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.
I am beginning to think school teachers work dairy farmers hours The emails started at 4 in the morning and continued till 11pm last night and started again at 5.30am this morning. How exciting to see schools so eager to be involved
Then this – does it get any better than this – The Archibull Prize has won the Event of the Year at Trangie Australia Day Awards!!
“The success of the project has been an enormous promotion of Trangie across the whole of Australia. It has absolutely put Trangie on the map!”
Excerpt from the Narromine News
But wait there is more the Junior Citizen of the Year was Pat Skinner
Pat is a dedicated and enthusiastic participant in a wide range of activities. He is a fantastic team player and contributes 110 per cent in everything with unfailing humour – Archibull Prize video, dancing schools spectacular, movie nights, school band, discos for out of home care kids, and is now a keen sailor.
Over the last 10 years Art4Agriculture has put me in the spotlight and I have been lucky enough to pick up some wonderful awards like the Bob Hawke Medal in 2012 which have provided a vehicle to open the door and spread the word about the great stories of our Australian farmers and their produce right to office of the Prime Minister and thanks to AWI and their Young Farming Champions – Prince Charles but I don’t think anything has given me more of a buzz than this
See and celebrated the 2013 Winners including this phenomenal effort from Trangie Central School here
Todays guest blog comes from Rebecca Thistlethwaite a girl from The Shire who found here way into agriculture when her parents bought a small farm. Rebecca is now a PhD student and an agronomist with a particular interest in plant breeding and genetics
This is Rebecca’s story ……………………….
My name is Rebecca Thistlethwaite and I grew up in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney and completed my schooling at Kirrawee High School. Growing up I was a typical ‘Shire’ girl with a love of the surf, sun and sand
North Cronulla Beach
When I was 13 years old my parents bought a small property in the Southern Highlands of NSW. This was the beginning of a whole new world of exciting experiences for me!
The family farm then became my second home. I couldn’t wait to spend all of my holidays and weekends in a place that made me feel so free. It became the place I felt most comfortable and as time went on I was able to introduce the land to my friends.
My parents ran a small cattle herd as we weren’t able to live there full time so on weekends there was a lot of work to be done. Working in the cattle yards teaching a group of teenage city girls like me was always very rewarding for mum and dad. They they knew like me that every young person has the potential to make change and are only limited by knowledge that they attain. So we would go about explaining every aspect of what was involved in the running a commercial cattle farm.
Grazing Angus cattle on family farm
As well as farm work I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to learn how to exhibit cattle with the help of some very generous local Angus breeders.
Angus Youth Round-Up, Glenn Innes 2010
From here it was clear which direction my career path would take me. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney. Unlike a lot of my school friends my path through uni was slightly different but extremely exciting. The decision to develop a career in the Agricultural Industry was discussed my decision at length with my parents and every conversation would lead back to my future in the agricultural industry. I believe young person should have a career that is rewarding and fun gives back to society in the best way possible.
At university I became an agriculture ambassador travelling around to schools all over Sydney carrying out workshops related to agriculture and that gave me a unique insight into how primary school kids saw where their food and fibre comes from. I was so inspired by the program and how much it did for these kids that I started to go to the schools around my home doing a similar thing.
I wholeheartedly believe that the future of agriculture depends on attracting young talented people and helping them realise what a modern, exciting and challenging career it is and this is what drives me in both my working and home life to do as much as I can to promote positive images of the industry.
I graduated in 2011 with honours and although Uni was hard at times it was well worth it in the end.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons) from the University of Sydney, 2011
My first job as a graduate was for a pasture seed company as a Research Agronomist
A research agronomist may work with companies or government agencies on plant hybridization and soil conservation as well as the areas mentioned above. Agronomists who specialize in research might work to figure out which plants can be used as fuel, such as the discovery that corn can be used to fuel vehicles, or which plants might make effective pharmaceuticals For more information click here
My new job meant relocating to Armidale in Northern NSW and I loved it . The people are so friendly and not only this I was able to experience different ways of farming across a broad range of fields.
Tomato farming in glasshouse
Pasture cropping for silage (winter feed)
My job kept me incredibly busy. I travelled 75,000kms by car in my first year across NSW and QLD, flew interstate countless times and I was lucky enough to travel to 2 different countries as well.
One of the best parts about the Agricultural Industry is that new opportunities arise every day, especially for young people! I have a passion for research in the areas of climate change and heat tolerance in plants.
Did you know that wheat is the staple food of almost half the world’s population and approximately 30,000 farmers grow wheat in Australia? Its no wonder I saw this as a fast-moving field I wanted to get involved in as soon as I could.
Wheat production, Narrabri
In 2013, I was lucky enough to receive a Grains Research and Development Postgraduate Scholarship to study plant breeding and genetics at the University of Sydney. I jumped at the opportunity to study something I love and haven’t looked back! I now live in Narrabri in Northern NSW and all my field work is based at the I.A. Watson Grains Research Centre there.
I.A. Watson Grains Research Centre, Narrabri
The team at the I. A. Watson Grains Research Centre outside their newly built facility
As a city kid who now loves the bush I strongly encourage all young people, who haven’t done so already, to go and experience what it is like to spend a day on a farm.
If you have already had the pleasure then you know exactly what I mean when I say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you could have.
Now all you have to do is take next step and follow me into an agricultural career and share your story
Meet today’s guest blogger Kate Molloy the next generation of plant doctors applying science to fuel and feed the globe
One thing that amazes me is the amount of young people who are inspired to take up a career in agriculture after spending time ‘bug checking’. Just in case you are as fascinated as me as to what this entails I found this on Dr Google
This is Kate Molloy’s story………………….
Throughout my life I have always been surrounded by agriculture. Sheep, cattle, cropping you name it; I have even experienced a taste of fish farming.
Me and my dad
From when I could walk, farm animals and plants have always been a part of my daily life and I would never have it any other way. So I guess you could say that it was inevitable that my chosen career path became the red-dirt road to agriculture.
My adventure started in the small country town of Goolgowi where we only ran a small hobby farm.
We dabbled in a bit of everything and my grandfather even had his own small piggery there. Goolgowi was a small, thriving, agricultural community with no end of support from its members. When the drought hit NSW was when I realised how much agriculture supports rural communities such as this. Pretty quickly farming families that had made Goolgowi home for generations had to move on in search of greener pastures and the community diminished significantly. My family and I even had to move but not too far away. We began running a farm called Ballandry Station at Yenda, NSW.
At Ballandry we became sheep and cropping farmers. Times were tough so everyone was expected to pull his or her weight. This meant getting up at four in the morning to beat the heat when the sheep needed moving to a new paddock, or paddocks needed to be worked up. My sisters and I had to learn how to drive from extremely young ages so that we could tow the hay trailer around while dad through hay out to the starving sheep. At the end of every year we had to jump on tractors and the header to help harvest our wheat crops. This was one of the most important events of the year for us and it was a lot of fun as well.
Dad taught my sisters and I to drive from extremely young ages so that he could throw hay out to the starving sheep whilst we drove the ute slowly through the paddock. This wasn’t uncommon though as majority of farmers had to rely on the family pitching in because they couldn’t afford help. Every year my sisters and I help harvest our crops usually driving tractors and headers. It is an extremely fun and action packed time and one of the most important events for us as cropping farmers.
Me (on the right) driving the chaser bin whilst my dad harvests the wheat
Living on a farm has many more positives than negatives. We have an abundance of space, which means room for heaps of pets. Horses, dogs, cats and one massive pet steer were just some of the animal friends we accumulated. After school we would ride the horses or the motorbikes, or we would take the dogs to the dam for a swim. There was always something to do
I began to love the cropping side of farming. It amazed me how quickly the seeds we planted grew into golden wheat plants that provided a shed-full of grain after harvest. I enjoyed going out and checking for different weeds and diseases with dad during the winter when the plants were still young.
As I said I have had a taste of many different agricultural industries. I loved our family holidays to the isolated community of Tibooburra where my uncle ran a large cattle station. We helped with cattle work and daily station chores when we were there and attended the odd gymkhana or rodeo. These visits only fuelled my love of agricultural and my desire to build a life around it.
Sadly when I began high school this passion was put aside for a while when I began listening to the people who believed there was no real future in agriculture. Our school had amazing facilities for an agricultural program but never actually got one going so slowly my interest began to dwindle and the career I had envisioned in my head changed to becoming a teacher.
However in Year twelve I went out on a limb and decided to spend a day with our local agronomist. My love and passion for agriculture resurfaced and I was asked to become a bug checker during the summer holidays. This meant checking many different types of crops from rice to sunflowers and wheat to pumpkins for bugs that would cause damage.
Thankfully my passion for agriculture was reignited before university admissions closed and I have now finished two years of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Every summer since I have continued my work with our agronomist and will eventually be a full fledged one myself when I graduate. Slowly I have been handed more and more responsibility in my position and it has definitely expanded my skills in grain production.
Through the university I was able to travel to China in 2013 to experience and learn about agriculture in a different country.
Me on the Great Wall of China
My eyes were definitely opened and not only did I gain a load of information on agriculture but I also got to experience another culture and learn about the Chinese society. This is one experience I will never forget and in the future I hope to travel to other countries to also learn about different agricultural methods.
This year I was honoured enough to be selected as one of the eight Royal Agricultural Society Rural Achievers for 2014. This is something I am so excited about because it is yet another opportunity to showcase agriculture and expand my rural leadership skills. It is an awesome program that showcases young leaders in the rural community at the Sydney Royal Show.
So for now my path is heading straight for agronomy, or as some like to call them a ‘crop or plant doctor’, If you eat, wear clothes, live in a house or even drive a car, your life has been influenced by an agronomist. Agronomists play an important role in the agricultural, food and clothing industries. Agronomists are plant scientists. They are experts in agriculture. They work with plants such as cotton, corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, peanuts and more. Many agronomists work in research. Some develop new breeds of cotton, creating plants that are stronger and more resistant. Some agronomists work with wheat, developing hybrids that produce more yields per acre. Often times their work is done right there in the middle of the field. Currently, some agronomists are working with peanuts, trying to create peanuts that people are not allergic to.
I am excited that my passion for agriculture has led me to pursuing a career in advisory services to farmers. I want to be able to help them grow the best grain possible so that our bread, flour and other grain products are the best in Australia and the world. All of these events in my life are leading me to an awesome career in agriculture, which I hope to educate people about and invite them into this industry.
I love educating the youth in the dairy industry and the youth about the dairy industry.
Let me introduce myself, I’m a dairy farmer with a passion for education.
Yes, that’s right, I milk cows on my family farm, 10 minutes from the beach on the mid-north coast of NSW, and I’m about to commence my career as a teacher.
My name is Emma Polson, I’m 24 years-old and I love being a farmer.
Every day I get to milk beautiful cows, in a beautiful area, spend most of my time outside and work alongside my family. Add to this a rewarding career supplying quality milk and I’ve got plenty to smile about.
Growing up on my family farm has given me the best opportunities anyone could ask for.
Me and my family
Some of my fondest memories include my brother Mathew and I getting-up to mischief on the farm. We would make our own “play farm”, basically all our farm toys with pasture grown for the cows from grain collected at the dairy.
But life as a farm kid had its responsibilities and helping my father and grandfather in the business provided me with vital skills I still use today.
At home, the cows are my passion.
My family has two herds of registered Holsteins, the “small” herd of 180 head and up the road we lease another farm and milk 300 head.
Our family stud is Blue Silo Holsteins, but there are still cows in the herd that can be traced back to my grandfather’s stud Thistleglen.
My dad John manages both farms and my grandfather has retired.
His idea of retirement is still getting the cows in each day at 2pm, but we love him for that.
My whole family lives on the farm, including my 2.5 year old niece Miley.
She is the fifth generation to farm at Oxley Island.
I cherish working with my family and my drive comes from wanting to make a difference in the family business.
I’m proud of our farm and I used to love nothing more than showing my city cousins around when they came to stay. We jumped on the silage bales and camped-out under the stars, eating far too many marshmallows.
After high school, and during my gap year, I completed an agricultural traineeship through Tocal Agricultural College. During this time I was lucky to visit and learn about a variety of commercial farms, including the college property. We studied topics such as calf rearing, cattle health and breeding. Studying at Tocal was one of my best learning experiences. I met many great people I am still friends with today.
Showing cows has always been a passion of mine. I can remember sitting at my Grandma’s house admiring all the trophies my Dad had won showing cattle in his youth. I knew this was what I wanted to do and started working towards that goal straight away.
I was always tying-up calves to prepare them for shows. As I got older I attended industry youth camps and major shows such as the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It was there, in Sydney, that I had a crash-course in showing. I was helping my friend’s family and can remember thinking ‘I didn’t know anything’ but they didn’t care. They taught me so much about showing and welcomed me into their family. Showing at Sydney was nerve-racking but one of my best experiences of my life.
Today my role in showing is a little different. Showing has been a great vehicle for teaching the next generation. I still show our stud cattle, but my primary focus is on up-skilling the local youth.
I am secretary of the Manning Dairy Youth. It’s an association supported by the Manning Holstein sub-branch and includes members from the age of 2 to 25. Part of my involvement includes organizing youth events within the region, including the annual calf day. The group has also been involved in a photo-shoot at my farm to help with promoting its activities. Taking countless photos was loads of fun.
Here’s a link to the photographs which were later used for a group promotional video.
Supporting the Manning Valley is important to me. I was supported locally and welcomed into the show circuit, so I want to ensure other young people have the same positive experience.
Improving my cattle judging is a personal goal of mine. Last year I was reserve champion in the junior judging competition the Sydney Royal Easter Show, representing the Manning Valley-of course.
I have just finished a primary teaching degree at the University of New England. Throughout my university studies I have embraced the fact that I am a dairy farmer. During my last year of study I helped the Taree Christian Community School with their Cows Create Careers Program. I also produced an educational video about where milk comes from for one of my assignments. It has been an invaluable classroom resource. I love educating the youth in the dairy industry and the youth about the dairy industry.
Recently I spoke as part of a careers day at a school. The most important point I stressed was that anyone can be involved in the dairy industry, you just need to have the passion. I told them to find someone who is prepared to invest their time in them and help develop their dairy farming skills. I grew up on a farm, but I have found you can never stop learning.
We need ambitious and innovative people who see past the status quo to embrace sustainable farming now and into the future.
I gives me great pleasure to inform you they are out there. Let me introduce you to our guest blogger Anika Molesworth a young lady with not only a great story to share and the way she tells it you feel like you are walking in her shoes
Intense heat, flies and hours from the closest beach may not be everyone’s idea of a great holiday; however each school break my parents packed the car along with the three children, two dogs and suitcases for all, and headed to Broken Hill. From Melbourne, the drive takes a good 10 hours, factor in some city traffic and breaks for the kids and dogs to stretch their legs, and you’re looking at closer to 13 hours. Believe it or not it takes roughly the same time to travel to Broken Hill from Sydney
However, the destination is well worth the drive. Broken Hill is centred in a region rich in Aboriginal, mining and pastoral history. The area is closely linked to past explorers such as Captain Charles Sturt, Burke and Wills and William Giles as well as countless Afghan camel trains who opened up Australia’s interior for the benefit of the coming generations.
In far western New South Wales, the conditions are harsh. The average annual rainfall is a mere 259mm, and during summer the temperature can stay above 40oC for days on end. However, it is the rich desert colours which have inspired artists from around the globe, the endless horizons that call to be explored, and the welcoming community living within an iconic outback setting which makes visitors feel at home.
Driving north east from Broken Hill, one will come across Rupee and Clevedale Stations, owned and operated by my family. Incorporating hills of the Barrier Ranges, the properties have a combined size of 10,000 acres.
The red sand country is vegetated with native grasses, wattles and chenopod scrub, crisscrossed with ephemeral creeks and rocky outcrops. Hand excavated mine shafts tell a story of a bygone era when courageous men went beneath the earth to retrieve silver, lead and zinc.
Grazing our property are our 700 head of Dorper sheep from which we breed our lambs for market.
They are a hardy and quick growing sheep that originated from South Africa. The breed is well adapted to survive the semi-arid environment of far western NSW. They have high fertility rates and strong maternal instincts. Along with their high growth rates and potential for domestic and international meat markets, it is no wonder this breed is one of the fastest growing sheep breeds in Australia. Dorpers have a reputation of quality carcass conformation, good fat distribution and great meat flavour. We run our property with sustainability in mind, and operate using organic principles which reflect our commitment to animal welfare and good land governance. We handle our stock using low-stress techniques and use conservative stocking rates to lower their impact on the natural environment.
Upon finishing secondary school I set my sights on the big open skies of outback Queensland. I jillarooed on two prominent Queensland beef properties, both close to 3 million acres, and quickly learnt that farming on such a large scale was no walk in the park. Here you had to work as a team, yet be accountable for your individual actions. There were countless physical and mental challenges that had to be overcome, yet I’d feel a great sense of achievement at the end of a long day of hard work.
Education means a lot to me. I strongly believe that one should never stop learning because life never stops teaching. It was this attitude that propelled me through my Bachelor of Science course, specialising in Agribusiness, which I undertook at Charles Sturt University.
It also encouraged me to re-open the text books and don my thinking cap once again as I embarked on my Masters of Sustainable Agriculture. This tertiary education has been priceless in helping me to understand agriculture as a living and connected system, one that constantly changes and evolves. My particular area of interest is the role which weather plays in influencing farming operations now and into the future. Farmers have always worked around Australia’s dynamic weather patterns, and have learnt to be both adaptive and resilient. However, as the climate becomes increasingly variable, business as usual may no longer be an option, and the sustainability of farming enterprises requires a better understanding of future weather patterns and embracing adaptation and mitigation strategies. At a specific level, I have focused on sheep grazing practices and natural resource management in a climate-constrained world.
Working with Suncorp Bank as an agribusiness banker has provided me with an excellent opportunity to learn about a wide range of farming industries. I have greatly benefited from their Agribusiness Graduate program, in which I completed three six-month rotations, which saw me working in Tamworth, Orange and Griffith where I am now based. Suncorp has provided me with a supportive environment that actively encourages young professional women to advance within the agribusiness industry.
As you can tell I have a great passion for and strong personal investment in Australia’s sheep meat industry, and hope to inspire others to embrace the diverse and rewarding opportunities that this industry has to offer. We need ambitious and innovative people who see past the status quo to embrace sustainable farming now and into the future.
And in the spirit of Australia Day and sharing knowledge, here’s a great lamb recipe that I can’t live without!
Step 1. Preheat a grill pan or barbecue hotplate to medium–high. Rub lamb-leg steaks with olive oil and caramelized onion and season with cracked black pepper.
Step 2. Grill lamb, turning once, for 3–4 minutes either side (for medium), or until lightly charred. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Step 3. Meanwhile prepare your favourite salad; mine would be couscous topped with cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, fetta, a sprinkling of mint and a dollop of Greek yoghurt.
Enjoy the mouth watering goodness of this Aussie farmer’s favourite meat!
A great example is Billy Browning who with his family have been awarded the best wheat crop in NSW for 2013
I travelled through Narromine in November 2013 as part of the judging for the 2013 Archibull Prize and it was very dry yet the Browning family managed to pull off an outstanding wheat crop. The Art4Agriculutre team salute them
See the feature on Prime here and story in The Land here
Today’s guest blog post comes from Josh Gilbert who is combining a degree in law with a role on the NSW Young Farmers Council to advocate for young farmers. Josh is a great believer in the ethos of Eric Thomas.
‘You are the executive director and screenwriter of your life…. Never underestimate the importance of the beginning. The beginning has the seeds of everything else to come.”
This is Josh’s story ………
Hi, my name is Josh Gilbert. I’ve just completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Newcastle and now in my final year of my Law degree. I currently have a Finance Cadetship at the ABC, but my dream is to provide high quality legal advice to those living in the country, while building a large scale agricultural corporation.
My blog today shares with you my agricultural journey thus far and gives insights into my hopes for the future.
My love of agriculture started on my Great Grandparent’s farms in the Mid North Coast of NSW. My family have always been farming, with my Dad’s side producing beef cattle and my Mum’s all being dairy farmers.
Me with my dad on my grandfather’s tractor
I grew up in the wheat and sheep belt of the Northern Canberra Tablelands- in a small town called Boorowa. The town boasts a rich pastoral and Irish heritage, primarily emphasised by the Running of the Sheep every year. It is in this community that I learnt of the importance of local farms and the impact that farming families had on a small community.
My family moved back up to the coast in 2000 and a few years later purchased a part of my Grandfather’s dairy farm and started a Braford cattle stud which we called Riverside Park Brafords.
My first Brahman cattle purchase
We are now third and fourth generation Braford breeders, originally chosen by my Great Grandfather due to their natural resistance to ticks and their tolerance to droughts.
One of our newest calves- Riverside Park Marvelous
Touring the meat aisle at the 2013 Woolworths Agriculture Business Scholarship program
Inspired by cattle pioneers James Tyson and Sir Sidney Kidman and my interest in business and commerce, I have big aspirations to create one of Australia’s largest, privatively owned, mixed enterprise, farming companies. I have since started working towards this dream, attending cattle courses, writing farm profitability formulas and conducting further research into the field.
However, my interest in agriculture stems beyond my personal endeavours- with further concerns around farmer mental health issues, the need for assistance to encourage young farmers and the vital role of education for viable farming futures. I believe Government policy and funding is strongly needed in these areas, with agricultural industry support and guidance to help implement suitable measures.
Australian agriculture, especially the beef industry, is supported by strong historic foundations. I believe the long term viability of beef cattle production now relies on farmers getting a fair return for their efforts, community support, adaptation and adoption of environmentally sound farming methods, while ensuring animal care standards are delivered at the highest level.
“You got an opportunity to make a dream become a reality – and when you do, you just got to take advantage of it.” – Eric Thomas
I believe the future of the agriculture sector rests in our hands and it is up to us to ensure we build capacity to continually improve the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of Australian agriculture.
There are many difficulties facing farmer’s everyday, namely; ageing and fewer farmers, difficulties in the retention of younger generations, mental health issues, problems ensuring profitability, concerns obtaining finance and reduced consumer knowledge of where their food comes from combined with increased consumer expectations about how their food is produced. While there are many challenges facing the agriculture sector at large, I believe there are many opportunities.
To take advantage of these opportunities, it is pivotal that the agriculture sector has a unified voice and a cohesive, united brand that we are all proud of. That farmers share their enthusiasm and passion for what they do and why they do it with not only the rest of Australia, but also the World. It is equally important that farmers have the opportunity to improve their business skills and have access to mental health services, while also drawing upon the ability to develop quality relationships along the food chain with our urban communities.
Young people have the opportunity to gain a broad education that allows us to work off farm to increase our knowledge of successful business practices and gain an appreciation for urban life. This also provides us with a chance to discover the ways urban and rural can work together to ensure the agriculture sector prospers.
Our government will also have a strong role to play. Together, farmers and government must develop policies that will assist young people to access the capital that’s required to get into farming and provide additional financial education to ensure realistic business accounting. Currently, the costs of farmland and infrastructure are a huge barrier to many younger farmers, with government intervention the most applicable way to help change this situation.
Further policy is also needed to help encourage young people to become involved in agriculture and help the sector realise its potential. Additionally, we also need to continue to develop higher-level skills and training for the sector, while promoting agriculture as a positive, diverse and rewarding career path.
Greater skills and knowledge in areas such as finance, marketing and legal, is the key to helping farmers think actively and ask questions to ensure our personal businesses and the wider industry grows. I believe our entire future livelihoods rest primarily on the engagement, recruitment and retention of these people.
We have a real chance to make these dreams a reality. We have the opportunity to make the agricultural profession as reputable and important to others as it once was. It won’t be easy, but the rewards will be great.
I look forward to taking an active role and working with farmers and our communities to realise this.
Well said Josh and I am sure you will agree with me that Josh is a young man prepared to do the hard yards to achieve his big dreams.
There is nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams, just know that all roads that lead to success have to pass through Hardwork Boulevard at some point. Eric Thomas