TRAIL Program in focus with Kailen Hodgson

The Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA), in conjunction with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), sponsors four feedlot industry professionals to attend the Training Rural Australians In Leadership (TRAIL) Program each year. 

We recently caught up with this year’s cohort for a quick Q&A about their TRAIL Program experience.

TRAIL Program participant Kailen Hodgson is the feedlot manager for Smithfield Cattle Company, QLD. He has been involved in the feedlot industry for 9.5 years.

What do you love about what you do?

I love the variety presented daily and contributing every day to an industry-led culture for maintaining excellence in our operations. I also enjoy being able to support our network of people, to see them grow and reach their potential.  

What did the TRAIL program entail?

The program began with participant introductions, this ranged from beekeepers, cotton industry, scientists, lot feeders, pork industry, live exporters, wine growers, livestock and merchandise sales, marketing and the food service industry.

It then involved the group completing DiSC, where individual personality and behavioural styles were assessed and profiled.  The program kicked off with two virtual sessions where a variety of content was introduced to the participants, encouraging some good discussion and sharing. 

The program finished up in Canberra with a four-day outdoor experiential learning experience where the group got to meet face to face for the first time.  On the last night in Canberra the group attended a graduation dinner with sponsors, presented to the audience a well put together wrap-up of the program, and throughout the evening we were lucky enough to watch a great photo collage taken by the facilitators showing off the outdoor experience at its finest.  

What skills have you taken from the program back to your role?

Skills I have taken away from the program include recognising self-motivators, strengths, and growth opportunities to open the space for reflection.

Understanding the drivers behind individuals’ actions, my actions and the cause and effect associated. Furthermore, approaching situations with inclusion and openness, to create and encourage a positive interactive learning space.  

What would you recommend to other feedlot workers who are looking to grow their skills?

A work life balance. Ask yourself “What is important to me?” and by answering, how this impacts your perception toward others and the perception of others toward you.  No one’s born with a work ethic, it’s something anyone can create.  

What’s next for you?

Fulfilment in continuing my lot feeding career, supporting industry and the people in and around it.

For more information on the TRAIL Program, visit the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s website.

Applications for the industry-funded scholarships are always open. More information and the application form can be found on the ALFA website.