Practicing in safe places – why it is important for supporting partners to provide action learning opportunities for Young Farming Champions

Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) is proud to partner with a range of organisations who support our Young Farming Champions (YFC) through their leadership and career development journeys. Two of these partners are Riverina Local Land Services (RLLS) and Corteva Agriscience, and both have recently shown the power of giving young people the opportunity to practice in safe places.

Riverina Local Land Services sponsors YFC Dylan Male and invited him to present to the Board and to join Board members on property tours. Dylan grew up in the Riverina (Wiradjuri Country) and although now studying in Melbourne he relishes the chance to return home. When general manager Ray Willis asked Dylan to present to the Board he took the opportunity to speak of this connection to the Riverina and how it sparked his interest in agriculture, which has led to a PhD researching the revival of an Aboriginal crop species. Following the Board meeting Dylan joined members for a networking dinner and then an agricultural tour of the Young Region.

“I am excited to not only be embarking on this learning journey [with YFC] but to also be joining such a great family of agricultural leaders motivated to achieve positive change. I look forward to future opportunities provided by RLLS that will continue to empower me on my journey to become a Young Farming Champion,” Dylan says.

Dylan Male with the Riverina Local Land Services Board

Ray, too, appreciates the partnership between PYiA and RLLS and the mentoring his organisation can provide Dylan.

“By providing Dylan with opportunities in our Board room, working alongside our staff and our individual one-on-one sessions, we hope to expose him to real world examples to show him how important building relationships and conveying your message is, no matter your situation. We plan on assisting Dylan build on his confidence, skills and abilities with a broad range of experiences with us,” Ray says.

Each year Corteva Day celebrates the launch of Corteva as an independent pureplay agriculture business and at an event held at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney recently YFC Steph Tabone and Connie Mort were invited to present to the group on their YFC experiences.

“The environment that Connie and I were able to talk within was safe as we knew everyone in the room, but it gave us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone as we got to speak in front of the group, when normally we would be the ones listening in the crowd,” Steph says.

Rob Kaan presenting at the Corteva Day breakfast 

Following Corteva Day Steph has a range of opportunities coming up including attendance at a Think Tank event hosted by Green Collar and at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW AgVision event, where she will share Corteva’s agricultural career pathways with year’s 9-12 students. This combined with YFC workshops, the YFC buddy system (where she is partnered with Dr Jo Newton OAM ) and mentoring with ANZ Corteva managing director Rob Kaan means Steph is fast-tracking her road to confident leadership.

“I feel grateful to be involved in the YFC program as it has already led to many positive things for me personally and professionally, and I appreciate the support and safe places to learn and challenge myself.”

Steph Tabone, Lynne Strong and Greg Mitchell at the Corteva Day breakfast 

Connie Mort was also invited by Rob Kaan to share her experiences with the Young Farming Champion program with Corteva team members at the organisation’s second birthday celebrations at the City of Sydney Botanic Gardens

I really valued the chance to stand up along side Steph and share what we have been doing with PYiA, and also how our values at Corteva align so nicely with what we are aiming to achieve as part of the YFC journey. There was great enthusiasm from our colleagues about how they can support us over the course of the YFC program, and that they can support the industry in which they work through their own involvement with PYiA, which I’m truly excited about.   

I am really looking forward to connecting with my fellow YFCs during the upcoming workshops and face-to-face events, and learning from those that have been a part of the program for many years already. It is encouraging to know that we have this safe space to communicate with our peers on this program when we are faced with challenges and need some feedback. I am enjoying being partnered with YFC alumni buddy Katherine Bain for the first part of my learning journey and looking forward to sharing my story with the Griffith Soroptimist club in July”

Rob Kaan is proud of the mentoring opportunities initiated by his company.

“At Corteva we are fortunate to have established some clear corporate values during the creation of the organization two years ago after our merger process.  People management and talent development is one of our key pillars, supported by a strong sense of promoting diversity and inclusion.  Within this, employee mentoring is a process we provide to employees seeking guidance, support and the opportunity to learn new skills and competencies from peers.  It’s often not a supervisor to employee relationship; mentoring works best when two employees build an open and trusting relationship built on curiosity, sharing experiences and providing guidance in a “safe environment”.   We help facilitate these employee connections and, in the case of young talented employees like Steph and Connie, YFC helps complement our mentoring programs very nicely,” he says.

PYiA’s vision to empower young people to reach their full potential through life-long learning and support is mirrored in organisations such as Riverina Local Land Services and Corteva Agriscience. When partnerships such as these, that invest in our young people, are formed and nurtured we will see agriculture and community thrive.

Celebrating our Cohort – Meet Dr Jenni Metcalfe

They say it takes a village to raise a child and at Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) it takes a village to support, mentor, teach and encourage our Young Farming Champions. One of our village “chiefs” is Dr Jenni Metcalfe from Econnect Communication who each year holds a series of workshops to enable our YFC on their leadership and career development journeys.

Recently Jenni conducted an online workshop Designing Compelling Messages including a mnemonic to capture her ideas:

  • Motivated – What is driving you to communicate? What do you want to achieve?

 

  • Empathy – Who do you want to communicate with? Have you tried standing in their shoes?

 

  • Specific – What is the concrete (not abstract) message that you want to convey?

 

  • Simple – Have you considered what your audience could misunderstand?

 

  • Acknowledge uncertainty – How sure are you of your information?

 

  • Game-change – Does your message include a call for change, in attitudes or actions?

 

  • Enable – Have you detailed how people can change?

 

This was immediately taken up and put into practice by YFC Bryan Van Wyk.

“I printed out the mnemonic and have it on my office wall. I have found it very useful to evaluate my presentations before sharing and will also use it to gauge any future articles, videos or reports I compose before publishing,” he says. In fact, Bryan used the mnemonic to test one of his favourite video creations: Born Free, Caught Wild. The Northern Prawn Industry and this was his assessment: “Motivated – yes; Empathy – yes; Specific – kind of, but there’s a lot of information to digest; Simple – relatively; Acknowledge uncertainty – thinks so; Game-changer – the message was to buy Australian and MSC-certified prawns, but it could have been clearer; and Enable – as above.” Great work Bryan.

At the beginning of June Steph Tabone had the opportunity to present to her Corteva colleagues about her YFC experience.

“I shared some insights on [Jenni’s] workshop as I felt that this topic would resonate with my colleagues. We have all been in social situations where we’re asked who we work for, and it can be a challenge knowing how to say you work for an agricultural chemical company because the people we are speaking with may not be as connected to agriculture as we are. I am proud of what we do and am proud to share the great things Corteva is doing, because we really have had a positive impact on the farmers we work with. I shared how these workshops help not only in conversations with adults who have existing perceptions of the industry, but also with the next generation in schools, engaging them in conversations about agriculture and the exciting career opportunities in our sector. I enjoy working for Corteva and I am confident other young people will too. Jenni’s workshop helped me understand how to share my story so it is engaging, relatable and memorable  ” Steph says.

Steph Tabone (left) and Lynne Strong at the Corteva birthday celebrations in the Botanic Gardens on June 1st

Connie Mort joined Steph on the Corteva stage and her take-home message from Jenni’s workshop was the relevance it had not only for her but for long-term YFC.

“We are in these workshops alongside alumni who have been with the program for up to eight years, such as Jo Newton and Anika Molesworth. This gives me confidence that content provided by the YFC program will be continually fresh and evolving, and that it is really all about life-long learning,” she says.

Most of our new YFC will now know Jenni from her workshops but few might know the full impact she has had on Picture You in Agriculture.

Program founder Lynne Strong has the backstory:

“The YFC program was inspired by the 2010 Climate Champions program I participated in. Jenni co-founded the program with Colin Creighton AM and delivered it for four years. The learnings inspired much of her PhD thesis. I was highly impressed by how much confidence and skills competence the program gave to farmer participants and I was committed to having it funded for young people.  Jenni and her partner in mastery, the wonderful Sarah Cole, then ran our first YFC workshop in 2011. Jenni is a world-leading science communicator with the vision to ‘bring science to life’ and we are very grateful to have Jenni as a central part of our team and carry on the legacy of the Climate Champions program”

and as Jenni so succinctly puts

“The YFC is an example of participatory science communication about sustainable agriculture. Like I found in my thesis, Rethinking science communication models in practice, this program works because of the relationships of trust that have grown between young people involved in agriculture (the YFCs), more experienced mentors and trainers, experts in sustainability, and educators.  Developing such relationships of trust takes time and have the power to create a legacy of transformational change.”

Our Young Farming Champions are extraordinary roles models of who you can be in the world of agriculture

Dr Anika Molesworth, Dr Jo Newton, Daniel Fox and Samantha Wan are just a small sample of the impact our Young Farming Champions are having on the world  

Crafting Careers in Agriculture – Professor Ian Lean shares the cutting edge vision for Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Picture You in Agriculture has a long history of working with Hurlstone Agricultural High School and their extraordinary art department with the school winning The Archibull Prize three times. We are mega excited that the new farm model designed for the school by Professor Ian Lean will see students immerse themselves in agriculture of the future where we get the best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the planet

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When it comes to the agricultural workforce of the future the role of the high school can never be underestimated and facilities at Hurlstone Agricultural High School (HAHS) are currently being upgraded “to continue its legacy and contribution to agricultural education”. In this edition of our Crafting Careers series we talk with Professor Ian Lean, managing director of Scibus, who is the industry consultant working with the school to upgrade their farm.

In the December 2020 HAHS newsletter the school outlined the proposed farm upgrade:

“Hurlstone will benefit from cutting edge agricultural technology in the proposed farm upgrade. A farm hub will be at the core of the upgrade and will co-locate farming enterprises, technology, machinery and housing for livestock. It will also provide improved linkages to learning and boarding spaces. The new central farm hub means students will have access to modern technology, more viewing and animal interaction opportunities, co-located learning space, and greater collaboration opportunities with teaching staff, industry and university partnerships.”

It sounds like a major undertaking but for Ian the driving factors are reasonably simple.

“We are marrying the concepts of compassion for animals with the science and data of modern agriculture,” he says.

In order to achieve this Ian and the development team must overhaul facilities to provide a farm that is potentially smaller but can sustain the same amount of livestock.

“We are looking at agriculture in an urban environment so there needs to be a deep consideration of the needs of the animals but also an awareness of how we interface the urban with the rural. The objective is to provide environments that would be extremely comfortable and animal friendly and also demonstrate that modern agriculture is precise, quantifiable, compassionate and oriented towards profitability.”

The dairy at Hurlstone has long been its showpiece and it has been central to the redevelopment. Robots will be introduced to aid in data capture and illustrate modern milking methods, showing students the role of this technology. All animal and plant enterprises will be designed to allow replication and research studies with a view to engaging senior students modem agricultural science. Agronomy and soil production systems will also feature.

“We want to retain the opportunity for humans and animals to bond the way they should and combine this with science so that students can understand modern agriculture. These are critical aspects that students need to see in order to formulate ideas about careers in agriculture and we will show them that we can feed the planet, nurture the landscape and look after our animals well,” Ian says.