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.
Today’s post comes from Wool Young Farming Champion Steph Grills who was recently sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation to attend the Young Professionals in Agriculture forum at Sydney University.
Steph farms at Armidale in NSW
The aim of the forum was to bring young professionals in agriculture together to connect the dots on issues of our time, including: – effectively communicating the science of agriculture – the role of social media in agriculture – promoting agriculture as a career path – networking to influence national agendas
The forum acknowledged
The modern face of agriculture will confront many challenges over the coming years. With fewer resources, our young agri-professionals will be faced with the task of leading this sector through a tough period of global food insecurity. In order to reduce the threat of the world slipping into an unprecedented global food crisis, today’s young agri-professionals will need to utilise their skills in an exceptional manner.
A much more efficient and productive group of young agri-professionals requires; coordination, dedication and education. The upcoming “Young Professionals in Agriculture Forum” aims to offer recent agricultural graduates the opportunity to further their professional development through a range of interactive educational workshops. Targeting the areas of communication, education and coordination, it is hoped that this one day conference will leave young graduates feeling invigorated about the challenges that lie ahead and eager to “keep the conversation going”.
Key speakers included our very own Annie Burbrook, Costa Georgiadis from ABC’s Gardening Australia, Social Media expert and Eureka Prize Winner Tony Peacock, Brendan Fox from Farm Plus and Bruce Howie from C-Qual Agritelligence
What follows is Steph’s highlights in her own words …….
It’s exciting to see and even more humbling and rewarding to sit a room full of Young Professionals in Agriculture all from different backgrounds and yet all having a common and united goal, “To start and keep the Agricultural conversation going”.
Costa Georgiadis opened the forum, instilling enthusiasm and such a positive message into the room. Costa has been able to use ABC’s Gardening Australia as a platform to reach those in urban Australia. ‘Agriculture is the kitchen sink of the city’. The work that is being carried out in Bondi by planting herb and vegetable gardens on the curbs of streets to involve communities has demonstrated that its possible in urban areas. He believes in looking at cultural barriers and going around them with vocabulary. Information is just facts which leave a chasm of opportunity. It is the understanding and passion of this information, that is knowledge. You need to use vocabulary in order to engage with people. A perfect example of this is where instead of creating a herb garden, a ‘herb maze’ was created. This engaged people as we are inquisitive by nature, and encouraged people to find out what a ‘herb maze’ entailed as opposed to a simple old garden. Well nothing really. Simply some bark chips for a footpath through the garden in a snail formation. It was the same garden but it attracted and engaged the community.
I have worked extensively with Ann Burbrook through the Young Farming Champions program, and she didn’t fail to impress at the forum. Ann has a way of encouraging those that weren’t apart of the five people in the room of around ninety, that put their hand up because they enjoyed public speaking. Most of us are terrified by the very thought. To speak in public, firstly you need the courage to get up there and then secondly, the confidence to deliver your presentation with passion. It isn’t in fact, about you. It’s about the audience and what you want them to be thinking, feeling and doing. There are many factors in getting your audience to do what you want. This includes your voice, your stance and of course your content. What’s your message?
Tony Peacock, Chief Executive of CRC, introduced the room to the world of Twitter and the merits it provides. We learnt that as followers on twitter, we want posts to be informative, funny and exciting. Not boring and arrogant. No real surprises there however we also learnt that followers like to be challenged and questioned and don’t mind the odd random thought.
We’re also doing a pretty good job of communicating as scientists to other scientists, but we need to think about how to communicate to producers so that it’s valuable to them and then in turn to the community.
Brendan Fox spoke about Building the Knowledge base and how to get value from the internet. There is around 620 million spaces for information, so sorting through the valuable information can sometimes be a challenge.
The Q & A Panel, was the session I found most interesting. Most topics focussed on education, inspiration and engagement for the Agricultural Industry as whole. Some topics covered were that there are many jobs out there, but where are they and how do you find them? Sustainability of agriculture and also branding of the industry and individuals in agriculture was discussed. One major concern was how to involve kids to get a better understanding of the industry at a young age to encourage curiosity as they grow up and leave school. The Young Farming Champions program was a perfect example of how this is beginning to happen. The agricultural sector needs to have more of a voice and to do that we need three key points to market our ideas.
Overall the whole day was incredibly inspirational and informative. I would like to thank the Sydney University and Young Professionals in Agriculture team for getting the whole day up and running and to those guest speakers who donated their time for the day.
I would also like to extend my gratitude to Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) for giving me the opportunity to attend as part of my personal development through the Young Farming Champions Program. I believe these are the types of platforms are such important opportunities for everyone in agriculture and I congratulate AWI for recognising this and supporting their Young Farming Champions to such a high level
The NSW Archibull Prize 2012 is coming to the pointy end of the competition with entries due in just under 3 weeks.
We have Young Farming Champions from QLD and NSW in full swing going into schools from Camden Vale to Nowra and out to Gunnedah (thanks to the generosity of Upper Namoi Cotton Growers Association)
Today Beef Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts is heading from Emerald to Berkeley Vale. Bron has just started up her Farmer Bron Facebook page to share with the community her farming journey. Check it out here.
Bron will be joined by equally excited artwork judge Wendy Taylor who has also been invited by the Berkeley Vale team. Check out this awesome animation Meet today’s Australian farmer by Wendy’s husband Craig of Red Blue Design which Craig created especially for the schools participating in the Archibull Prize
Wool Young Farming Champion Lauren Crothers from Dirranbandi in South West Queensland to visit Homebush Boys High School
Lauren Crothers and Ekka exhibition shearer Hayden Eley
Meat Scientist and Beef Young Farming Champion Dr (in waiting) Steph Fowler is motoring up the highway from Wagga Wagga to visit Abbotsleigh College and Muirfield High School.
Steph was so excited to check out the Hoof and Hook competition carcases at the Ekka and check out this great video featuring Dr Steph at Art4Agriculuture’s recent visit to the Ekka
I recently wrote a post about our Young Farming and Eco Champions workshop at The Crossing in September. This post shares with you more of the wonderful work they are doing and they need your help to make it happen
Jump on board The Crossing’s Big Yellow Taxi project will help to create a song writing camp for young people! The campaign just went live on StartSomeGood! Check it out, share with your friends and contribute if you can so Dean and the team can start some good. BTW they only receive your funds if they meet their goal:
Inspired by songs like Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, The Crossing needs your help to deliver a song writing camp for disadvantaged young Australians. The Big Yellow Taxi Project will inspire remote and isolated youth of the far south coast of NSW, to share and express ideas through music and song, about sustainable and healthy living
Young people from this area often have difficulty engaging in recreational activities and feeling part of the community due to:
a lack of activity options,
a lack of public and private transport
the cost and long distances they have to travel to access extracurricular activities such as professional music training.
Promotional in school sessionsare planned to encourage students from local Secondary Schools to participate in a song writing camp with local professional musicians at The Crossing venue in late December 2012.
To raise funds to pay for musicians and to subsidise camp costs for young people, The Crossing is seeking funds through startsomegood.com Pledge your support by following this link to help them to deliver a song writing camp about ‘what’s good, what’s right and what needs fixing’ and help them build youthful passion and energy in the Australian folk scene
Firstly the community does value its farmers they just know very little about them or what it takes to grow the food on their table or the fibre that keeps their families warm and the products they build their houses with for that matter. Secondly there is no-one more powerful to tell agriculture’s story than Gen F aka the next generation of food and fibre producers
My blog today will show you just how powerful two way conversations with the people who buy the food and fibre our farmers produce can be. In particular students in schools, our next generation of consumers, decision and policy makers and maybe even the next Gen F.
This blog will share with you part of a speech given this week by Sophia Wakeling who has participated in the Archibull Prize for the last two years as part of her school team.
Sophia gave this speech as part of the Australia Day Speaking Contest where students are asked to pick a topic that is relevant to Australian society.
Sophia’s mum Julia shared her speech with Young Farming Champion Kylie Stretton who popped into Sophia’s school recently. She said Sophia was inspired to write her speech as through her involvement with the Archibull project the students have met with some amazing young farmers and that she knew the issues she shared with the audience are very real for farmers and Australia.
I spoke with Sophia’s mum today who said she sent the speech to Kylie because she wanted to thank all the Young Farming Champions for teaching our youth to respect those that work so hard on the land to feed and clothe us! Julia said because Sophia is sharing her Archibull journey with their family they now all think about what they buy and how it affects Australian farmers. They always now buy brands and have even gone so far as to sign up with Farmers Direct so they can avoid the big supermarkets. I must admit I had a smile on my face when she told me they don’t support Woolworths anymore because they noticed the Woolworths logo was no longer on our list of supporting partners.
Australian Agriculture- Valuing our Famers by Sophia Wakeling
Whilst you listen to my speech today, I hope and encourage you to think about this quote from a young beef farmer from Queensland named Kylie Stretton who visited our school as part of the Archibull Prize. What Kylie had to say has really changed the way I thought about where my food comes from and my farmers. By sharing this with you I hope it has the same impact and if not I’m sure that by the end of my speech you will look at it in an entirely different way.
“Australia is very lucky that lots of us have never known extremely hard times or poverty, so we really take our food for granted. I think that supermarkets selling fresh food at cheap prices makes people value it less. And if they value our beautiful fresh food less and take it for granted, then they take for granted the people that produce it.”
Until last year, my 12 years of existence had never included stopping to consider where my food came from, or how it was produced. According to what the media had told me I believed that farmers rode around on tractors all day and lived on dry dusty land. Unfortunately, I also believed agriculture was an awful industry to work in or be involved with for a career.
But this all changed at a school assembly last year a new project called The Archibull Prize was introduced to my school. At first, I didn’t give it a second thought. At the time I thought I was too busy to help out with a farming project. But when my art teacher approached me and asked me to join the project, I reluctantly agreed. The Archibull Prize is a project developed by farmers and supported by industry. The project aims to debunk the stereotypes and change students (and teachers) opinions about the agriculture sector and encourages students to think about sustainability and where their food comes from.
Before we started the project we were required to fill out a survey that tested our knowledge of the agriculture industry. It was then that I realised how little I knew about where the food that I was eating (and buying) on a daily basis came from. Shockingly, I realised that what I thought I knew about the agricultural industry was very wrong. Embarrassingly, I also learnt that more than 40 % of students in year 10 thought cotton came from an animal and more than a quarter of younger students believed yoghurt and scrambled eggs came from plants.
As we progressed further and further into the project I began to realise just how valuable farmers and agriculture are not only to me, but to the entire world. I have learned that farmers are truly the backbone of Australia. Without farmers we would not be able to survive. Without farmers other industries would struggle to survive as many jobs depend on the agriculture industry.
An example of this is the fashion industry. Without cotton and wool farmers, clothes with natural fibres would no longer be able to be processed or made into new designs. This same scenario is reflected in almost every industry in every country in the world. Without farmers we would not have jobs, homes, food or clean water.
I think what farmers have done for us is incredible and they deserve an enormous amount of respect and gratitude for what they have done. So now that we have established the fact that YES farmers are important and that we need to value them and their products, I would like to share with you one way that you can start supporting our Aussie farmers.
There is a common saying that “farmers are price takers and not price makers”. This means that farmers don’t have a lot of control over what price is offered to them for the products they produce.
One of the major reasons that farmers are offered so little for their great products is because they are often pushed out of the market in favour of cheaper, lower quality products such as home brand. A great example of this is home-brand milk being sold for $1 a litre. While this may seem like a great, cheap deal to most consumers, milk being sold for so little is causing great harm to our farmers.
Because of the milk price wars many Australian farmers are only receiving 11 cents per litre for their milk. If this injustice continues to happen, Australia will not have any dairy farmers left. We will be forced to import milk from overseas.
I don’t want the future of Australia to be like this so please! I strongly urge you to support our farmers. If we do not stand up for our farmers and our country I am afraid that in the years to come we will lose what our ancestors fought so hard for: a clean, safe environment and good, healthy food. I believe that as the next generation, we the youth of Australia need to get up and start the change.
Change how you think about Aussie farmers.
Tell your friends and spread the word, and most importantly buy our Australian farmers products and support them.
Always remember every single one of us can make a difference so please do your little bit for our Australian farmers.
I hope that you have been inspired by my speech today.
I want to make a difference and I want you to help start the change with me, support our farmers not our our supermarket’s profits.
Be a-part of this change and see Australia transform.
Support our Aussie farmers now!
Sophia (centre) interviews Wool Young Farming Champion Sammi Townsend
Wow your speech certainly makes my heart sing Sophia thank you so much.
BTW a great example wouldn’t you say that you don’t have to make agriculture compulsory in schools to share its story. See previous blog post here. All we need is for more industries and supporting partners to invest in Art4Agriculture which uses art and multimedia to ensure learning about agriculture is exciting and fun