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