the wider wool industry beyond greasy wool auctions and the international trading rules system for wool.

Sam’s passion persisted from the first interview

Elders National Wool Selling Centre manager Simon Hogan said it was so satisfying to see Sam win the award, whose passion first stood out in a telephone interview for a wool technical support officer role.

“It was her passion and enthusiasm for agriculture and wool, and her desire to get into the industry.

“She had researched the role, she had researched Elders and it is still showing through now,” he said.

“Sam is so passionate, and her dedicated and her willingness to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to make sure everything is done has followed through from day one.

“Wool is Sam’s life, she wears wool, she knows all about the product…Sam is wool 24 hours. She is up against it not coming from a farming background with so many challenges to overcome.

But what she brings to our team is a point of difference, she brings a different skillset.

This included her IT, social media and marketing skills.  Sam’s role at Brooklyn includes completing all weekly sale operations, providing technical advice to clients, district wool managers and the branch network. She auctioneers weekly in Melbourne and as required in Sydney and she is an excellent auctioneer,” Mr Hogan said.

Sam also created an internal weekly wool market report podcast and is always looking for ways to expand the Elders Wool digital and social media footprint. Her IT skills helped develop, implement and support of Elders’ new wool-valuing system across all three wool selling centres. She is also studying a certificate on Blockchain technologies.

Mr Hogan said examples of innovations introduced at Elders by Sam included livestreaming of the wool catalogue.

“Without Sam we wouldn’t have thought of that and now the whole industry is doing it.

Sam brings a different dimension to our team — she breaks the mould.

Sam brings that diversity and that’s what makes a good team – she’s a brilliant asset and we all love her.”

Mr Hogan said every district wool manager has their grower clients.

“But Sam’s clients are everybody’s clients, she supports the whole lot and makes the district wool managers look good.

“Her attention to details and perfectionist manner makes it all comes together.”

Keep looking outside and to the future

Despite her achievements, Sam said there is still work to be done. The broker award and the Elders ‘Thomas Elder’ Employee of the Year award she won last year for improving end-to-end service to wool growers, helped set the bar for her.

“You just need to keep looking to the future.

“It’s a traditional industry which is what I love about it, but there are still things being used in different industries that we can bring in to make more money for the growers.”

Next week as part of her ongoing work in advocacy and educational work with youth as an Archibull Prize  Australian Wool Innovation Young Farming Champion she will talk about her wool career at three high schools in Sydney.

“There a whole bunch of us Young Farming Champions in different fields of agriculture out there sharing our stories.”

Calibre of broker award finalists was excellent

On behalf of fellow judges WoolProducers president Ed Storey and Sheep Central correspondent Murray Arnel, AWTA raw wool general manager Ian Ashman said the calibre of all three presentations was excellent.

He said the complexity of modern day wool broking and the detailed skill set needed to do the job effectively was clear from the finalists’ presentations.

“In a close run race, the panel believes that Samantha best met the assessment criteria.

“In particular, Sam impressed with her strong focus on communication, education and engagement, both within the wool industry and to the wider community in general.”

“Her innovative approach and ability to introduce new tools and techniques to assist both broker staff and clients to get the best possible financial returns is extremely impressive.”

Mr Ashman said it was extremely difficult to separate the finalists and all would be very worthy winners.

All finalists impressed the judges with their passion and dedication to the wool industry, commitment to providing outstanding service to grower clients, their work in educating the next generation of brokers and the extremely high quality of their written submissions and face-to-face presentations.

The judging panel this year gave equal weighting and consideration to applicants who were office or field-based, within criteria that including innovation, service delivery, business outcomes, performance standards, ethics, presentation, dedication, business relations and industry awareness.

The content for this blog was sourced from story by Terry Sim at Sheep Central

#youthinag #youthvoices19 #wool #wearwool #lovewool

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LEGO®’s Australian Teacher of the Year is excited about National AgDay Careers Competition

Art4Agriculture’s annual National Ag Day Careers Competition is taking a LEGO theme this year and here we catch up with LEGO’s Australian Teacher of the Year Jess Schofield to find out how LEGO and project based learning (PBL) are promoting STEM careers.

Jess Schofield

QUT Bachelor of Education (Secondary) graduate Jessica Schofield was awarded LEGO Education’s Australian Teacher of the Year 2018. Photo source

Jess teaches maths, robotics and technology at Injune State School in central Queensland. With only 80 students the school is miniscule by international standards but this does not deter Jess from taking her students on an annual LEGO-inspired robotic journey. For her efforts in working with students in 2017s Robot Olympics Jess was recently named as the LEGO Australian Teacher of the Year and travelled to Boston USA to talk about her work as a STEM teacher.

Jess attended the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at a time when STEM was the buzz word and, while studying, worked for three and a half years training local teachers in the Brisbane area to use robotics and technology in the classroom. Her first permanent job was at Injune, where she has now been for three years, and her experience helped convince parents that LEGO was for more than just the playroom. “Each year there is a global robotics competition with a regional tournament held in Brisbane. QUT contacted me and said they were willing to offer sponsorship if I would like to bring a team down, and when I put that to the parents they were pretty keen to give it a go,” she says.

“The kids have little LEGO robotics challenges where they have to program their robots and they also have to do a research project and present that,” Jess says of the robotics competition, which has many similarities to The Archibull Prize with both being a prime example of PBL in schools. “From a teachers point of view PBL is a little bit terrifying,” Jess says. “In ordinary teaching you have a set assessment piece and a set curriculum to teach to, you know exactly where your kids are starting and where you want them to end up at. PBL is daunting because you start a ten week unit with some vague idea of what you want the kids to produce at the end but exactly what you cover in that ten weeks is totally up to the kids.”

She also sees PBL as a way to engage students who are not traditionally academically inclined. “PBL interlinks subjects together without the kids realising,” she says. “For instance if their robot is going too fast they need to work out how to half the speed. They might be studying ratios or fractions in class and struggling to put it on pen and paper and yet they do the same application without realising because they can see the immediate results or the immediate impact of those calculations.”

Injune lies in an agricultural area and in their first year of the robotics competition the students drew from their backgrounds.

“The kids came up with this really crazy idea of training horses to be like guide-dogs so people with vision impairment or age could still go out mustering,” Jess says, but although many of the students can envisage themselves working on the family property at the conclusion of school Jess says they would not think of this as a career. “I am looking forward to engaging the students in the (Art4Agriculture) careers competition to help them explore beyond what they currently know or are involved in.”

National AgDay Careers Competition Lego Characters

Exploring options and pathways is the aim of the Art4Agriculture 2018 National Ag Day Careers Competition and by combining LEGO and PBL it is hoped a new generation will consider agriculture as not just a job but as a fulfilling and rewarding career.

FIND OUT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ENTER HERE 

National Ag Day Careers Competition Sponsors

 

Only boys can be farmers – Jasmine Whitten is blowing up outdated stereotypes

When I was fifteen my school careers adviser told me “You can’t become a farmer because that’s a boy’s job!”.

It was clear that she didn’t know me very well.  My upbringing has shown me there are no ‘boy jobs’ or ‘girl jobs’, especially in agriculture!  Rather than accepting this outdated notion, it kickstarted my journey to a career in agriculture.

Welcome to Jasmine Whitten’s story ………

The one thing everyone will tell you about me is that I ask ALOT of questions. I was fortunate to grow up on a diverse farm near Tamworth which produced beef cattle, wool and Lucerne hay. Spare a thought for my parents who were bombarded with questions from the day I learnt to talk. Anything from why are we feeding out hay or what does this broken part on the tractor do?

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I can almost guarantee I asked that exact question just before this photo was taken and I was told to go grab the hammer from the ute.

I loved life on the farm. No day was ever the same and I never missed a chance to do things better or faster than my siblings.

My first paid job was helping to unload a truck load of hay at the age of 8. When you live an hour out of town it can be difficult to make it to sporting commitments. So, I always knew it was highly unlikely that I was going to end up being an athlete, unless, they made hay moving a sport?

In high school, I joined the school cattle team to learn more about agriculture and prepare and show cattle. My parents shared my passion and it wasn’t hard to convince them to do the two-hour return trip to pick me up from the after-school training sessions.

I was very surprised to learn that most of my peers on the cattle team were urban kids and I was one  that grew up on a farm. But I had just as much to learn as they did.

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The cattle team taught me so much more than learning to care for animals. It taught me public speaking, team work, the role of a mentor and how to pass my knowledge onto others (which was perhaps the greatest challenge but the most rewarding).

In hindsight the most important discovery is I now know how important is to have role models, mentors and just people that believe in you 100%.  For me, it was people like Kate Lumber. I first met Kate at school where she passed on her cattle showing skills, coached me in meat judging at university and encouraged me to take every opportunity along the way.  She now works as an agronomist in Moree.

Going to country shows are some of the best memories as I have. I have made lifelong friendships, met people from all over Australia and built rural networks I know I can tap into for support and advice on my career journey.

I always set the bar high for myself and I was determined to be the  best I possibly could at cattle showing and judging. After every competition I would go up to the judge and saying “how can I improve?”

They were always so supportive, taking me through what I could tweak better next time. This commitment to continuous improvement paid off. After four years of showing and judging cattle I was awarded first prize at the Sydney Royal Stud Beef Cattle Judging Competition. At 17,  I was the youngest in the class and I was so proud that I had put in the effort to achieve my goal. To this day I still give back to the show movement by volunteering at youth camps and local shows whenever I can.

I am now following my dreams and studying a Bachelor of Rural science at the University of New England. This degree gives me an opportunity to gain experience all over Australia and I take every opportunity I can. I have worked as a Jillaroo on properties near Rockhampton, Hughenden and Kununurra. I have even competed in meat judging competitions, participated in animal welfare research, worked for an agricultural consultancy companies, through to product sales and learning what it takes to be an auctioneer.

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The UNE meat judging team on judging day!

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My day in the office as a part of the auctioneering team at Tamworth sale yards.

The opportunities I have been given have allowed me to find my niche in the egg industry. The technology and innovation in the industry is phenomenal.  Egg farms are continually investing in the application of new technologies which is having huge rewards for both the hens and those who work in the industry. Working on an egg farm requires extensive knowledge in the areas of environmental stewardship, animal nutrition and best practice animal wellbeing just to name a few. It’s a rapidly changing industry which has captivated my interests completely!

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I can’t wait to go back to my school and share with my careers advisor that agriculture isn’t just about being a farmer and you certainly don’t have to be a boy.

You can be a vet, IT technician, agronomist, policy maker, researcher, journalist, accountant and many more with some jobs are not even created yet!

“I still remember in Year 10 being told by the counsellor at my old school that the farm was no place for a woman,” she said

“But we’re not going to be the cooks anymore. We’re going to be industry leaders. We’re going to be the ones telling the boys what to do.” Source

There will always be barriers to stop you achieving your goals. Don’t let stereotypes around what careers women or men should or should not follow blind you…… You can be anything you want to be! Seek out people who have followed the career path you aspire to, ask questions, and learn from those who have gone before you.

Find a way to climb over, push through or blow up your barriers and most importantly never forget to look back to help others climb over and push through their barriers.

Great advice Jasmine and and congratulations

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Jasmine Whitten 2018 Armidale Showgirl

#youthvoices18 #youthinag #strongertogether

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

Teachers are the key to promoting careers in agriculture – its time to engage them using 21st Century creativity

It is undeniable that teachers have a major impact on student learning and career choices. We have all heard stories about teachers discouraging students from following career pathways in the agriculture sector. Why is this so

Industry image also plays a key role in the ability to attract young people into the agriculture sector

“The language typically used in the farming sector to describe the roles of those employed in the industry is out-dated and reflects a mindset which is unattractive to young people. Farm jobs are advertised in terms such as farm hand, station hand, milker and shearer. These terms suggest low levels of skills, training, intellectual content and consequently low status. This is an inaccurate picture of the actual requirements of the contemporary farm employee. Farms require highly motivated, intellectually capable and broadly competent workers. They need people who are able to deal with a wide range of practical problems promptly and with ingenuity. Farm workers need to keep up with the latest research and developments in agronomy and business management. They need to be able to operate and maintain a wide range of technologies from the mechanical to the digital. They need to understand the impacts of global events and markets as well as local policy and market variables. They need significant financial planning and management skills, as they may be dealing with multimillion dollar budgets and regular transactions in the hundreds of thousands. These are exciting, diverse and challenging roles. Little of this comes across in the current nomenclature used to describe jobs in the agricultural sector and in the way the industry is depicted in the media and popular culture” Source 

The Archibull Prize program entry surveys reflect this outdated image of careers in agriculture with students struggling to identify careers in the sector beyond farming related activities. Most of the students’ words were about activities that farmers did i.e. feeding, harvesting, gardening, shearing, milking, watering.

In following Word clouds the larger the word in the visual the more common the word was used by the students.

Careers entry

‘In 2017, more than 323,000 people were employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing but if you consider those employed in the farm input and output sectors, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) says agriculture supports more than 1.6 million jobs in areas like transport and logistics, retail and processing. That means roughly 80 per cent of agricultural jobs are beyond the farm gate and the opportunities are wide and varied.’  Source 

With 80% of careers supporting farmers both beyond and behind the farmgate year on year The Archibull Prize evaluation shows us the key to success is exposing teachers and students to exciting young professionals working in diverse roles in the agriculture sector. A key hook for both teachers and students is the innovation, science and technology that drives 21st century farming. It is also pivotal agriculture provides them with the tools to workshop the diversity of careers.

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Students and teachers relate to exciting young professionals working in the agriculture sector 

By the end of the competition students have a specific and varied repertoire related to actual career classifications rather than jobs around the farm. This is evident with more technical words being used i.e. agronomist, vet, engineer, scientist, geneticist.

Careers exit

With a large cohort of our Young Farming Champions being scientists and agronomists their impact is evident through the high numbers of students who listed ‘Agronomist’ or ‘Scientist’ role. This is further confirmed as students listed their top three choices of careers in agriculture they would consider.

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Students as the end of The Archibull Prize were asked to list their top three choices of careers in agriculture 

The Archibull Prize evaluation Careers Teacher Response

With 89% of teachers in The Archibull Prize exit survey saying they were now confident teaching about careers in Agriculture and a 52% increase in the number of teachers who STRONGLY AGREED there are lots of opportunities for jobs and careers in agriculture its clear we have found a winning formula

The Archibull Prize program design allows agriculture to be embedded into the school curriculum across subject areas its hasn’t been traditionally able to reach. After participating in the program 83% of teachers said they would use learning activities about agriculture in other areas of their teaching.

 

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

Stepping into a career in agriculture. Lets firstly dispel the myths

One of the constants that crop up whenever I attend an industry event and the participants are asked what they believe are the biggest issues in agriculture we should address,invariably concerns over aging farmer populations and the problem of attracting young people to the agrifood and fibre sector are at the top of the list.

There are a few serious misconceptions we need to address first

Firstly Myth 1 Agriculture’s much touted ‘Aging Farmer Population’ problem

There are a number of great articles that put our so-called aging farmer population into perspective

  1. Mick Keogh in The Myth of the Aging Farmer and well explained by Beef Central here

In the flood of recent economic analysis detailing the opportunities that the Asian Century will provide for Australian agriculture, one common issue identified as a potential limiting factor has been the average age of Australian farmers.

The major problem with this analysis is that by comparing the age of farmers with the average age of all other workers, a very distorted picture emerges of farmers.

2.  Neil Lane in ‘Myths and Legends – Dairy farmer average age’ See  here

What the statistics don’t show is the portion of decision making that the owner of the business shares with the next generation – be they family, worker, manager, or sharefarmer. If for example the decision making on a farm is shared  between a 60 year old and a 30 year old then it could be argued that the average age of the farmers is 45 years old.

3.  Neil Barr in ‘Where are all the young farmers’ Report prepared for RIRDC. The summary can be downloaded here.

Neil in fact discovered that Australia has a competitively young agriculture workforce

Secondly Myth 2 The mindset that thinks you have to own the farm to farm the farm.

I recently had a conversation with current chair of the NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council about their initiative to set up a Young Farmer Finance package See here

Minister Hodgkinsons reply was

I am committed to establishing some kind of a finance scheme for young farmers, but only if it is sustainable and cost-effective.

Whilst I salute the passion and the team behind this concept as a wise person once told me “politics is the art of the possible” and we must get realistic in agriculture.  Why should should the government fund young farmers to buy million dollar businesses (especially in a sector as volatile as ours) over any other young person in the community wanting to own their own  business.?

So if you don’t have to own the farm to farm the farm. How do you get into agriculture?

In the first instance we have to be clever and innovative about how we market the agrifood and fibre sector to potential entrants.

A great web based tool is Career Harvest which promotes a career in the food and fibre industry in this manner

We spend over a quarter of our lives at work. So why not make sure your career is one that’s innovative, inspiring and drives your passions globally?

Career Harvest is a hub for the most cutting-edge careers within the food and fibre industries. Whether you’re interested in feeding the world, adapting to climate change, developing the environment or managing future energy sources, this site helps create clearer pathways for you to harvest your agricultural career.

Choose a career that ignites leadership. Choose a career that feeds the world. Choose a career in Food and Fibre.It’s your global opportunity.

 Taking the next step and recognising there is a career in food and fibre from A to Z with multiple entry points ( and industry crossover opportunities)  initiative the creative team behind Career Harvest will be launching a Career Map early next year. The career map will focus around the broader issues facing food and fibre, and be cross sector and cover careers in production right through to the processing stage. The map’s aim is to encourage thought around what roles people might play, and look at broader opportunities, rather than stepping out defined career paths.  The map will cover a wide range of primary sectors including but not exclusive to Horticulture, livestock, cropping, Dairy, Intensive vegetables and also the more expansive list of post farm gate options.

 In the meantime I would love to share this awesome career pathway publication called  Stepping Stones from the Australian dairy industry with you.

Stepping Stones

After been made aware of this new initiative Stepping Stones I immediately shared it with the current NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council committee

Chair Josh Gilbert had this to say

Dairy Australia have just launched a publication that is creating the Stepping Stones for a better agricultural future- so why aren’t we sharing it with the world and shouting it from the rooftops?

Last week, Lynne shared this exciting new document from Dairy Australia that illustrates ‘career pathways for new and current employees in the Tasmanian Dairy Industry’. Instantaneously, I was impressed!

What fascinated me most when I first saw this document was the great, positive imaging of the industry, important information shared in an exciting way and mostly, the package provided a plan. The guide actively encourages users to start a career in the dairy industry, showing the steps involved and where this field can take them.

The publication explores the many facets of dairying in Australia and actively promotes the benefits of each occupation- rather than just saying that you would have a lot of fun doing it. It highlights the steps needed to be taken in order achieve a long lasting career in dairy, rather than seeing it as purely a job.

This is a document we should be sharing with the world, especially to school aged children who may or may not understand that the dairy industry in Australia is vibrant and exciting. It should also be sent to our current farmers, highlighting some further opportunities that are out there for them in the industry and providing a road map as to how to get there. It is these thought provoking ideas and tips that encourage change and long term prosperity.

Dairy Australia must be congratulated on this resource, while the other sectors strongly motivated to create something similar. If we are to continue encouraging young entrants into the field, it is publications such as these that need to be created and shared.

Its time for agriculture to stop worrying about the so called aging workforce, young people like our Young Farming Champions many of whom don’t come from farming backgrounds are excited about agriculture.

As the forward in Stepping Stones says

Career progression and pathway planning is the key to reaching your career goals…….

And remember, sometimes planning your pathway may seem daunting, so break it into pieces and focus on each goal ahead, one step at a time

Its time for agriculture to start creating more great resources like Stepping Stones that not only give great advice to people who want a career in dairy, how to move into share farming and leasing but also provides great advice to people who want to transition out of the industry workforce but not necessarily leave the farm and how they can support young entrants

When I grow up I want to help feed the world

Know what you want to be when you grow up?
Don’t know what you want to be when you grow up?

This short video will show you the endless career possibilities that the Australian Agricultural Industry can offer you… And there are plenty more out there!

Why not consider a career within the Agricultural Industry? There is a whole supply chain out there waiting for you!

I can guarantee you will not regret it.

Young Farming Champion Madie Hamilton has just whizzed up this brilliant video on Careers in Agriculture in her spare time.

Check it out

 

You can read Madie’s story here and follow her on Twitter @MPHHamilton

For more information on jobs that are available you can try the following links:

http://WWW.AUSAGCAREERS.COM – Fantastic site providing profiles of real people and jobs in agriculture (even I have a profile: http://ausagcareers.com/2012/02/29/madeleine-hamilton-marketing-membership-se…)
AND OTHERS
http://www.graduatecareers.com.au/CareerPlanningandResources/careerprofiles/A...
http://www.agcareers.com/
http://www.myfuture.edu.au/Assist%20Others/Career%20Practitioners/Resources%2...
http://www.yearofthefarmer.com.au/careers/careers-in-agriculture.html
http://www.rimfireresources.com.au
http://www.aglinks.com.au/Services/Recruitment/
http://www.agbizcareers.com.au/
http://www.csu.edu.au/special/acda/careers/

McLeod’s Daughters telling next gen agriculture needs you

I was recently asked by Stephanie Coombes to answer the question Why do you think less people are becoming involved in agriculture?”

My answer was “I think less people are getting involved because industry is not exposing the next generation of potential agriculture entrants to the enthusiastic inspiring young professionals in our food and fibre industries who are living the dream and have the capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career opportunity”

Now whilst industry may not be getting out there and telling its story the media is. Sometimes the outcomes are positive and too often they are very damaging. However there have been some very successful vehicles such as McLeod’s Daughters that captured the imagination and heart strings of many young girls particularly young girls who love horses and attracted them to agriculture career pathways.

What’s exciting about these young people is they inject new ideas, promote change and generate innovation. Today we providing you with a perfect example of this, Stephanie Coombes doesn’t just want a career in agriculture she wants to start an domino effect and inspire other young people to join her. To kick start this she has developed a “Careers in Australian Agriculture” website www.ausagcareers.com

This is Stephanie Coombes story …….

Ten years ago, if anyone had told me I would be working in the agricultural industry when I was older, I probably would have answered- “You think I’m going to be a farmer?”

Born and raised in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, agriculture wasn’t something I was connected to growing up. I had always had a love of animals, especially horses, but that was as far as it went. Furthermore, I didn’t really know anything about agriculture except the anecdotal stories of farmers on tractors out in the paddock, and shearers shearing sheep

Some years later, I still have trouble explaining to people why this city girl chose an agricultural science degree. I think I thought I would end up working on a farm like “McLeod’s Daughters” (try not to roll your eyes!). I loved that television show growing up, and I would have to say it is what definitely sparked my interest in agriculture.

Stephanie McLeod… could I be another illegitimate daughter?Mum, is there something you aren’t telling me?

Going into the Agricultural Science degree, I actually had no idea what I was getting myself in to… as in NO idea! The reason as to why I chose that degree, and why I remained enrolled in it, are very different. Once I got into my degree, I discovered this whole other world, and I haven’t turned back since. I thought I was going to work on a farm as a labourer, like in McLeods Daughters, but at uni I learnt about the science, business and technology which underpins agriculture. There is just so many facets to this industry I often got overwhelmed thinking about them all, and what I wanted to do when I finished.

Initially I became really interested in soil science, and by my second year I was hooked, and odd as that sounds. I was a bit nerdy sometimes, because this was all new to me, I found it so interesting and I just wanted to learn it all. However, in the winter holidays of my second year I went out mustering to a cattle station in for their annual 6 week muster. It was then and there that I decided that beef cattle production was the area I wanted to pursue. However when I got back to university and took another class; pasture science, cropping system, grain marketing etc., I could easily imagine myself having a career in any of these industries. My interest in cattle remained strong, and that’s how I got to where I am today.

 The first yard up of the season at Wongawol Station, 2008

Fast forward a couple of years, and I have graduated with first class honours, and I’m currently editing my thesis so it can be published in a scientific journal. I completed my thesis in the field of meat science. Yes, the science behind steak! I didn’t even know it existed until my 3rd year of university! Gosh, the amount of work that goes into producing and developing each and every one of the commodities and products available at the local supermarket is astounding. Meat science was something I had only had one lecture on before I chose it as the field of my thesis. The lecture wasn’t from my university either, my lecturer had invited a guest from another university to speak, and I am so grateful that she did! Completing my own research was an awesome experience, but to also be researching something I was genuinely interested in and passionate about… I know how I lucky I was.

Taking muscle samples from beef carcasses in 2011 for my thesis

This certainly is not where I thought I would be when I was saying “when I grow up…” as a child, and needless to say my family are still somewhat confused as to how this city girl became mad about beef cattle! The things I have learnt and experienced throughout my degree, not to mention the places I have been and they people I have met, make me feel very lucky. I have been able to go to work/ university/ tafe each day and do something that I enjoy, and be a part of something that actually interests me. I love what I do, and I often joke that my some of my jobs are a “working holiday” because I enjoy them so much. Don’t worry though, there are days when I would rather stay in bed, but for the most part, I love what I do.

In 2010 I took a semester off uni and moved to Katherine, NT, to complete a Certificate II in Agriculture. I had spent 3 years building a solid foundation of knowledge based upon theory, and had done two mustering seasons, but I wanted to develop my practical skills and have them recognised with the certificate. Going to college was one of the best things I have ever done. It was not only an incredible experience to live away from home, and learn about beef production in a new environment, but I met my best friends through the course. It was also a really safe learning environment, as in we could all have a go at learning and not feel silly or embarrassed if we didn’t get it right. I was lucky to do the course with a really good group of kids, and as there was only about 12 of us, we were a tight knit bunch.

Some of the KRC class of 2010 having a happy snap in the workshop during out mechanics class.

We learnt a range of skills at college, from welding, mechanics and tractor operation, to branding, castrating and mustering cattle. The best experience for me though, was being able to work with show cattle, and take them to a rural show on display. I had only ever worked with commercial cattle before, and they aren’t the type that liked to be patted! Show cattle, are completely different, because you can lead them around like a horse. We not only led the show cattle, we brushed and bathed them, and played with them. I really got the chance to learn about the cows up close and personal, and fell in love with the Brahman breed, even though I was showing a bull who was not too fond of me!

Rambo and I having a stand off. I had Chris as my protection, but maybe he would have been better placed between Rambo and I!!

Luckily Star was much more of the cuddly type!

In the second half of 2010 I then moved to Gatton, Qld to do a semester of classes through the University of Queensland. UQ had really different classes to my uni at home, and they were way better too! I took specialised classes in animal biosecurity, animal health and diseases, and animal biometeorology, which is about how animals interact with the weather. I also took a grain marketing class, as I mentioned above, I still had interests in other areas of ag. Animal biometeorology was by far my favourite class. Again, I suspect my inner nerd is to blame, but I loved all of the practical classes, and doing research for my assignments. Living on campus was a great experience too, it’s how I met the rest of my best friends! The people were great, and no one cared that I was from the city!

Dressing up as a cowgirl for a “Cowboys and Indians” themed party on campus. Even several years later, I was still trying to play the role of a cowgirl!

Everywhere I have been I have learnt something different about the industry, and learnt how interconnected it is with the way our society functions on a day to day basis. I am continuously surprised by how innovative and technological the industry is, and what role Australia plays in feeding the world.

Now that I have finished university, I have two career goals. 1) To work in the live export industry, in animal welfare, training, education and supply chain management and 2) To be an active advocate for agriculture, to do my part to reduce the urban/ rural divide, and run a campaign to expose people with no agricultural background to the industry and the opportunities it offer. The latter is what led me to create my website Careers In Australian Agriculture

My advice to anyone thinking about getting into agriculture is… do it! We need you! The world needs to feed 50% more people by 2050, and as Australia is one of the most efficient food and fibre producers in the world, we will play a fundamental role in that. People need to eat, and Australia has the ability to feed the world in a clean, green and ethical way. No matter what experience you have, or what your strengths are, there is a role for you in the industry. The agricultural industry offers careers from the boardroom to the bush, so no matter whether you are more comfortable behind a motorbike or a microscope, there is a role for you!

Wow Stephanie cant wait to see where you be and what you have achieved in ten years time. I am highly confident you wont be standing still

Stephanie now has her own blog you can follow her journey here