A group of young women in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt are determined to show that girls can hold their own at competitive shearing, tractor driving and fencing.
The Farm Skills competition has been a highlight of the Perth Royal Show for regional schools for 32 years and for the first time, an all-female team is hoping to win the title.
The team members, all from Cunderdin Agricultural College, are hoping to pursue careers in agriculture and change perceptions that women are not as capable in the field.
Year 11 student Chloe King is no stranger to shearing.
Every holiday she works on her family farm running 6,500 acres of livestock near Mukinbudin.
“As a kid I’ve always loved being in the shearing shed so it’s continued from then,” Ms King said.
“You’ve got to have the strength that’s for sure, it’s hard to hold them, but I guess with practice and a bit of help you get there.”
The Farm Skills Competition involves 18 different tasks including shearing, fencing, wool handling, tractor driving and first aid.
Team captain Inaya Stone’s family manages 15,000 acres of cropping in Scadden near Esperance.
She is achieving excellent grades in year 12 and plans to study agribusiness at university.
She said agriculture is still a male-dominated industry.
“Although women are slowly pushing through … it’s still not seen as equal for women and men to be working on a farm,” she said.
“I think that women should push to be more seen in agriculture, I think that there is nothing wrong with women running a farm or owning a farm,” she said.
The girls have a simple message for the boys, “bring it on”.
“Hopefully they are feeling a bit of pressure to beat us girls,” Ms Stone said.
“I think they are scared. Watch out us girls, are coming,” Ms King laughed.
Many of the students hope they can use the skills to help take on the family farm.
“I’d love to be able to run my own farm, that’s my ultimate goal to have my own farm or station to myself,” Ms Stone said.
Ms King is planning to study agronomy and become a stock agent to build her experience first.
“I’d love to definitely take on the family farm, I’ve always dreamed of doing that since I was a kid, so hopefully that dream can come true,” she said.
Grace Davy wants to pursue a career in the wool and sheep industry before returning to the family property in Konnongorring.
“Hopefully when I’m older and more experienced in the agriculture industry, I’ll go back to the family farm and be the fifth generation farmer and continue it on,” she said.
With the competition just four weeks away, women from all over regional WA will increase their training to four nights a week.
The team’s attention to detail with the fencing section is proving hard to beat.