FROM farming rabbits to training working dogs, Kaniva's Patricia Coleman has had a go at every opportunity thrown her way.
The Mallee-born farmer has dedicated most of her short career to livestock, but has big dreams for a future in wool classing and dog training.
Miss Coleman, 26, grew up on her family's farm at Ouyen.
The farm was mixed sheep and cropping in the beginning, before it moved onto farming rabbits in the late 1990s.
Her family leased the farmland and took up breeding rabbits for meat.
Miss Coleman helped on the family farm for about 11 years, but during that time she also got experience in other areas of agriculture.
"I used to help the neighbours with lamb marking, shearing, or just checking stock," she said.
"Growing up, I spent many days helping my father in the shearing sheds around the area - this lead to an interest in sheep and wool production."
After finishing school, Miss Coleman moved to Wagga Wagga for university.
She studied a Bachelor of Animal Science at Charles Sturt University.
During her four years there, she did work placement at various properties.
"Even while at university I still managed to do some work on different farms as part of the work placement I was required to do," she said.
"I did more shed hand work as well as working at piggeries, cattle, horse and sheep farms."
Miss Coleman then made the move to the Wimmera, getting a job with Hassad Australia at the company's 47,677 hectare property at Telopea Downs.
The company sold the land to J & PA McBride last year for $70 million.
"Once I graduated university I got a job on a station and have worked in agriculture ever since," Miss Coleman said.
She spent two years at Telopea Downs, where she mainly did sheep work.
"While I was there, I also started training working dogs, which was a great learning experience," she said.
Miss Coleman now works for Lawloit farmer Alan Bennett as a farm hand.
"I've worked there for two years now and I've learnt more about cropping and have continued studying," she said.
"I still work mainly with livestock though."
Miss Coleman said what she most enjoyed about working on the land was the sense of accomplishment that came with the job.
"When the final product is reached and it goes out to the consumers, I feel that I have achieved something that will help others, whether it is in clothes or food," she said.
"It's hard, rewarding work.
"There are also always things to learn that will help to improve the work and the final product."
Miss Coleman has also tried to keep learning and studying over the years.
As well as her university degree, she also has a Certificate IV in Wool Classing and has completed other courses in ewe management, chainsaws handling and shearing.
This year, Miss Coleman started doing wool classing.
She said it was something she really enjoyed and hoped to do more of in the future.
Miss Coleman said there needed to be more public education about agriculture.
She said it was often challenging for young people to get into the industry to start with.
"Some family farms don't have enough work for young people to stay on, so they have to find other work," she said.
"Finding a place that will take on someone with minimal to no experience is hard and can take time.
"The price of land can also set a challenge for young people to get started."
Miss Coleman said young women in particular used to have to prove themselves in the workplace, but this was changing.
"There are plenty of places that happily take on women and the need to prove ourselves is getting less and less," she said.
"Sometimes women can't physically do something a man can, but we always find an alternate way to achieve the same outcome."
Besides farming, Miss Coleman's other love is working dogs.
She has started working with other farmers to help train sheep dogs in the district.
"I started off getting a pup and with the help of some mates and dog training schools, I learnt to train the pup into a working dog that I could rely on," she said.
"From there I have taken on other dogs, older dogs and also pups, to train for my team.
"I still go to different dog schools to improve my knowledge and skills."
Miss Coleman said she had also started helping other farmers with their working dogs.
"I like to work one-on-one to help the owner and the dog," she said.
"I'm working towards being able to train more dogs for other people and also run my own dog schools to share what I have learnt."
Miss Coleman said working dogs were vital to a good farm.
"You can not underestimate the value of a well-trained dog," she said.
"It will help make the job so much easier and more efficient."
In the future, Miss Coleman hopes to pursue more work in wool classing and training working dogs.
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