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.
Prior to joining the Kreative Koalas program in 2019, students from western Sydney’s James Erskine Public School (JEPS) were already on a sustainability trajectory. They had been involved in Clean Up Australia Day and National Tree Day, had established a vegetable garden, a sensory garden and a bee garden, and recycled paper and cardboard weekly.
Then a giant white fibreglass koala landed on their doorstep and sent their environmental awareness into overdrive. They spoke with YFC Anika Molesworth about climate change and its effects on farmers, implemented composting and became part of the Return and Earn scheme by collecting recyclable containers.
“When we looked at what we could see and feel for ourselves – hotter days, longer drought, water restrictions, extreme weather, bags and bags of garbage headed to landfill, rubbish blowing across the playground, abandoned chicken coops and overgrown gardens… It was easy to see the changes that we needed to make. Our concept inspired the individual pictures on our koala and each day she grew. As we learned new things, we added them, it was a work in progress,” the students said in their Kreative Koalas artwork analysis.
But did JEPS maintain this enthusiasm once the project ended for the year?
“Kreative Koalas had a snowball effect on us. Since September last year we have continued the container recycling and returned over 7900 containers, earning the school $790. This has been used to purchase native bee hotels and a worm farm, and to sponsor a koala through World Wildlife Fund. This year we will also look at soft plastic recycling and possibly get chickens for the school.” teacher Taryn Pears says.
Their fibreglass koala, named Climb It, now holds pride of place in a purpose-built garden at the school.
“She’s surrounded by native plants and all the students are excited to see her on display,” Taryn says
And although Covid-19 has meant JEPS will not be taking part in the 2020 Kreative Koalas, the school continues to feed off the KK momentum.
“I was so glad we had the opportunity last year and we’ve had amazing feedback from the parents and the kids and even other schools who have called me up asking for advice. We have joined forces with Cassandra Lindsay [from Oxley Park Public School] and established a Kid’s Kitchen and Garden where the kids can grow edible plants and cook them. It has been wonderful to show the kids that small changes can make big differences.” ” Taryn says.
“I was so impressed with the student and school projects that were showcased at last year’s presentation. The children were outstanding in their delivery and the koalas, of course, are both an item of beauty and knowledge.” says Pauline Dunne Team Leader from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment says.
JEPS exemplifies the ethos of Picture You in Agriculture. Programs such as Kreative Koalas, and The Archibull Prize, are not one off events but rather paths to a sustainable future where our young people can be part of the solution and drivers of the change our world needs.
Taryn and the students from James Erskine Public School with Costa Georgiadis at the Kreative Koalas Awards
On Friday, July 17, the world said goodbye to Carmel Mills, and the PYiA family is among those in mourning.
Carmel was the “other half” of Go Ahead Business Solutions, with whom PYiA has a long term relationship. Many of our Young Farming Champions and our teachers know her husband Greg as our social license expert and teacher professional learning facilitator.
We know that Carmel was a key part of his visionary work.
“Greg and Carmel faced their share of challenges. Carmel was the epitome of kindness and courage. Both Greg and Carmel lived for their children and the four of them exemplify the ultimate family partnership in always being there for each other.” says PYiA founder Lynne Strong
Young Farming Champions who studied at the University of New England found their mentors in Greg and Carmel.
“Once upon a time, this beautiful woman Carmel Mills came into my life. She touched my life in ways I could never have imagined and showed me what true compassion, strength, and courage looks like. Carmel will be forever missed by everyone she met.” Say Jasmine Whitten
Another Young Farming Champion, Samantha Wan, was also touched by Carmel and, earlier this year, connected the Mills with the Michael Manion Wool Foundation, who provided the family with a holiday to remember.
Throughout her illness Carmel was always available to others, whether that was sharing cancer research, connecting through support groups or sharing her personal story. For those who wish to now be available for Carmel’s family, donations can be made (through this fundraising page) in her memory to the Armidale Public Hospital Oncology Unit.
In time PYiA will establish a school-based award in Carmel’s name, an award to be developed and driven by her biggest supporters – Greg and their two daughters, Destiny and Annabelle.
Our Young Farming Champions are known as innovators, and during isolation they have certainly lived up to this title! In June we launched the Leadership is Language series, where our team sit down (virtually) with some of Australia’s foremost thought leaders to discuss how leadership can be influenced by the language and communication styles we use.
The first interview in our series was hosted by Lucy Collingridge, who chatted to social science researcher Dr Nicole McDonald, and Nicole followed up this debut with a workshop specifically for Young Farming Champions. Next in the series saw friends of the YFC Kirsty White from Bald Blair Angus Stud sit down with human agronomist Rebel Black. Then it was Emma Ayliffe’s turn to chat to agri-specialist Sally Murfet, who also hosted an interactive workshop for the team.
Keep an eye on the website for more interviews in the Leadership is Language series – you’ll never know who might pop up!
In The Field
Here in Australia we may be shivering through winter but YFC Kirsty McCormack is enjoying a Canadian summer. Kirsty has been working for genetics company “Quantum Genetix” as their Technical Sales Manager since Dec 2019. She lives on the ranch where her partner works, right next door to the Rocky Mountains and while July usually means it’s time for the Calgary Stampede, coronavirus has cancelled it this year. Instead of riding rodeo Kirsty is taking the time to enjoy the beautiful Rockies. We recently asked Kirsty what she loves about the world of agriculture
The people!! … how passionate they are. How much innovation and pride they take in making it better! …. the connection to the land the way they manage the soils
Follow Kirsty on Instagram to see and feel how she shares her love of what she does through beautiful words and magificent images.
Also working in North America is Kylie Schuller who is the sales manager for Andrews Meat Industries in Atlanta, Georgia. Kylie was one of the earliest YFCs, graduating in 2013 and, even though she admits she wasn’t thrilled with agriculture growing up (she grew up on a feedlot), she now has plenty to say on how the industry has provided a world of opportunity for her. See what advice she has for new YFC here.
And while we’re chatting about northern summers YFC Alana Black, who is now based in Scotland, works with the Rural Youth Project. This “research-based project aims to develop feasible strategies to facilitate the involvement of young people in agricultural and rural activity by better understanding their current situation, aspirations, opportunities and challenges.” One of Alana’s recent initiatives was to coordinate the Road Ahead seminar, which brought together six agriculturists from across the globe (including our very own Emma Ayliffe) to talk about farming and food-supply post Covid-19. “It was a chance to discuss the future of farming through our eyes and it was followed by the opportunity for journalists from around the world to hit us with their burning questions,” Emma says. If you didn’t manage to stay awake for the 11pm to 1am live broadcast on July 10, you can catch the replay here.
Back on Australian soil and two of our YFC – Emma Turner and Cassie Baile – have been busy providing wool reports for the Australian Wool Network. Watch their most recent video here. And also having a yack about agriculture have been Emma Ayliffe and Martin Murray who recently contributed podcasts to the newly formed Farms Advice website. Catch Emma’s podcast here and Martin’s here.
Combining his interest for plants, agriculture and a newfound love for genetics, Young Farming Champion Calum Watt will be submitting his PhD thesis in September. Calum’s thesis looks at how genetic research improved the productivity, sustainability and profitability of grain production by enabling plants to utilise their resources more efficiently and withstand seasonal stresses. Read the story in FarmOnline here
Out of the Field
We reported last month that Emma and Jo Newton would be featuring on Well-Being Wednesday; a free webinar hosted by Cynthia Mahoney and Louise Thomson discussing the wisdom and stories of rural woman. Well, now you can catch their videos!
In July we also caught up with YFC Dione Howard and her dad Graeme. The Howards have long been associated with NSW Farmers, with Dione’s great-grandfather being involved with early farming advocacy organisations in the 1950s and 60s. Check out the blog to see the cutest photo of Dione and her Dad, and learn why agricultural advocacy is important to them.
The Howard Family a wonderful example of the culture of volunteering and advocacy in rural and regional OZ
YFC Jasmine Whitten is a business analyst with Agripath in Tamworth and this month she spoke with evokeAg about how we are currently using farm data and the potential for where farm data can take us in the future. Discover what she had to say about farm data here.
Last year four of our YFC – Bessie Thomas, Lucy Collingridge, Dione Howard and Emma Ayliffe – were honoured in the annual NSW Department of Primary Industries Hidden Treasures list. This year Lucy is returning the love; taking part in a video to promote the 2020 Hidden Treasures about her extensive range of volunteering.
And while she’s at it Lucy is also going dry in July. This is why: “I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’ve got it pretty easy in life. Some people don’t. We all know someone impacted by cancer, or we have lost someone from the dreaded disease. This July, I’m joining in on #DryJuly to help support cancer patients.” As we go to press Lucy has already raised over $1200 and the month is not over yet. Throw your support behind Lucy by donating here.
In our Prime Cuts this month it’s a huge congratulations to YFC Melissa Henry and her Quebon Coloured Sheep. Melissa is passionate about supporting small-scale producers like herself and hand-crafters that want to grow their livestock enterprise and make the best use of their wool and lamb products. She regularly exhibits Quebon’s coloured wool and recently won Champion Lamb Fleece at the 23rd National Fleece Competition of the Black and Coloured Sheep Breeders Association (NSW) Inc. She also took out prizes for weaner and lamb fleece at the event held in Canberra. Find out more about Melissa’s coloured sheep by visiting the website.
There is now a doctor in the (YFC) house. Congratulations to Anika Molesworth who had her PhD accepted during July – an amazing achievement and very well deserved. We’re all proud of you!
R.M.Williams – the name is a siren call to regional, rural and remote Australia; the company is grounded in the outback; the man was a legend. Twenty-two years ago R.M.Williams OUTBACK magazine was launched with the aim of showcasing the positive stories of those beyond our city limits. OUTBACK has become a celebration of our people and places and is cherished not only by those living in the bush, but by Australians from all walks of life; a vital and living connection bridging the oft-called urban-rural divide.
The ethos of R.M.Williams OUTBACK mirrors that of Picture You in Agriculture. We identify brilliant young agriculturists, equip them with skills and confidence, and send them into the broader world to share their own positive stories. Through The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas these stories reach thousands of students and teachers, their families and their communities.
PYiA believes in the power of partnerships and of shouting-out to those who share our values so we are proud to announce some stories from R.M.Williams OUTBACK now appear on The Archibull Prize website, where teachers and students can easily access real-life examples of careers and sustainable communities.
One of these stories is about Bald Blair Angus, owned and operated by Sam and Kirsty White. If Kirsty’s name seems familiar it is because she has recently hosted one of our Youth Voices Leadership Team’s Leadership is Language sessions. You see, our stories are interconnected.
Best practice agriculture, role models in agriculture and the diversity and breadth of exciting careers in our sector are celebrated by both PYiA and Australia’s premier magazine, R.M.Williams OUTBACK. Telling stories has never felt so good.