Get to know Women in Agriculture Scotland’s new Chair Aylett Roan!
Aylett Roan is Chair of Women in Agriculture Scotland (WiAS). She runs the family doorstep milk delivery business Roan’s Dairy. Roan’s Dairy was set up in 2015 to enable the family to add value to their milk, allowing a sustainable future on the farm for the generations to come. Aylett is a Director of the Royal Highland and Agriculture Society of Scotland, and also sits on various committees which include NFUS Next Generation Committee and The Dumfries & Galloway Countryside Initiative.
How did you get into agriculture?
When I was 11 years old, I was asked if I wanted to help water and feed sheep during lambing at a friend’s family farm. I instantly fell in love.
I went on to study and work on farms up and down the country, giving me an in-depth knowledge of the industry. I also worked at Lloyd’s Register (formally SFQC) for several years, before starting a family with my husband Stuart.
I met my husband on a girls’ weekend away. Not long after I left my job, moved down to Dumfries and Galloway and the rest is history!
I work alongside Stuart and his family with our two boys Fergus and Fraser on a Dairy, Beef, and Sheep farm near Dalbeattie, where since 2011 our cows have been milked by two Lely robots. I’ve played many roles on the farm from filling labour gaps to supporting the creation of our farm’s diversification Roan’s Dairy in 2015 which we set up to sell milk produced on farm direct to the consumer.
I also co-created with my sister-in-law the Udder Bar, a milkshake bar that attends festivals, agricultural shows, weddings, events etc throughout the year.
Why did you get involved with WiAS?
I get a lot of enjoyment out of training and have, over the years, found myself at various meetings and events. I attended a couple of WiAS meetings and felt at the time I wasn’t getting as much out of it as I could, so I joined the committee.
One of my favourite sayings is: “You can’t affect change from the side-line”. And I believe that by joining committees and participating in different organisations, you can make positive changes in our industry.
In your own words, what is WIAS aiming to achieve?
Simply put, WiAS aims for the inclusion of all. I believe that agriculture should be inclusive, and if you can do the job, you should, regardless of gender.
WiAS looks to support anyone – male or female – in signposting opportunities, networking and be a community of support and encouragement.
We would love to see more men join up as members and attend events. By welcoming a diverse range of people into WiAS we hope that it opens up a wealth of experience for members to benefit from.
What hoping to achieve as Chair?
One of my main ambitions as Chair is to reinvigorate the network through regional events and break down barriers for people attending. Unfortunately, there is still a perception that these events are only for professionals in the ag industry, but whether you’re milking cows, driving a tractor, or doing farm accounts, everyone is welcome. Each one of us – regardless of if you’re on the farm each day or working from an office – every one of us makes an important contribution to the industry and we balance each other out.
How can we encourage more women to put themselves forward for leadership positions in the ag industry?
I’m a big believer that it should always be the best person for the job but, ultimately, we need to encourage more women to put themselves forward to leadership positions and that all comes down to confidence and feeling like they are welcome and can contribute to organisations.
How can businesses/organisations support WiAS?
We can’t continue to do what we do without the fantastic support of businesses and organisations. Support can be as simple as helping source speakers for events, sponsoring events, providing in-kind support, training, and more formal sponsorships. Any business who would be interested in supporting WiAS, please contact me directly via email: email@example.com
What’s coming up for WiAS?
We’re excited that our first face-to-face regional event will take place in late March in the Highlands. It will include a farm walk and talk as well as an opportunity to network over refreshments. Be sure to subscribe to the WiAS newsletter and social media channels for more information.