The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
In this episode of Leadership is Language CEO of Country to Canberra Han Worsley shares her tips for volunteer recruitment and engagement with Country to Canberra board member and YFC Meg Rice, and YVLT Chair Dione Howard.
Volunteering is about seeing and capturing potential within your network
Look for diversity in your team to reflect the diversity of your community
Extend and invest in your volunteers; create leadership pipelines
Choose volunteers motivated and aligned with your vision
“Volunteers take on a position in addition to all the wonderful things that they do. The nature of the people who apply for these positions is that they are go-getters; they do have multiple things on their plate already and they are really committed to making a change in their community. We need to be conscious that they are also the busiest people with the least time.”
Han Worsley is a passionate educator, gender equality advocate, and public speaker.
Winning Country to Canberra’s inaugural Leadership Competition in 2014 began a dedication to young rural women and non-binary people, to recognise the value of rural communities and people, and create meaningful change across Australia. They have developed and helped deliver leadership and empowerment workshops to over 3,500 students in 80 rural Australian communities as part of the C2C Project Empower Program, and spoken passionately at events across Australia for organisations such as the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, the Australian Medical Students Association, the Australian National University, and the YWCA.
A current STEM Primary Education student at the University of Canberra, Han is also committed to improving the quality and accessibility of education across Australia. Han plans to return to rural Australia upon completion of university.
Meg Rice is a Graduate Policy Officer at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in Canberra. She is also a passionate Young Farming Champion and credits the program with giving her the skills to have insightful conversations with current and future leaders within the agricultural industry. Meg further employs these skills as the Innovation Hub Representative for the PYiA Youth Voices Leadership Team.
Dione is a District Veterinarian with Riverina Local Land Services based in Wagga Wagga, NSW. She has been an active member of the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) since its inception in 2018; holding the position of Mentor Leader and Innovation Leader. 2021 has seen Dione step into the role of YVLT Chair.
Dione’s seat on the YVLT Executive and the Picture You in Agriculture Board is enhanced by her completion of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Company Directors Course, which she undertook in conjunction with her role as Wool Producer’s Youth Ambassador in 2019.
Canberra to Country (C2C) supports young rural women and non-binary people to reach their leadership potential. Learn more about their program and competitions here and learn about their team member job titles here. C2C embodies the phrase “be the image you want the world to see.”
In a year when the world was thrown into disarray and the notion of work and education tipped on its head, Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) is thrilled to announce that not only did the 2020 Archibull Prize go ahead in a modified format, but that all students and teachers rose to the occasion and excelled under challenging conditions.
The Archibull Prize is an internationally recognised program in secondary schools designed to engage students with agriculture and sustainability by challenging them to research an area of food and fibre production and to present their findings in multi-media and artistically on a life-sized fibreglass cow.
The 2020 Grand Champion Archibull was awarded to Penrith Valley Learning Centre, (PVLC) for their exceptional Archie that incorporated a working hydroponic system.
PVLC is an SSP school that provides specialist and intensive support in a dedicated setting for students with moderate to high learning and support needs.
“Penrith Valley has 49 students who fall into a range of behavioural and emotionally disturbed categories so not only did they get artist’s therapy from painting but they also got practical knowledge on a hydroponic system. We have kids who don’t get along but would tolerate each other just to get access to the Archie, which was an amazing result. We wanted the Archie to be not just a beautiful object but to have a functional purpose for our kids and leave a permanent reminder in the school. We now have a hydroponic system that can grow life and sustain future generations. It was a lovely legacy for our senior kids to create something they knew would transfer to the juniors.” Ceramics and Visual Arts teacher Tara Wagner says
The Archibull Prize judge Wendy Taylor, from Red Blue Architecture, concurs with Tara’s comments.
“I look for intelligent design with layers of meaning. Penrith’s entry is brilliant, intelligent, incredibly beautiful, engaging and really well done. It is a functional piece; a piece with purpose,” she says.
Other award winners in the 2020 Archibull Prize were:
Chevalier College in the Southern Highlands who won the Carmel Mills Memorial Award for Learning with Impact.
“The students and I thoroughly enjoyed the Archibull experience. As a teacher I found it a very valuable learning experience that enabled us to do project based learning and got the students to learn/ think in other ways in the complex COVID environment. I was inspired by the fact that the students investigative and critical thinking skills were very much extended by the nature of the task, something they weren’t used to in a conventional classroom. The students gained so much new knowledge about complex agricultural issues, without realising they were learning whilst being creative. A fabulous experience and result from an agriculture teacher’s perspective.” Verity Gett Agriculture teacher
Innisfail State College in Queensland has won the Allan Eagle Memorial Award for Community Engagement
Archibull Prize lead teachers, Adrienne Shaw and Janet Lane, are very proud of what their students have achieved and are excited by partnerships they have built with their local council, industry and business.
“I am confident we have built sustainable partnerships beyond the school, benefiting our students by making real life authentic links with people working in the agriculture sector. A local agronomy business has invited students to participate in local field trials. Cassowary Coast Council is providing ongoing support to open students’ eyes to the diversity of regional agricultural careers on offer, recently funding an excursion for year 12 students to visit the Jungle Creek Aquaculture facility ” Janet Lane says
Leonay Public School and Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School won the Partnered Learning Award for collaboration between primary and secondary schools.
PYiA director Lynne Strong was full of praise for the participating schools.
“Because of the pandemic schools couldn’t go on excursions, host Young Farming Champions or local experts and they found alternative ways of exploring agriculture and this has led to an increased connection with their communities. For example the students at Chevalier, who are surrounded by dairy cows, participated in Cows Create Careers and University of New England’s Voyager Discovery program “Soil Your Undies” to get diverse perspectives.
This new respect for local agricultural industries has led to the school building a close relationship with a local dairy farmer and are embedding a dairy farm case-study in the Year Ten curriculum. It’s been a wonderful outcome for the local region. It was an extraordinary complex year and I salute all participants – there is no more important role than investing in the future of our young people and opening their eyes to the diversity of ways you have can a career that has real world impact in the agriculture sector.”
The Grand Champion Archibull in 2020 was designed and painted by students at Penrith Valley Learning Centre. Pictured are students, Electra and Kandis with Lead Teacher Tara Wagner
A herd of colourful cows will make appearances on Sydney streets in 2021 as Picture You in Agriculture’s acclaimed Archibull Prize once again inspires secondary students to imagine and create a better future. The Archibull Prize is an innovative project-based learning initiative connecting students to food and fibre production within the sustainability conversation.
As part of the program schools are tasked with identifying a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal important to them and their region, exploring its challenges and opportunities. They will then design, deliver and report on their Community Action Project, create a digital learning journal and put their findings on their fibreglass cow in the form of art a case study report and an artwork on a life-size fibre glass cow featuring their future-focused solution for their area of investigation. The students will be assigned a Young Farming Champion and encouraged to identify tertiary, business and government organisations with whom they can partner in their quest to take ownership of the challenge and share their findings and recommendations.
Lynne Strong is the program director.
“This year all of our schools are located in Sydney, in clusters, which is a targeted approach to minimize our footprint and ensure teachers can take advantage of the professional learning opportunities we deliver,” she said. “We are excited to have a diverse range of schools including private and state schools, schools with low socio-economic status and schools where 97% of students are first-generation Australian with English as their second language. The Archibull Prize is proud to provide equal opportunity learning to all students, regardless of circumstance.”
Winners of the 2020 competition and Grand Champion Archibull school Penrith Valley Learning Centre will be joined in 2021 by Pymble Ladies College, James Ruse Agricultural High School, Eden College – Youth Off The Streets, Merrylands High School, The Scots College, Centre of Excellence in Ag Ed _Richmond Ag College, Mary MacKillop Catholic College and Riverstone High School.
In addition three regional schools – The Henry Lawson High School in Grenfell, Lake Illawarra High School in Wollongong and Beaudesert High School in Queensland – will re-join the program after being deferred last year due to COVID.
Schools considering engaging The Archibull Prize as part of their curriculum in 2022 are encouraged to come together to create clusters, in order to enhance their selection in this highly sought after program.
Check out some of our extraordinary past artwork finalists
If you can picture a female incarnation of John Williamson’s Mallee Boy crossed with Crocodile Dundee then you may have a notion of the adventurous soul that is Olivia Borden. One can just imagine her barefoot and racing through paddocks on her family’s farm on the Wimmera/ Mallee Border in north-western Victoria. Her family are fifth generation farmers with an intensive piggery, crops of wheat and barley and a contracting business.
“I started working on the farm as soon as I was old enough to lift a bucket, and I went up north to Queensland with my father contract harvesting. It was there I fell in love with large northern properties.” Olivia says
Olivia attended a 12-student primary school before transferring to Donald for the rest of her schooling.
“On the school bus I used to read the country newspapers and I’d flick straight to the job section, reading the station hand advertisements over and over again.”
Post high school she studied at Longerenong Agricultural College.
“The day after I turned 21 I fed the pigs for the last time, packed my ute and headed north. I rang a phone number off the back of a shearing singlet I’d been given and got a job just south of Ivanhoe the very next day. I threw fleeces, crutched sheep, lamb marked and occasionally, when we were down a shearer, got on a stand. I loved the back country – I still think they are the best sunrises I’ve ever seen – but I was hungry for the real north.”
So to the north she went and landed her first job on the live-cattle export cattle-yards in the Territory.
“I vomited every day chasing cattle through the hot mud, in torrential rain and intense humidity loading road train after road train. Working in 45 degree shearing sheds was nothing compared to the heat and intensity of the export yards.”
From the export yards she moved onto stations,
“Where I found what I had been looking for; living out of a swag and off a fire for months at a time, aboriginal stock crews, buffalo, scrub bulls, helicopters, motorbikes and horses, rocky escarpments and flood fencing and untamed country.”
It wasn’t until Olivia spent wet seasons working in Katherine that she was exposed to the horticultural industry and realised the opportunity to make real agricultural change through agronomy.
“I didn’t think I would be capable of being an agronomist but my bosses believed in me enough to convince me to try. Then they threw me in the car and introduced me to the world of tropical pastures, watermelon and mango growers but it was the developing the northern cotton industry that won my heart over. I found every day incredibly challenging and stimulating I signed on as a trainee agronomist. I haven’t looked back.”
Olivia’s love of the diversity of Australian food and fibre production has seen her experience many of agriculture’s facets, an experience she sees as both a blessing and a curse and she has turned to PYiA to address this.
“It’s taken me a long time to settle into a career and being out bush for a lot of years has set me back in terms of professional development. I am looking to the YFC program to cultivate skills and attributes that will help me go from being an average employee at the risk of getting lost in the business world, to being a humbly confident, supportive agronomist and business woman, who can advocate for NT agriculture, build strong community rapport and encourage other young people to join agriculture and be part of the fast pace of its future development.”
Welcome to the Young Farming Champions family Olivia
We all know those quiet achievers; the ones who we rely on to get the good job done; the ones who we count on but perhaps who we don’t always openly acknowledge. Well the Young Farming Champions has a quiet achiever …… and finally the spotlight is falling upon Dione Howard.
Dione is the 2021 RAS Rural Achiever, crowned at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and we couldn’t be more proud. A YFC since 2015, Dione has never said no to a challenge, and in her work as a veterinarian with Riverina Local Land Services continues to promote the wool industry, agriculture in general and the role of young people in the future of food and fibre production. We can’t think of a better winner of this award. She even used the YFC phrase “Young people may be only 20% of the population but we are 100% of the future”. That’s our girl!
Congratulations Dione and best wishes for the year ahead and the national finals to be held at Sydney Royal in 2022. The world is beginning to realise what we have known for a long time – you are brilliant.
Dione and Graham Howard
In The Field
Success in agriculture rarely happens overnight. It requires commitment and patience and this is exemplified by Peta Bradley and her family, whose New Armatree homestead near Armatree in Central West NSW, recently celebrate 100-years.
“The New Armatree homestead, where our farm is, was built in 1921 from Cyprus pine that was cut and milled on the property. It has been in the Bradley family since 1953,” Peta says.
At the other end of the agricultural spectrum we have two YFCs starting out on their “100-year” journey – Emily May and Jess Fearnley. Emily is making her first forays into an agricultural career with Elders:
“the start of April marked a pretty exciting, nerve racking and pivotal progression stage in my journey as an agronomist, being given my wings and the freedom to go out on my first ever solo property inspection covering just over 500ha (1200 acres). Here’s to many more adventures through muddy paddocks, identifying weeds and helping those who produce all our food.”
Jess is establishing a grazing venture with her father:
“During the 2019 drought my Mum and Dad had to sell off their small Angus cattle business. For the last couple of years Dad and I have been missing the cattle and really looking for opportunities to get back into the business. A few months ago Dad approached me to become his business partner for another small cattle business, where we would have self-replacing heifers. Although a bad time to be getting into cattle, with the prices at all-time highs, we are looking at alternative breeds and ways to get into the industry without a huge outlay. I am excited for the opportunity to set up our business and learn the ins and outs of what a business needs. Hopefully my dad and I can agree on things!”
Twelve months ago Chloe Dutschke was writing about the effects of COVID-19 on her shearing season. In 2021 she is having a ripper year – Chloe and her team took the fleece from 15,500 sheep in 13 days! And with good fleece weights. Way to go Chloe!
Another having a ripper season is Sharna Holman who is welcoming in the first of the cotton harvest in Queensland and NSW.
“Picking is about to get underway from those who have been busy spending the past 5 months growing next season’s socks, undies, jeans and cotton seed oil.”
Proving that you really can’t stop our YFC, even amongst the mess that was COVID last year, it has been nearly twelve months since Emma Ayliffe launched her communication app Yacker. In 2021 she is also having a ripper year and has participated in the Farmers2Founders Bootcamp Accelerator for producer-led startups and SMEs.
Emma and the Summit Agriculture team are also looking forward to supporting their farmers during the picking of the Riverina cotton crop
Meanwhile Emma Turner recently featured on the ABC Victorian Country Hour talking about her move to Mildura as a Wool District Manager for Elders, and her love for all things wool in general. “You can’t beat being based in the area you love, doing a job you love, in an industry you love,” she said.
With the introduction of our first fisheries YFC Bryan Van Wyk we can now add ‘in the water’ to ‘in the field’. Bryan has been bust getting the banana prawn season underway out of Karumba in far north QLD, where crews can catch, pack and snap freeze between 5,000 and 10,000kgs of prawns per day. Learn more about this exciting adventure here.
Out of the Field
Out of the field and there was only one place to be this month – the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The highlight was, of course, Dione and the Rural Achiever Award, but the Royal offers many opportunities for YFC to be involved, catch up with each other and celebrate Australian agriculture. Dee George was stewarding in the Angus and Shorthorn ring in the cattle section, supported by her sister Bec. Tim Eyes was also stewarding cattle (and working for MLA) while Jo Newton was a steward in the sheep ring. Other YFC faces spotted at the show were Steph Fowler, Jasmine Green (and baby Arthur) and Erika Heffer.
Dee and Becca George
Also at the show was friend of the YFC Aimee Snowden who filed this feel-good report:
“At the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show, we (PYiA) presented Hamish Maclure with the Middle School National Ag Day Careers Competition Award (from 2018) when he was 14. Fast forward to the 2021 Show, and Hamish and brother Ed have established their own Limousin Stud and at their first royal outing (for their stud) took out Supreme Champion interbreed heifer and a cheque for $8,000! Hamish also competed in the Meat Breed Sheep Junior Judging.”
Well done Hamish – it’s fabulous to watch your agricultural journey.
Dragging ourselves away from the show and we were excited to see the third series of Leadership is Language launched with Jo Newton holding an enlightening conversation with Josh Farr, who also delivered some insider-secrets on how best to use LinkedIn. This third series is sub-titled Conversations with Thought Leaders and we look forward to seeing who else will pop up with our YFC.
The interview with Josh and Jo was the perfect precursor to our first workshop for the year where our Young Farming Champions Alumni joined our 2021 new program entrants for a six hour goal setting workshop with Josh on April 17th. Everyone left the workshop with a personal development plan. Next month they will be working with Dr Jenni Metcalfe to hone their communication skills and reconnecting with Josh and their accountability buddies
In Melbourne this month the Australian Volunteers Program hosted the ‘Connecting RAVN and the Global Alumni’ networking event bringing Australian Volunteers alumni, current Australia Awards Awardees and New Colombo Plan alumni. New YFC Dylan Male was invited to speak about his own NCP experience in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. What a way to hit the ground running as a YFC!
Dylan is sponsored to participate in the Cultivate- Growing Young Leaders program by Riverina Local Land Services. This week he spent two days with the Riverina Local Land Services board who gave him the opportunity to do a presentation and share his journey with them. Riverina LLS then hosted Dylan on a tour of regional farms
Dylan centre with Ray Wills GM of Riverina LLS and the Riverina LLS board
Great to see one of our inaugural YFC Alison Hamilton is now a board member of Riverina Local Land Services. Speaking of Young Farming Champions stepping up to board leadership roles, congratulations to Wool YFC Samantha Wan who has joined the board of the Michael Manion Wool Industry Foundation supporting rural families in need. Sam has also stepped up to manage Picture You in Agriculture Paddock Pen Pals program in 2021. She is currently working with fellow wool YFC to beam into Carlingford West Public School in May 2021
We are even more excited to announce the 2021 participants in the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program as they begin their YFC journeys. Joining Bryan Van Wyk (who we met in the March Muster) are NTCA scholarship winner Shannon Chatfield from Newcastle Waters Station in the Northern Territory, Connie Mort and Steph Tabone from Corteva Agriscience, Corteva scholarship winner Veronika Vicic, Riverina Local Land Services scholarship winner Dylan Male, NT Farmers are sponsoring agronomist Oliva Borden and our inaugural SDG 5 Gender Equality Ambassador Francesca Earp.
Welcome to the family everyone.
With COVID restrictions eased weddings are once again happening and this month we send HUGE congratulations to Anika Molesworth who married Corey Stenhouse and to Rebecca Thistlethwaite who married Kieran Shepherd. Wishing you all health, wealth and a life-time of happiness.
Sam Wan and Tom Boucher recently celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary. Here’s a snap of their happy day taken, most appropriately, in a shearing shed!
One of key learnings from the Young Farming Champions cross agriculture sector network is whilst farmers from different industry sectors are experts in their field, they often know very little about other sectors and are hungry to learn. So you can imagine how excited the team is to have Bryan Van Wyk join us from Austral Fisheries so we can learn about carbon neutral wild catching fishing
Bryan Van Wyk’s office – does it get better than this
Banana Prawn season is underway and we invited Bryan to share with us what the 2021 season is looking like.
the inside story …….
The banana prawn season is one of the most wild and exciting commercial fishing seasons the world has to offer. Due to the rapid life cycle and boom-bust nature of prawns, it is one of the few fisheries in Australia that can’t be managed with quotas. This means skippers are able to go and catch as many prawns as they can in the short period which makes for a highly competitive, strategic and actioned packed fishing season. For the past 4-5 months the fishery has been closed to allow a newly spawned generation of banana prawns to have the chance to settle into the rivers, grow and recruit back into the fishing grounds after the wet season rainfall. Prior to the start of the fishing season on April 1st, the fishing grounds are re-populated and large mud boils (banana prawn masses which disturb the sediment on the sea floor to create mud plumes) can be seen from space. When the season commences, airplanes are used to direct vessels to banana prawn mud boils where crews can catch, pack and snap freeze between 5,000 and 10,000kgs of prawns per day (when things are going well). Once a skipper fills their vessels freezer, the crew are required to unload the catch via a mothership or a nearby port.
The largest and most consistent banana catches are found during the first month of the season. Karumba is a small, remote fishing town situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria and is an attractive unloading point for vessels due to the close proximity to fishing grounds and the availability of fuel, supplies, repairs and product transport logistics. For the past 5 banana prawn seasons I have orchestrated and managed an unload operation in the heart of Karumba while attending to the vast day-to-day operational duties of managing 11 prawn trawlers. Each year is a challenging and fulfilling journey and this year was no different.
In preparation to this season I put together a workforce of 20 people in Cairns (which was a real challenge with a noticeable shortage in available seasonal workers). After inductions and paperwork were finalised, we made our way to Karumba, set up camp and began training in preparation for our first round of customers. Always being prepared is at the heart of everything I do and worker health and safety is a priority at Austral Fisheries. As a group we practice setting up the unloading gear, stacking boxes and highlight potential safety hazards in our environment along the way.
This year’s season started off with a bang with most vessels in the fishery filling up in the first week of the season. On the second day of the season there were over 30 banana prawn marks spotted with our plane near Karumba and in the first 10 days we unloaded a total of 380MT which was on par with some of our bigger seasons. This was one of the most exhausting 10 days I have experienced in Karumba. It’s hard to predict how long catches like this would last in a volatile fishery like this but if there is one thing I’ve learnt in this industry it’s that you have to prepare for the worst (or best depending which way you look at it) so I made the call to increase packaging productions, bring in reinforcements and more supplies to keep up with the catches. Sure enough, after making these decisions, catches began to drop rapidly and boats started moving out of the Karumba region. It’s not unusual for catches to suddenly drop like this, but predicting when this occurs is impossible. With a full team of staff, unloaders and engineers, and freezer trucks on standby, we made the call to end the operation for another year.
Goodbyes are never easy, but bringing a workforce together with completely different views and beliefs, watching them work as a team in a challenging environment and then seeing lifelong friendships developed by the end is one of the most rewarding parts of this journey.
Although starting off strong, we are now 3 weeks into this banana prawn season and early predictions are showing an average catch season outcome. There is still potentially more than 7 weeks of fishing to go and things may change as more prawns are found. These prawns will all be sold into the domestic market (supermarkets, restaurants and wholesalers) for Australian’s to enjoy throughout the year.
Dione Howard 2021 RAS of NSW Rural Achiever Photo Source The Land
A long-held dream was realised on Sunday April 11 when Dione Howard was named the 2021 RAS Rural Achiever at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The RAS Rural Achiever Award is a “state-wide leadership program run by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW to recognise future young leaders (20-29 years of age) who are committed to making a significant contribution to their community and to rural Australia.”
Dione is a sixth-generation sheep grazier who grew up on her family’s 80-year-old Merino stud at Milbrulong, near Wagga Wagga, and it is where her commitment to agriculture began. After completing a degree in veterinary science from Charles Sturt University Dione commenced work as a District Veterinarian for the Riverina Local Land Services, but this is but the tip of a very large ice-berg. Dione’s achievements as an advocate for the Australian wool industry include:
Participant and volunteer for the AWI Merino Challenge
2016 AWI Young Wool Growers Study Tour
Inaugural WoolProducers Australia Youth Ambassador in 2018
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation student internship in 2017
2017 address at Australian Farm Institute Round Table Conference
Host of Leadership is Language series 2020 and 2021
Dione believes it is imperative the voices of young people in agriculture be heard so the sector can acknowledge and work through its challenges, attract the best and brightest minds and contribute to the vibrancy of regional, rural and remote Australia.
General Manager of Riverina Local Land Services Ray Willis said the award demonstrates her outstanding achievements.
“We are very proud of Dione and her dedication to rural communities and championing rural youth leadership programs such as the Picture You in Agriculture program. Dione is an outstanding young professional and a real asset to our region and Riverina Local Land Services — she thoroughly deserves this award.” Ray Willis
This was not the first time Dione had applied for the Rural Achiever Award but she has mindfully cultivated persistence throughout her leadership journey.
“I’ve put my had up for opportunities, got knocked back and tried again or tried other avenues. It’s about finding ways to complete tasks, cope when things are tough and look at the bigger picture and the outcome at the other end. When I first applied and missed out on a Rural Achiever spot I thought that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be for me. However, I attended the show in 2019 and had the BEST couple of days, and thought ‘I’d better give this another go!’ I had also finished university by this time and felt more grounded with where I was in my career and life’” she says.
This persistence held Dione in good stead when named as a Rural Achiever in 2020 only to have COVID cancel the Sydney Royal Easter Show. But patience once again had its rewards.
“We were treated to an absolutely jam-packed program in 2021 complete with crowds at capacity for a meticulously planned COVID-safe event. The eyes of the world were on Sydney for the duration of the show, and it was wonderful to be involved in such a successful event,” she says.
Dione was in competition for the Rural Achiever title with some of NSW’s brightest young agricultural minds including Ryan McParland from Jamberoo, Kory Graham from Sutton Forrest, Sally Gavin from Cumnock, Mitchell Dwyer from Cowra, Josie Clarke from Bellimbopinni and Allister Clarke from Finley. Read the full story here in The Land.
As part of her Rural Achiever experience Dione led the affirmative team in a debate on the topic of “Are the best of Australia’s rural days ahead of it?” To Dione this topic may have seemed like a no-brainer as each day she and her fellow Young Farming Champions share the positive stories of our agricultural industry. Read about the debate here in another story from The Land.
Dione will represent NSW in the national Rural Achiever finals (including New Zealand) to be held at the 2022 Sydney Royal Easter Show and she foresees a busy year ahead.
“I can’t wait to showcase all that it means to be a part of rural and regional communities, and to have a career as a young woman in agriculture. The Rural Achiever program has inspired me to continue to build my networks and to make the most of opportunities as they come along. Who would have thought I’d have led an alpaca in the Grand Parade, or been interviewed by the announcer for the main arena? Two things to tick off the bucket list!”
Congratulations Dione. The world is just beginning to realise the brilliance we have known for years. We are honoured to be a part of your success and look forward to watching your ever-evolving story.
and you can watch the 2021 RAS Rural Achievers Debate here
Veronika will join the program in the initial year where she will develop skills to advocate for agriculture while being mentored by a Young Farming Champion.
“ As part of the Young Farming Champions network I will have the opportunity to share my story to a wide audience, have greater impact and enable change. To do this I require confidence and skills to communicate, and the program will give me that. I want to be able to give back to the community by sharing the knowledge and experiences I have had with a younger audience and to encourage and excite the next generation about how food is produced, and the technological and environmental advancements agriculture has made.” Veronika said
Emily has already completed her initial year with the program and is aiming to widen her agricultural horizons and take on a mentoring role for the next generation.
“I am looking forward to increasing my network of like-minded agriculturists and to share the good news stories of agriculture to showcase the opportunities the sector can provide. This program will help me craft these stories and, in doing so, help champion our young people, particularly young women, who will be part of the changing face of Australian agriculture.” Emily said
In addition to the scholarship winners, Corteva will put two of their own– Connie Mort and Steph Tabone – through the program.
“Corteva is excited to have two of our talented staff members as a part of this impressive program. The training and networking opportunities available will greatly enhance their skills and personal development, setting their professional careers up for the future. As a business we are looking to young agricultural professionals across all industries to help us tailor our solutions to address the challenges that growers, consumers and communities are facing now and how we can ensure progress for generations to come. The PYiA Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program aligns extremely well with our goals and aspirations.” Dan Dixon, ANZ Marketing Director for Corteva Agriscience said.
Today we are excited to introduce you to Stephanie Tabone, the second of our Corteva Agriscience team participants in the 2021 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. Steph is a Sydney girl who has fallen in love with agriculture and the opportunities it presents.
In 2017 Stephanie Tabone had a light-bulb moment.
“A couple of months after North Queensland was hit by Cyclone Debbie, I remember shopping for fruit and vegetables when I noticed a customer unsatisfied with the store for not having tomatoes. The customer was seemingly unaware many crops were badly affected by the cyclone and that North Queensland was a key region supplying produce at that time of year. As a fellow consumer I understood how she felt, because I too have grown up in this world where produce has always been readily available. It wasn’t until I became more involved in the industry that I learned of the challenges our farmers face and of the effort it takes to get produce on the shelves. It’s given me a real appreciation for the quality and reliability of Australian agriculture.”
Stephanie was on the cusp of her career in agriculture, working for vegetable grower Kalfresh in southern Queensland after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from The University of Sydney. She’d already come a long way from the city streets of her childhood as she embraced her new world at university.
“I soon learnt that agriculture at the Uni was a small, close-knit faculty where everyone was like family. Through laboratory and field practicals, rural field trips and placements on-farm, I quickly learnt of the diverse opportunities the industry had to offer and it was here I developed my true passion for agriculture.”
Stephanie’s next lightbulb moment came in 2019 when she was nominated for the Young Grower of the Year award, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, and attended an industry dinner at the Melbourne Aquarium. Here she met Corteva’s Rob Kaan and Elizabeth Hernandez and had some of her agricultural preconceptions changed.
“I was surprised to learn that Corteva, an agricultural chemical company was promoting sustainable farming practices that could ultimately result in a reduction in the use of chemicals. Corteva had such strong values and were passionate about providing technologies for farmers that allow them to produce safe, affordable food, with minimal impact to the environment. They were also empowering women across the industry.”
Stephanie was impressed with Corteva, so when circumstances saw her return to Sydney, she approached the company for career opportunities. Corteva was also impressed and created a project-based role for her. Today Stephanie is both a territory sales representative and the Stewardship Manager for ANZ, a role where she oversees products from inception to discontinuation.
“Stewardship exists to ensure products are delivered successfully to customers and that those products perform, whilst remaining safe to end users and the environment.”
Now into her second year with Corteva, Stephanie is looking forward to joining the Young Farming Champions program to further her agricultural understanding.
“I would like to contribute positively to the industry by helping to find and implement solutions to agriculture’s major challenges. Through the YFC program I want to strengthen and polish my existing skills, learn new skills and ultimately gain confidence to continue to step outside of my comfort zone. I am also looking forward to engaging with young people about agriculture and sharing the diversity of careers in the sector.”
Connie is a Territory Account Manager for the Riverina.
Connie Mort grew up surrounded by sheep on a Merino property near Mudgee in central west NSW where her family have been farming for over 50 years, so it was only natural that holidays from boarding school were spent running her hands through fine wool and learning the finer points of stock husbandry. After high school she continued this education on a sheep and cattle station in the wilds of north-east South Australia for a gap year.
Then Connie changed tack completely. “During 2010 I spent time travelling overseas and then seven months teaching English to 12–21-year-olds at Ikwiriri Secondary School in Tanzania,” she says but a “steady passion and interest in agriculture” drew her back to Australia and The University of Sydney where she studied a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.
“From a young age I had gained a foundational understanding of farming and agriculture and at university I was able to learn more and explore different areas.” With the university she travelled to Laos and Timor Leste to study farming systems in developing countries and investigate international agricultural research initiatives. She did her honours project in soil capability and security and was awarded the USYD Faculty of Agriculture & Environment Brian G. Davey Memorial Scholarship in Soil Science in 2014.
“Leaving uni, I didn’t really know which direction I wanted to go with my career, so I kept my options open and applied for all sorts of jobs. I was keen to explore a different side to agriculture that I hadn’t experienced and landing the job with Corteva has given me exposure to broadacre cropping, horticulture, and summer irrigated cropping.”
In her role with Corteva Connie collaborates with many people to develop and distribute Corteva products and is continually learning as the industry itself evolves.
“It’s exciting to be part of the years-long process involved in bringing a new product to market and satisfying to see how these innovations can make growing a crop just a little bit easier or make farming more sustainable for the grower.”
Life-long learning and exploration of agriculture’s diversity is a strong theme in Connie’s work attitude, and she sees many challenges and opportunities in the future for agriculture; something she wishes to share with the wider community.
“I am passionate about people being provided with information backed by science and the latest research so they can draw their own conclusions and opinions from a position of fact,” she says and to this end she has joined the Young Farming Champions program to develop her communication skills and to build a network of colleagues from across agricultural industries.