Women in Farming share their journeys

Women in Farming share their journeys

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Women in Farming Wagin branch committee Kara Jeffery (left), Kate Becker, Carole Patterson, Wendy Abbott, branch president Jenny West, Tracey Kippin, Di Dohle and Frances O'Callaghan.

Women in Farming Wagin branch committee Kara Jeffery (left), Kate Becker, Carole Patterson, Wendy Abbott, branch president Jenny West, Tracey Kippin, Di Dohle and Frances O'Callaghan.

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Tracey Kippin is a Wagin branch member of Women in Farming (WIF) and was one of several speakers at the organisation's annual seminar on September 8.

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HAVING a network to turn to and feeling part of something bigger than her has helped to lift Tracey Kippin, Woodanilling, out of difficult times.

Ms Kippin is a Wagin branch member of Women in Farming (WIF) and was one of several speakers at the organisation's annual seminar on September 8, where retired Bureau of Meteorology media and communications manager Neil Bennett was the MC.

Held at Wagin, the event drew about 110 women and men to network and be informed and inspired by an array of presenters, with the themes giving and seizing opportunities emerging throughout.

In 2009 Ms Kippin lost her husband Peter to suicide and she was left with three children - aged 17, 13 and 10 - and living on the farm with her mother-in-law and brother-in-law.

"Farming is a challenge in many ways and when my husband passed away I had a decision to make - do I stay or do I leave?" Ms Kippin said.

"Within 24 hours all of my kids had come to me and said they didn't want to leave.

"I was in a fortunate position where I was a daughter-in-law who was valued and I had something to contribute to my business, so we decided to stay and haven't looked back."

Ms Kippin is a bookkeeper so she felt her skills were more business orientated and less hands on, which worked well as her brother-in-law, Ivan, was the opposite.

They outsourced help when required and kept the farm going for a while until deciding to lease it out until the next generation had decided whether they wanted to carry it on.

"The beauty with Women in Farming was that we could always come together and work things through together," she said.

"We're all going to have different issues, but if we pool our resources together, it's amazing what comes to the surface.

"I've felt like I've taken a lot from Women in Farming and often felt that I haven't had much to contribute, but together we have lots to contribute."

Ms Kippin said there was great value in giving people the opportunity to be heard.

"People want an opportunity to be listened to and I think that's the beauty in what Women in Farming can do," she said.

"Even if we are struggling ourselves, we can still make the effort to be part of something that's bigger than us.

"Sometimes we forget that agriculture is bigger than us - our businesses are bigger than us, but our businesses aren't our businesses without us."

Blythe Calnan has made the most out of living.

Being a farmer and owner of Runnymede Farm, near Harvey, with partner Gregg Hopper, is something that Ms Calnan had never envisaged for herself.

She has taken every opportunity that has come her way, including working on stations in the Pilbara, Kimberley and travelling internationally to provide support for animal welfare improvements in the live export industry, which ultimately led to her living her dream.

Every chapter of my life has been incredible, but I think the best one is the one I'm living now," Ms Calnan said.

"Opportunities present themselves every day - whether or not you take them depends on if you go on that adventure."

The couple run about 120 breeders, as well as finishing cattle over the summer over about 230 hectares (owned and leased).

They also have Runnymede Eggs which complements the land use and coincides with their holistic and regenerative agricultural practices.

Along with animal welfare of a high standard and farming in a way that gives more to the land than is taken, Ms Calnan said it has to be profitable.

Runnymede's beef and eggs are mostly sold through Dirty Clean Food, that also presented at the seminar.

Lauren Smith is a 'yes woman' who has never turned down an opportunity.

Throughout university and while working on her partner's farm at Frankland River part-time, Ms Smith managed to fit an array of extracurricular activities in, which in the end served her well when it came to starting her career.

She now works as the technical systems co-ordinator for one of Western Australia's largest beef production companies, Harvey Beef.

In 2018 Ms Smith did two weeks of work experience for Harvey Beef and although she didn't know it at the time, that experience set her up for her current role as she received the job offer just one day after applying, without even having an interview, based on the relationship she had built in those two weeks.

"By sticking my hand up for every opportunity that I could, it gave me the reputation within the company so they were willing to put me on when I probably wasn't the most experienced candidate for that job," Ms Smith said.

"I'm in charge of everything from when the cattle come in to be processed, to when the meat is packed in a box and sent to our domestic and international customers."

Ms Smith said the key learning from her journey into agriculture was networking and seizing any and all opportunities that have come her way.

Even though I'm not from an agricultural background, I think I've fairly cemented myself in the industry and I'm definitely passionate about agriculture," she said.

"It's been a fantastic, crazy adventure to get into agriculture, but every opportunity that I've had, in some way, has contributed to where I am now."

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