DemoDAIRY scholarship helps Marika launch a new career

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Marika Austin was looking for a radical change when she left Mildura two years ago; what she found was a new career on a dairy farm.

Before moving to Nullawarre in southwest Victoria, Marika had never been to a dairy farm, let alone milk a cow or raise a calf.

Now, with the support of a scholarship from the DemoDAIRY Foundation, she is fully engaged in the dairy industry and is relishing her unexpected mid-life career change.

“I’m not a morning person, but now I wake up at 4.30am with no problem,” said Marika.

“I have lived most of my life around Mildura and never really had a career as I was raising kids and never thought I would find one at that age.

“It’s a bit late: I would have liked to find that 20 years ago.

Marika, 48, has worked for the past two years under two different owners on a dairy farm in Nirranda South.

“We were doing renovations and a burn and I spoke to the local CFA captain who mentioned there were trading jobs if I was looking for work,” she said.

“Then a full time job showed up just 10 minutes away and they gave me a try even though I had no experience. I absolutely love everything about it.

Current farm owners Tim and Maree Humphris have introduced Marika to all aspects of the farming business – and her Certificate III in Agriculture via South West TAFE and supported by the DemoDAIRY scholarship gives her a more comprehensive view of the Agriculture.

She said the course gave her a better understanding of dairy and farming.

“It’s all about calving this year; last year was mostly about pasture, fertilizer and feed ratios and I navigated through that.

Marika is now a confident farm worker and student, and raises her own bull calves for sale.

She also helped the herd of new calves successfully fight two diseases this year.

The scholarship helped Marika buy books and clothes for her class and prompted her to seek more educational opportunities, including taking an IV certificate in agriculture and specializing in artificial insemination.

Marika has moved south with her husband Ian and children Jy, 14, and Chelsea, 11, and she expects at least one more to convert to dairy farming.

“My husband can’t stand the smell, but my son is 14 years old and he is already looking forward to working on a farm.

“I have spent most of my life in Mildura and we certainly don’t regret the change.

You will find information on the DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarships on: www.demodairy.com.au

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