The expression “runs in her blood” certainly applies to Therese and beekeeping. Therese is a fourth-generation beekeeper, as is her husband, Laurie. With their children now involved in the honey bee industry, beekeeping is undoubtedly a family affair for the Kershaws.
Therese is a dedicated supporter of the Australian honey bee industry, volunteering countless hours in support of the beekeeping community. Just recently she has helped the industry exampine the impact of the 2019-20 bushfires on local beekeepers and the pollination industry, developing a six-point action plan providing a roadmap to rebuild the industry and its contribution to Australian agriculture.
Her extensive list of roles and volunteer positions includes Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) Executive Council Member, and Sponsorship & Trade Show Coordinator for both the NSW Apiarist Association (NSWAA) and the Australian Bee congress; to name a few.
“Bees have always been part of my life and I am passionate about the industry, it’s a small industry with a big impact on a lot of other industries. This passion is what drives to me to volunteer many hours of my time to support the industry,” said Therese.
Therese is a firm believer of the power of face-to-face in order to keep the industry connected, a challenging conundrum in the wake of COVID-19, and is passionate about using her business relations and sponsorship expertise to provide opportunities for beekeepers to come together.
“Beekeeping can be quite isolating, and it is vital for the mental health and wellness of beekeepers to have the opportunity to communicate face to face,” said Therese.
Drought, fire, flood and now COVID-19 have all posed serious threats to the Australian honey bee industry. Therese’s passion for the industry and its members has led her to take on a lead role in supporting her local branch to get through it all together.
“Laurie and I saw that our local NSWAA branch needed support and guidance to navigate these extremely tough times, so we decided to step up. We often organise meetings at our home and invite guest speakers and exhibitors to help each other manage our bees through whatever life throws at us,” said Therese.
When asked what inspired her to give back to the honey bee community, Therese had this to say: “I love to inspire people, share opportunities for people to learn and encourage others to share knowledge. It was so important for us to share positivity amongst the honey bee industry community, especially after the bushfires in 2019/20.”
While Therese believes that the honey bee industry is still very much a male-dominated industry, she has seen changes occurring and believes that women have a key role to play in the future of the industry.
“Women have always contributed and supported our industry, however, traditionally this was from behind the scenes. I look forward to a time when both men and women are considered on ability and are represented on this ability at the forefront of organisations and committees. It would be great to think that in the future we have women who fill the roles of Chair of industry organisations or committees. Currently, the AHBIC Executive has moved from a male dominated organisation to one where women are taking a leading role in holding executive positions, our CEO and two elected Executive positions are currently filled by women. Opinions are slowly changing, and roles are being filled based on skill set, rather than gender.”
Therese has paved a solid path for other women in the honey bee industry by going above and beyond to prove herself and her skills, working hard to make positive changes for the industry. Her advice to young women wanting to get involved in the industry is to take the leap.
“Just do it, gender shouldn’t be a barrier. We all see things differently, with our own special personalities and qualities, everyone has something to offer. Create a wish list of things you’d like to achieve and take small steps towards ticking them off and growing your vision.”
International Day of Rural Women
We have launched a hashtag #hatsofftoruralwomen across our social media channels and encourage you to use this hashtag and share the stories of the rural, regional and remote women you work with and the reasons why they inspire you.
For more information about the United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women, please visit: https://www.un.org/en/observances/rural-women-day