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Connecting inspires new AgConnect vice president

WA’s $10.7 billion agriculture industry is in “really good hands”, if you ask the newest vice-president of the State’s leading agricultural youth advocacy group.

Growing up on a mixed cropping and sheep farm in Pingaring, Michaela Hendry developed a love for agriculture very early on.

It was not uncommon for her to spend her free time following her dad around the farm and riding shotgun in the tractor as he worked.

And her time at the WA College of Agriculture — Denmark further cemented her passion for life on the land.

Last year during COVID-19, the Curtin University agribusiness graduate returned to her roots, driving the seeder and working on her uncle’s farm through to the end of harvest.

Today, the aspiring agronomist is blazing the path for the next generation as the new vice-president of youth advocacy group AgConnectWA.

“It’s really exciting to have a bit more leadership,” she said.

“People are seeing how valuable ag is and the huge amount of opportunity. You can be a farmer or a data analyst or a marketer — ag needs every profession just about.

“I think people are starting to realise the opportunities are endless and there is a spot for them there if they want it.

“At the end of the day it’s our future and our industry and we need to take control of that and point it in the direction we see best.”

Creating a support network to foster young people within the industry is a concept the Esperance-based CSBP trainee area manager — who has been on the AgConnectWA committee for 12 months — feels strongly about.

“Having that network is invaluable,” Ms Hendry said. “Having people to go to when you need something, or when you don’t know the answer to something, is vital and it’s super-inspiring and encouraging to see what the future of the industry is.

We have some really incredible young people in the industry and I think the industry is in really good hands.

The number of women entering the industry was also rising, she said, with more feeling empowered to take on roles in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

“When my brother went through (ag school) four years before me, there were two females in his year and when I went through it was just over 50 per cent,” Ms Hendry said.

“We’ve got to credit the path building women before us. I think women are being seen for what they’re worth and their value.

“Women are starting to see that there are opportunities for them and are feeling empowered that they can bring something to the industry and businesses. And we couldn’t have done it without the men we’re working beside who support us and stick up for us as well.”

“I think people are starting to realise the opportunities are endless and there is a spot for them there if they want it.

She called agriculture “the best industry” a young person could be part of.

“I might be a bit biased,” she laughed.

With the future of the industry bright, she encouraged more young people to recognise and take the opportunities it provided and be part of the “incredible” sector which put food on the table and clothes on your back.

“If you want to be part of an exciting industry providing solutions to real world problems — ag is it,” Ms Hendry said.

Ms Hendry’s appointment came during the group’s AGM on Friday, where a new committee was elected, with Lawson Harper taking over from Tiffany Davey as president and Jimmy Bistrup, Josh Clune, Makaela Knapp, Winston Dunn, Josh Fuchsbichler (second term), Tahlia McSwain and Jamie Spence on the general committee.

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