Ollie Abblitt's pathway through the dairy industry has had its fair share of twists and turns - with the one constant being an unwavering love of animals.
Dairy has always been a family affair for Ms Abblitt; growing up in north-west Tasmania, with her parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all either dairy farmers or involved in the dairy industry.
Her 'formal' introduction to the dairy industry began when she was introduced to Dairy Australia's Cows Create Careers program as a year 10 student at Circular Head Christian School in Smithton, Tas, more than 10 years ago.
The program was taught within the school's science curriculum as Agriculture Science, and even though Ms Abblitt came from a strong dairy farming background, Cows Create Careers still offered her new ideas and experiences.
"At 16, I only saw what was happening physically on my parents' farm and not all the background work of people like agronomists, nutritionists and financial advisers," she said.
"We got to look at aspects of soil science and plant biology; some of the information I learnt then is the basis of my soil science knowledge today.
"I would credit Cows Create Careers for opening my mind further to more aspects of the dairy industry and what's involved with dairy industry jobs."
She appreciated the program's 'hands-on' nature - especially interacting with two three-week-old calves at school.
After finishing year 12, Ms Abblitt then went on to complete a Certificate III and IV in Agriculture, and by January 2013, she had been offered an apprenticeship on a dairy farm in Glencoe.
The move across the strait paid off when, at 22, she was appointed herd manager, milking 330 Guernseys on the 550-cow dairy farm.
Ms Abblitt's passion for the dairy industry - and a desire to give back to an industry that had helped her - inspired her to become a Cows Create Careers volunteer in 2014 for Millicent High School.
"I chose to become an industry advocate because I recognised the way the program had shaped and built on my passion for the dairy industry - and I was keen to put back," she said.
And it seems her previous experience as a 16-year-old participant provided her with some handy insider knowledge on how to engage high school students.
"One of the major keys is to know your audience: then you can connect, interact and have a good time," she said.
Fast forward another six years and life has veered in a new direction, with Ms Abblitt now part-way through a degree in accounting, in addition to being employed by a leading Mount Gambier accountancy firm, a challenge she is relishing.
Dairy is still very much part of her life, as together with her partner Will Seidel, she farms Fantasia Pastoral near Allendale East, which keeps her on her toes.
"Whilst it may look like I have changed career directions into being an accountant, dairy is still very much part of my life, with feeding calves, some occasional tractor work, and fill in milkings," she said.
"Between crunching numbers, and milking cows, there's never a spare minute.
"But I wouldn't have it any other way - I feel grateful to have the best of both worlds - as I am now looking to the future when I may be able to help farmers with their dairy businesses once my accounting experience has built up.
"I'd also like to be able to connect with dairy farmers in difficult times, as having been through first-hand experience, I have empathy for their situations.
"It just goes to show, there are plenty of ways to get involved in dairy. I guess the thing that keeps me in the industry is probably like all dairy farmers - we love it!"
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