Meet Tom Tourle whose attraction to the big toys in the sky in agriculture found him with his feet firmly on the ground

Today’s guest post comes from Tom Tourle who if he is as good a farmer as he is a story teller agriculture is very lucky indeed he chose this career pathway

Tom Tourle  (1)

Why I am I doing all of this? Because I love what I do!

And everything I’m doing is taking me to where I need to be. Where that utopia might be, I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it involves me, on our property, surrounded by healthy animals, lots of grass, on a bike and with a big smile on my face, just like when I was a kid.

This is Tom’s story……………………. 

My parents have always said “give me the boy and I’ll show you the man”. They couldn’t have been more right.

My journey in agriculture started the same way as any other kid growing up on the land.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” They’d ask, and the response was always the same- “Just like dad”.

Sure, different ambitions would come and go, (motor cross racer, pilot, bull rider ), but in reality, things don’t change. I’m still that bike riding, animal loving, pliers wielding seven year old I was back then.

Tom Tourle  (1)

And it isn’t only me:

My family has always been active in the Rural Fire Service. My sister, Kennedy, especially loved it. If dad was out at a bushfire, she would wait until he got home, just so she could go to sleep with dad’s smoke filled jumper. Now what does she do? Community Safety Officer with the NSW Rural Fire Service.

My brother, Sam, had his favourite toy lamb as a kid. He would drag this thing around with him wherever he’d go. As he grew up, that toy lamb became poddy lambs, and so started his love affair with sheep. Some things don’t change. He is now working with us on our property, and is the go to man when it comes to questions about wool or animal selection.

So this is where it started- before we even knew it, we were becoming who we are today.

Tom Tourle  (2)

Growing up, I knew agriculture was the industry for me, but in what aspect, I still wasn’t sure. We have always run sheep at home, but for some reason I had a love of cattle and horses. Maybe it was the Troy Dann influence or The Man From snowy River, either way, an interest was sparked early.

I left school with aspirations of flying helicopters. That’s all I wanted to do, it was my passion. Any spare moment I had at school, I was studying flight theory (which really didn’t help out the subjects I was meant to be studying).

I soon worked out that school just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn (I love learning!), it was mostly because I felt as though I was spinning my tyres- looking for a bit of traction to get moving!

I stepped out of year 12 and straight into a Business of Farming course, then Low Stress Stock Handling, then TAFE, then KLR Marketing.  I think you get the point. Education opportunities just popped up everywhere and I grabbed them with both hands. This really set the wheels in motion for my love of education and desire to become an educator.

After working at home with mum and dad for 18 months, I still had dreams of flying choppers and working with cattle and horses. Seeing as I couldn’t convince mum and dad that there were huge advantages in owning a helicopter, I decided I would find somewhere I could do these things.

Time to head north!

I left home in February 2011 and headed to “Rosella Plains Station”, North QLD. This was a big step for me. There was so much to learn! I was leaving my friends and comfort zone at home..

What if I didn’t like it? What if it wasn’t like the glossy pages in Outback Magazine? Well, lucky I had nothing to worry about. I had such a warm welcome by the Scholes and Green families at Rosella Plains who took me under their wing and into their homes, teaching me everything I needed to know if I was going to make it as a ringer and stick it out in the north.

I was so appreciative of the level of responsibility they gave me. I think that was the advantage of working on a family owned and managed property- you get to do a bit of everything. I wasn’t just some young ringer expected to work in the stock camp from dawn til dusk, I was given the chance to operate machinery, travel to neighbouring properties to pick up cattle and sit in on business meetings. What an experience! Every day was just learn, learn, learn. There was always something new to learn about, and I loved every minute of it.

Tom Tourle  (2)

I spent a lot of time during mustering looking up at the chopper, but with no real desire of actually flying it. I was having so much fun on the ground, why would I want to be up there?! This is when I realised where my passion really lies- working with livestock and growing grass. I still wouldn’t mind having a chopper parked in the shed, but I’d much rather be working on the ground. Maybe one day…

After 18 months at Rosella, it was time to come home. I came back to Dubbo in September 2012 and got back into the life as a sheep farmer. The first few months took a bit of readjusting- looking for cows to chase and missing the horse work.

It took a bit to find my feet, but once 2013 came around the ball started rolling again.

I caught up with some of my old TAFE teachers in early 2013, just to touch base and catch up. Suddenly I was enrolled in Certificate III Agriculture, then Cert IV Ag, then Woolclassing, and that was just the beginning..

As much as I have always loved to learn, I’ve also loved to teach. While I was on a bit of a roll with my studies, I decided to also pick up my Certificate IV in Training and Education, meaning I could then teach with organisations such as TAFE.

2013 was such a big year for me, completing 6 qualifications, picking up a job teaching at Western College in Dubbo, starting my own grazing and trading enterprise, while working at home full time.

Not that I did anything special- I just took every opportunity that came my way. These opportunities are everywhere and the more that you take, the more that seem to appear.

2014 is looking just as busy, looking at teaching more, travelling overseas and interstate on scholarships and development programs, while working at home and expanding my own business. Fun times ahead!

Why I am I doing all of this? Because I love what I do!

And everything I’m doing is taking me to where I need to be. Where that utopia might be, I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it involves me, on our property, surrounded by healthy animals, lots of grass, on a bike and with a big smile on my face, just like when I was a kid.

Meet passionate young agriculturalist Kate Lumber

Today’s guest blog post comes from Kate Lumber who is a passionate young agriculturalist from Tamworth NSW.

Grand Champion Parader, Dorrigo Show 2011

Grand Champion Parader, Dorrigo Show 2011

This is Kate’s story…………………………….

Agriculture runs in my blood.


Dad and me 

Both sides of my family are off the land but growing up I lived in town. I was very fortunate to have open access to family properties and I developed a strong love for Agriculture as a result. I grew up on the Liverpool Plains in Northern NSW, one of the most productive agricultural regions in Australia and so from a young age I was exposed to both cropping and livestock production. And it was here that I developed a passion for agriculture and the lifestyle it provided.

Quirindi Pony Camp aged 14

Quirindi Pony Camp aged 14

Beautiful view of the pastures at my Uncles property “Colly Plains North” Quirindi, NSW.

Beautiful view of the pastures

Horse riding at my Uncles property “Colly Plains North” Quirindi, NSW.

Horse riding at my Uncle’s property “Colly Plains North” Quirindi, NSW.

I have always been a lover of animals. I have ridden horses all my life and have shown steers and stud cattle for over five years, both of which I still enjoy. I was fortunate enough to attend McCarthy Catholic College in Tamworth for my secondary schooling and absolutely loved it. I had some fantastic teachers that really encouraged me and fostered my development in Agriculture. I began to show cattle in year nine because a friend of mine decided to join the Show Team. Aside from the animal husbandry and practical skills I gained from this I have also been lucky enough to meet and network with some amazing people. I learnt key skills in public speaking and became heavily involved in junior judging competitions and thoroughly enjoyed paraders and handling classes. I have competed at many shows with great success but my highlights would have to be qualifying for NSW State Finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in Beef Cattle Paraders, Fleece Judging and Pig Judging. Through these ventures I was exposed to many fantastic opportunities and role models in livestock production.

Fleece Judging State Final and Sydney Royal Easter Show 2010

Fleece Judging State Final and Sydney Royal Easter Show 2010.

I was awarded the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE) Scholarship in 2011 by the University of New England, which truly broadened my horizons in terms of career options in Agriculture and tertiary studies options. Prior to completing the student camp and Industry placement I was set on studying Veterinary Science but came out with knowledge of so many new and exciting career opportunities in Agriculture that I had never even considered.  I fell in love with the University and was very impressed with the facilities and naturally worked towards my goal of entering tertiary study at UNE after completing my Higher School Certificate. I was also selected as one of ten high school students nationally to attend the 2011 PICSE Think Tank Forum in Canberra. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet and network with passionate like-minded students and well respected Industry leaders. We addressed issues facing the Agricultural Industry in Australia such as food security and the growing population. This forum truly inspired me to be someone that would make a positive impact on the industry and be a part of the generation of agriculturalists to address these issues.

On Industry Placement at the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) Scanning Cattle at Bald Blair Angus Guyra NSW

On Industry Placement at the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) Scanning Cattle at Bald Blair Angus, Guyra NSW.

I enrolled in a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England with my mind set on Livestock production. Little did I know some amazing opportunities were around the corner that would in fact change my life. Due to the nature and diversity of the Rural Science Degree I studied not only livestock units but also agronomy based units, of which I really enjoyed.  I have become heavily involved within the University in the Rural Science Undergraduate Society, for which I am the Industry Liaison and sponsorship officer and Farming Futures, for which I am the minute’s secretary for 2014. These roles require me to liaise with Industry representatives and students, with the aim to bridge the gap between industry and tertiary education students in order to create open communication lines and promote career opportunities within the Industry. These are both initiatives that I am very proud to be involved in and look forward to the continued development of these in the future.

Farming Futures Careers Fair

 Farming Futures Careers Fair

Rural Science Undergraduate Society (RSUS) Spring Fling Ball 2013

Spring Fling Ball 2013.

I have also been involved in mentoring and ambassadorial roles. I have always been heavily involved in public relations, be it public speaking in formal or informal situations and I possess interpersonal skills that allow me to communicate with people from a large variety of backgrounds. I also currently hold employment as a Student Ambassador for the University of New England. My role as a Student Ambassador has allowed me to speak at various functions and forums and complete promotional presentations for the University of New England. I have addressed school aged students, promoting Agriculture and tertiary education at field days such as the Central North Machinery Expo and Primex and conducted presentations at University and Industry based events.

Marketing for the School of Environmental and Rural Science at Primex, Casino NSW 2013

Marketing for the School of Environmental and Rural Science at Primex, Casino NSW 2013

I also attended the Australian Agronomy Conference held at UNE in 2012, which a fantastic experience where I was able to attend presentations on some amazing new research in the Agronomy field. At University I have also been able to be involved in many team sports and activities of which I am a very active member. In 2013 I was fortunate enough to travel down to Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga as a member of the UNE meat judging team to compete at the Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition (ICMJ). As an observer and a planned competitor in 2014 we attended many presentations, demonstrations and workshops by Industry Leaders and learnt methods of meat grading and processing; as seen below.

Beef carcase judging in the chillers at Teys Australia Wagga Plant for the ICMJ competition.

Beef carcase judging in the chillers at Teys Australia Wagga Plant for the ICMJ competition.

Although most of my Agricultural involvement prior to and during the first year of University was in the livestock sector my interest for pasture and crop agronomy grew as I began to study agronomy at University.

I was told about a summer job opening for cotton checking by a friend who strongly encouraged me to give it a try. So in my summer holidays at the end of first year I took up a position with an Independent Agronomist in Moree, North Western NSW as a croup scout and I absolutely loved it. Having just completed my second season working again for Integrated Crop Management Services I took on the responsibility of being a senior member of the team, which was an exciting new challenge. My job as a crop scout involves physiological crop assessment and field data collection, tissue sampling and analysis of data to assist in nutrition, irrigation scheduling and the recommendation of pesticide and insecticide applications. I find it a very rewarding job where I am constantly learning and adapting my techniques in order to meet the needs of the grower and the ever-changing crop in the aim of increasing productivity in a sustainable manner.

In the field, Moree NSW 20122013 season

In the field, Moree NSW 2012/2013 season

heading out to check a whitefly trial, Moree NSW 2014

Heading out to check a whitefly trial, Moree NSW 2014

Conventional Cotton crop Mungindi NSW 20122013 season

Conventional Cotton crop Mungindi NSW 2012/2013 season

early 20132014 crop

Early 2013/2014 crop

beautiful views at Moree NSW 20132014 season

Beautiful views at Moree NSW 2013/2014 season.

I am constantly inspired by people in the agriculture Industry and I feel very strongly about other young people having the same experiences I have been lucky enough to have had

I have had those experiences because I have been exposed to them throughout my school career and feel very passionately that agriculture should be embedded in the curriculum as the current systems means so many young people have no idea what they are missing by not having the opportunity to explore agriculture related careers

I now aspire to be someone that others can look to draw motivation from. I wish to act as a role model and a leader for young people and in turn promote the Cotton Industry and agriculture as a whole to the best of my ability.

Although my time in the cotton industry has been relatively brief, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and have developed a strong passion for the Industry. I love the fast pace of the Cotton industry and the complexity of production. I cannot imagine myself spending a summer not knee deep in mud checking cotton. And I sincerely look forward to my future in the Cotton Industry.