Today’s guest blog post comes from Deanna Johnston who is very proud to be a rookie farmer.
Another great story from the inspiring new generation of farmers
If day care consists of riding shotgun with Dad in the tractor when sowing and harvesting; sleeping in the tender wool bin during shearing time then this has been the best start to my rural career. Hi I’m Deanna Johnston and I’m a rookie farmer.
I had already started shearing, doing the long-blow on our Coolalee rams before I was going to primary school. My Dad worked as a shearing contractor before settling back down to the farm which gave him invaluable insights as to how other farmers run successful farm. Dad had always had an interest in sheep, especially Merinos and he began to get more serious about the sheep enterprise on the farm in the year 2000. We turned to the SRS strain of Merinos and started breeding for a purpose – dual purpose merinos. Currently we are experiencing an extended dry period and are grazing 2000 breeder ewes with another 800 little mouths in the feedlot.
After primary school the next step for me to broaden my knowledge and an early start to my career calling to the agricultural industry was to attend Yanco Agricultural High School. Right from year seven I was part of the sheep show team in which I was able to become part of the McCaughey White Suffolk stud where we started to implement Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer into the breeding program.
Completing my Certificate IV in Woolclassing and Certificate II in Shearing by the age of 16 proved to me that this was the industry I wanted to be part of. Since then, shearing competitions and wool handling competitions have become my weekend hobby.
In March this year I came out in fourth position in the State Final Fleece judging competition in Sydney. These competitions are great for refining the skills that are taught in TAFE Certificates. An added bonus is you meet other young people with the same passion for the wool and sheep industry.
In 2014 I was runner up the National Young Guns competition at LambEX in Adelaide which over 1000 people attended. This competition involves writing an essay on the topic: “attracting young people into the prime lamb industry” and creating a poster to go with it. When in Adelaide I had to speak on my topic, answers questions posed by the judges who also adjudicated on the essay, poster and speech component. This was an incredible experience for me as I met many industry leaders, local and overseas producers and scientists and academics who all had the same passion: the future of agriculture in Australia and the the world.
The PETA campaign against the shearing industry was released while I was attending the LambEX conference. It hit me hard as I was very disappointed that industry my family was part of was being portrayed in this negative light This made me even more determined to share the positive stories far and wide about the wool industry I love and the farmers I know who care deeply about their animals.
Having been lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by the sheep and wool industry I know it has a lot of offer. I want to share this message with other young people who haven’t had the same opportunities. The Australian wool industry provides thousands of jobs both in Australia and overseas. No matter where your interests lie, the wool industry has a career path suited to you. Careers in the wool industry can be divided into two main areas — on-farm and off-farm. By attracting young people into the sheep and wool industry, it will only grow and become more successful, not only focusing on the producing side but through the whole chain from paddock to plate and in this case clothing.
With the end of my HSC year nearing I have been fortunate enough at my age to have to have met some amazing industry professionals including Dr. Jim Watt and Errol Brumpton (OAM). When I finish school my ambitions are to study a double degree in Agriculture and Business at the University of New England in Armidale with the prospects that I will come back on the farm and take over the sheep enterprise (I haven’t told Dad yet I might tell him about this a bit later).
So how I spent day care wasn’t so bad at all as it left me with a great passion and a dream. Being in this agricultural industry is where I want to stay as the world is going to become more reliant on what the industry can offer. The future is exciting and I am lucky I will be a part of it along with many other young and enthusiastic people.
Breaking news – The 2016 National Merino Challenge results are in and Deanna has taken out 3rd palace in the secondary school division and her school Yanco Agricultural High School have won Champion Team
Well done Deanna and Yanco