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There are many ways to be a part of the livestock industry and for former Horizon Scholar 26-year-old Kirsty McCormack she loves nothing more than people, and talking about cows. Branding herself and her social media as a “CowNerdGirl”.

Kirsty has experienced just about every aspect of the beef industry both in Australia and now overseas. She’s living in Canada with a view of the Rocky Mountains from her bedroom window, weather so cold it freezes everything in its path and a dream job, involving cows of course!

The girl from Inverell, NSW see’s opportunity in everything she does.

“I started TopTime Design to work with producers on creating social media platforms and videos for online auctions to gain greater value at the farm gate, this has grown into a new concept recently called CowNerdGirl,” said Kirsty.

“It is really a reflection of who I am as a science “why” person and trying to express all the things I have learned here in Canada mixed with making connections between the similarities and differences I see in agriculture!“

She lives in Airdrie, Alberta where she works for Quantum Genetix, a genomics laboratory based in Saskatchewan, Canada that is a leader in applying genetic technology in livestock and cropping management that drives efficiency, creates wealth and is simple to implement and use.

Kirsty admits the ability to work from home has been a great blessing and being able to be on the road visiting customers in her sales role. Promoting testing for both beef producers and farmers allows her to work on both sides of the agricultural industry.

“Quantum has designed a feedlot application (Q-sort) that helps feeders decide when to ship finished cattle. Allowing them to combine genetics to run sensitivity analysis that calculates when margin cost equals marginal gain,” said Kirsty.

“We also do a lot of disease testing in canola, soya beans, wheat and soil profiles. The business was founded by farmers who are also scientists so it’s been an amazing opportunity to join the team.”

Kirsty and her boyfriend came to Canada to have the “gap year” she never had. They left Australia in the middle of the drought when jobs were in short supply and there wasn’t much opportunity for growth. The move has turned into a great opportunity both professionally and personally.

“I get to be on the ranch with my boyfriend on the weekends and go to brandings with friends, it is calving season here so seeing new life is so nice in this crazy time.”

Kirsty studied a Bachelor of Rural Science (2012-2015) at the University of New England in Armidale and immersed herself in everything. Her list of achievements ranges from being involved in the Cambodia Agricultural Systems Tour, Farming Futures Team, Crawford Fund Scholar, Young Farming Champion, China Business Tour, UNE Country Scholarship, Australian Wool Education Trust Scholarship as well as being an active member of her college student representative team.

Her biggest praise though is reserved for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) now named AgriFutures Australia, Horizon Scholarship.

“The Scholarship gave me drive, direction and a belt full of tools to be able to network and conduct myself as a young professional in Australian agriculture, with a strong voice and passion,” said Kirsty.

“Ag isn’t what you know but who you know and the program connected me with my peers and helped me establish mentors and a support network.”

“It also opened my eyes to how policy and the industry is equally as important as those producing the goods.

She also credits the program with giving her direction in how to be a leader.

“I think the experience was sometimes more important to me than the hours of lectures I attended,” said Kirsty.

“It moulded me into a young professional ready to enter the work force.”
Does she believe barriers still exist around Australian ag?

“Yes, there will always be barriers, whether they are physical tariffs into international markets or the perception of what we do on-farm,” said Kirsty.

“This perception and our ability to market Australian produce as niche high value products versus commodity products are both our biggest challenge and biggest opportunity.”

“I think being in Canada has really solidified that for me. So many people think I come from a station and run brahmans in helicopters when I say I am an Aussie. When in reality I am from Northern NSW running the cattle as they do here – not many Brahmans where I’m from!”

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