DESPITE growing up on her family's fourth-generation mixed cropping and sheep farm in the upper Great Southern, Gemma Pauley didn't always know she wanted a career in agriculture.
After attending primary school in Narrogin and boarding school in Perth, Ms Pauley initially planned to study Health Science at university but soon realised it wasn't the right fit for her.
It was her first few years out of school working as a grain sampler at a CBH bin that encouraged her to give agriculture a go.
"I worked as a sampler both at Nomans Lake and Wickepin receival sites in the Kwinana South zone where I gained a heap of knowledge around the process of assessing grain quality and the importance for growers to maximise their quality come time to sell," Ms Pauley said.
After working several seasons at CBH's sample huts, she became interested in the pricing and grading of the different grains and decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Agribusiness degree at Curtin University.
Through her studies and working as a CBH grain sampler Ms Pauley gained a clearer picture of what she wanted to do.
"Working at the sites over harvest, paired with doing an ag business degree, I knew that grain marketing was the path I wanted to go down and having a role going out onto farms was the dream goal," she said.
Wanting to get a broader understanding of CBH's processes and her "foot in the door", Ms Pauley successfully applied for a role at CBH's Grower Service Centre in 2019 while completing her final year of study.
After seven months working at head office and only one month after completing her degree, the ideal job as a CBH business relationship manager was advertised and she was appointed to the position.
"Going into a grain marketing type role where I can have that face-to-face interaction with the farmer has been my dream goal since I began studying ag," Ms Pauley said.
Working for the marketing and trading arm of the business, the role focuses on grain accumulation, promotion and marketing of CBH's fertiliser business, local management of grower finance and the promotion of other financial products.
"Every day is different, with some days in the office processing requests for growers, and other days being out on the road all day visiting farms," Ms Pauley said.
The role also requires being a face for the co-operative at the State's field days and other agricultural events throughout the year.
At the time of writing Ms Pauley was preparing for pre-harvest bin meetings scheduled to kick off later this month where growers attend their local receival site to receive market updates and news about site segregations for the upcoming harvest.
"Potentially as I grow older my idea of the ideal role may shift, but for now I am just wanting to work in an environment where I can help farmers create success in their business through capturing the best pricing for their grain," Ms Pauley said.
Having completed work experience in the industry while at university, Ms Pauley said her exposure to the various aspects of agriculture helped define the area she wanted to specialise in.
Supporting a research assistant at the Wickepin Facey Group with trial work and data/sample collection of local crops and Elders representatives in both a stock agent role and at the Spearwood Wool Store, these experiences also provided Ms Pauley with the opportunity to expand her knowledge of the livestock sector and wool industry.
Looking to the future, Ms Pauley said she was open to living in the city again if the right role came up and that she was eager to see where agriculture would take her.
Curious to compare Canada's and America's farming systems to our own, her bucket list includes spending a harvest season in both countries.
Despite only being 23 years old, Ms Pauley said she was initially concerned about being behind other people of a similar age due to her later interest in the industry.
"I felt I struggled a bit in comparison to others who had all this knowledge and skills already built up, however I persevered throughout my studies and feel I am now building up these skills and experience being out in the field every day which is awesome," she said.
"There are so many opportunities to grow in this industry and everyone in ag is very social and keen for a yarn which I love."