Dr Harry comes calling

My name is Danille Fox, I am 19 years old and this is my story ……..

Danille Fox

I grew up on our family beef cattle property Bona Vista, 75km north of St George, where we run 500 breeders and 1000 composite steers.

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My parents have been the biggest role models in my life and have inspired my strong interest and determination to work in the beef industry. Working for our family business Bona Vista Grazing Company has taught me many valuable practical farm and business skills as well as inspired my love for the rural lifestyle and agriculture.

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Standing with my Mum in our forage sorghum crop which we made silage from to store and feed to our cattle in droughts.

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Mustering the steers off the crop to weigh in the cattle yards with my Dad, brother and the loyal team (the working dogs)

I completed my primary schooling at Begonia State School where most the time I was the only one in my class and the total number of students was no more than 12. Attending such a small school taught me how to make friends with everyone despite our age differences which is a trait I’ve continued to use.

As I am the youngest of 6 in my family, and our property is near a few of my cousins, we were never bored as kids. Building stick cubbies, playing in the cottonseed, swimming and fishing in the dam and ‘cattle yard tiggy’ were just a few of the little adventures we shared.

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 Playing in the cotton seed with my sister and cousins. We feed cotton seed to our cattle during the droughts to our cattle.

I have also grown a love for cattle as since I was old enough to carry a milking a bucket I would wake up early in the morning to go down to the yards with Dad to milk the cows. Even today I still go down and milk the cows with my nieces and I’m sure they will agree that you can’t beat the taste of fresh farm milk.

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I have always loved animals and have multiple home videos of my cousin and myself playing ‘Dr Harry’ on the farm where we would ‘make up cases, such as the dairy cow swallowing a golf ball, and the cat getting its claws stuck in the tree, that we were called out to ‘urgently’ treat.

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Preparing for a muster at a neighbours. Working in the agricultural industry is a team effort and is extremely rewarding.

I began studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 2011 and decided I wanted to combine my passion for Australian agriculture and farming with my love for animals, in particular cattle and am currently in my second year studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland, Gatton.

My dream is to return to a rural area to contribute my skills as a rural veterinarian while contributing to Australia’s beef industry.

Over the years I have taken every opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills in agriculture from working beside my Mum and Dad on the farm, to participating in programs such as TASTE (The Agricultural Skills and Tertiary Experience) at the Dalby Agricultural College and FEAST (Future Experiences in Agriculture, Science and Technology) which were valuable experiences to meet young people from rural areas with similar interests as myself. I have also taken part in various workshops and forums including the Young Beef Producers Forum held annually in Roma as well as being an active member in the Young Angus Youth Society, the Future Farmers Network and the Bovine Appreciation Group and Cattleman’s Club at our University.

In 2011 I became a recipient of the Horizon Scholarship supported by RIRDC. The scholarship enabled me to gain experience at the Katherine Research Station, Katherine and Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory, Darwin in the NT where I worked with veterinarians conducting station tick checks, taking blood tests from cattle and chooks, crocodile catching and much more.

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Work experience in the Northern Territory was a great opportunity to learn and make valuable networks.

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Learning to jugular bleed cattle.

In 2012 I participated in a Beef Cattle Study Tour to the USA and Canada with my parents and other beef cattle producers from Australia and New Zealand. The trip was extremely informative and included a visit to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) headquarters, a trip to the JBS ‘Kunar’ Feedlot and visits to multiple cattle ranches and studs throughout the states.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQfoo46bFaM

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Two of the many highlights of our US Beef Study Tour was visiting Padlock Ranch and the NCBA.

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Dad, me, my friend Emily and my Mum.

I personally have experienced some of the issues challenging our agricultural industry such as variable climates including extreme droughts and flooding, unstable markets and isolation. I also understand the impact that food security and the growing population (estimated to reach 35.5 million by year 2056) will have on Australia’s agriculture and the demand for increased and sustainable production to feed and clothe the increasing population.

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I am standing on the swings at my primary school Begonia in the record floodwaters in 2012. The generosity of people assisting our community during and after the floods was outstanding.

I believe building relationships with consumers is important in ensuring the stability of Australia’s agriculture. Regarding beef, it is vital for the longevity of the industry, that consumers are comfortable with farm production systems and supply chains.

Communicating quality products, sustainable practices and latest technologies are integral to this relationship. User driven social media is a recent innovation allowing producers to tell their stories and build relationships with consumers. Social media is a 2-way education tool and helps connect farmers with consumers allowing producers to find out what their customers expectations and concerns.

Facebook sites like “Ask An Aussie Farmer” is a great example of stepping forward and connecting with consumers.

I see today’s agricultural industry as exciting and challenging and I feel privileged to be a part of an industry which is so vital to Australia’s future. I look forward to contributing to the industry through my veterinary profession and AGvocacy roles

You can watch Danille’s video here

Read Danille’s Target 100 profile here

RAS Youth in Ag Ambassador shares her journey

Over the years Art4agriculture has been very lucky to interact in schools with a number of very talented potential next generation of food and fibre producers and supporters .

Today it gives us great pleasure to update you on the journey of Amber O’Neil who we previously profiled here

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Amber who hopes to start a vet science course at CSU next year was recently selected for the very prestigious role of RAS Youth In Ag Ambassador at the 2013 Sydney Royal Easter Show

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Youth in Ag Day celebrates the contribution young people make to the agricultural industry in NSW and Australia and also highlights the broad range of opportunities available for young people to be involved in this dynamic and rewarding industry

“Our Youth in Ag Day ambassadors are dynamic, innovative champions for the future of the industry, and for rural and regional areas of Australia,” Mr Davey said.
“These ambassadors have been selected because of their passion for agriculture, their involvement in the industry and their strong desire to contribute to its future. They are excellent role models and a wonderful example of the good things young people are doing in their regional communities.”

Amber shares the experience …………………………….

Being selected as a Youth in Ag Ambassador was a great experience and opportunity! Saturday 30th March 2013 was Youth in Ag Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and as an Ambassador it was my role, within a group, to promote agriculture and raise the profile of youth involvement within the industry. We spent the day handing out merchandise, talking to the public and meeting lots of new people.

We started off with a breakfast briefing, where we met all the Youth in Ag Ambassadors and got together before a big day. We were given shirts, caps and badges to wear and a bag of merchandise to hand out at the show. We were then separated into small groups and sent off to different parts of the showground. Our group’s first role was to run the Alpaca Youth Paraders event which we had been organising for months prior to the day. Being part of the alpaca industry allowed our small group to not only run the event but promote the alpaca industry and share our love for the animals and lifestyle with the public. It was a great success, everything running smoothly and all competitors doing everyone proud!

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Amber trained all these people for the Alpacas paraders competition at the show and they all got ribbons

During the day we also visited the Food Farm, where we assisted in the movement of crowds and spent several hours talking to the public and promoting agriculture. I had a great time sharing my passion for the industry, talking to people who had never heard the word ‘Ag’ before and sharing my love for animals, agriculture and farming. It was amazing to see so many people interested in an industry that many of them had never experienced before and to tell my story.

Archies in the Food Farm

Archies in the Food Farm

The Youth in Ag Ambassadors got together again to watch the RAS Young Farmer Challenge, designed to promote excellence in farming and showcase the involvement of youth in agriculture. It was a great event to watch and we all had a good time.

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We spent the rest of the day talking to the public and handing out badges and caps, which everyone loved. I had a fantastic day and it was such an amazing opportunity to be a Youth in Ag Ambassador.

See the RAS Youth Group starring our very own Kirsty John (centre) and Young Farming Champions Alumni Heidi Cheney ( far right) 

 

 

The question engage or educate and why it matters?

If we want our children to know where their food comes from; if we want them to be motivated to care about the lives and livelihoods of farmers; if we want them to take seriously the environmental impacts of their food choices; and if we want them to know more about how their health is affected by the way food is made, perhaps we need to rethink the place of food production

This knowledge has been lost since we all became so reliant on the industrial agriculture system; we should talk to the experts – the farmers – so we can get it back. We don’t just need more urban agricultural initiatives, including food-producing back, front and median-strip gardens, school kitchen gardens, community gardens and city farms. We also need a transfer of knowledge from rural farmers. We need Australia’s farmers to be intimately involved in the development of innovative and efficient urban agricultural practices to assure our future food security.

The Conversation https://theconversation.edu.au/urban-food-knowledge-does-yoghurt-grow-on-trees-in-cities-5777

Art4Agriculture has taken up this challenge through the Archibull Prize. The program uptake this year has been phenomenal with 40 plus schools participating in this fun and engaging initiative that uses art and multimedia to tap into a whole new generation of young people

Art4Agricultre Archibull Prize

Original landscape image by Peter Dalder

Our ability to reach more schools particularly in NSW where the program has been running for 3 years has only been limited by funding.

Queensland has been a little more challenging, but experience tells us word of mouth amongst schools, teachers friends and parents will mean Queensland schools will be queuing up in 2014 at the same rate NSW schools are.

The Archibull Prize is not about ‘educating’ people per se about agriculture. We believe it is the only program in the world allowing young people in the agrifood sector to go into schools and engage with the next generation of consumers and decisions makers to build an understanding of each other’s challenges and constraints

I have created this program for two reasons

1. We ALL have to eat so farmers are important and as farmer I know it’s challenging to produce food and fibre in the current climate

2. Young people are our future and its important we invest in them

Personally I am not particularly worried that 27% of kids think yogurt grows on trees or that cotton grows on sheep.

  • What is important to me is that young people think farmers are committed, professional and caring
  • That the next generation of consumers, decision and policy makers think responsible agriculture is a legitimate user of Australia’s land and water
  • That young people don’t hear agricultural intensification and automatically think “factory farming”
  • That young people have the knowledge to make informed decisions about genetic modification
  • That young people think that farmers like everybody else are entitled to use technology
  • That young people want to work not only on my farm but see the agrifood sector as the place they want to be

And it’s working. We know this because the programs outcomes are measurable. Visibly through the artwork the students generate and the blogs, videos and PowerPoints they create. Quantitatively though program entry and exit surveys

What is exciting is our students are very receptive to putting their thinking hats on not only through the progression of their big ideas for their artwork design and also when we pose blog questions like:

  1. Why is food production so important for us nationally and globally?
  2. Choose one of the challenges faced by farmers and discuss the possible solutions.
  3. Why are regional towns and centres so important to the farming community? How will they be affected if changes to farming practices occur?
  4. Why is it so important for Australia to produce food for people outside of the country? What do you think would happen if we only worried about ourselves?
  5. Why do you think so much food wastage occurs? What actions will you take to help this problem?
  6. What does sustainability mean and how can you contribute to the cause? What different choices may you take as a consumer?
  7. What is natural resource management? Why do you think it is so important to get right? Think about some of the consequences if we don’t manage these resources properly.

For all those people who are concerned about students’ lack of paddock to plate knowledge our beef, wool, cotton and dairy industry resources our industry bodies send them do an amazing job of sharing this story

Just to prove we have got our strategy right the Victorian Depart of Environment and Primary Industries released the results the Victorian Attitudes to Farming survey in 2012

In summary they found

It is clear that among the Victorian public there is widespread support for farmers and sympathy towards them for the difficulties they face, but also a level of unease about some aspects of the industrialisation and corporate control of agriculture, especially among particular segments of the population.

There is substantial public concern about:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. Environmental sustainability
  3. Farmers’ ability to make a living from farming.
  4. Food safety (along with healthy, nutritious and good-tasting food) was viewed by the public as being more important than all other factors.

The research literature shows that concerns about environmental and animal welfare, and about certain other ‘credence attributes’ of foods, have grown among consumers in industrialised countries. In part, this trend stems from the success of industrial agriculture—and of modern distribution systems—in fulfilling western consumers’ basic food needs, by making affordable food abundantly available to most consumers in industrialised nations (though not to the consumers of all countries). Yet the dramatic increases in agricultural productivity achieved during the 20th century have not come without some costs to environmental sustainability, to animal welfare, and to other ‘ethical’ dimensions of food production (even though the severity of these consequences is contested). It appears that, as consumers become more food-secure, wealthier and better educated, many become concerned with addressing these negative consequences.

Our survey indicated that 31% of survey respondents had taken some action—such as protesting or, more often, altering their shopping habits—that could be interpreted as being critical of conventional agriculture (‘critical activism’).

The survey also indicated that 32% of Victorians valued environmental sustainability or animal welfare (or both) highly, and had a relatively low level of trust that farmers would address these issues without coercion.

Most of the individuals surveyed made expressions of unease about some aspects of contemporary agriculture, and such latent concern creates the potential for agriculture to experience periodic controversies or even crises of ‘social authorisation’, as has occurred previously with GM foods, mulesing and (in Europe) Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and in Australia Live Export

The paper then asks and answers the questions

  1. How should government interpret and respond to those segments of the population that are critical of current farming practices?
  2. Are these individuals’ uninformed and forcing unnecessary and costly restraints on farming practices, or are they well-informed drivers of much-needed progress?

Where do Art4agriculture and the Archibull Prize come in? It would appear that these researchers strong agree with our philosophy

A number of agricultural stakeholders have aspired over the years to resolve controversies over farming issues by educating and engaging the public. The research in this project indicates that while this can make a contribution to resolving such controversies, it will not be sufficient.

The rationale for solving farm controversies by educating the public is premised on the assumption that farm controversies are waged between an ignorant public which needs to be educated and knowledgeable experts who can do the educating. The findings presented in this report show that individuals’ professed levels of knowledge about farming issues are relatively independent of their viewpoint about the issues.

The published literature indicates that differences in individuals’ views on ‘technical’ issues such as environmental sustainability and animal welfare derive not only from their level of attentiveness to scientific or expert knowledge, but also from partially subjective and social judgements about which sources of expert knowledge to trust, in the face of contested expertise

It also shows that cultural perspectives influence experts as well as the lay public, and that such perspectives can become institutionalised.

This suggests that divisions in public opinion cannot be reconciled without some engagement and conciliation between different experts and stakeholder groups. As well as educating the public, agricultural groups in government and industry will also need to listen and respond to concerns raised by the public and by other stakeholders groups (including lobby groups and other branches of government).

Testimonials from the students and our Young Farming Champions for the Archibull Prize

THE IMPACT ON OUR YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS

“At the [school] environmental club, the students were really interested in the environmental impacts and challenges the beef industry faced and their questions reflected this rather well. I found myself answering a lot of questions about the need for feedlots, waste management from processors and feedlots and how we can manage beef systems to ensure they are sustainable. The students were very switched on.”

Steph Fowler, Beef Young Farming Champion, 2012

The students had quite a few questions regarding different areas of cotton production – some science questions, some general farming, and others from the teachers that just wanted to know more. I loved the questions I was asked and they weren’t afraid to fire them at me!”

Tamsin Quirk, Cotton Young Farming Champion, 2012

“The school visits were great! I really enjoyed talking to the students and the teachers. Everyone was so excited about their Archibulls and I loved having the chance to look at what they were doing and listen to things they had discovered about agriculture. I also enjoyed being able to talk about my university course and I hope I was able to encourage some of them to think about a career in agriculture.”

Sammi Townsend, Wool Young Farming Champion, 2012

THE IMPACT OF THE ARCHIBULL PRIZE ON STUDENTS

“I had this idea in my head that genetic modification is this horrible idea and agriculture should just go back to the way it was in the ‘50s and after talking about it with our Young Farming Champion and learning about it I cannot love it more, I think science and technology have a definite future in the industry.”

Laura Bunting Student feedback, 2012

You can see Laura talking her school’s experience here

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We rest our case

Meet Jo Newton who began her career in Wool in a Suburban Sheep Stud

Meet Today we are delighted to be sharing with you the Jo Newton story. Some-one said to me a few years ago if we are going to attract the best and the brightest to farming our industry needs to be seen as ‘lucrative, sexy and… most importantly … dripping with integrity’. I believe if the industry can continue to attract people of the calibre of Jo and the Young Farming Champions alumni we may just get there.

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The Jo Newton story ……………………….

Growing up in suburban Melbourne, my background is certainly not in agriculture though I did fall in love with sheep in the suburbs of Melbourne. That’s right a suburban sheep stud. My high school, Tintern Girls Grammar, despite being in the suburbs of Melbourne had an on campus farm making it a pretty unique place to go to school.

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Me holding the Champion Romney Ram at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo

When I started high school in 2001, I became involved in the Young Farmers program, developed a passion for sheep and thus my agricultural journey began. I have very fond memories of the school farm, of lunchtimes spent collecting eggs, trimming sheep and feeding poddy calves and weekends spent at the local ag shows and of course lambing season.

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Lambing Season, my favourite time of year

The best career advice I got at school was to find what I loved doing and then work out how to turn it into a job. I knew I loved sheep and enjoyed maths and science at school so studying agriculture at uni seemed like a great idea, though I had no idea what kind of jobs there would be for me after uni.

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Hanging out with one of the ‘Alfoxton’ Stud Poll Merino Rams, Armidale NSW

With this in mind in 2008 I moved to Armidale, NSW to undertake a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England (UNE). To me it made sense to study an ag degree at a regional university and I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of an Australian Wool Education Trust Scholarship which made my dream possible. I can honestly say moving to Armidale was one of the best decisions I ever made. As well as meeting a whole heap of people with similar interests to me I was surrounded by farms, in particular sheep farms.

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Me with one of the local farmers in Batu Village, East Java, Indonesia as part of the Syngenta Connections Program.

I quickly immersed myself in my new rural lifestyle, enjoying the friends I made at college and amongst the local graziers who were quick to offer advice and work experience opportunities to a young girl with a thirst for learning as much about sheep as possible. In my four years at uni I learnt to rouseabout, class wool, lamb mark, butcher a sheep and ride a quad bike. I also travelled to New Zealand to study wool processing systems and volunteered in Indonesia with the Syngenta Connections Program teaching local village farmers about farm sustainability.

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My Mum, Dad and brothers all came to Armidale to watch me graduate in 2012 with my Bachelor Rural Science(Hons I).

My passion for sheep has remained unwavering throughout my studies and I was fortunate enough to graduate with a University Medal and First Class honours in 2012. I am now undertaking a three year research project (PhD or Doctorate of Philosophy). When people ask what I am studying I tell them “teenage pregnancy in sheep” which is a great conversation starter.

Me with a willing participant in my PhD research

What it means is that I’m exploring the environmental and genetic factors influencing early reproductive performance in sheep. I’m currently working with sheep breeders across NSW, VIC and SA who are trying to join their ewes at 7 months of age. At the moment my car feels like my office as I travel around collecting data and samples.

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Learning how to take blood samples from Border Leicester ewes for my PhD research

Growing up in Melbourne, I used to harbour a lot of the common misconceptions about agriculture. Studying at UNE certainly cleared things up for me. Now, every time I go back to Melbourne for a visit I find myself explaining that studying agriculture doesn’t “just mean” I want to be a farmer. As important a job as farming is, there are many different jobs in our sector, something many people don’t yet fully understand. I am proud of the agricultural sector and my small role in it and am happy to share my story with as many of my city friends as I can.

One thing I learnt that surprised me was that even ag students didn’t know the extent of job opportunities in the industry. In 2011 I was one of the founders of the Farming Futures Industry Dinner and later the Agricultural Careers Fair, a concept created to help students connect with different agricultural companies and learn about career opportunities in the sector. I never imagined that the idea of a couple of students could grow so rapidly so quickly. This is my third year as Chair of the organizing committee and I’m really excited about this year’s dinner and careers fair which are shaping up nicely for the 2nd August 2013.

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Myself , Sharon O’Keeffe (GRDC), Scott Hansen (MLA) and Felicity McLeod (Farming Futures Vice-Chair) at the 2012 GRDC Farming Futures Dinner.

One of my favourite ag experiences (aside from shearing time) was being selected as one of the 2013 RAS Rural Achievers for NSW. I had an unforgettable time at the Easter Show this year. It was an action packed 10 days; stewarding, helping in the food farm, watching the shearing demonstrations, meeting the Governor-General, taking part in the RAS Young Farmer Challenge and much more. The highlight of the week though was meeting and spending time with an awesome bunch of young people passionate about the future of agriculture.

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The 2013 RAS Rural Rural Achievers taking a break at ANZ Stadium (photo courtesy of Felicity McLeod)

When agriculture makes the mainstream news, too often the stories the general public are exposed to are negative; floods, fires, farm injuries,

Rarely does the news celebrate our success. As a sector we need to continue to build relationships with our communities to better enable us to tell our stories and share agriculture’s successes and celebrate the good things. My agricultural journey began thanks to a suburban sheep stud. I’m proof that you don’t need to be born into agriculture to live and breathe all things ag and take great pride in telling my agricultural story to anyone who will listen.

I encourage everyone with a story about agriculture to start telling it, to help us celebrate and spread the word about agriculture.

You can see and hear Jo talk about her career here

Cotton Australia announces 2013 Cotton Young Farming Champions

Cotton Australia is delighted to announce the Cotton Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions for 2013

They are

Martin Murray (Toowoomba/Armidale)

Martin Murray in Cotton

You can read Martin’s blog here

Kirsty McCormack (Inverell)

Kirsty McCormack

You can read Kirsty’s blog here

Ben Egan (Warren)

Ben Egan Cotton Young Farming Champion in Cotton Field  (2)

You can read Ben’s blog here

Elizabeth Lobsley (Toowoomba).

LIz Lobsley

You can read Liz’s blog here

Cotton Australia is very excited by the remarkable calibre of the applicants this year – a real testament to the quality of young people who are swelling the ranks of the cotton industry. We are lucky this year to have a range of career paths (gap year, city to the country, career changers, college and university) and occupations (farmer, agronomist, university students) amongst the YFCs all equally inspired to light a flame for agriculture in the hearts and minds of primary and school students across three States.

For Cotton Australia, the YFC program is an important vehicle for building the capacity of young people within the industry to speak to audiences who may be disengaged or apathetic about agriculture. They bring a fresh voice, a human face and an inspiring story that make young people sit up and think twice about stereotypes and misconceptions. The YFCs, as young people themselves are in a unique position to relate to students not much younger than they are.

The Young Farming Champion program will engage, train, mentor and support these four Young Farming Champions to go into schools who are participating in  the Art4Agriculture Archibull Prize program.

The champions will engage with the students, share stories about farmers and farming, build understanding and work together to understand the challenges facing primary industries. They will be provided with training to present and deliver messages on behalf of industry to non-farmer teenage audiences. We hope to see the program increase both the confidence and leadership skills of the participants with the capacity to take a more active role on behalf of industry to achieve industry goals.

Cotton Australia would also like to congratulate Elizabeth Stott (Gogeldrie) on her selection to participate in the highly prestigious Australian Rural Leadership Program this year funded by the CRDC. Elizabeth is an outstanding ARLP candidate and has been a passionate contributor to community activity which has engendered respect and acceptance of the industry in the local community cotton and will no doubt use the ARLP program to increase her capacity to continue this important work in the future.

Ben Egan says this is my future. Come be a part of it!

Its over 170 years since my ancestor Bryan Egan came to the Macquarie valley in search of good grazing country to lay claim to land so he could start and grow his own small cattle herd. In 1839, he came to Mount Harris and it was here he stayed.

My name is Ben Egan and I am lucky enough to be a 6th generation farmer. Needless to say, farming is in my blood. It’s my passion, my job, It’s my life!

Located in the Macquarie Valley, north of Warren in the central west of NSW is our family farm, “Kiameron”. A lot has changed since 1839, but the history, values and commitment to the land is still strong. Even today we still live in the same house our ancestors built in the late 1870’s.

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Kiameron Homestead Late 1870’s

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Kiameron Homestead Today

Today ‘Kiameron’ covers 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres), including 1100ha of irrigation, 1100ha of dry land and 3800ha of grazing country.

Our main enterprise is cotton but we also grow other crops such as sorghum, wheat, canola, chick peas and as tradition would have it we still graze around 700 head of cattle.

From an early age I loved to explore the outdoors, running around making bow n arrows, riding motorbikes and driving around the farm with dad. Right from the word go, the love of farm was there and I wasn’t afraid to show it.

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Standing next to dad when I was about 10, at a local swimming carnival, I looked around and said; “you know, I think I’ve got my life pretty well sorted, I think I’ll leave school, do a bit of swimming, then come back and kick you out!”. And a succession plan was born.

I was lucky enough to go to boarding school in Sydney. I was astonished at how little some of the city boys knew about life on a farm and living in the country. I was confronted one lunch time by a day student who asked me “so, do you have TV out in the bush?”, “TV? What’s that?” I replied laughing. I began to explain to him about life on the farm and what really happens beyond the farm gate. This then led to many of my city friends wanting to come out to the farm in the holidays to chase feral animals, ride motorbikes and go to the ever popular Marthaguy picinic races.

During my lifetime I have had some life changing experiences and reminders of how lucky we are in this country.  In year 11 I had the opportunity to travel to Cambodia to help build houses for rural communities. This was a wonderful experience and a huge eye opener to the culture and way of life in a country which had been torn apart by communism and war.

After completing my HSC, I was awarded a GAP placement at a school in England. This was a chance for me to travel and explore what the world had to offer.  My 12 months abroad working at Stonyhurst College saw me interact with students with all different backgrounds. However it was becoming a bit of an on-going recurrence to find students (even in a different country) had little knowledge of farming or where their food and fibre comes from. They were astonished when I told them that I was a farmer and after talking to them for a while they began to realise how important farmers are and started being a little more appreciative of the people who put food on our plates and clothes on our back.

After a year of being away from agriculture, I desperately needed to get my hands dirty. Going to the Territory had always been on the ‘to do’ list and it was now time to don the akubra, dust off the boots and get in the saddle.

Working at Eva Downs and Camfield station in the NT was an unbelievable experience. It was here that I learnt the value of a dollar, meaning of an honest days work, and the beauty this country can produce.

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I have now spent the last four years furthering my education at university and have now gained a Bachelor of Business majoring in Farm Management at Marcus Oldham College in Geelong.

Farm tours were a usual part of the curriculum at Marcus. A chance for us to visit farms, analyse their business and learn about their management strategies and tactics. A tour to the Riverina saw us visit a few cotton farms, much to my delight as it has always been a passion of mine and an enterprise I could relate to. In the third year of my degree, our class travelled to China to explore the agribusiness sector on an international scale, leaning about the customs and relations with one of Australia’s biggest trading partners.

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Today, I am working full time on the family farm, applying my knowledge learnt in the classroom into the real world and it is very exciting. We have recently finished picking the 600ha of cotton as well as 300ha of sorghum with good yields. Although harvest is only just finished, I am already getting excited about next years crop and the influence I will have. I am currently implementing a transition from flood furrow irrigation methods to lateral move and bank-less channel irrigation to help improve water use efficiencies.

I feel that there is a great need for the young farmers out there to get out and have a voice, to communicate with people and let them know about the good things our farmers do and how vital they are to the community and the economy.

Communicating and raising awareness and the challenges and constraints of farming with young people and the many different career paths it offers is a vital part helping to drive change for the agriculture sector in the way we do business with everyone along the supply change. Its with great pride and excitement to see the number of these programs like the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions that are available to grow skills and knowledge for young people in agriculture .

I It concerns me that the average age of farmers today is 52 years old.  It scares me that the only options we seem to have is that farms are lucky enough to be handed down to the next generation or sold to large corporate entities and overseas investors who have the capital and borrowing capacity to purchase large parcels of prime agricultural land.

Where are all the young farmers? We’re here, we just need to be heard and be given a chance. I personally would like to see more programs that support and help young farmers buy into farming and enable them to pursue their passion.

But agriculture doesn’t just entail farms. There are endless career opportunities within the agricultural sector with great programs to help people get involved and support our industry. I challenge the young people of today to put their hand up and be heard, ask questions, challenge the status quo, support our farmers and just have a go!

 

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This is our future. Come be a part of it!

Meet Adele Offley whose greatest passion is wool

Hello I’m Adele Offley and my greatest passion is wool.

Adele Offley (10)

Did you know the Woolmark symbol is the second most highly recognised symbol after Coca Cola. No, well I am making it my life mission to ensure everyone values and appreciates the qualities of Australia’s fabulous wool and the Woolmark logo rolls Coca Cola for the number one spot.

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I am lucky enough to have been born and raised and still live on the family property near Crookwell, Southern Tablelands of NSW.

Adele Offley (7)

Adele Offley (6)

Me and my Gran 

I have always loved all livestock, particularly sheep and can remember having poddy lambs from an early age and calling them Matilda 1, Matilda 2, Matilda 3 (my favourite movie at the time). I always had a poddy lamb to look after throughout my childhood, and even today I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I see a lamb wiggling its tail when it is having a drink of warm milk!

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When I was young I would spend all my spare time with my Dad helping out with whatever needed to be done on the farm. Once I hit school, I can recall racing home from school to go help Dad.

Adele Offley (8)

As I grew up, I got more involved; instead of watching sheep being shorn from the pram,

I was rouseabouting in the shearing shed.  I can recall the many times when shearing was on I just so happened to have a ‘sickie’ from school so I could help out in the shed. The alternative was that my school absentee notes would say ‘I was required to help in the shearing shed’, Surprisingly a lot of teachers didn’t find it to be an acceptable excuse, but I sure did!!!

me with wool

I can even remember in year 11 requesting my exams be moved forward so I could be in the shed at shearing time. I even missed a school excursion to the snow rather than miss a week in the shearing shed at home.

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Sheep in the snow on the farm

There is nothing quite like a shearing shed; the smell of lanolin, the feel of wool and the atmosphere is amazing, and not to mention the yarns the shearers can tell.

Adele Offley  (1)As part of my HSC I undertook a Certificate II in Agriculture and a Certificate II in Animal Studies in order to further my agricultural knowledge. Once I had completed my HSC, and in between exams, I helped out on the farm in every way I could – jetting sheep, lamb marking, drenching sheep, you name it I did it… all bar the shearing! There is a lot of work involved with sheep but it’s very rewarding at the same time, and I’ve never stopped learning while I work with them.

I then attended TAFE where I undertook a Certificate IV in Wool Classing. It was a great experience to interact with all the other students who shared my passion for wool. The age range varied from mid-teens to later 50’s, signifying that a passion for wool can cross the generation gap. I thought it was fantastic to learn with a group who were so driven to learn more about the wool industry too!

Whilst studying at TAFE, I was lucky enough to help out with a Careers Day for the Goulburn district’s high school students. I was assisting with the shearing demonstration to try and encourage these kids to consider doing a wool classing course or shearing course, and to educate them about the skills shortage within the industry.

Whilst attending TAFE we got the opportunity to go on an excursion to Fletchers in Dubbo where I got to see the Wool combing plant, and WOW what an experience that was!

For someone who had grown seeing wool on a regular basis, e.g. on a sheep’s back, on the wool table, etc. it was remarkable to see this wool being turned into tops (see picture below – no, not an actual top…yet) and the processes it takes. Unfortunately it has since closed, which I think is devastating for the Australian wool industry as most of our wool is being processed offshore.

I also went on to complete a Certificate III in Business Administration and have just recently gained a Diploma of Agriculture. Whilst studying the diploma I was very disappointed to see the low numbers of students enrolled in the agriculture courses

I have had an exciting start to the year being recently named the Crookwell Showgirl for 2013. Having being born and growing up and now working in the area I was very honoured to represent my small country town.

Another added bonus of the showgirl experience was going to Dubbo for a Personal Development weekend, where I learnt so many new skills from public speaking, to good posture and met so many other young women with a passion for agriculture. It was just fantastic

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Me presenting the Kevin Coves Memorial Trophy to Alan McCormack Jnr (Walwa Stud), the ram in this photo was the winner of this trophy at the Crookwell Show 2013 .

Whilst I didn’t make it past the zone final it has inspired me to tell other young girls to give it a go and whilst they at it why not purse a career in agriculture

Another highlight for 2013 was the opportunity to help set up the South East Queensland district exhibit for the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year.

‘Why South East Queensland?’ you might say.  Because they asked that’s why   They put a message on social media asking for help and I jumped at the chance! I didn’t  know much about the different produce grown in Queensland compared to Southern New South Wales e.g. sugar cane so it was a great opportunity to learn and have amazing experience!

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I would like to encourage everyone, regardless of background, to seriously consider agriculture as a career option There is a huge diversity of roles and opportunities on offer in the agriculture sector.

Watch this great video by Adele here