‘We eat, breathe and sleep it every day’. From Monday to Friday, Sam is a farm engagement lead at WestVic Dairy, but the rest of her time is spent on her partner’s dairy farm with several hundred dairy cows and a handful of what she likes to call ‘paddock ornaments’ (Scottish Highlands). Sam has been living on the dairy farm for the past four years, but before that, she had no experience with the dairy industry.
Today her farm employs eight people: Seven under 30, six are female, and four of them come from neither dairy nor agricultural backgrounds. Her employees don’t just learn to milk cows and drive a tractor; they live on the farm and learn the entire lifestyle. One of her employees recently said, ‘If I can do it, anyone can do it’.
Sam started on what you would consider a very different path. She completed a Bachelor of Business Management (Human Resources), a Postgraduate Specialist Certificate of Criminology, and then went on to work at a correctional facility. Yet, according to Sam, this is exactly what makes her good at her job.
“I have a very different background, but in all the jobs I have had, it is about working with people. So it is that common thread that helps me to do the work I am doing.”
Her day job with WestVic Dairy takes her out onto farms, talking to farmers about what they do, how they operate their business and where they want to take it into the future. ‘It is about how we support that and the resources and services we offer them to achieve these goals.’
Sam explains that the dairy industry is on its way up, improving every day with investments in new technology and sustainability practices. With growth comes opportunities, whether you are just starting out, looking for a career change or wanting to expand your skills. Employers offer opportunities for on-the-job training, career development and rapid growth potential. Sam says many of the people making a significant contribution to the industry today didn’t come from an agricultural background.