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Kelly Angel's success story

Kelly Angel comes from the Wimmera Mallee region of Victoria. As a “city kid” Kelly spent a lot of time on relative farms.
“We used to spend our school holidays helping out,” Kelly said.
“It used to always be during harvest, shearing or sowing - those critical times - and I think that sparked my interest.

But they also say that farming is in the blood; my dad grew up in the Northern Wimmera region so maybe that’s why I’ve returned to the area.”

Illness at university, and then meeting her future husband, inspired Kelly to travel and work on different fruit properties in the Riverland of South Australia. They moved to Horsham where Kelly took up a casual position with Agriculture Victoria, working within the farming systems program. The position turned permanent and Kelly was encouraged to complete an Agricultural Science degree, which she studied via distance education. She then transitioned to the pulse breeding program where she was involved in screening early chickpea breeding material for ascochyta resistance genes.

However Kelly was keen to pursue a more applied role and wanted to work closely with growers, so she decided to take up a position in Tamworth as a trainee agronomist. After completing the traineeship, she took some time out to have a family, and was then invited to work with Elders as an agronomist.

“There is nothing better than working closely with growers,” Kelly said. “If you are prepared to go the extra mile you can earn a lot of respect and trust, as well as have some meaningful input into their systems and ultimately their bottom line.”

Missing her family in Victoria, Kelly returned home and is now working as a senior research officer for Birchip Cropping Group (BCG). Her role focusses on trial management specifically, “carrying out trial design, assessment and reporting – whether that be written reports or verbal reports through presentations at different events or to our member base,” Kelly said.

In the office, Kelly also acts as a mentor to younger colleagues, providing training and insight into different farming issues.

Kelly loves working in agriculture and she finds her role highly rewarding. She especially likes working in a diverse field with lots of different people. Her role is constantly changing and she has to be flexible with the changes of the seasons.

“You have to be as best prepared as you can because things can change very quickly. You have to be adaptable and respond to events quickly at times,” she said.

“Nearly everyone that works at BCG has some form of degree in agriculture as basic training. And for higher level roles, it’s important to have industry knowledge as well – whether it be agronomic knowledge or in a field to do with the industry – marketing, business – there’s quite a varied skillset here.”

Kelly’s goal is to progress to a managerial role, to oversee more staff and provide more strategic direction.

And her advice to others who want a similar career?

– Be keen and listen. BCG operate as a not-for-profit members-based organisation, so it’s important to know what your members need and what their challenges are so you can help them with decision making or tailor trials. Listening to what’s needed from the broader community and farmers is critical.

– Work hard because it will pay off in the end. Make sure that you expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible.

– Don’t be scared to ask farmers questions; they know what’s happening on their farm. The more you can keep in touch with them, the more you’ll know, and you will realise what the big questions are.

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