Jen Stolp

South Australia

South Australian farmer assembles her A-team

Jen Stolp is putting together her own personal A-Team to help forge a positive future in the dairy industry.

Jen, who farms with her husband Don on a 600-cow farm at Kongorong, south-west of Mt Gambier in South Australia, was inspired to surround herself with positive people after attending the Thriving Women 2018 conference aimed at connecting and advancing agri-women.

Jen was one of several women supported by the Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network (ALWN) and DairySA to attend the conference, held in Hahndorf earlier this year.

“We need to surround ourselves with positive people for support and to bounce ideas off each other,” she said.

With family and friends filling out her A-Team, and not a mohawked Mr T in sight, Jen says farmers need to be ready to “have a crack” and find opportunities.

“We can’t do it on our own, we need to create our own A-Team and take as many opportunities as we can and create opportunities for ourselves,” she said.

Jen and Don are making strong headway in the industry. They started managing the Kongorong farm three years ago and entered a sharefarming agreement last year.

Although she grew up in a town in New Zealand and didn’t harbour any farming ambitions before marrying Don, Jen says she has happily adjusted to farm life, especially enjoying sharing the lifestyle with two-year-old daughter, Aurora.

“We’ve been here for three years and I think we’re here for the long haul,” Jen said. 

As a follow-up to the conference, Jen is initiating new safety policies and procedures for the farm and has taken on a project to help her focus on setting priorities.

“One of the sessions was on coping with things out of our control,” Jen said. “That’s good for our industry because things can change day-to-day. While we need to plan and be prepared, we also need to prioritise what we can do now and not dwell on things that might happen that we can’t do anything about yet.

“It’s about prioritising the important things and penning the other things.”

Now fully embracing dairy farming, Jen says it’s a challenging but rewarding career. 

“Because we’re looking to progress in the industry, I wanted to go to the conference for networking and to understand more about how businesses are run. It was excellent, and I hope there are more that I can attend in the future.”

DairySA workforce development coordinator Kylie Boston said the conference was a great opportunity for women.

Like Jen, Kylie found a similar overriding message at the conference: “You can do some fantastic things if you surround yourself with great people who can support you,” she said.

The conference included presentations on shaping the future, getting the best from your team, food and fibre education, skills training, small business resources, and heard from many successful women in business.

Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network was established to connect and support Australian dairy women. It is an active on-line community and can be joined via Facebook.