My name is Di Bowles and I like to describe myself as a wife, mother, nana and dairy farmer, but not necessarily in that order. I’m someone who constantly seems to find myself in rooms and meetings that I don’t think I’m qualified to be in. I’ve been on a journey for the last 11 years and I’d like to share some of that journey with you.
It started with the floods in 2010/11. We were severely impacted by the flood events – I was rung one day by our then Mayor, Max Fehring, and asked whether I would like to be the ‘Anna Bligh’ of Mead – the floods happened not that long after the devastating floods in Queensland in 2010. From there I undertook the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program. I met everyday people who wanted to make a real difference in their communities.
I then went on to complete the Dairy Australia Developing Dairy Leaders Program and the Murray Goulburn Supplier Development Program. I also successfully applied about this time to be a part of North Central Catchment Management Authority’s community engagement group and after two years was encouraged to apply for a board position.
This led me to complete the Australian Institute of Company Directors course, an advanced Diploma in Agribusiness Management, and a Diploma in Dairying. I was then asked to become a Basin Community Committee Member for the MDBA. Yes I get to fly to Canberra several times a year and talk about the Basin Plan and its implications, but it’s not that glamorous to be honest, and as I said it has a lot of responsibility attached to it.
Learn how to shake hands as a man – shaking hands can be a great way to remind them you are equal
An opportunity came for me to be sponsored to complete the Rabobank Executive Development Program and I jumped at that. I was getting busy – too busy – so over the past 12 months I’ve let a few things go and I am not away from our farm as much.
April 2016 brought the ‘dairy crisis’ and my life took yet another turn. This could have been a negative one but is one where I managed to find some positives. One night while looking through Twitter and Facebook feeds all I could see was dairy farmers talking negatively and sounding quite depressed and consumers wanting to know what they could do to help farmers.
Give yourself permission to fail and to cry at times – you are not perfect and you are doing the best you can – if you need help – ask – don’t battle on alone.
So I set up the ‘Show Some Dairy Love’ Facebook page which is now just over 12 months old and has more than 12,000 members.
For me it is the best thing to come out of the interesting times we’ve had in dairy.
We were successful in getting funding to produce 3000 ‘cowlanders ‘ (calendars with cows) that are in homes all over Australia. The added bonus from the group’s creation has been the support it offers to those farmers who are doing it tough and need mental health support. So yes, I’ve been on a journey and I don’t think I’m finished yet – each experience has built upon the other to get me to the place I am at the moment.
Di’s tips for success
1. When an opportunity comes your way and its seems out of your comfort zone – go for it, you never know where it will lead
2. Give yourself permission to fail and to cry at times – you are not perfect and you are doing the best you can – if you need help – ask – don’t battle on alone.
3. Remember what is really important – for me that’s my husband, family and farm.
4. Find some good friends and mentors who you can talk to and be open honest and frank.
5. Wear comfy undies and shoes!
6. Learn how to shake hands as a man – shaking hands can be a great way to remind them you are equal
7. Be flexibly organised and learn to go with the flow
8. Know your passion– my favourite hashtags include #lovewhereIlive and #insidethefarmgate – And #dairylove