City gal paves way for young farm­ers

19-year-old launches Young Aussie Farm­ers to help more peo­ple find work on the land

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

ZOE Carter is not your av­er­age jil­la­roo.

The 19-year-old has re­cov­ered from a shock­ing horse-rid­ing ac­ci­dent which left her with a bro­ken back among a long list of other in­juries that could have de­terred her from ap­ply­ing for a phys­i­cal job on the land.

And, as much as she hates to ad­mit it, she grew up as a “city kid”.

Farm­ing hasn’t been born and bred into her as it has for many oth­ers who seek work on sta­tions.

While she is fight­ing for her own foothold within the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try, she is also paving the way for more young peo­ple like her through the plat­form she founded, Young Aussie Farm­ers.

At the mo­ment YAF is a Face­book group al­low­ing those work­ing in agri­cul­ture across the coun­try to net­work, but one day she hopes it will sup­ply education, path­ways and fund­ing to help teens and young peo­ple se­cure jobs in agri­cul­ture.

This week, in be­tween a long drive from Cooim­bil Sta­tion in New South Wales to the grain coun­try in Vic­to­ria, Zoe caught up with the Ru­ral Weekly to talk horses, heal­ing and head­ing bush.

START­ING OUT

GROW­ING up in Gee­long, Zoe al­ways pre­ferred to be out­doors.

“We had horses about half-an-hour from home and even­tu­ally my par­ents got sick of driv­ing out so we bought a prop­erty, only about five acres out of town,” she said.

“That’s the clos­est thing I have had to farm­ing.”

Find­ing her first job within the in­dus­try was a cul­mi­na­tion of hard work, top ref­er­ences and a bril­liant agri­cul­ture depart­ment at her high school.

“I was ex­traor­di­nar­ily lucky with my school in Gee­long, they have an agri­cul­ture sec­tion and have 1000 acres at­tached,” she said.

“I spent lit­er­ally all of my time at school on the farm.

“That was the only rea­son I could get a foot in the door for agri­cul­ture jobs.”

Zoe said she wouldn’t have been given her first start on a sta­tion with­out the help of a cer­tain farmer.

“Roger Polk­inghorne from Charinga Meri­nos, I can­not thank him enough,” she said.

“He was the bloke who re­ally got me into the in­dus­try.

“He taught me all the ba­sics and gave me great ref­er­ences that al­lowed me to get jobs on sta­tions.

“I think it’s about find­ing that one good farmer who will take you on when you have no ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s hard on them as they have to pay some­one who has not got a lot of knowl­edge.”

AC­CI­DENT

BE­FORE Zoe headed west, she was work­ing hard within the horse in­dus­try, break­ing in at Yass when she had a near-fa­tal ac­ci­dent.

“It was my last day on the job,” she said.

“I had a horse slip over on top of me. I frac­tured my back, shat­tered my pelvis, had in­ter­nal bleed­ing in my liver, kid­ney and blad­der and I busted my el­bow,” she said.

It took months for her to re­cover.

“I was in Canberra Hos­pi­tal for a while, then in a wheel­chair for four weeks,” she said.

De­spite all this, Zoe de­scribes her­self as lucky.

“I am very lucky my boss was quick-think­ing. She took my hel­met off. There were peo­ple around when it hap­pened,” she said.

“I am alive, I am breath­ing, I am work­ing and I am happy – I’m pretty lucky.”

Nowa­days, the ac­ci­dent only gives her grief on very cold morn­ings with “a lit­tle bit of pain” and it shat­tered a lit­tle con­fi­dence orig­i­nally when she first got back on a horse.

“I still hop on horses though,” she said.

“I rode my mare yes­ter­day, she went won­der­ful.”

YAF

FROM her own ex­pe­ri­ence, Zoe felt she wasn’t alone in strug­gling to find a path­way for a job on the land.

She started the group to draw more at­ten­tion to her per­sonal page, but it quickly took off.

“As soon as I started it up, a lot of peo­ple were in­ter­ested in the group so I thought I could cre­ate a busi­ness to help sup­port young kids,” she said.

“The end goal is to help fund and sup­port peo­ple who can’t af­ford to get into the in­dus­try.

“Then, I want to help the peo­ple who will ex­cel in the in­dus­try and want to go fur­ther.”

Visit­ing schools is also on her agenda.

“From my own ex­pe­ri­ence, when you hit the in­ner cities, peo­ple feel agri­cul­ture isn’t as im­por­tant – it’s not be­ing taught.

“That’s where you get your lack of knowl­edge.

“I want to ed­u­cate peo­ple cor­rectly about the in­dus­try. Show them it’s good fun and good pay and filled with gen­uine peo­ple.”

Even­tu­ally Zoe is hop­ing she will be sup­ported through spon­sor­ship, but at the mo­ment she is mak­ing some money sell­ing mer­chan­dise through the page.

The big au­da­cious goal is to even­tu­ally buy a prop­erty which will pro­vide hands-on train­ing.

NEXT STEP

HEAD­ING into the grain in­dus­try in Vic­to­ria, Zoe’s next goal will be to save up to buy a ve­hi­cle that will al­low her to travel north into cat­tle coun­try.

“I want to ex­pe­ri­ence as much as I can in agri­cul­ture as pos­si­ble,” she said.

Search “Zoe Carter” on Face­book to fol­low her jour­ney and, if you are a young per­son work­ing in agri­cul­ture, join the group Young Aussie Farm­ers on­line to­day.

❝about

I think it’s find­ing that one good farmer who will take you on. — Zoe Carter

PHO­TOS: ZOE CARTER

STORM COM­ING: Zoe is keen to snap pho­tos to show im­ages of life on the land.

Zoe is keen to give more peo­ple the chance to work in agri­cul­ture.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Jil­la­roo Zoe Carter has founded Young Aussie Farm­ers.

Zoe is keen to work in as many sec­tors in agri­cul­ture as pos­si­ble.

Work­ing dog Sammy ready for ac­tion.

PHO­TOS: ZOE CARTER

Zoe's three-legged pup Jake is the star of her In­sta­gram.

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