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Cultivating women in agriculture

TAFE Queensland Agriculture Teacher and Brahman stud owner, Mikaela Ross, is one of the many inspirational women in the industry leading the charge towards gender equality in agriculture.

For Mikaela, her love of the land runs deep and it’s this passion that she’s passing onto her students, including more women, who are choosing to gain in-demand skills for careers in an increasingly evolving industry landscape.

“I really love teaching and encouraging the next generation of agricultural professionals, helping to ensure our industry thrives,” Mikaela explained when asked what steered her towards teaching.

“I enjoy connection with students and seeing them go far in their future,” Mikaela added.

In 2023, close to fifty per cent of students enrolled in TAFE Queensland’s Certificate III in Rural Operations (AHC32816), and forty per cent of students in the Certificate III in Agriculture (AHC30116) across the state are female, positive indications that the industry is attracting more women in what’s traditionally been a male dominated workforce.

Mikaela has hands-on industry experience to share with a growing cohort of students who are keen to launch rewarding agriculture careers.

Raised on a cattle property an hour north of Kingaroy, Mikaela managed her own contract mustering business after high school, followed by a role at Proston State School which involved guiding students with showing cattle at exhibitions around the state.

After completing her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116) with TAFE Queensland, Mikaela transitioned to teaching with the organisation in 2022, and works closely with trainees and their employers across the state.

“I have students completing Certificate III in Agriculture (AHC30116) traineeships located as far north-west as Cloncurry and as far south as Beaudesert,” she said.

“I also teach foundational skills to high school students undertaking the Certificate II in Rural Operations (AHC2126) via the TAFE at School program at the Kingaroy campus.”

And like many women working in agriculture, Mikaela wears multiple hats. When she is not working as an educator, she is managing a successful Brahman stud business, MBR Brahmans, helping to run the family property and playing AFL for the Dalby Swans on the weekend!

Deploying a livestock management system in her own business, Mikaela is enjoying seeing first-hand the impact innovative new technology is having across sub-sectors of the agriculture industry, including cattle breeding.

“It is very exciting to see the technology that’s being developed for the industry. I love recording cattle and animal husbandry records on livestock management technology,” she said.

“I can record cattle details such as the tag number, National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) number, Electronic Identification Device (EID) number, breed, notes, paddocks, brands, colour, treatments, activities performed, traits, date of birth, age, sex, sire/dam, life data, deaths and weight, as well as can also prepare a range of reports to give full traceability.”

While new technology is helping drive productivity and connectivity, it’s also enticing graduates to agriculture, together with opportunities in science and food processing, agri-tourism, farm management and entrepreneurialism.

“It’s exciting to see just how far the industry has come, and it’s so much fun to work in,” Mikaela said.

Her advice to women who may be considering a career in the industry: “Don’t give up! If you have a good work ethic and an attitude to learn you will go far in this industry.”