NINE passionate and forward-thinking dairy women from across South Australia will build their skills in leadership and personal development and drive plans for a Statewide agricultural women's conference this year, after being selected for DairySA's Mooving Forward! project.
Fleurieu Peninsula dairy women Mandy Pacitti, Melissa Halse, Mandy Balmer and Rebekah McCaul, along with Murraylands dairyfarmer Kate Bartlett, South East dairy vet Hannah Delahunty, and Lou Sanders, Karen Slape and Karin Fischer from the Lakes region, were chosen to participate in the program, which is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and PIRSA.
"After completing DairySA's highly successful 2BHerd program in 2011, I came away feeling 10-foot tall and bulletproof," Ms Balmer said.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to pursue some of my own goals and interests within the dairy industry, and I really valued meeting and connecting with people on the same wavelength, the chance to get off farm and start out with an open mind, which, by the end of the course, was full of new ideas and information."
Ms Pacitti, a dairyfarmer at Misty Brae Holsteins, Myponga, agreed.
"The industry needs to work on developing and retaining leaders within dairying regions who, in turn, will encourage young people into the industry and support them to pursue long-term careers," she said.
Project leader Melanie Treloar, also a graduate of 2BHerd, said the importance of recognising leaders within the dairy community and giving them the opportunities to pursue their ambitions and goals through skills development was essential.
"The future of a vibrant dairy industry in SA will be driven by industry champions with forward-thinking abilities, ideas, skills, passion and commitment required to lead it towards successful and sustainable outcomes," she said.
"Women working in dairy are capable of multi-tasking and juggle numerous commitments on a daily basis, from practical on-farm work, to marketing, negotiating and business management, to being the family lynchpin and, occasionally, a voice for their local communities and industry."
DairySA executive officer Verity Ingham said that recognising these women in the dairy industry and equipping them with the necessary skills to take their leadership qualities to the next level whether on industry boards or committees, or through increased involvement in leadership at the local community level would make it possible to build a stronger and more resilient dairy industry and "realise the potential that these women exude".
The participants will undergo a hands-on leadership development program next month which will see them receive coaching, mentoring and corporate governance training from leading industry professionals.
The nine aspiring dairy leaders will also start planning an SA agricultural women's forum to be held in April, aimed at getting like-minded women together from across agricultural and rural communities to gain skills and addressing issues such as work-life balance, rural health, the role of both media and social media in agriculture, effective communication and strategic future thinking in farming.