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Young Farming Champion Chloe Dutschke is a contract musterer.
Our Young Farming Champions are seizing COVID19 opportunities to learn how to transform in a hibernating economy and are finding innovative ways to re-align our relationships to one another, and to nature.
Young Farming Champion Chloe Dutschke is a contract musterer. COVID19 has meant she currently bunkered down on a 280,000 acre merino station with 10 staff all isolated together in the Western Riverina NSW.
Working on a sheep station means Chloe role is an essential service. This is her story of how she has been coping with COVID-19 in the bush.
In mid-march, before the pandemic really hit, my partner Joe and I moved from the Flinders Ranges SA to the Western Riverina NSW.
Who knew that only weeks later we would be faced with an ever growing global pandemic and a list of restrictions limiting us from heading back to SA any time soon. On arrival to the station we hit the ground running heading straight into mustering for shearing the following week.
Shearing is one of the highlights of working on merino properties. As musterers we bring the sheep into the shed, and take them away again and I love watching the shearers work and seeing fleeces fly. But this year that novelty was lost. With the restrictions that industry put on shearing teams, and the restrictions we imposed on station staff for safety, we were unable to mix with the shearing team or even enter the shed to watch our ewes being shorn. It was a somber reality.
Other than industry restrictions we felt the same pressures every household has faced with the dreaded toilet paper and essential food war. We worried for weeks where we would source enough toilet paper for an extra 25 shearing staff let alone food for the cook to feed the hungry workers. Added pressures included the continual fall in the wool market and the constant fear of shearing being cancelled. Although the virus has made shearing difficult it did not make it impossible. We worked within our restrictions to produce 500 bales of wool with no major dramas and we even received a bonus 40mm of rain.
Of the 10 station staff, four of us are new to the Riverina. We don’t know anyone in town and were really looking forward to being a part of a new community. In most country towns the best way to meet people is joining a sporting team or club but the virus this has completely cut us off. Our station staff have all together to make the best of the situation. Like many people we have got the board games and cards out and are hosting games night, and even hosted a pub night where we made schnitzels and chips and pretended they were just as good as a pub parmy.
The virus and moving to a new state meant that I could not go back to SA for Easter. Usually I would travel to see my family and we would spend Easter Sunday together; instead, this year my family had a zoom hookup and I spent two hours talking to my family from SA, NSW, NT and VIC. At the station we tried to make Easter Sunday special. We found a beautiful wooden table saved from the old shearers quarters in a falling down shed and restored it for the occasion, we cooked a roast lunch and played hours of trivia. As the afternoon drew on, 10 of us sat in the sunshine and toasted the end of shearing and to a prosperous year ahead.
Like many station workers, distance from the closest town makes it hard to attend a dawn service for Anzac Day and with the restrictions it meant it was impossible anyway. To show our respects we decided to host our own dawn service. We resurrected and restored the old flagpole and made wreaths and poppies to lay at the bottom.
We paid tribute to the people who served from the station in years gone by and we also remembered the family members of station staff by reading their names at the service. We listened to the last post echo through the trees and the birds sing during the minutes silence.
Although the COVID-19 virus has had a profound negative effect for many, I am thankful for the end of a stressful shearing and for the moments I have shared with my new station family over Easter and Anzac Day. We have found positives in this ever-changing world, and for that I am grateful.
COVID19 has given us all a chance to reflect on what matter most. It’s been a wonderful reminder of the importance of taking care of yourself and those around you – in your community, your family, your workplace.
Some wise tips for Coping with Covid from the experts
This week is National Volunteer Week with the theme of “Changing Communities. Changing Lives” and we’d like to give a huge shout-out and thank you to over one hundred Young Farming Champions who volunteer, in some capacity, 365 days a year.
Our YFC have exciting and rewarding careers in agriculture and on top of this give their time to anyone from the local fire brigade to state show societies, but most importantly they volunteer to inspire young people to follow them into agriculture. Even in a COVID world our YFC are integral parts of The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas creating a new world of collaboration, community and connection.
Read on for examples of our wonderful YFC in action.
In The Field
The coronavirus crisis continues to dominate our lives but our Young Farming Champions have come up with novel ways to approximate ‘business as usual’.
Local Land Services Biodiversity Officer Lucy Collingridge has set-up a drive-through bait collection point for farmers wishing to participate in fox control. “Foxes don’t social distance, so we needed a program that worked for landholders,” Lucy says. Read all about her initiative in The Land.
Also innovating during the coronavirus is wool broker Sam Wan. With buyers unable to attend the usual weekly sales the industry has had to change to an online medium – and Sam was leading the change. Read more about the online wool auctions on Sheep Central.
Before the wool can get to Sam it needs to come off the sheep and YFC Tom Squires has spent the corona crisis shearing rams. On a property in central Tasmania Tom was a part of a 5-person crew, whipping the wool off 5,000 sheep. However, this time around there was a few additional rules and guidelines with every worker keeping 1.5 metres apart and following strong hygiene practices. “Essentially, the same rules which apply in Woolworths apply to the shearing sheds” Tom says. “It has certainly made some shearing times on farms longer than usual, but everyone’s health is a priority and we are grateful the industry can continue to operate”.
On a lighter note, home isolation has meant some of our YFC are returning to familial roots. Katherine Bain took the chance to continue Easter traditions despite isolation and made a year’s supply of quince paste for everyone!
Planting season has also been in full swing for our YFC croppers as they take advantage of good rain received earlier in the year and get out the big toys. Check out this blog post to see what Marlee Langfield, Emma Ayliffe and Dan Fox are planting, and check out Marlee’s superb images below.
Congratulations to Alana Black who is celebrating twelve months in Scotland working for Jane Craigie Marketing and Rural Youth Project, eating haggis and milking coos. Alana has a Bachelor of Communication – Public Relations from Charles Sturt University and in 2018 was announced as an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Trailblazer for her work on communication and succession planning in family farming businesses. Alana’s Scottish employers are so happy with her they made her an anniversary video. Way to go Alana!
Our YFCs are also working in research laboratories and offices and sharing their technical knowledge with the world. Check out this paper forming part of Calum Watt’s continuing ambition to breed better barley for your beer, this one from meat scientist Stephanie Fowler on fat content of the lamb chop to go with Calum’s beer, and this one from Jo Newton on big data in the dairy industry.
Sharna Holman has been sharing her cotton knowledge on social media – spamming Facebook and Twitter en masse. When confronted on why she has been filling our newsfeed with cotton spam here is what she had to defend her actions: “I think it’s important to showcase agriculture and often our day-to-day jobs and, in my case the trials I’m involved in, to different audiences to highlight the variety in agriculture and agricultural careers. For me, sharing my ‘work life’ on Facebook often allows my city friends to get an insight into what I mean when I say ‘I’ve been in the field’ especially being a born and bred Sydney-sider. Sharing on twitter allows cotton growers and agronomists to get an insight into our trial work, what we are doing and our results and it allows conversations to start with people that we may not have been able to reach traditionally due to distance or time. So sorry, not sorry, for all that spam….”
Out of the Field
World Earth Day was held on April 22 and magazine Marie Clarie asked three scientists about their personal perspective on how these climate events are affecting the wild spaces where they live and work. One of these was our Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth who is a farmer at Broken Hill. She inspired the heart and minds of many with a single quote, “I only have to look out the window of my home to see the impacts of climate change,” she says. “It breaks my heart to see the land suffering this way. However, with this sadness for what has already been lost, and the anger for the lack of action taken to address a problem we have been warned about for so long – comes hope.” Anika is continually creating a better future by being a part of the conversation. We are always wondering where we will see Anika feature next. Keep watching this space!
Not to be out done YFCs Tom Squires and Lucy Collingridge celebrated World Earth Day by sharing their love of nature and adventure on our social media channels. Lucy summed up perfectly why we should all celebrate World Earth day, “the earth is such a fragile yet beautiful wonder, and I am lucky to be alive at a time when you can jump in a plane, train, boat or car and see so much of what it has to offer. From watching whales breech only metres from our zodiac in the depths of Antarctica to kayaking next to glaciers that are thousands of years old. What an absolute privilege it is to be able to experience so many of nature’s wonders – not only when we travel abroad but also at home.”
And all of our YFCs are stars on the revamped Archibull Prize website. Tayla Field, Jasmine Whitten, Jessica Fearnley and Casey Onus talk sustainable communities, Lucy talks biosecurity and there are over 30 career profiles on the amazing lives of YFCs. Also on the website is the first project from the newly formed YVLT Innovation team, which showcases Anika and provides a structured way for the general public to engage with her. Read more on the Innovation team in this blog and keep an eye out for exciting developments in the near future.
Still on Anika and during lockdown she has taken the time to connect with farmers from around the world via Zoom. “I have organised or facilitated seven online events over the past few weeks – which has been such a fantastic and energising experience! We can learn a lot from our global farming family and we can be there to support one another during these challenging times.”
Also innovating during lockdown is Dione Howard who has been judging agricultural essays. “The South Coast and Tablelands Youth in Ag Movement created an online show and fellow 2020 RAS Rural Achievers Ryan McParland and Kory Graham have invited the rest of our group to take part in the show as judges,” she says. “I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s entries and feeling inspired about the year ahead for shows and community events across Australia.” Make sure you join ‘Online Show 2020’ Facebook group for updates and results.
Usually during April Lucy would also be doing her bit for agricultural shows at Sydney Royal and even though she couldn’t be there in person this year, she gave her time for an interview with show ring announcer Lyndsey Douglas. Read the full interview here.
In more exciting out of the field news UNE students Ruby Fanning and Becca George have been selected as part of the Angus Youth Consultative Committee. The Committee provides consultation and representation on behalf of Angus Youth members, and will be a wonderful opportunity for them to explore their leadership potential. Read more on their selection here. Congratulations girls.
Our YVLT Chair Emma Ayliffe, continues to kick amazing goals and after six years of study has completed her Master of Science in Agriculture. This is alongside running her business Summit Ag, farming her own land with partner Craig and donating endless hours as a volunteer. Congratulations Emma – you are an inspiration to us all.
Emma also inspires us with her work/life balance and here she and Craig enjoy a beer and a sunset snap to celebrate two years of farm ownership. Let’s cross our fingers they get wetter years for the next two and keep the farming dream alive!
and the best news you can join the team
Thanks to Corteva Agriscience two scholarships are available to join our Growing Young Leaders program
Do we have the perfect COVID19 cut through programs for you and your students?
It is time to combine learning with fun and post COVID career readiness
Expressions of interest are now open for The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas- Design a Bright Future Challenge investigating sustainability through an agricultural lens.
We know we are working in unusual times and our schools may feel like they are in chaos and teachers and students are feeling overwhelmed.
Our programs are an opportunity to engage students in an exciting, authentic learning experience supported by industry and educational experts.
Students will learn how to manage projects more efficiently and can take full ownership of their work, reflecting on and celebrating their progress and accomplishments. The model encourages students to find their voice and learn to take pride in their work, boosting their agency and purpose.
To bring some added Koala Karma to your lives our team has gathered all the bright minds in education together to create a portfolio of support materials for your learning journey
How does it work
The Archibull Prize 2020 sees secondary schools tasked with identifying a local agricultural area of investigation and exploring its challenges and opportunities. The students will be assigned a Young Farming Champion and encouraged to identify specialist educational settings, tertiary, business, and government organisations with whom they can partner in their quest to take ownership of the challenge and share their findings and recommendations.
The Archibull Prize Expressions of Interest brochure can be found here
Secondary schools will also be encouraged to build a partnership with their feeder primary schools for Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge with the opportunity for the secondary school to offer student mentoring, facilitation and specialist support.
Kreative Koalas design a bright future challenge taps into creative minds to connect and inspire young people and the community to work together to act on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on a local level
Kreative Koalas expression of interest brochure can be found here
Based on the concept of ‘communities of practice’ these partnered learning opportunities between primary, secondary, specialist educational settings and tertiary institutions will enhance the transition of students through their education journey and provide post-school opportunities through other partnerships with industry and government.
The new model is tailored to support schools to encourage teacher and student collaboration using cross curricula learning. In addition, it will incorporate the development of intergenerational knowledge and skills transfer while continuing to be an exemplary example of student-driven project-based learning.
The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas provide young people with future focused learning linked to real world issues at both a society and agricultural industry level and fosters the top four skills 21st century employers want: collaborative team players, creative thinking, critical analysis and problem solving and influential communication.
Places are limited we currently have opportunities for 10 secondary schools and 20 partner primary schools to participate in 2020.
Visit our website to chose the progam that matches your school
Three generations of Family Fox have been supplying Australians with nutritious delicious grains for decades
♫ ♫ There’s work to be done; You had a good go;
The tractor is ready; there is plenty to sow;
This year’s the year; With good looking ground;
And I’m feeling good; As I make my way round ♫♫
As Sara Storer tells us in her song Beautiful Circle this year’s the year. The drought that has plagued our cropping families for too long relinquished some its grip at the beginning of 2020 and our Young Farming Champions are rejoicing: It’s planting time!
“What an incredible start to the winter cropping program,” Emma Ayliffe says. “Talking to some of the older guys it is the best start they have seen in over ten years at Lake Cargelligo.”
“Planting 2020 has been a very welcome change to the past few seasons,” Dan Fox says, “with great opening rains allowing us to seed into great moisture and get very good herbicide knockdowns on all the weeds that have germinated.”
“Thanks to general rains that we received over March and April,” Marlee Langfield says, “and most recently just shy of 60mm in the last two days, we are embarking on the most confident start to the winter cropping season since Andrew and I have been ‘at it’ (farming)!”
Marlee has created a 4 day photo journal of planting in this series of beautiful photos of new life
Working in conjunction with her partner’s family Emma will plant 5000 hectares of crop, with lupins, canola, oats and lucerne already in the ground. Their major crop, wheat, will be sown from ANZAC day, along with a smaller amount of barley. “We have 80-90% of our soil profile of moisture which is setting us up really well,” she says. “We will also be busy with weed and integrated pest management (a few bugs getting around already) and are hoping for good rain to allow us to push our crops and do some top dressing with nitrogen mid-winter. Then it will be all go for harvest in October/November.”
Further south Dan, and three generations of his family, are planting a multitude of crops. “We have finished sowing our faba bean/canola companion crop, which is designed to reduce our artificial inputs for both crops, as well as our early malt barley, which has been companioned with vetch, field peas and tillage radish for the beneficial interactions they bring,” he says. “We have also planted a paddock of multi species cover crop that we are hoping to put our lambs on next week, which will be a smorgasbord for them. Then it is fingers crossed for no breakdowns as we roll into the busy time of early May.” Phew, busy in May? What do you call April, Dan?
Its takes some serious machinery to keep this country food secure
The air seeder (planter) is running hot outside Cowra where Marlee and Andrew are at it, planting 750ha of wheat, barley, canola and chickpeas. “Chickpeas do a wonderful job at fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere back in the soil,” she says, “which our other rotations will appreciate and make use of in future years.” The boom spray is also getting a work out applying pre and post-emergent sprays to control weeds and pests and it will be used later in the year for in-crop sprays. “If the season permits, fertiliser will be spread (topdressing) during the winter months to promote plant growth and in an effort to increase yield. Come October and the warmer weather the windrower will be ready to cut the canola and hot on the heels of this will be the header, busy harvesting all the different crops till about Christmas. We plan to make hay from some of the cereal crops and harvest the grains, oilseed and chickpeas for animal and human consumption.”
2020 rain is giving Young Farming Champion Marlee Langfield the perfect opportunity to use her new airseeder to grow safe, affordable, nutritous food for Australian families
As always, our farmers will be keeping an eye on the weather. Marlee had no ‘moisture in the soil bank’ due to the dry summer and knows there is still a long way to go to harvest, even now that recent rain has interrupted sowing and kept her off the paddocks for a couple of days.
We wish all our cropping Young Farming Champions favourable weather, timely rain, low bug populations and bumper crops for 2020.
For those wanting to know about the technical side of cropping watch this extraordinary video from Onus Agronomy of the Zell Family’s 214ft Airseeder (worlds largest planter) in action
or if you’d rather kick back and listen to Sara Storer’s Beautiful Circle you can do so here.
Little bit of history on the development of planing machines can be found here and an Australian farmer’s story here
At Picture You in Agriculture we believe empowered young people have the capacity to solve tomorrow’s problems today. The Innovation Hub is a Young Farming Champions alumni community of practice for individuals and groups to build an innovation mindset, explore new ideas, collaborate, experiment and accelerate learning applied to a real-world project that nurtures a bright future for agriculture.
Our Young Farming Champions are real people working in real jobs in real-world situations. Sometimes they may have big ideas for projects to benefit the entire agricultural sector. Sometimes they may be struggling with life changes. Sometimes they may have light-bulb moments of inspiration. Sometimes they will hesitantly mention a brilliant design that has been bubbling away in their sub-conscious. Sometimes they may have challenges. The Innovation Hub provides a forum for Young Farming Champions to express their ideas and challenges to a committee of their peers.
The Innovation Hub committee will then assess the merits of each, and its relevance to PYiA core business, and either take the idea further with simple methods of support for projects and passions, or connect the YFC to others in our extensive network who may provide the support they require.
In the inaugural test-case for the Innovation Hub Anika Molesworth tells us why working with the Young Farming Champions community is so important to her.
“Connecting and collaborating with young people in rural Australia (and those in urban places who are working in ag too) fills me with so much energy – I love working with people who are passionate about making a positive difference and don’t mind getting their hands dirty on farms! Apart from being a highly motivating group, they also challenge me to learn more about the wider farming sector and see new perspectives. What I am learning from my Young Farming Champions peers I then take into schools, where I have the great honour to teach students about sustainable farming and climate change. We cannot solve the big challenges in agriculture through disjointed and isolated effort – and the Innovation Hub creates a space where we can truly come together, stretch ourselves and support one another.”
With the inaugural Innovation Hub initiative, we are able to support Anika’s desire to connect and collaborate with her favourite audience – larger numbers of school children – in a structured way. This has been achieved by promoting her on The Archibull Prize website and directing interested people to her ‘last-Friday-of–the-month’ meeting schedule. By providing scaffolding around how people can connect with her, Anika takes her story and knowledge from rural paddocks to classrooms around Australia.
See Anika’s full initiative from the Innovation Hub here.
PYiA looks forward to sharing more stories from the Innovation Hub in coming months; stay tuned to hear how Young Farming Champions are supporting Young Farming Champions.