Love of John Deere leads to winning career
As a young girl growing up in far north Queensland, Jaymee Ireland had a bedroom full of John Deere merchandise and loved to watch her grandfather Charlie Brischetto working on sugar cane harvesters and other heavy machinery.
A decade later she has been awarded John Deere's 2022 Australian Agriculture Service Technician of the Year, carving out a stellar career amongst the broadacre cropping and viticulture industries of Roseworthy, in South Australia.
Jaymee works for the Emmetts dealership and competed against three other finalists to win the national title.
"I was definitely surprised when I won but pretty excited about it!" she said.
"In the final we had to do three different tests, one about customer service, another on tool utilisation and then a diagnostic test to fix a fault in a tractor, and it was definitely scary having that extra pressure and three judges following us around."
It was when Jaymee moved as a teenager to Kangaroo Island off South Australia that she became interested in agriculture and mechanics. The Island's economy is mostly agricultural, producing grapes, honey, wool, meat, grain, canola and potatoes.
At school Jaymee completed a Certificate II in Aircraft Line Maintenance, and at 17 she started doing work experience with local mobile mechanic, Jason Barrett.
When he told her the Emmetts John Deere dealership on Kangaroo Island was looking for an apprentice, Jaymee applied and got the job. Two years later she decided to move to the mainland to broaden her skills and joined Emmetts in Roseworthy, an hour north of Adelaide. She's been there for three years.
"It was a massive difference! On Kangaroo Island it was me and another tech, whereas at Roseworthy we have 15 technicians in the workshop," said Jaymee.
"I love my job. Every day we're working on something new in the wine or grain or horticulture industries and we never do the same thing, we're either in the field, on farm or in the workshop. I'm learning heaps, especially about John Deere diagnostic support which is always advancing."
Being a female mechanic wasn't all plain sailing, though.
"When I started doing farm visits on my own it was pretty nerve-wracking because you could tell some farmers weren't sure about a female fixing their tractor. But they trust me now, and some actually ask for me to do the job," she said.
"The key was communicating with them and working extra hard to prove I could do it."
Jaymee said she had a lot more learning to do but for now, it's coming up to her favourite time of the year – grain harvest.
"Fixing a tractor or header that's broken down during harvest can have a million dollar impact," Jaymee said.
"Knowing that I've ensured a farmer's machinery is operating at peak performance during this critical window of time is really rewarding."
Jaymee's infectious drive and determination have made her an ambassador for other young people interested in pursuing mechanical trades in the agriculture sector, particularly women.
"Whenever there's a school expo around here, I talk to the kids about my job and am always trying to grab the girls' attention to bring them over to our stand," Jaymee said.
"I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we see a lot more women involved in the industry."