Before establishing Annandale Acres near Calliope in Central Queensland, Bianca Collins was a secondary teacher and her husband, John, a boilermaker. They had no experience on the land.
Tired of paying rent in town and in need of adventure, they found their passion for agriculture.
“We fumbled our way into developing a small stud Droughtmaster herd. It didn’t take long for us to add to our acreage by purchasing another 700 acres and leasing a further 1,00 acres—all while working in our full-time careers,” Bianca said.
They soon realised the pressures on farming families can be enormous. To make ends meet, John had to continue working off-farm while Bianca took on the job of keeping the stud herd performing.
“We didn’t have the knowledge that typically gets passed down from generation to generation. It wasn’t ingrained in us from a family history in farming.
“I found it difficult to find a support network in the region or meet up with other likeminded farmers.”
Thanks to the Future Drought Fund’s National Mentoring Program, delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, Bianca was paired with a mentor to help build her resilience and achieve her goals.
“I’m making it my mission to make sure our farm is in better shape for the next generation—for my son and to help my regional community thrive. The only way I can do that is to embrace my desire to learn,” Bianca said.
The program is giving Bianca the confidence to grow a successful stud and connect with other farmers and farming families to share their experiences.
“I believe having that network will help us all grow in the agricultural industry and our shared commitment to learning and being open to opportunities will help us reach and increase our individual success.”
See how mentoring helped build Bianca’s resilience
Video duration 3 mins
This is the transcript of a video case study produced by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation for a project funded by the Future Drought Fund.
Learn more about the Future Drought Fund’s Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program.
Bianca Collins [0:01]:
Hi, my name is Bianca Collins and I'm so humbled to have the opportunity to share my story and help others find out about this amazing mentoring program that the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation is delivering.
My journey in the agricultural industry only began about five years ago. I'm a secondary teacher and my husband a boilermaker both working full-time, and we just wanted something different. We were tired of paying rent in town and we needed a new adventure.
We managed to snap up our little 400 acre land parcel close to Calliope in Queensland. We quickly embrace the land and fumbled our way into developing a small stud Droughtmaster herd. It didn't take long for us to add on to this acreage by purchasing another 700-acres and leasing a further 1,000 acres all while working in our full-time careers.
We found a passion for agriculture, and it wasn't ingrained in us from a family history of farming. We're first-generation farmers starting from a blank slate and that came with challenges. We didn't have the knowledge that typically gets passed down from generation to generation and we didn't have any experience on the land.
We put everything we have into our herd, and we quickly realised that farming asks a lot of those working in it and the pressures can be enormous. Added pressure for me is that my husband has had to continue working full-time to make ends meet while I put my teaching to part-time to have our beautiful son and to manage my chronic health condition. So, I do the day-to-day jobs to keep the Stud herd performing.
I feel like I'm breaking gender-specific barriers in farming and this has been a challenge in itself. But the joy does far outweigh the challenges. Calliope and Gladstone where I live have the reputation of Australia's industry powerhouse and so it has a strong focus on engineering construction and manufacturing sectors, not so much agriculture. I found it difficult to find a support network in the region or to meet up with other like-minded farmers.
I'm hoping that my journey in this mentoring program gives me the tools necessary to connect farmers and families in my community. I believe that having that network will help us all grow in the agricultural industry and our shared commitment to learning and being open to opportunities will help us reach and increase our individual success.
I am making it my mission to make sure our farm is in better shape for the next generation for my son and to help my regional community thrive the only way I can do that is to embrace my desire to learn.
I'm confident that the relationship I build with my mentor will help me fulfill my goals and it will put me on the right track to achieving my mission.[Recording ends]