Lisa Shepherd

Name: Lisa Shepherd

Age: 50

Location: Millthorpe, NSW

Course(s) Studied: Diploma of Agriculture

My name is Lisa Shepherd and I am 50 years of age living in the Central Tablelands of NSW.  I first joined Rural Biz and commenced my studies in Agriculture in 2019 after attending a Woman’s Day Agribusiness Networking Day with friends hosted by MBC Accounting. 

At the age of 45 my husband and I with our four children relocated our home, life, and work industry from everything we had ever known.  Meeting at the age of 17 we built a home, our family and a business in the Hawkesbury and Penrith regions of NSW.  After traditionally working in banking and then Management/Administration within the earthmoving and construction sector a lifestyle change was needed.  

After agreeing on what the scope of our new life looked like a farm was purchased in 2012.  Over four years our family travelled Friday evenings to the farm working weekends to develop infrastructure, stock the property and build a family home before returning to Sydney on a Sunday evening for the weekly work, schooling, and children’s sports schedules.  Finally, we moved full time to our new life in 2016.  

The realisation to the amount of information and knowledge that was lacking soon became apparent.  However, we muddled through by asking many questions of neighbours and of course internet research, oh and you tube for instructional videos.  We were filling our titles given by the locals as being “Pit Street Farmers”, however we enjoyed rephrasing that to the “you tube farmers”.  

In March 2019 I attended a Women’s Agribusiness Day hosted by MBC Accounting. One of the guest speakers was a former student of RuralBiz.  Belinda spoke of her and her husband coming from Rural Families and the general understanding that they both had when they married, but the deep knowledge of Agriculture was within the mind of her father-in-law, which her husband drew support and guidance from over the years whilst she maintained the books, home, and children’s needs.  

Her life and role within the family and home truly resonated with me.  As working mums, we both filled the support role for our husbands within our own business’ however the scope of knowledge, understanding and planning was within their minds and roles.  Belinda’s world came crashing down when her father-in-law and husband both suffered life threatening illnesses within 24 hours of each other.  As she spoke of the challenges to continue within her traditional role within the family but now needing to step up to maintain the farm, business, and income roles her description of fear, exhaustion and challenges was inspiring.  As I sat in awe of her talk I internally acknowledged as a wife, mother , woman my own fears should something like that happen to me.  What would I do?  How would I manage our farm and business interests on my own full time with no one to consult or reference too for intimation?  

The introduction of “education is key” to forming your own knowledge, experience, farm model, business model, and “footprint” came from this day.  I realised that I could educate myself within this new industry and create my own “Footprint”.  I wanted to learn for myself and feel empowered enough to step up and share the role equally of farm management and no longer be the support role,  by learning farming methods, procedures, animal welfare, and environmental.

When I set the units or modules to study for the course, I was clear that I don’t need any education within the business management or financial management of farming.  I wanted to study the practical approaches and planning methods for a farm.  The course has challenged me to think outside my normal administrative mindset and at times I have wanted to just withdraw. But the staff at Rural Biz have been supportive and helped me along even when I was doubting myself.

It is challenging to balance life and study and many times I have had to ask for time frame extensions on units simply due to running out of time in the days.  But I have enjoyed learning how to evaluate the needs of our farm and plan from the evaluation, not plan based on traditional ways or habit of a task.  Both my husband and I have enjoyed each unit as we have looked at the how’s, when’s and why’s we do things and if we can improve the procedure or planning. 

The course is bringing a better understanding of the needs for farming , the agricultural industry, and the environment.  “Education is key”.