“When societies around the world were straining under the pressure young Australians were designing a future that will benefit farmers, consumers, and the planet for generations to come”
Agriculture is a sector that attracts substantial public attention. It is pivotal that the sector and everyone working in the sector can build and maintain relationships with a range of people, who often have diverse interests in what the sector does.
The building and maintaining of community relationships is crucial for the long-term future of food security. To deliver solutions that benefit the farmer, the consumer, and the planet for generations to come it is pivotal the agriculture sector takes collective action to create and deliver community engagement opportunities that encourage mutual trust and respect.
Building deep and lasting relationships between consumers and producers is at the heart of everything we do at Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA). PYiA aims to promote a positive image of Australian agriculture, encourage the uptake of agricultural careers and foster two -way conversations within the community.
To facilitate this PYiA identifies and trains emerging leaders (Young Farming Champions) in the agriculture sector to deliver our in school programs, The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. A key strength of our in school programs is encouraging schools to identify and connect with trusted expertise in their local communities.
2020 was a year of change and challenge for everyone. It was a year when we had to re-examine our expectations, be flexible in the way we approached work and find new ways of doing everyday things. Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) was not immune to these challenges. Just as we were launching a new community engagement model for The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas schools were scrambling to take teaching online.
Asking them to take on our deep-dive, time-demanding, project-based learning programs and engage with diverse groups of people beyond the classroom seemed an impossible task.
Yet, rise to the task they did and it became abundantly clear to us that spreading the good word about Australian agriculture is not about one-day workshops or employer-sponsored conferences, but rather is dependent on the strong relationships we forge over the longer term. Our Archibull and Kreative Koalas schools, too, came to value these partnerships and everywhere we turned we found examples of students, teachers, community, government and industry working together for a common goal of promoting prosperity while protecting the planet.
This collective action for collective impact model creates a community of people with collective intelligence.
It requires visionaries and champions within those organisations who are willing to experiment to find the most effective models.
In this post we are introducing you to some of the visionaries and champions who are supporting agriculture to build lifelong community relationships.
Local Land Services is a NSW Government land management agency delivering quality services to rural and regional landholders. Their visions and ethics align with those of PYiA and over the years we have formed a formidable partnership. In 2020 staff from LLS offices across the state worked closely with our Kreative Koalas schools.
Hunter LLS school engagement Officer Jane Lloyd-Jones was on the front line of this partnership. Building on her successful partnership with Medowie Christian School in 2019 Jane worked with Dungog Public School to raise awareness of the endangered red goshawk, and with St Brigid’s Primary School who adopted the endangered Hunter River Turtle as their mascot (and donated $300 to the Australian Reptile Park to aid its preservation). Exeter Public School and Chevalier College also benefited from visits from LLS representatives.
Pauline Dunne and Freddy Herrera from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) worked alongside Jane and the LLS, delivering presentations into schools in the Hunter to talk about biodiversity and conservation. Pauline recognised the value of this collaboration with LLS:
“Jane’s role as the Local Land Services schools education officer makes the process seamless for all of us. She was able to coordinate all the relationships between the educators and the Hunter Local Land Services and DPIE and Aussie Ark and there was a combined willingness to share networks and contacts.”
Hunter LLS and the DPIE was also invaluable in providing funding to support workshops designed specifically to meet the needs of teachers and students participating in both The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. These workshops were facilitated by a dynamic group of leaders including Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education principal Kris Beasley, changeologist Les Robinson, science communicator Jenni Metcalfe, 21st century learning expert Josh Farr and John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority Education team.
NGOs can also play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the pivotal role farmers play in nourishing our country. OzHarvest’s FEAST, a food education program for primary students, married perfectly with Kreative Koalas and several schools chose to complete both in 2020. Annangrove Public School studied SGG 2: Zero Hunger with Kreative Koalas using their re-invigorated school garden and lessons learnt in FEAST to support the local Windsor Community Kitchen.
“We donate eggs and vegetables every fortnight to Windsor Community Kitchen and have decided that we will sponsor Windsor Community Kitchen and donate money to help them pay their rent, as well as donate food.”
Other schools participating in FEAST in conjunction with Kreative Koalas were Medowie Christian School, Primbee Public School and St Brigid’s St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School with the community being a major beneficiary of student fundraising and food growing efforts.
Indigenous influences were prominent in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. The Australian curriculum encourages teachers to create a culture where indigenous stories and language are fostered. More and more teachers are seeing Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize as ideal vehicles to foster indigenous knowledge. Many schools invited local Elders to present to students, indigenous designs were incorporated on artworks (such as the stunning rainbow serpent from Raymond Terrace Public School) and both cows and koalas supported names in local indigenous language.
“We used iridescent rainbow tiles with organic shapes to piece together a large Rainbow Serpent, to circle the design. We used no paint and created a design which literally reflects (due to the mirrored tiles) our ideas and exploration of Aboriginal stylised design and bushfire theme. Our koala will form the centrepiece of our new Aboriginal cultural garden at Raymond Terrace Public School.”
Calling on the knowledge of local heroes such as Indigenous Elders was a key part of relationships built during 2020. NSW Southern Highland schools Exeter Public and Chevalier College, who had been impacted by the 2019/2020 summer bushfires, connected with local fire brigades and used Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize as healing mechanisms.
“This writing [on their koala] allowed the children to express their feelings and emotions about the bushfires as it affected them and then focus on the positive aspect of the bush coming back alive. Kreative Koalas certainly has been a wonderfully informative and healing project to be a part of.”
In Kreative Koalas St Joseph’s School at Grenfell tapped into a wealth of local knowledge as they studied water sustainability. Weddin Landcare officer Melanie Cooper, John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Sally Russell from Lake Cowal Conservation Centre and “our local plumber” from Conron Stockrete all supported the students in their learning journey.
Similarly, in The Archibull Prize Innisfail State College in north Queensland, studying the health of their local catchment, called on a range of local experts. These included Innisfail Elder Alf Joyce (Uncle Alf), banana farmer Mark Nucifora, the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Elders Innisfail and extension offices from Canegrowers.
“As an artwork, the Archibull has allowed students to engage with their region and the real-world issues they face within their futures. It has been an incredibly positive experience for all the students involved from the incursions and presentation sessions. More importantly, the painting of the cow has been a great experience for the students to connect, be creative together, communicate their ideas and support each other throughout this creative process. They have loved it and are very proud of their efforts.”
Looking back at the achievements of our 2020 Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas schools it is easy to forget that all their projects were constructed under the duress of a global pandemic. When societies around the world were straining under the pressure our young people were looking forward to the future. They were investigating, and actioning, United Nations Development Goals, using PYiA programs to heal, researching new ways to sustainably and regeneratively farm and, most importantly, making connections and forming relationships that will guide them into the bright future they deserve. Even in a pandemic we can take inspiration from our youth.
With “flexibility” being our key word for the beginning of the new decade thanks to our 2020 partners, teachers and students we are better placed for the challenge that will, no doubt, come in 2021.
#KreativeKoalaKids #ArchieAction2020 #Changemakers #GlobalGoals