TRAIL Program in focus with Molly Sage

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 Molly Sage is the Sustainability Officer for Stockyard, based at Kerwee Feedlot near Jondaryan, QLD. She has been part of the feedlot industry independently for the past seven years, as well as growing up in the industry with her parents managing different yards.

What do you love about what you do?

What I love most about my role is being able to make a positive impact for the future of feedlotting. Sustainability will and is, playing such a vital part in the industry’s shared goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. Not only the importance of achieving this goal, but being able to become a better steward of our environment, cattle, people and community. I’m very passionate about my role and enjoy all that is involved in it.

What did the TRAIL program entail?

Roughly 22 of us hiked for two and a half days on a property outside of Canberra. Before doing so, on the first day, we had the honour of participating in a smoking ceremony at Cuppacumalong (a property near our base camp).

As part of the hike, we slept on sleeping bags under bivvies for three nights, and two of those nights we had a lot of rain.

During the hike, we participated in group activities, yoga, leadership activities, abseiling and eating lots and lots of Devon and cold porridge with powdered milk. When we were back at Outwood Bound (base camp), we did high rope activities, giant ladder climb, more yoga, more leadership and group activities, more camping and ate more Devon. On the third night where we camped at Outwood Bound, we undertook a fire watch. Each pair or group of three had to take shifts in watching the fire to make sure it didn’t go out during the night and during so, sit and write a paragraph of a story that we would then read out the next day. My shift was at 3:45am, how great…!

We also did white water rafting down the Murrumbidgee River, which was fun but very, very cold!

When we were back at Cuppacumalong, we did a lot of self-reflection and road mapping for our future selves. This was a more in depth and personal time with the sessions that we had.

Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in the graduation dinner as I had to fly home due to family health issues. But I could only imagine the fun that would have been had on the final night/graduation.

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

Skills I have taken away from the program would definitely be to make sure that your values align with your current practices in life and throughout your career. It was also a great experience to understand more thoroughly how different personalities and DISC profiles within a workplace are essential and can make a huge difference in the way a workplace runs. It was also a great way to understand how each DISC personality worked and how you can find ways to work with them instead of against them.

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

I think a few of the key things that I got out of the program was to make sure you take a step back. When you have all of your values in front of you, make sure that you chose them according to the real actions you take in your life. If for example your number one value in life is ‘Family’, but you always put your job before your family, then there is a large chance that it is not truly your number one value in life.

Also, another great piece of advice from one of the participants was in regards to mentoring. It is great to have mentors within your industry, but allow yourself to have one mentor that is completely out of the industry and it will make a huge difference to the progression/mentoring throughout your career. Also, be open to different personalities and rather than fighting against them, take the time to understand them, because it will make a huge difference in the way you work.

What’s next for you?

Thanks to the program, it reminded me of what my future goals are and how I want to achieve them. So next for me, is focusing on those goals, whether they be for my career or within my personal life. And making sure that I take a step back at times to remember those goals and values that I want to hold close.

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.