Women of Warren Shire - Amanda Thomas
19 May 2023
Known for her advocacy efforts within the cotton and wider agricultural industries, Amanda Thomas is a familiar face on many committees, and gives up much of her time to contribute to local fundraisers, charity events and sporting clubs.
An agronomist and farmer, Amanda is dedicated to sharing the heartfelt stories of the individuals who give so much to our local agricultural industries, and we celebrate her contributions as this month’s Woman of Warren Shire.
A usual morning looks like…
Going for a run (…or a slow plod, if I’m honest!), and then getting organised if I'm heading out to do field work, or heading to the office. Once there, I’ll start at least three jobs that were not on my ‘to-do’ list, then get into the actual work.
I’m most proud of…
I think my husband and I have raised three very different but capable and confident children. Our family has lots of fun, but also knows how to work hard, and best of all – we’re all good mates.
On the weekend you can find me…
These days, it’s playing golf or gardening (…yep, I’m really getting on, aren’t I?)
We also spend a bit of time going to see the kids at various boarding schools, or working if it’s busy on the farm.
A quote or piece of advice you live by…
Only say ‘no’ to about 40% of the stuff you get asked to do, that you don’t want to do.
Sometimes the thing you signed up for that you didn’t have time to do (or that you didn’t want to do!) will drop you a pearl of wisdom, or introduce you to a great person you wouldn’t otherwise have interacted with.
Also, that you can always squeeze in more than you think, and 'progress beats perfection'... I thank Grace Brennan for that one.
How long have you lived in Warren Shire?
Geez, it’s about 23 years now… so not quite a local yet!
Favourite place in Warren Shire?
Got a few, like the Warren Golf Club, as well as the farms we live on and our local walking tracks.
Some more about you…
What do you love most about Warren Shire?
One hundred percent, it’s the people. Many have come and gone, but now say there’s something really special here that you might not truly see until you’ve stepped outside of it.
But it’s real, and it’s everywhere… it’s the extra mile our community will go to when you need it most.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey, including some of your most significant achievements?
I came here as a ‘bug checker’ for Auscott while I was at university, and then got a job there as an on-farm agronomist, and found my (now-husband) Ben at one of the many ‘socials’ at the golfie or bowling club.
From there, we had a family pretty quickly, and I found a part-time job that used my social skills and agronomy skills. It’s the job that I still perform to this day.
I love trial work and using science to promote better on-farm decisions. I’ll stand up for any cause that I believe in, and I’ll rarely give up if think I can bring something to fruition or get it across the line.
When my son was diagnosed with Autism, I knew I would apply my tenacity to give him all the opportunities that were on the table, and looking back as family - we totally did that and more.
He now attends weekly boarding school, and it’s a massive achievement that’s down to him, as well as the support from my husband and his family.
You’re known for your role in the Macquarie Cotton Growers Association and for your advocacy efforts within the cotton and wider agricultural industries. As an agronomist and a farmer, what’s the message that you want to continue sharing far and wide?
The message is simple: it’s the people and their stories that are so unique and compelling. There’s no one in the agricultural industry that doesn’t have a great back-story.
Adversity is the fabric of the industry, and we need to sell our story to the wider population to show them why we work so hard to keep this way of life that we’re so proud of.
When you’re a farmer, your desire is to leave the land in a better way than you found it, and also to pass on a lifestyle and legacy.
Every drought, flood, mouse plague and dust storm adds to our resilience, and it’s what makes our farming community so strong.
On top of this, you’ve made a significant contribution to numerous fundraisers and charity events within our Shire. What do you find most rewarding about giving back to the community?
What I’ve found is that there’s nothing you can’t achieve if you have a positive bunch of people with a goal to make things better. Each time you go on a committee, you get way more than just the fundraising or any other outward-facing goal.
I got put on my first committee two years before I moved to Warren by Kaye Martin (Cotton Cup Committee) and those guys showed me the key is to have fun at all stages: planning, during and post-event.I love the mentorship I have received and hope I will do the same for others. A person that has had a big impact on me is Tony McAlary. If we could all have just a scrap of his tenacity and drive, the town would be in very safe hands.
You’re also involved in several local junior sports clubs, including rugby league and golf. Why do you think it’s important to support these opportunities for young people living in regional areas?
Sport is such as big part of our social fabric in regional and small towns. We can sit back and say we don’t have the opportunities that our city friends have, but that’s just not true.
I look around at our swimming club, pony club, junior league, union, netball, soccer, dance, gymnastics and tennis: it’s all here, and it’s all run by volunteers.
Sport is something Warren is known for, and if you can help out by getting on the committee and giving up a bit of time, you get a lot from it. You are modelling behaviour that hopefully our children and others will strive to meet when their time comes.
What advice would you give to other women living in country communities?
From what I see, they don’t need a lot of advice, as they are out there in the community getting it done!
But if you’re new to town, or you’re in a time of life where you can give a bit of time to something other than work or kids: jump on a committee and put your hand up for something that’s not necessarily in your ‘wheelhouse’.
Trust me - by the time your stint on that committee ends, you’ll be an expert in something you didn’t know much about!
And if that’s not your bag, just offer to do 'what you can, when you can, if you can'.
To nominate a Warren Shire woman to be featured in this series, email email@example.com