Helping future dairy leaders step up

16 Sep, 2014 02:00 AM
South Australia's Rural Woman of the Year Penny Schulz.
The challenge is not all about competition – it’s just as much about networking
South Australia's Rural Woman of the Year Penny Schulz.

Meet RIRDC Rural Women's Award finalist Penny Schulz as we count down to the announcement of the national winner on September 24

IN less than 12 weeks, Penny Schulz’s vision for a national dairy challenge event will become a reality.

The South Australian Rural Woman of the Year is using her bursary to build an event she hopes will showcase the skills and knowledge of dairy farmers in areas like pasture management, nutrition and milk quality control as well as provide valuable networking opportunities.

And she hasn’t wasted any time.

The inaugural challenge will be held on SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula on December 3 and 4 – and, Penny hopes, become an annual event that builds leadership capabilities among young dairy farmers.

“The challenge is not all about competition – it’s just as much about networking and building contacts,” said Penny.

“It’s about portraying dairy farmers as professional and skilled people – and that’s what they are but sometimes we don’t do the best job of getting that message out.”

For Penny, the measure of success will not be so much the number of attendees – though she’s hoping to see teams entered from around the country – but that they glean something from the experience.

“For me, it’s about whether people have had the opportunity to learn something, whether people have had the opportunity to meet other people in their industry, whether people have had an opportunity to be good advocates for their industry.”

A former dairy extension officer, Penny now manages projects and delivers workshops for not only dairy but the beef and sheep industries along with casual university teaching.

Penny also helps run the family’s sheep and beef operation at Field in SA’s Upper South East, with husband Jason who nominated her for the award.

“I was interested in the award but honestly I thought I hadn’t done enough to enter,” Penny said.

“But the Rural Women’s Award is not just about recognising leaders in the industry, it’s about giving potential leaders a leg up and giving them some development opportunities.

“If Jason hadn’t have rung RIRDC and nominated me I probably wouldn’t have entered.

“It gave me the prod I needed – and I’ve been prodding a couple of people myself to enter the 2015 award.”

PODCAST: Click on the image above to hear more from Penny about plans for the national dairy challenge and the people she looks up to as leaders.

To read more about the finalists in the 2014 RIRDC Rural Women's Award click here


Sally White

is a former editor of The Land.


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