Mid West vet Billi Marshall grows ag network to help isolated workers and support mental health

Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
AdvocateAG founder Billi Marshall.
Camera IconAdvocateAG founder Billi Marshall.

Hardworking Mid West farmers and agricultural workers can look forward to kicking off their boots and dancing the night away next month, with a Dongara cattle veterinary worker launching a new forum for industry in the region.

BOS Vet and Rural cattle breeding technician Billi Marshall, 24, started the Facebook group AdvocateAG in September, which has since grown into a networking and social events platform for young Mid West people who work in farming.

The Facebook group, which has more than 200 members, was formed to foster conversations between not just farmers but other agricultural workers, including sales representatives and veterinarians like Miss Marshall working in isolated conditions.

Miss Marshall, pictured, said in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she saw the need in the region for a way to connect farmers, not only to have a good time but as a way to look out for each other.

“You invest so much time into your farm, you’re absolutely buggered by the time you get home and you get up the next day to do it again and you slowly lose time for yourself,” she said.

“We rely so heavily on events like the Mingenew Expo, Dongara Races or Chapman Valley Show, those few excuses a year to catch up with everyone, and as much as they are a good day out, the social side of it brings everyone together and I just want to see a few more of those occasions happen.

“Especially during COVID, we’re all sitting at home on our phones and scrolling. You’ve got a whole world of people out there you could be communicating with, but we’re not.”

Miss Marshall hoped the Facebook group would be a platform for Mid West agricultural workers to have industry-related conversations in a safe and engaging environment where they could form contacts and ask for advice.

She said the group and interest in events was growing faster than she anticipated.

“It’s a great excuse to be social but my hope is for it to look at the bigger picture and tackle things like finances and mental health issues,” she said.

The first event will be held in Dongara at the Irwin Recreation Centre on December 19, with bar facilities, food and live entertainment.

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