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.
BESSIE THOMAS has been through nearly two years of dust storms and feed runs, yet every day she finds something good to say about the agriculture industry.
That is a measure of her positive spirit.
Bessie and her husband, Shannan, manage his family’s sheep property, Burragan, near Wilcannia in NSW’s far west.
The young couple and their daughter, Airlie, 3, are living through the thick of drought.
Bessie finds ways to be optimistic, not just for herself and her family.
But also to boost other farmers across the nation who are struggling through the same thing and to educate the wider public about the ongoing dry.
“I could get out of bed every day and share the hardships but, you know, the next day I probably wouldn’t want to get out of bed,” says Bessie, who shares the highs and lows of her life in the wool industry through a blog and Facebook page called Bessie at Burragan.
“By always focusing on the positive, it can bring a spark of joy to someone else on social media and maybe give them hope.”
Bessie is relatively new to the wool industry.
After growing up at Swan Hill and then the Sunshine Coast, she completed a degree in journalism and communication in Queensland.
After marrying Shannan, they jumped at the opportunity to manage Burragan.
“When we moved down it was a fantastic season,” Bessie says.
“The grass in the paddock was so high you could hardly see the road to find the house.”
The 28,000-hectare station is in a vastly different state today, running half the sheep it did back then.
Rain in April and again this month offered some reprieve, and they haven’t had to handfeed since May.
“We only wish we could share it around with everyone who missed out,” Bessie says.
Through the long dry, she has used her communication skills to raise awareness of the realities of drought.
Bessie is an Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion and the group’s volunteer communication creative team leader. The organisation works to close the gap between young people and food producers, and inspire pride in Australian agriculture.
“So, I have gone into schools and spoken to urban audiences about agriculture and growing food and fibre,” Bessie says. “The highlight of volunteering is connecting and collaborating with talented young people, who are considered inspirational leaders of the agricultural industry.”
Bessie Thomas puts her storytelling talent and optimism to use for the good of the agriculture industry.
For that — as well as raising awareness of the drought with a smile — she is a deserving winner of the Shine Award for Spirit.
Representing the Australian dairy industry Queensland’s Beaudesert State High School has been named Grand Champion Archibull in the 2019 Archibull Prize, edging out previous winner Hurlstone Agricultural High School from New South Wales.
Eighteen secondary schools across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria took part in the annual competition held by Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) designed to connect students with agriculture and give farmers a face and voice. The schools are joined by Young Farming Champions as they research their nominated agricultural industry and present their findings in blogs, infographics and multi-media, however the highlight is the creation of an interpretative artwork on a life-sized fibreglass cow, known as the Archie.
Students from Beaudesert State High School celebrate tbeir win with Costa Georgiadis
“We have come to expect quirky and imaginative Archies from Beaudesert and this year was no exception incorporating real bovine bones, braille, a cut-out Herringbone dairy and a robotic milking arm. But more than that Beaudesert has embraced their local dairy community and taken them on their Archibull journey.”
Thanks to a partnership with Subtropical Dairy, Dairy Fields Cooperative and Dover and Son students at Beaudesert delved deep into the challenges and opportunities facing dairy in Australia to create their Archie named Hope. They explored drought, mental health of farmers and a tightening retail market and posed the question: How much do we value our Australian dairy industry? ““If our cow can make an impact and make people understand perhaps farmers can get more help and assistance through these tough times. Milk needs to be treated like the ‘white gold’ that it is and not something that is considered just a ‘staple’ and in everyone’s fridge,” the school said in their artwork statement.
Reserve Grand Champion Archibull was awarded to Hurlstone Agricultural High School who looked at the wool industry in Western NSW. From discussions with their Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth students learnt about African breeds of drought tolerant sheep used in Australia. “From this, we decided to delve further into the rich culture of Africa. Witch doctors, in essence, are members of societies who aid others using magic and medicine. This concept of healing felt extremely appropriate as a message of hope in a tough, overwhelming time,” the students said.
The Archibull awards were presented at a ceremony held at Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday 19th November, attended by sponsors and special guests including celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis.
In partnership with Career Harvest, Little Brick Pastoral and Celestino the competition encouraged students from Years 5 to 12 to envision their own career in agriculture, create a LEGO figurine and write a day-in-the-life profile.
Winners of the primary school section were Austin Ball from Trangie Central School and Matilda Sullivan of St Francis of Assis Primary School Wodonga.
Highly Commended in Years 7 to 10 was Hugh Burton
Winners of the Years 7 to 10 section were Hallee Tanzer of Saint Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton and Madison Kleinschmidt of Finley High School.
Winner of the Senior School section was Sophia Hayden of Hurlstone Agricultural High School.
Linking their passions and talents to agriculture the students defined careers as diverse as stockyard architect and farm manager, to horse maternity nurse and international development officer.
“Research tells us that young people going from primary school to high school have closed their minds to 70% of the careers that are available in agriculture,” Aimee Snowden from Little Brick Pastoral said, “and our teachers are being asked to prepare students for the jobs of the future that haven’t been invented yet. It has never been more important for agriculture to have a presence in schools and to help open young people’s eyes to the huge array of exciting and innovative careers that our sector offers – jobs that are literally helping to feed and clothe the world.”
Competition winners wehre announced The Archibull Prize ceremony held at Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday November 19.
There are six categories in the Shine Awards: Belief, Courage, Dedication, Grace, Passion and Spirit and Bessie joins fellow finalists – entrepreneur Amanda Griffiths from Long Pocket in QLD and shearer Janine Midgley from Bullsbrook in WA – in the Spirit category, which is for those who the sheer power of personality shines through.
“What a thrill to be honoured alongside Amanda and Janine,” Bessie says. “I could easily name hundreds of women who could take my place as a finalist in the Spirit Category and they are the ones who keep my spirits up! So thank you to all the people in my life, family, friends, and beyond, who fill my cup, push me up hill, let me chuck my toys, make good things happen, check in on me and pick me back up again. I am so lucky to have the best possible people enter my orbit.”
The winner of each category will receive a $2500 voucher from Harvey Norman, and the overall winner will receive a $5000 voucher. Look for the announcement of the winners in the Shine Magazine in The Weekly Times on the newsstands November 20.
Each year the NSW Department of Primary Industries celebrates women volunteers in the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll. Over 900 women have been recognised for their contribution to community since the Honour Roll began in 2010. They have volunteered for sporting groups, for health, for heritage or for environmental conservation. They have given their time to industry, to social justice, to emergency services and to wherever there is need.
In 2019 four of our Young Farming Champions have been added to this illustrious list: Emma Ayliffe, Lucy Collingridge, Dione Howard and Bessie Thomas.
Emma volunteers her time with the Local Cotton Growers Association, Tulli Young Farmers and PYiA programs Young Farming Champions and the Youth Voices Leadership Team. In winter she also donates her time to her local netball club. By paying forward the support and encouragement she has received over the years, Emma hopes to give similar opportunities to the next generation.
Lucy was introduced to agricultural shows while at high school and now, apart from her commitments with PYiA, volunteers everywhere from her local Cootamundra Show to the Sydney Royal. Lucy believes volunteering is a chance to help her community and industry grow and enjoys the rewarding feeling of working with amazing, like-minded people with a common goal – and having fun while doing it.
Representing the wool industry, Dione volunteers with PYiA, WoolProducers and as a mentor in CSU’s Veterinary Science Alumni Network. She does this to ensure the community has an appreciation of where their food and fibre comes from and she believes young people in agriculture have wonderful stories to share and wants to help them tell these stories, make a change and leave their own mark on the world.
Bessie volunteers as the Communication Coordinator for the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT), which is the youth-led voice of PYiA. As Communication Coordinator she works with over 100 Young Farming Champions to collate their activities and events. Bessie believes we all have an ethical and social responsibility to live by actions that leave communities, people and the world feeling valued, appreciated, supported and better off than we found them.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” MARJORIE MOORE
Read about all this year’s remarkable women here in the 2019 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll.
Earlier in year Jasmine, who attended the conference on a scholarship provided by Intrepid Landcare in partnership with the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust, had co-designed an educational program for primary schools through Western Landcare at Cobar called “Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms”. This formed the basis of her presentation at the conference where she illustrated it had inspired young people to take up the Landcare challenge. “I described a healthy farm then shared the belief that the future doesn’t belong to me and it doesn’t belong to you (the audience),” she says. “It belongs to the next generation coming through and who better to teach them then farmers who care for a whopping 61% of this country and work with the soil day in day out.”
“To be acknowledged as the best presentation is the biggest boost,” Jasmine says. “It makes me realise all of my hard work has paid off.” See a video of Jasmine’s in action at Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day here
Erika, too, was rewarded for her work as a young leader in the Landcare arena. The Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award recognises someone aged between 15 and 35 years who is committed to community engagement.
Erika Heffer accepting the Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award
“My greatest passion as a Landcarer is to bring people together to deliver real outcomes for the groups they belong to and the local community, Receiving this award is like meeting up with someone to talk about an idea or seeing people show up to a meeting or a workshop – I feel a sense of accomplishment for this first step, as well as excitement for what can come of it. I believe Landcare opens the door, but it’s the community that steps up to the challenge.” said Erika
Both Jasmine and Erika value the time and support of mentors as their careers blossom.
“I have sought out mentors and likeminded people both to help me grow and to achieve projects that couldn’t be achieved without collaboration and I would like to thank Neil Bull (Ricegrowers Association of Australia), John Fowler (Murray Local Land Services), Edwina Hayes (Regional Development Australia Murray), Lynne Strong (Picture you in Agriculture), and Senator Perin Davey for being great mentors and friends.” said Erika
The power of volunteering is also important to the two girls.
“My journey has involved practicing at schools, being a YFC and saying YES to any opportunity,” said Jasmine
“I have loved raising awareness for agriculture, Landcare and the joy of volunteering, whether volunteering for my faith, an Agricultural Show, a Landcare Group, or even the Deni Ute Muster. The best part is that I am not alone, I am surrounded by passionate volunteers and that’s what makes my community a great place to live.” said Erika
Shoutout to our supporting partners working together to empower young people to solve tomorrow’s problems today
This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the country…
In the Field
YFC Tim Eyes from The Food Farm: Central Coast has been busy making hay (while the sun shines)! “When I started farming on the coast I was told you cannot make hay here and I am still told that every week. Yet this is my first season doing small squares and third season in round bales,” Tim says.
“It’s very hard to access information from fellow hay farmers. I think making hay is in people’s blood and they seem to just know how to do it but it’s hard to articulate what they are looking for. In saying that, making hay is one of the best things I get to do on the farm. It’s a lovely process.”
Acting Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) chair and YFC Emma Ayliffe is harvesting wheat at her home near Lake Cargelligo, NSW. Though it’s not a bumper crop, due to drought, she was happy to have the job done before this week’s forecast rain.
As agronomist and business owner of Summit Agriculture, one part of Emma’s current day job has her completing cotton trials. This photo shows the effects of using biodegradable film to increase soil temperature and increase plant growth. You can see the difference for yourself in these 3 week old (4 node) cotton plants:
Elders agronomist and YFC Dee George has been lucky to be working with some lush, green crops in the Western Districts of Victoria. “Where I live is has been a very lucky part of Australia for rainfall,” Dee says.
“Here is a client’s pasture – a mix of cereals, annual ryegrass, balansa clover and shaftal clover – he cut for silage. The windrows were so large I couldn’t get my arms around it!”
Our resident Biosecurity Officer and Wool YFC Lucy Collingridge has been busy with emergency management training recently. This training is aimed at building the skills and knowledge of staff who respond to an emergency response, such as a fire, flood or disease outbreak. This is an essential part of making sure our agricultural industry is ready for anything thrown at it!
Much of eastern Australia has seen its most widespread rain event in six months, but it’s been hit and miss for our YFC across drought affected areas.
Wool YFC and YVLT Communication Creative Team Leader Bessie Thomas is celebrating following an incredible 57mm of rain in 3 hours yesterday. If you’re in the far-west you might have caught Bessie chatting to ABC Broken Hill radio on Monday morning about the lucky break.
Out of the Field
YVLT acting chair Emma Ayliffe had the opportunity to tell her story at Chicks in the Sticks in Moonambel Victoria on Saturday 26th October. Emma says it was a great day, where participants had the opportunity to do workshops with soils a well as a tour of the Moonambel Gap Olive Grove. After a gorgeous grazing platter lunch Emma shared her story with 90 rural and regional women. “The highlight of the afternoon was meeting so many wonderful women from diverse backgrounds that were all meeting for the love of their rural lifestyles and to support the producers in their own backyard,” Emma says.
Wool YFC Peta Bradley attended the AAABG (Association for the Advancement of Animal Breeding and Genetics) conference in Armidale last week. Bringing together the latest research in animal genetics, with extension staff and farmers. “I was also lucky enough to present in a session on the breeders day,” Peta says. And by all accounts she did a fantastic job!
The NSW Landcare & Local Land Services conference in Broken Hill was a hit according to YFC Jasmine Whitten. Earlier in the year Jasmine was selected as one of 16 presenters at the conference.
She had the pleasure of sharing an education program called ‘Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms” which she helped design and deliver with the Buckwaroon Landcare group – a group of farmers from Cobar. The education program aimed to help primary school students in grade 4 understand how farmers care for the soil through the use of QR codes, science experiments and a stream table to understand how water moves through our landscape.
Jasmine’s presentation was a huge hit at the conference, with attendees declaring it was one of the best and many people deciding to use similar ideas in their activities. Jasmine was also one of the five young people who received an Intrepid Landcare Sponsorship to attend the conference which was supported by the Bio Conservation Trust (BCT). This scholarship has seen Jasmine explore the concept of ‘How we can work together to conserve biodiversity on private land?’ which she is busily trying to finalise to share with the world, so stay tuned!
Climate YFC Anika Molesworth, Wool YFC Melissa Henry and Rice YFC Erika Effer also attended the conference and the four superstars took the chance to catch up, which is fabulous to see. Well done team!
University of New England YFC Becca George was invited to guest speak at the Zonta Club of Armidale’s October meeting. “I spoke on my personal experiences with drought as well as at the UNICEF Youth Drought Summit earlier in October,” Becca says. “With Armidale on Level 5 water restrictions & the smaller surrounding towns nearing ‘Day 0’ there were questions from the members about what was discussed at the summit regarding water. Thank you Zonta Club of Armidale!”
Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association (ARCBA) scholarship winners and UNE YFC Becca George and Ruby Canning attended the Young Breed Leaders Workshop.
YFC Becca George and her sister and YFC alumni Dee George are showcased in this month’s NSW Farmers magazine ‘The Farmer.’ Their family has been farming Central West NSW since 1912 and you can read the full story here: Nevertire Women Lead The Way on Family Farm
In an extra busy week for Becca, she also attended the Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) national conference in Ballina, NSW. “I recently received one of the student scholarships to attend the 2019 AWiA Conference, awarded by the committee,” Becca says. “The theme of this years conference was ‘Review, Renew, Regenerate’. The sessions included topics on culture in agribusiness, current and emerging risks in the industry, regenerative agriculture, as well as the importance of self care and maintaining physical and mental health. Thank you to the Australian Women in Agriculture Committee for giving me the opportunity to attend this event & network with likeminded women.”
YFC and grain farmer Marlee Langfield and her fiancé Andrew are the new face of “Tang Laysy Import Export Co., Ltd.” Ad for canola oil which has hit the streets of Cambodia!
Marlee’s face also made the cover of the National Farmers Federation (NFF) 2030 Roadmap, which included the national drought policy. You’re changing the face of Aus Ag in the best possible way Marlee!
NFF 2030 Leader and Friend of the YFC Matt Champness was spotted over on the Crawford Fund website. Read this update on his time as part of the Crawford Fund’s Laos-Australia agricultural mentoring program.
As a past Youth Ag Summit delegate, Aimee shared her story on how the Youth Ag Summit helped her journey to becoming Little Brick Pastoral. This year’s delegates will be challenged to create their own project, so Aimee spoke about her love of photography, farming, and improving youth education, and why and how she ventured into photographing LEGO.
It was at the Youth Ag Summit Aimee realised the consumers of 2050 are the youth of today, and therefore sharing knowledge of how food and fibre is produced should start with them – and what better way than LEGO. Well done Aimee!
Friend of the YFC Guy Coleman is an Australian delegate to the 2019 Youth Ag Summit. Good luck Guy!
This week alone our YFC have been acknowledged by the community in some tremendous ways and we couldn’t be more proud!
Climate YFC and InStyle Farmer for Change, Klorane Changemaker and 2019 Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence (AFR WOI) Aumna Anika Molesworth, attended the AFR WOI dinner celebrating the 2019 nominees with Picture You in Agriculture founder Lynne Strong.
Rice YFC Erika Heffer won the 2019 Austcover Young Landcare Leadership Award.
Well done Jasmine Whitten on your outstanding presentation at 2019 NSW Landcare and LLS Conference!
Mega Congratulations to YFC Emma Ayliffe, Lucy Collingridge, Dione Howard and Bessie Thomas who have all been named on the NSW Department of Primary Industries Hidden Treasures Honour Roll 2019. The Hidden Treasures Honour Roll celebrates women volunteers who give so much to their rural communities. We couldn’t agree more that these women are absolute treasures!
And just between us and the fence post, there are a few more exciting awards in the pipeline for our YFC over the next few weeks. We can’t wait to share the news with you. Watch this space!
We are on count down to our 2019 Archibull Prize Awards and it’s time to head over to the Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page to keep up with the action! We’ve asked this year’s YFC to share their favourite blogs from the schools participating in this year’s competition. There’s lots to read and get excited about ahead of awards day onNovember 19th. Check it out!
AND…. Time is running out to vote for the 2019 Archibull Prize People’s Choice Award! It only takes a few minutes to look through he amazing artwork entries this year and pick your favourite. We’ve already counted more than 32,000 votes. Yes, that’s THIRTY TWO THOUSAND votes. Can we beat our all time record of 60,000? Vote now and don’t forget to share the link with your friends!
Join the fabulous Costa Georgiadis our guest of honour at the awards ( immortlaised in Lego by Lego Farmer Aimee Snowden) in celebrating our incredible 2019 Archibull Pirze finalist schools