As this Nuffield experience has proven to be truly remarkable, I am continuously blown away by people’s stories. The skill of ‘Listening’ can be the most valuable communication skill. Not only does it allow you to learn about an endless variety of things but it makes you personable and when you really care, people will respect you for it.
During the past week I’ve enjoyed spending a great deal of time asking people about their stories and learning about what makes them unique. Conversations led around all types of farming operations to industry challenges and even to discussing potential future opportunities within the family farm.
However when these stories are shared there are always a couple that stand out and change you in unexpected ways. I say this because I feel grateful to have met Rob & Sarah Cook. They manage a million acre cattle Station in Northern Territory, Australia. If you think managing all those acres is a challenge, try doing it in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic!
Picture of Sarah & Rob Cook.
It was only a short couple years ago when Rob was in a helicopter accident. A crash that dislodged his vertebrae and left him paralyzed from the neck down. With little movement in his right arm he is able to drive himself around in his electric wheelchair. A daily challenge no doubt but the true inspiration shines in his vibrant personality and determined mindset. In receiving an Australian Nuffield Scholarship (sponsored by the Northern Territory Department of Resources and ANZ) he is looking to arm himself with the tools, skills and knowledge to remain a productive member of the beef industry. Unlike those who are forced to step down from all on-farm activities, Rob hopes to meet others in similar situations and learn how to overcome many day-to-day challenges. To have an increasingly active role on farming operations is Rob’s ultimate goal; one that I hope he will one day achieve with the help of today’s innovative technology.
How great would it be to have modern technology give Rob the mechanical means to operate the cattle squeeze? We may think of it as a simple task but for an individual who’s passion remains in agriculture and longs to one day have the opportunity to do what he once was able to. Something like this is worth more than just getting the job done; it would be giving Rob the highest sense of accomplishment and overwhelming joy. How great would that be?
We all take our mobility for granted; we walk, we write, we shake hands, we drive, we dress ourselves, we dance, we play, we eat, we wash, we run – all things that many are not able to do on their own. Rob’s wife, sister and friend are with him at all times, helping him with everything. It was humbling to see how these people dedicate their efforts in becoming Rob’s feet, legs, arms and hands.
I was most impressed with Rob’s drive. His attitude was inspirational and knowledge was impressive. Not only did Rob add to the dynamics of our group but he took part in every bit of our week together! (Even the beer chugging races that the guys insisted on doing for old times’ sake!)
I hope to visit Rob & Sarah at their cattle station during my travels through Australia in the coming months. If you know of anyone who is handicap and still works on the farm please let me know and I will be sure to pass along the contacts to Rob & Sarah and they currently are on the Nuffield Global Focus Tour bringing them to Brazil, Mexico, USA, Canada, Scotland, and France.
One of our speakers this week was Mark Inglis. Mark lost both his legs from the knee down and has been instrumental in developing prosthesis legs for New Zealanders. He started the ‘Limbs 4 All’ foundation and supports amputees in less developed countries. As an avid mountain climber he became the first double amputee man to successfully climb Mount Everest. He speaks today around the world and shares his inspirational story.
‘You never know what it’s like until it happens to you.’ All we can o in the mean time is try to understand and to respect those for who they are. I hope this post reminds you of how lucky most of us are and appreciate what we take for granted!