Award winner to play power role

Kim CousinsCountryman

Catherine Marriott is encouraging rural women to have a louder voice in the agricultural industry.

The Kununurra animal nutritionist and feedlot consultant, who received the 2012 Western Australian Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women's Award at a special event last Wednesday, plans to use her $10,000 bursary to create better networks and build capacity.

"It's very humbling but I'm excited to promote our industry," Catherine said.

"Our industry is represented by males who tend to be very good at economics - women bring in ethics and nurturing. It's about having a balance."

Catherine grew up on a farm in Victoria before completing a bachelor of rural science through the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales.

A scholarship took her to the US for 12 months where she decided she wanted to focus on animal production and nutrition.

Keen to be a part of the beef industry, Catherine knew she had to learn from the ground up.

"I spent a year as a jillaroo," she said.

"I knew I wanted to be in the beef industry so I went up north and sat in a saddle for a year.

"Then I was in Asia for three years with MLA as a consultant on live export.

"I enjoy working with people from different cultures, it's exciting and I learn so much."

Catherine moved to Kununurra in June last year, working as northern beef supply chain officer for the Department of Agriculture and Food on a six-month contract.

She is now consulting for Wellard Rural Exports as well as developing an indigenous pastoral training program, which she hopes will become a federally accredited course.

"I'll be helping trainers with communication skills," she said. "To work with cattle you don't need to know how to read and write but you do have to be able to communicate."

Catherine will hold a three-day forum in Broome later this year at which local and international speakers will address a range of topics, including social networking within the agricultural sector, engaging with the public and communication and self-awareness for women.

The first day will involve men and women while on the final day women will be invited to take part in a capacity building workshop where they will identify an issue and create a project to spread the message.

"The aim of the forum is to empower women and give them a voice," Catherine said.

"I recently graduated from the Australian Rural Leadership program, now I'm ready to step up and take a leadership role in our industry. It's an amazing journey, I want to take other people with me."

Agriculture Minister Terry Redman congratulated Catherine at the awards presentation in Perth.

"Every day women across rural and regional WA make an outstanding contribution to their communities and this State," Mr Redman said.

"The award acknowledges this work and provides the recipient with an opportunity to develop leadership skills and network with other women who are leaders in their communities."

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