We recently launched the Riverina Local Land Services scholarships to find the latest round of Young Farming Champions. As part of the application process we invite the finalists to share their story. Today we a delighted to introduce you to Kate Webster who is also writing stories for next gen
Sometimes our passions and careers take a direction we never expected. Growing up on a small property outside of Orange NSW, I always had a passion for animals. As a child I would take any opportunity I could to help on the farm and it was during this time that I made the decision I wanted a career with livestock, emphasis on the “live”.
But I never imagined ending up where I have, beyond the farm gate, in the meat processing world.
In 2016 I headed off to university, I was eager for knowledge and gave everything a shot that university threw at me. In my second year of university, I decided to join the Charles Sturt University’s Meat Judging Team. Why? Because it sounded like fun! And little did I know that this carefree decision would change the course of not only the rest of my degree, but my life. The ICMJ competition opened my eyes to a completely different side of Agriculture. I rapidly discovered that production doesn’t end at the farm gate and that there are so many additional processes involved in getting the product from paddock to plate. It was at this time I fell in love with everything meat!
The next few years passed by in a whirlwind as life often does, I went from competing in the CSU meat judging team, to coaching it and then onto coaching the Paskistani national team. I was selected to complete my certificate III and IV in meat safety inspection which led to my first industry job, on the knives in a beef export plant as a meat inspector. I chose any electives I could that were meat related and then I travelled to Texas Tech University for an internship in their meat science department where I completed my honours. But then it stopped! Everything stopped, I handed in my honours dissertation and a week later the nation went into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was on the knives still working my typical 9 to 5, or more correctly my 6 to 3, and in a rut.
I knew I wanted more in my career but given the state of the nation, drastic career changes weren’t really an option, especially as an inexperienced new grad. So, I realised I had to make an opportunity for myself, and it was at this time I began to write my first children’s book, titled “What is Meat?”.
Kate and her first children’s book “What is Meat”
I have always had a passion for working with children and in particular children’s education. When I first moved to Wagga Wagga I joined the local show society, in my second year on the committee I proposed the addition of a children’s agricultural education section to the Wagga Wagga show. The section was a success, we developed a farmyard out of ply board where kids could collect plastic eggs, dig for potatoes, and milk a fake cow. We ran cardboard box tractor races and had an extensive, interactive farm tool and equipment display. But it was here that I discovered the disconnect between children and where their food comes from. I started to do some research and the more I looked into it the scarier it got; children genuinely had no idea where their was food coming from! This triggered the initial idea behind my soon to be book series of four, which will follow the production of meat, milk, eggs, and wool from producer to consumer and all the steps in between.
Kate in her current job, with MINTRAC, at a student career expo
Three years on and my first book is now a reality, I am working with teachers to create activity packs for use in the classroom and my second book is on the way. I also made the career shift I was searching for, into the National Meat Industry Training and Advisory Council. My job now encapsulates two of the things I love most meat production and education with people of all ages.
It is up to us as the new generation to paint agriculture in a positive light and spark the interest we have all found on our own paths into the wider community and in particular drive the generations coming up behind us to seek out their own passions in agriculture.
#YouthinAg #YouthVoices #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether