At Picture You in Agriculture we love the quote
‘There is no such thing as failure.
You either succeed or learn!’
and we love to share what we learn from our Young Farming Champions.
In recent years the initial training of the Young Farming Champions (YFC) has been formalised in a two-year Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. In this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we talk to the Australian Wool Innovation sponsored YFC who completed the first half of the program in 2019 – Matt Cumming and Tom Squires.
In their first year Matt and Tom, both shearers, undertook media training, immersed themselves in the networking resources of other YFC and learnt how to tell their own stories to the world to promote shearing as an exciting career choice.
“I’ve worked in shearing sheds, on and off, for 6 years. As shearers we strive to do the best job we possibly can, and we do so in a professional manner. It’s an industry that cares about people and cares about sheep and I wanted the opportunity to share that far and I wide. I wanted to tell people about my life growing up on the land and how great it can be. I thought Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders would be a great stepping-stone in allowing me to do that.” Tom Squires
A career in wool lets Tom lead the lifestyle he has always dreamed of
During the workshops Tom and Matt were given an insight to the workings of the media and got the chance to be interviewed by a journalist.
“One of the key skills I learnt from the training was how the media can help you get your message across and how it can get it all wrong if you don’t have the right facts and or haven’t done your research to ensure they receive the correct message,” Matt says.
For Matt shearing is a lifestyle that allows his family to work and play together
“Being able to talk to leading journalist in the media industry was brilliant,” Tom says. “It challenged me to think from another angle. For example, the one-on-one interview I had with the journalist made me realise journalists wouldn’t run a story unless they know it has an interesting angle for their readers. Now, it may seem common sense, but I never sat back and thought about it. From there it made me think about what is it I really care about and how can I communicate that in a way that will inspire other young people to join me in a career in wool”
Tom and Matt also learnt that to able to effectively talk to the media required the polishing of their own stories; to reduce the use of jargon, to talk in descriptive and personal tones, to use real-life examples rather than facts and to tailor their presentations to a particular audience.
“The program has given me an insight into better crafting a presentation for an audience beyond the agricultural industry,” Tom says. “After presenting, the feedback given was focused around me making sure what was on the slides was able to be read and understood by anyone. This prompted me to shape my presentation more around myself and my own life experiences, rather than telling facts and figures about the industry.”
Adding to this story-telling skillset, Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders also delivered training in the often daunting arena of public speaking and introduced Matt and Tom to a network of young agricultural professionals who can support and encourage them in their own careers.
And so, one year into the program, what have been the highlights for these new YFC and how are they employing their new skills? For Tom, seeing other young leaders striving for success in agriculture has become a great driver.
“In some ways its like shearing,” he says. “In the shearing sheds you always want to be as good as the best shearer (referred to as the gun) in team. You look at the gun and think if he can do it why can’t I? This program was the same for me. I looked around at what the others had achieved and what they had done for the industry and it made me want to do the same.”
For Matt the program is providing continuation of his leadership journey.
“I now have the confidence to want to change and to make a difference within my industry by telling my story and achieving my goals,” he says. “The Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program has taught me that I can lead the way in my industry, and it has given me skills to develop myself and help others to achieve any outcome we are striving for.”