Growing up on a 50,000 hectare property in the Northern Territory, Kaitlin always knew she wanted to work in agriculture. After completing her Certificate II in Rural Operations through TAFE at School she's now working in the industry while continuing with a certificate III, and plans on one day managing her own property. While working as a young woman in a male-dominated industry has its challenges, Kaitlin is working hard to prove the disbelievers wrong and inspire other girls to enter the industry that she loves.
"I've always had agriculture in my background and it's always been a hobby of mine, but I thought I'd go further into the agricultural industry because hopefully I can go up into management or teaching," Kaitlin said.
"I started my my rural operations studies at school and it really helped me when I left school because I was already half qualified. When I studied all my costs were covered so I didn't have to pay for any of the course which was excellent," she said.
Kaitlin enjoyed the practical training she received at TAFE Queensland and the wide variety of hands-on skills she developed during her studies.
"During my course I learnt how to do fencing, loading cattle, ear tagging, injecting, how to apply chemicals, mustering — pretty much everything you'll need to progress in the agricultural industry," she said.
And it was that practical approach to learning that helped her progress and kept her interested throughout her studies.
"The practical training really encouraged me to keep going through it — instead of looking at a blank sheet of paper and wondering what are these questions actually achieving, the practical side reminded me that I was here to learn about agriculture, this is what I'm interested in, and this is what I'm going to have fun doing," she said.
Her current role at Northern Agriservices allows her to put all her new skills into practice, advising farmers on the best way to manage their crops and livestock.
"I go out to properties and help develop their farms and improve their agricultural techniques. With cropping, we have an agronomist that goes out and he'll take soil samples and advise them on what chemicals they need to use to get rid of pests, so I'll go out with him. Or I'll go onto properties and will look at what sort of yards they need, and what design they need for their cattle to suit their drafting methods," she said.
While Kaitlin loves her job and working in the industry, she still gets a hard time from some people who don't think that agriculture is a woman's job.
"I think some people still think that women aren't fit for the job, but I'll keep pushing. My father's so against it, he doesn't believe that a woman could ever be a manager of a property, which is what I want to do. But I think even he's starting to believe that women can do this," she said.
But for Kaitlin the challenges and the hard work are all worth it when she can see that people value her opinion and take on her advice.
"The highlight of my career would have to be making customers happy — especially older farmers — it's so good to see how happy they are after you've provided them with a good service," she said.
Her advice to other girls looking to get into the industry is to follow your passion, get qualified, and jump in head first.
"If you know that you love dealing with cows, or working hard, or fencing, or applying chemicals, or even cropping — if you really enjoy that, look into TAFE Queensland's courses immediately. Give it a go because they're honestly the best courses. You won't have any other course that's better than these."