Another big day for the Young Farming Champions team with Wool Young Farming Champion Bessie Thomas winning the Spirit category of the Weekly Times/Harvey Norman Shine Awards
Extract from story in today’s Weekly Times
BESSIE’S BRIGHT SIDE
BESSIE THOMAS has been through nearly two years of dust storms and feed runs, yet every day she finds something good to say about the agriculture industry.
That is a measure of her positive spirit.
Bessie and her husband, Shannan, manage his family’s sheep property, Burragan, near Wilcannia in NSW’s far west.
The young couple and their daughter, Airlie, 3, are living through the thick of drought.
Bessie finds ways to be optimistic, not just for herself and her family.
But also to boost other farmers across the nation who are struggling through the same thing and to educate the wider public about the ongoing dry.
“I could get out of bed every day and share the hardships but, you know, the next day I probably wouldn’t want to get out of bed,” says Bessie, who shares the highs and lows of her life in the wool industry through a blog and Facebook page called Bessie at Burragan.
“By always focusing on the positive, it can bring a spark of joy to someone else on social media and maybe give them hope.”
Bessie is relatively new to the wool industry.
After growing up at Swan Hill and then the Sunshine Coast, she completed a degree in journalism and communication in Queensland.
After marrying Shannan, they jumped at the opportunity to manage Burragan.
“When we moved down it was a fantastic season,” Bessie says.
“The grass in the paddock was so high you could hardly see the road to find the house.”
The 28,000-hectare station is in a vastly different state today, running half the sheep it did back then.
Rain in April and again this month offered some reprieve, and they haven’t had to handfeed since May.
“We only wish we could share it around with everyone who missed out,” Bessie says.
Through the long dry, she has used her communication skills to raise awareness of the realities of drought.
Bessie is an Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion and the group’s volunteer communication creative team leader. The organisation works to close the gap between young people and food producers, and inspire pride in Australian agriculture.
“So, I have gone into schools and spoken to urban audiences about agriculture and growing food and fibre,” Bessie says. “The highlight of volunteering is connecting and collaborating with talented young people, who are considered inspirational leaders of the agricultural industry.”
Bessie Thomas puts her storytelling talent and optimism to use for the good of the agriculture industry.
For that — as well as raising awareness of the drought with a smile — she is a deserving winner of the Shine Award for Spirit.