DESPITE coming from a non-farming background, Monique Estrada of Merriwa is not only working full time as an early childhood educator in Scone, but running her own livestock and marketing business on the side.
Since she first became involved in the beef industry nine years ago, Ms Estrada has been heavily involved in a number of beef youth programs as a participant, educational presenter, committee member or judge.
"My involvement in the agriculture industry began through school when I started showing steers with St Joseph's High School Aberdeen," she said. "I quickly fell in love with the industry, the cattle and all the people involved."
Three years ago Ms Estrada became involved in the Angus breed and has not looked back since, creating a stud based on Dalwhinnie, Wattletop and Alumy Creek Angus genetics. She also currently has embryos in from North America.
"In early 2018 I created my own business called 'Target Livestock and Marketing' with the aim to assist breeders in achieving the best outcomes and exposure when it comes to the marketing of their brands and cattle," she said.
"I am also currently working on the expansion of the livestock sector of my business, building upon my own stud Angus breeding herd."
This year Ms Estrada was one of 11 participants in the inaugural GenAngus Future Leaders Program, sponsored by Angus Australia and Achmea Australia, held in February.
"It struck me as cutting edge; a new experience which would pave the way for future business leaders in the business industry," she said.
"I always strive to better myself both personally and professionally, and this program offered exactly that."
Through the GenAngus program, Ms Estrada believes it has allowed her to gain a more open minded approach to managing a business.
"Constantly reflecting upon my practices and taking calculated risks can immensely improve a business over time," she said.
"It has given me a more goal driven approach to my operations and has created a new found confidence in knowing the support provided by mentors is always available."
Ms Estrada is not only an inaugural GenAngus Future Leaders Program participant, the 2019 Angus Youth National Roundup winner of the Matthew George Citizenship award, and the recipient of Dalwhinnie Aspiring Breed award in 2018, but she was recently named the 2019 University of Illinois Scholarship recipient after winning the National Judging Competition.
"The UOI Scholarship has been a long hoped for dream of mine. I have always aspired to work towards receiving an opportunity like this, reading previous winners' blogs and reports and wanting to be part of this amazing opportunity," she said.
"It will equip me with the skills to take the next step forward in the beef cattle industry through my business of breeding and supporting other producers in their marketing and genetic selections.
"I hope to expand my networks and knowledge of the finer details of breeding such as genetics/genomics, reproduction techniques and nutrition of stud stock cattle."
This will not be the first time Ms Estrada has travelled to North America, previously visiting Canada in 2016.
"It was there I witnessed some incredible breeding programs and herds that inspired me," she said.
"What really strikes me about North American bred cattle is particularly their genetic consistency. The strength of their pedigrees is immensely clear, they are able to produce cattle that have an increased predictability for their progeny as well as maintaining a true to type and consistent style."
In the coming month she will again spend three weeks in Canada and the northern United States looking at cattle genetics from many highly renowned Angus producers.