Jess in­spires next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers

Dairy News Australia - - NEWS - WESTERN AUSTRALIA -

WITH AN age­ing farm­ing pop­u­la­tion, the at­trac­tion and re­ten­tion of the next gen­er­a­tion is crit­i­cal to the fu­ture of the dairy in­dus­try and agri­cul­ture in gen­eral. Young Dairy Net­works play a crit­i­cal role across the coun­try, and West­ern Australia has a strong ad­vo­cate re­spon­si­ble for har­ness­ing the next wave of tal­ent. Jess An­dony co­or­di­nates WA’s Young Dairy Net­work as part of her du­ties with West­ern Dairy, WA’s re­gional de­vel­op­ment pro­gram. She di­vides her time be­tween tech­ni­cal du­ties on sev­eral of West­ern Dairy’s re­search projects, a range of ex­ten­sion ac­tiv­i­ties and the role of co­or­di­nat­ing events for WA’s young dairy farm­ers. As the WA Young Dairy Net­work Co-or­di­na­tor, she is pas­sion­ate about en­gag­ing with young peo­ple and en­cour­ag­ing them to take up op­por­tu­ni­ties to fur­ther their agri­cul­tural ca­reer. “I fully sup­port any­thing that en­cour­ages young peo­ple to be in­volved in agri­cul­ture. “If I can in­spire some­one else to give agri­cul­ture a go then that’s some­thing that I love.” She has been de­scribed as a foun­tain of en­ergy and great ideas and has driven a fresh wave of mo­men­tum through the net­work. Jess is a big ad­vo­cate of study tours to make sure young peo­ple ex­pand their ideas and net­works by see­ing how other dairy re­gions operate. She also works hard to over­come the cost hur­dle of study tours by ac­tively seek­ing spon­sor­ship to help al­le­vi­ate the cost. “As soon as you jump on a plane from Perth there is a big cost, as we are a long way from other dairy re­gions — but that doesn’t stop us,” Jess said. The Net­work has grown sig­nif­i­cantly un­der Jes­sica’s man­age­ment and her am­bi­tion is to make sure ev­ery young per­son work­ing on a dairy farm in WA joins the group. “We have about 160 dairy farm busi­nesses in WA so we’re a small com­mu­nity of farm­ers, but that doesn’t mean that ev­ery­one knows one an­other, as we are a very spread out re­gion ge­o­graph­i­cally. “The for­ma­tion of the Young Dairy Net­work with the sup­port from Dairy Australia has meant that we have been able to bring our young farm­ers to­gether. “Hav­ing an in­ter­est­ing range of YDN ac­tiv­i­ties to choose from means we are well placed to reach out to ev­ery­one.” Jess grew up on a dairy farm in Har­vey and grad­u­ated with an hon­ours de­gree in An­i­mal Sci­ence from Mur­doch Univer­sity. She be­gan full­time em­ploy­ment with West­ern Dairy in 2015. Her work with young peo­ple in agri­cul­ture, es­tab­lish­ing the WA Young Dairy Farmer of the Year Awards and her con­tri­bu­tion to R&D in the WA dairy in­dus­try and her com­mit­ment to co­or­di­nat­ing dis­as­ter re­lief for dairy farm­ers in the wake of the 2016 Wa­roona/Har­vey bush­fires saw her awarded the West­ern Aus­tralian Young Achiever Award ear­lier this year. Award judges praised her tech­ni­cal and emo­tional sup­port to the 19 WA dairy farms im­pacted by the Yar­loop fires last year, es­pe­cially given her own fam­ily’s farm was among those af­fected. Her nom­i­na­tor said her work in the fire re­sponse in the weeks and months after made a real dif­fer­ence to the re­cov­ery for the farms, as she showed "ex­pe­ri­ence and em­pa­thy way be­yond her years". In the af­ter­math of last year’s bush­fires Jess or­gan­ised the de­liv­ery of feed and sup­plies to af­fected dairy farm­ers and es­tab­lished a data­base to help co­or­di­nate the re­lief ef­fort. “I just started call­ing a whole bunch of peo­ple and find­ing out who was af­fected. “We’d lost half our farm, and so I was try­ing to help Mum and Dad but then there were so many other farms that needed help as well. “We just jumped in and did it be­cause it needed to be done.” Jess said she was sur­prised and hum­bled at the recog­ni­tion on re­ceiv­ing the award.

Jess An­dony

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