Penny Schulz named 2014 Rural Woman of the Year

RAISING a toddler, feeding sheep, judging beef cattle and delivering rural programs across Australia is just some of the activities which are all in a day's work for Field woman Penny Schulz.

Her abundant love for the country and her enthusiastic passion for rural youth has seen her establish the organisation Young Dairy Network of South Australia and become involved in numerous livestock organisations.

Penny claimed she was just lucky to have the opportunity to live and work rurally, but according to her husband Jason, her work is valued much more highly in the community.

In February, Penny was named the South Australian winner of the 2014 Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women's Award after a sneaky nomination from Jason.

Penny, being such a humble person, said she was surprised when she heard the news.

"I was really quite overwhelmed," she said.

"It's always good to be recognised for your efforts but I really saw this award as taking the next step.

"It is a new way to build my leadership skills."

The RIRDC award identifies and supports emerging female leaders such as Penny, and provides a platform for them to further develop their leadership skills, to make a tangible difference and to inspire others.

As the winner she will receive a $10,000 financial bursary to implement her award vision, the National Dairy Challenge.

Held over two days, the pilot program is set to build dairy industry leadership, knowledge and skills.

The program will focus on pasture management and nutrition, animal breeding, milk quality, animal health and welfare, environment and sustainability and milk product processing.

"It is aimed to build knowledge on other areas of dairyfarming that they (dairy farmers) don't work in," Penny said.

"I hope it positively portrays dairy farmers as being well educated.

"A lot of people are not aware of how complex it is, or what goes into producing the great milk they enjoy each day."

She said the competition would also build teamwork and be a social event too, providing plenty of opportunities for networking.

"I'm going to team it (the program) up with the Young Dairy Network of South Australia," she said.

"I hope for it to be successful, and that beyond 2014 it will become an annual event."

Minister for Agriculture Gail Gago announced the prestigious award at the Art Gallery of South Australia and said Penny was a deserving winner.

"Penny's achievements in the livestock industry are impressive," she said.

"She established the Young Dairy Network SA, which assists young dairy farmers across the State to communicate in the dairy industry and access training.

"Penny's experience in the field has involved the coordination of many projects resulting in mentoring programs within the livestock industry, the establishment of the Youth Dairy Network Advisory Committee and two research tours for young farmers.

"This is a prime example of some of the work rural women are doing to support South Australia's position as producers of premium food and wine from our clean environment."

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