Celebrating International Day for Rural Women – Climate Friendly’s Jen Simmonds
Jennifer Simmonds is a 5th Generation farmer and grazier from Queensland’s rangelands. Jen runs her own successful Droughtmaster stud as well as being a part of the Climate Friendly carbon project management and business development teams. On top of that she is bringing up two Primary School age kids. In conversation her easy going manner can too easily hide the facts of her story, that Jen is a successful and innovative businessperson with a passion for the land and the people who call it home.
Jen speaks about life on the land from a wealth of experience. Raised on her parents’ sheep and cattle property, she graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Grazing and Animal Production. She headed to the Kimberley and NT for several years as a Jillaroo where she experienced the camaraderie, hard work and simple living of the stock camp.
“Unusually at one place (Victoria River Downs) I ended up in an all-girls camp, as Leading Hand. We worked just as hard and achieved just as much as anyone. There was a boys camp, and we could stick it to ‘em!”
Jen built upon her experience in a range of organisations including the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo), Landcare, and contracting consultancy with NRMs. Tragically, Jen’s husband was involved in a fatal car accident during the time they were establishing their own fencing contracting business. Since then, relying upon her natural resilience and with the support of community and family, Jen has been raising their two children as well as running the business on her own.
In the last five years Jen has built her cattle stud business as well as joining Climate Friendly, bringing her wealth of on-the-ground experience to the team’s carbon project management and development expertise. Jen’s reason’s for committing to the work of Climate Friendly is simple – she believes that well implemented carbon farming is in the best interests of rural Australians.
“A lot of people ask me what the hell am I doing in carbon farming! I do it because the future in carbon farming is going to be huge, and Climate Friendly are there for landholders, to help them diversify their business. And the exciting part is that it is not just about growing trees, but the opportunities for managing pastures, soil and livestock holistically to achieve a new and diversified income is promising. Our farmers are living through changes in the climate, and carbon farming can provide opportunities for landholders in many parts of Australia to be more resilient and it just makes sense for the land, the landholders and the future.”
Asked about the role of women in Australian rural life, and in light of her own varied journey, Jen has a clear view.
“I think women play an undisclosed and integral part of any individual operation and for the industry as a whole. Not only are they running businesses and raising families, they are raising the future generation of our industry. We talk about women who can multi-task and many rural women multi-task on a different level. Not only can they do the books, they do the washing for the kids. They’re the person who does maintenance, the mustering, and the person who packs the lunch. They have to be capable on the land, capable with the family, and a capable businessperson as well.”