Excitingly the recent State of the Environment report has show Australian farmers have made some major inroads in their farm environmental stewardship outcomes through a strong commitment to Landcare principals
Most of Australia’s land environment is managed by one of three groups: state and territory agencies responsible for public land of various tenures, family and corporate agricultural and pastoral businesses, and Indigenous Australians.
The effectiveness of management has improved for most land uses, particularly those that are most intensive. While land–management practices have improved during the past few decades, in agricultural systems the loss of soil carbon, and soil acidification and erosion, are problematic and may have major impacts on production.
However, there is a serious gap in both the professional and the technical capacity necessary for effective land management. This gap will increase and its consequences become more acute as we face the challenges that climate change will bring to land environmental values and production systems.
Obviously if our farmers are going to achieve the best environmental outcomes they must have access to the best advice and have the opportunity to work side by side with natural resource management professionals With this in my mind Art4Agriculture have accessed Caring for our Country funding to role out the Young Eco Champion program for 2012/13 This program will train a team of 5 young natural resource management professionals from Southern Rivers region of NSW. They will be trained to develop leadership and communication skills and become local faces of sustainable primary production and natural resource management. See Erin Lake our 2011 Young Eco Champion in action here
Eco Champions will work with Young Farmer Champions to present Archibull Prize activities in 15 schools throughout the region using a range of authentic and contemporary learning tools that allow young people to explore the economic, environmental and social challenges of sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation activities through the ‘Archibull Prize‘ competition.
Today our guest blogger is Heather Gow-Carey one of our exciting Young Eco Champions
Here is Heather’s story ………………….
My name is Heather Gow-Carey. I am 22 years old and am currently undertaking honours in my fourth and final year of an International Bachelor of Science (Geoscience) at the University of Wollongong.
I grew up in the rural community at Dignams Creek on the Far South Coast of NSW. Environmental and natural resource management has always played a huge part of my life. The influence of my parents’ professions in the direction of my educational career has subconsciously shaped my decisions and their support has been unwavering at every stage of my development.
Helping out tree planting on the Hawkesbury River when I was just learning to walk.
I was born in Western Sydney but moved to the South Coast with my parents when I was two years old. They were looking to get away from the city and pursue their goals in setting up South Coast Flora, a native bushfood nursery. It is this specialised plant propagation that first introduced me to the theories behind environmental management. As long as I can remember I have been helping out in the nursery, going to markets and assisting mum out in her botanical pursuits collecting seeds and cuttings to be used in the nursery.
Out collecting seeds with Mum.
My father was involved in the National Parks and Wildlife Service for a number of years and now works as the Landcare Community Support Officer throughout the Eurobodalla Shire. Hence my weekends as a youngster were filled with farm visits, tree plantings, weed control and numerous conferences and meetings. Luckily I had my younger brother to have tree planting competitions and someone to hang out with when dad had to attend to business matters. From both of my parents I have developed a love and a respect for the environment that I value immensely. It has shaped my love for the outdoors and even though I have had to move away to attend uni, I love going back home whenever I can.
Playing in Dignams Creek when I was little.
About 15 minutes away is the closest town, Cobargo. It is a small town that has earnt the name of the ‘working village’. There are around 500 residents if you include the many farms around the area and there is a very strong sense of community, with all of the locals willing to pitch in to help each other out. I was part of the swimming club, soccer club, rugby club and scout group, as well as always exhibited and volunteered for the annual Cobargo Show. The show was and still is, one of the highlights of the Cobargo calendar. Even though it is such a small town, the show always draws large crowds in competitors, exhibitors and visitors and is well known as a quality agricultural show. There were several years where I made it my goal to enter every youth section in the pavilion, and even many of the open sections. When I was about 12, a prize was introduced for the junior exhibitor with the highest overall point-score, so I busied myself making arts, crafts, jams, baking, growing fruit and veggies, even entered some prime compost to take out the top prize!
The Cobargo main street.
One of my other interests is art. When I was little I wanted to grow up to be an artist, but soon learnt that most artists don’t get rich and famous until they are dead! So I had to rethink my career ideas. I was lucky enough to be involved in the Jindabyne Sculpture by the Lake exhibition – a competition for local artists held each Easter Long Weekend and with from my art teacher I first entered at the age of 14.
I had always felt very strongly about using water responsibly and hence, I made a giant plug that floated out in the middle of the lake to inform people of my water-saving message. This was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the scarcity of water and the fact that we all rely on it so much, and yet we have so little that is actually able to be consumed.
My community involvement continued throughout high school, being involved in several sporting groups, community groups, the Rural Volunteer Bushfire Service and more Landcare activities. There was hardly a weekend or week night spare in my schedule! I was recognised for my efforts on Australia Day 2009, being awarded the Narooma Young Citizen of the Year.
After being awarded Young Citizen of the Year.
My HSC helped to shape what I chose to study and the last three and a half years of university really have taught me so much about the different areas of physical geography, human geography and the ways in which people interact with their environments. I have all of the theory behind me; I just need to put my ideas into practice.
Even though I am not from a farm in the traditional sense, I feel as though my upbringing really has shaped the person that I am, and what I would like to achieve out of life. Through this program I hope that I can encourage and support young Australians, and especially those in rural areas, to become involved in natural resource management and sustainable agriculture.
Wow we looking forward to working with young lady as you can imagine
The Young Farming Champions program is funded through the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program. Art4agriculture thanks you for believing in us