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 Rather than accepting this outdated notion, it kickstarted my journey to a career in agriculture.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?
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.
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.
The UNE meat judging team on judging day!
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!
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!
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
Jasmine Whitten 2018 Armidale Showgirl
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