Grabbing hold of mentoring opportunities

Forum speakers share life philosophies

Livestock
The 2019 Zanda McDonald Award winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans spoke at the Young Beef Producers' Forum. Picture - Rachael Webb.

The 2019 Zanda McDonald Award winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans spoke at the Young Beef Producers' Forum. Picture - Rachael Webb.

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The 2019 Zanda McDonald Award winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans spoke at the Young Beef Producers' Forum.

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The Young Beef Producers' Forum was not only an opportunity to learn from the experiences of people with years in the industry, but also peers who are taking advantage of mentoring opportunities.

Zanda McDonald Award winners Shannon Landmark and Luke Evans spoke about what lead them to winning the award in May 2019, and the opportunities they've had since then.

Mr Evans, 29, who is the station manager of Rockhampton Downs Station, a 485,000 hectare cattle station in the NT, spoke about the challenges of taking on the management role at just 22-years-old and developing a property which now runs approximately 20,000 to 25,000 Brahman females.

Ms Landmark, 28, who leads the Northern Genomics Project through the University of Queensland, spoke about the philosophies that have landed her in this position.

"Someone once said to me, if you're the smartest person in the room then you're in the wrong room, and I honestly live me life by that because you've got so much more to learn from other people than you can try to possibly learn from yourself," Ms Landmark said.

"I did a school report when I was younger, probably about six years old, and you had to liken yourself to a flower.

"Some people chose a sunflower or a daisy; I said I was a weed because I popped up where I don't belong and most people would agree with that."

Born in Mount Isa to a mining family, Ms Landmark said by the time the family left town, her blood lead level was so high that her parents assumed she'd be a slow learner.

"They were not too far off the mark, I was by no means an excellent student," she said.

After finishing school in Brisbane, Ms Landmark wanted to be a vet but didn't get into the course.

"After a while of getting my GPA up at the University of Queensland, I moved onto University of Sydney and that's where I continued my mentality of P's get degrees."

Ms Landmark said this wasn't the first time that she hadn't felt like the smartest person in the room.

"The University of Sydney is really competitive, I was in a really competitive course, and I was also staying at a college that was renowned for churning out Google and Facebook employees and elite athletes - and I'm clearly neither of those.

"I asked the dean of the college how the hell I got in, and his exact words were 'we need average people too'.

"He said that average people are the glue that hold everyone else together and you can take that as an insult or a compliment; I took it as a compliment because he didn't give out too many compliments."

Now half way through the Zanda McDonald mentor program, Ms Landmark said the experience had been "absolutely incredible".

"I can't say how many people who are really high in the industry that have welcomed us into their homes and into their board rooms, and have just allowed us to ask what are some pretty dumb questions," she said.

"It hasn't gotten any easier, you always feel out of place, but you realise that those questions are welcome."

Ms Landmark offered several take-home messages to the group of young producers:

  • "When you know the least, you're going to learn the most."
  • "When you can't believe in yourself, then just find somebody who does."
  • "Strive to be like a weed, and pop up where you don't belong."
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