Rural women supporting each other to be part of the solution and the lessons they learn and share

two women rear view

Clover Hill Dairies Diary has had multiple metamorphoses since I began sharing my opinions and vision for a bright future for both the dairy industry and agriculture in 2010.  I realised I could write a book about all the things agriculture doesnt do well but that would mean I would be adding to the problem instead of being part of the solution.

The mission became to do my best to share the positive stories. I found that hell has no fury like glass half empty thinking trolls and learnt lots of lessons from that experience. One lesson I learnt was the value of your tribe and when the trolls come out to play my tribe ensures I can be resilient and perservere. I now have an extraordinary tribe of people who share with me stories about people in agriculture doing extraordinary things

A great example is Mandy McKeesick . Mandy is a features writer for Outback Magazine. Mandy also supports Picture You in Agriculture to share the great stories of young people in agriculture working with young people in schools through our cornerstone programs the  Young Farming Champions and The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. 

Mandy writes the Lessons Learnt series for PYiA blog .   Mandy gets very excited when her two favourite roles cross paths and she recently rang me about a story she had written about Bald Blair Angus in the latest Outback Magazine  (featuring proprietors Sam and Kirsty White) Mandy was very impressed with how Bald Blair Angus had leveraged the story in Outback and how it would make a great Lessons Learnt story for everyone in agriculture. In fact for everyone in business and how right she was

Bald Blair in Outback Magazine

The story in Outback gives quite a bit of Sam’s backstory and his diverse career journey to bring multiple skills back to the farm. I was keen to learn more about Kirsty and asked Mandy to connect us.

Kirsty’s story is equally fascinating and I can see why they make a great business team. Kirsty’s background is in politics with a highlight being working for former deputy PM John Anderson (interesting story here on John Andersons lastest venture. Apparently he is still ludicrously handsome !!!!!!!! unusual comment from a male journalist – I imagine there was lots of good humoured comments around the Anderson family table about that one)

I was particulary interested in the way Kirsty taps into her tribe to stay resilient and invigorated through the plethora of exciting initiaitves created by rural women for rural women in the New England region

Check out

Initiative Contact 
The Seed Scheme Kim Deans
Ladies in Livestock Georgie Oakes
The Grower  Al Mabin
The Rural Woman  Rebel Black

And what did Mandy think our Young Farming Champions ( and the world) could learn from Sam and Kristy

LESSONS LEARNT 13 –  HOW TO LEVERAGE MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES  (even when the last thing you want to do is to talk to the media)

Imagine – it’s the middle of a screaming drought and you’re in crisis management mode. Every stressful day is a constant of feeding animals and trying to survive. Then you get a call from a journalist wanting to do a story. Do you run for the hills or do you buckle up, set your boundaries and turn this opportunity into a positive experience?

This was the case for Sam and Kirsty White of Bald Blair Angus in the New England area of NSW when they were approached by Mandy McKeesick to profile their stud for RM Williams Outback magazine; and in this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we take a look at how they handled the situation.

Sam and Kirsty are big believers in collaboration and networking. For the past four years Kirsty has been a member of THE Rural Woman, an online business community for rural women run by Rebel Black. In 2019 the Whites engaged Rebel as a mentor for twelve months. It was through this association they were introduced to Mandy.

“It was good timing to engage Rebel as it was a bastard of a year, the worst drought ever in this region,” Kirsty says, “but not such a good time to host a journalist. We were close to pulling out of the story because it all seemed too hard; the land looked terrible, there were bushfires and dust storms, we were flat out feeding and were very much in survival mode. But in the end we decided to take a leap of faith and trust that Mandy would do the right thing.”

And so the story went ahead, with Sam and Kirsty gaining respect and admiration for allowing themselves to be vulnerable and open in such a challenging time.

“We’ve had lovely feedback,” Kirsty says, “with people offering feed, emails from other angus studs and general support, and we’ve come to realise how far and wide Outback reaches.”

But it is what Sam and Kirsty have done since the story was published that shows the power of collaboration and leverage. Firstly they thanked their clients for their continued support, sending a copy of the magazine to those who had bought cows and heifers during the drought. They then sent the story to journalists they have worked with in the past and to podcasters and industry event organisers they hope to work with in the future. With each copy of the magazine they included brochures of businesses they work with, such as Optiweigh who provide cattle scales for their paddocks.

They took to social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube – promoting the story and again thanking everyone involved. They shared with local businesses such as Armidale Tourism who in turn used the story for their own social media content. They connected with the RM Williams social media team to also thank them for their sharing their story, and are looking to leverage further with advertising.

“We love what we do here at Bald Blair Angus – raising cattle and sheep on a family farm – and we love to tell our story and build relationships,” Kirsty says.

So rather than have their story published in a national magazine and then think no more of it, Sam and Kirsty are using every opportunity to leverage the publicity.

And what advice do they have for YFCs looking at doing a story of their own in similar circumstances?

Kirsty’s advice

  • Set your boundaries first.
  • Get your message clear and talk about what a journalist can and can’t take photos of.
  • Have a media sheet ready with all the facts and figures written down.
  • It is also important to have good photography and video.

“Mandy was here during a drought but we had photos on hand by Al Mabin showing the property in a good season; hone your own photography skills. Most importantly build relationships and believe in collaboration – we are all in this together.”

Mega thanks to all the wonderful women in agriculture opening doors and connecting each other.

 

 

 

 

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life