Tom Squires inspiring pride in Australian farmers, one voice, one education,one person at a time

Our guest blog post comes from shearer and passionate wool industry advocate Tom Squires

 

This is Tom’s story …………

The sun sets over the wooden stockyards as the last sheep runs out the gate to join the freshly shorn flock. Tools are packed up and goodbyes are said before leaving the old tin shed and heading home. Another successful day.

Hi, I’m Tom Squires. I’m a 23-year-old shearer, born and bred on the coast of Tasmania. I grew up on a 600 acre sheep property which my family ran in-between other jobs. It was here I found my passion for agriculture. When I was young my teachers at school asked, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘A shearer’ I said. So, you could now say I’m living my childhood dream.

At 16, my father let be buy my very own mob of sheep. 10 merino ewes and 1 merino ram. I remember the stress of thinking ‘what if the wool price somehow managed to get lower than what it already was’. The thought disappeared when I shore them for the first time. The smell of lanoline in the air and the fleeces floating onto the table. It was that moment I realized there’s more to farming than money. There’s that sense of achievement in seeing a fleece being packed into a bale, knowing someone will benefit from what you produced.

 

After year 12, I worked in shearing sheds. It was a brilliant opportunity to travel to other farming operations and gain skills in the wool industry. However, I wanted to grow my knowledge in agriculture. So, I flew to New Zealand and undertook a 3-year, Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce degree at Lincoln University. The depth of knowledge in Agriculture and how broad the industry is, took my breath away. Yet, in some ways I think this is an issue in itself. If someone who has lived in the industry all their life still gets blown away by how much there is to learn, imagine the thought of the people who do not know the industry. The only answer is education and I want to help.

Since University, I’ve returned to Tasmania. Whilst I got accepted for an interview from the Ruralco Graduate program, I declined the offer. A great opportunity but not one for me. Instead, I took up the handpiece and returned to shearing. Not long after returning, an opportunity to lease some land arose. I pounced on it like a hungry dog. Now to buy sheep.

There’s an incredible feeling of excitement as you hear sheep hoofs trotting down the ramp into your stockyards, knowing they’re your sheep. But the true thrill comes when you stencil your name onto your first bale of wool. I slept with a huge smile on my face that night.

The agricultural industry needs to develop in a way which makes consumers aware of the whole process and to realize the true pride farmers get from what they produce. It’s a long road to this destination but I want to be a part of the change. One voice, one education, one person at a time.

“Success is not necessarily a single, awe-inspiring victory. Small, bite-sized victories are just as valuable as the major milestones that you set out to achieve.” John Sanei

#YouthVoices19 #YouthinAg #StrongerTogether

Shining the spotlight on – Raymond Terrace Public School

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Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future launch at Tocal College in the Hunter

At Picture You in Agriculture we are big fans of the Charles Darwin quote

“In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

We believe the key to success is collaboration, building communities of practice of organisations and people who share our vision, where we can engage with others, learn from others, share others success and amplify their voices. Collaboration TXT

In 2019 we will be Shining the Spotlight on our collaborating partners in education.

Leading the charge is Raymond Terrace Public School

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After joining the Picture You in Agriculture family in 2018 through their participation in The Archibull Prize, Raymond Terrace Public School is back.

In 2019 they will be part of the Kreative Koalas experience as they delve into culture and koalas around Port Stephens.

Teacher Bernadette van de Wijgaart will be leading 30 students from the Aboriginal Girls Group (Stages 2 and 3) in the program and is looking forward to once again diving deep into project-based learning.

“As a creative teacher with a visual arts background, I seek opportunities to involve our students in projects which I know will allow them to grow academically but also provide them with skill sets which will assist them in future years and employment. Working collaboratively and investigating issues before developing creative platforms to deliver outcomes is hugely important for our students. The Kreative Koalas project offers the ideal project-based learning platform for our students to develop these strengths.”  Bernadette says.

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Students from Raymond Terrace Public School at Hunter Launch of Kreative Koalas

Raymond Terrace Public School has 400 students, many who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the school has developed cultural groups and programs to meet the needs of these students and their families.

“Port Stephens is the traditional home of the Worimi People. We have strong connections with local elders and the external learning facility known as Murrook Cultural Centre and we were seeking to develop a creative project whose direction/development can be specifically governed by our Aboriginal Girls Group, under the guidance of ‘Aunty Frankie’ and our Aboriginal team.” Bernadette says.

The Kreative Koala project fulfils the needs of this group by allowing them to respond to the sustainable management of the Worimi lands (particularly the expansive coastal stretch of Buribi Beach – Port Stephens, which is under the ownership/management of the Worimi People). Our Aboriginal students are developing their understanding of the relationship, history and custodianship they inherit of their lands and the responsibility to protect and manage the environment.”

As well as connecting to their cultural background students are looking forward to investigating the decline of the koala population in what was once known as the New South Wales koala capital.

 

“Through this program our students will increase their knowledge of the effects that urban changes have had on the natural environment and investigate sustainable outcomes, and they will also make a statement piece to communicate the situation they are inheriting.” Bernadette says.

Raymond Terrace Public School understands the benefits of participating in high-calibre programs such as The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas – external partnerships, life-long learnings, skill sets for the future – and as Bernadette says:

“Knowing that it is supported by Lynne Strong and her team…we simply MUST be a part of this initiative!”

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Mega shoutout to our Kreative Koalas supporting partners Hunter Local Land Services and Holcim Australia – we couldn’t do it without you

Penrith City Council taking a lead in building sustainable cities

Today we held the Western Sydney launch of Kreative Koalas at Penrith City Council  Library

Community Champions and students and teachers from Penrith schools participating on Kreative Koalas-Design a Bright Future Challenge 

One of the highlights of the program is supporting the students on their journey with Community Champions and helping the schools build collaborative partnerships between government, business and the community.

At each of our launch events local Community Champions share with the schools exciting environmental stewardship projects happening in their backyards that aim to make local communities places where people can work, live and play

Today I was memorized by the presentation by Andrew Hewson and Justine Vella from the Sustainability Team at Penrith Council. Andrew and Justine shared with the teachers and students how Penrith City Council is helping Australia meet its commitment to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11

Check our some of this fabulous stuff the sustainability team and Penrith City Council are doing

  1. Penrith City Council are one of first councils to add an EV Vehicle to their fleet.  

The latest addition to Council’s vehicle fleet is a 100% electric Renault Kangoo, which will not create any greenhouse gas emissions while being driven, and will be recharged using renewable energy.

The delivery-style ‘eco car’ has been purchased to trial its suitability and real world running costs, and if it proves successful we can look at purchasing more in future when our cars need replacement. The Kangoo will be used by staff to transport items around the city and will be on display at various community events so local residents can learn more about this technology and see the car for themselves.

2. Commitment to clean energy technology

Council has installed 37 solar panel systems on their buildings, with a total energy generating capacity of 346kW (a typical home system is about 3-5kW). In the 2017-18 financial year they achieved a 62% increase in the amount of solar power generated and used across their facilities compared to the previous year, and they are always looking for more opportunities to go solar. They also purchase 10% greenpower for all Council sites.

3. Installation of a Possum and Fauna Crossing Bridge

Check out the structure here

4. Collaboration with Lendlease to co-design  the Jordan Springs Community Hub

“Every part of the Hub has been designed with the community in mind, and it has the highest standard of accessibility. It is the first public building in NSW to be constructed from cross-laminated timber, a lightweight and strong engineered wood product, and also includes a sustainable geothermal heating and cooling system.

6. Cooling the City

As part of council’s Cooling the City strategy Living Places is an exciting new project that will see around 400 beautiful street trees planted on nature strips across the southern section of St Marys. The tree planting project will improve the look of these streets, making them nicer places to live, walk and ride. Importantly trees also provide much needed shade and cooling in summer, creating a cooler place to live.

And this fabulous upgrade ( with before and after photos) that involved mass plantings of native vegetation and installation of a bike track

7. Love this concept -The Resilience Project – 

Council has established a Resilience Committee to play a key role in shaping and future-proofing Penrith City. The Committee will look at how to respond to risks, and contribute to long-term environmental, social and economic outcomes. It will also advise Council on opportunities to improve the resilience of Penrith and how to integrate resilience with our decision making.

Resilience is a relatively new concept that is receiving attention from cities and communities across the world as they face growing challenges and pressures from increasing urbanisation and globalisation. At the same time cities are also facing significant impacts from climate change. Addressing the risks, opportunities and challenges as these issues interact requires a shift in our thinking and planning.

Urban resilience is defined as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. Taking early action to manage challenges and reduce impacts to individuals, the environment and the economy can offer access to multiple benefits including cost savings, cost avoidance and other benefits across systems and communities.

A comprehensive project is currently underway for Metropolitan Sydney to identify the key shocks and stresses the City is likely to face into the future and to start to develop a strategy for how we deal with these in coming years. Most, if not all, of the shocks and stresses that have been identified as part of the Resilient Sydney project are relevant to Penrith and should be considered in our long-term planning for the City, and our decision-making processes. Source 

You can watch Andrew and Justine’s presentation below

Speaking of imaging a great future. Students from Penrith schools participating in Kreative Koalas have envisioned their 2040

 

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Young Farming Champions to shine at Summer Grains Conference

All eyes will be on the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference to be held on the Gold Coast from July 8 to 10, where two of our YFC stars will shine. Agronomist and co-owner of Summit Ag Emma Ayliffe will lead the Student Forum program while agronomist Casey Onus has been nominated for the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award.

As well as co-owning her own consultancy business Emma owns a farm with her partner, is Acting Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership team and was runner up in 2018 ADAMA Young Agronomist of the Year. With this depth of experience behind her at such a young age she was a natural choice to speak at the conference and on Monday (July 8) will share her personal journey in agriculture.

“A lot of university students attend the conference and I think it is important for young people to see other young people having a real crack in the world and that you don’t have to be 35-40 years old to be achieving great things,” Emma says. “I think it is also important that people coming into a career in ag hear a whole story, not just the successes and smiles, but the warts, the hard work and the literal tears that goes into being successful; not to scare them off but to ensure that they have realistic expectations of what they are getting themselves into and to see that it is okay to not fit the mould or stereotype that is portrayed.”

You can see a sneak peak of some of Emma’s life journey and her presenting style here

 

The conclusion of the Summer Grains Conference will be a gala dinner on July 10 where the prestigious Zoe McInnes Memorial Award will be presented to one of the country’s finest agronomists. Of the four finalists, three are senior agronomists with years of experience in the grains industry. The fourth is our very own Casey Onus.

“Zoe was the kind of person we should all aspire to be as young agronomists, so it’s a huge honour to be nominated for her award,” Casey says. “I think often as young agronomists we don’t feel as though we have been around long enough to make an impact in our clients’ business and the greater agricultural industry. So to receive recognition through being nominated for an award like this is great feedback that perhaps we are on the right track and delivering real value.”

The award recognises the outstanding contribution to agronomic excellence and the winner receives a $5,000 bursary to allow them to expand their knowledge and assist in delivery of new information to growers.

“Casey was nominated for her commitment and enthusiasm for the agricultural industries,” Emma says, and this is a view shared by her employer Peter Birch of B&W Rural, Moree.

“She is a fantastic and vibrant young lady who is very, very good at IT and precision farming and all that entails,” Peter says. “She thrives on agronomy, does a great job, is very down to earth and gets on well with the farmers.”

Awesome stuff Emma and Casey – we are mega proud of everything you do

Breaking news Casey Onus wins Agronomist of the Year

Casey Onus

mega kudos Casey #YouthinAg #YouthVoices

 

 

Young Farming Champions Muster – June 2nd Edition

This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions across the country and the globe

In the Field

Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes opened the gates of ‘Food Farm’ at Wyong Creek to the Central Coast Harvest Festival visitors over the June Long weekend.

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The harvest festival gives the public a unique glimpse behind the farm gate and an opportunity for Tim to showcase regenerative farming practices.

Those lucky enough to score a ticket, before they SOLD OUT, were treated to an intimate ‘Food Farm’ experience. Harvesting potatoes, milking a heritage Australian dairy cow, collecting the pasture raised eggs, enjoying a sausage sandwich from the Food Farm’s very own grass fed and finished beef and chatting with farmer Tim all while learning about paddock to plate concepts.

“It means SO much to know that there are people out there interested in connecting with local food and farmers”

If your interested in visiting Tim at the Food Farm check out their website

Jasmine Whitten is also about to embark on a career change. After working with the Landcare based at Cobar she is packing up and headed back to her home town of Tamworth where she will take up a position as a Farm Consulting Business Analyst with AgriPath. We wish you the best of luck with your new adventure and can’t wait to hear what you get up too.

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Grain Young Farming Champion Marlee Langfield created a short photo essay of the “Wallaringa” barley crop.  With 12mm of rain flalling this week in the Cowra region (the most incrop rain received so far this growing season!) fingers are crossed for follow up falls as Marlee continues to grow great grains.

Out of the Field

We we excited to announced our newest Young Farming Champion 2nd Year University of New England student Emily May. Emily brings a unique perspective to Young Farming Champions as she has witnessed first-hand Sydney’s urban sprawl impacting on agriculture.

Emily grew up on the outskirts of Sydney in the Hawkesbury district and her first job was working at a local orchard. She has since worked with numerous small farms and market gardens in the area, developing a passion for agriculture along the way. She has also watched as, in a short period of time, these farms have given way to housing developments. Now studying a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of New England Emily is determined to find a way to balance these conflicting land uses.

“I believe that in order to keep agriculture on the outskirts of Sydney we need to utilise innovation and technology to compete with this urban sprawl, and it is this understanding that drives me in my university studies.”

Emily May Tractor

Read Emily’s story here

With a focus on finding a solution to avoid a global food shortage -YFC Sam Coggins has been awarded the International Rice Research Institute Scholarship for 2019. The scholarship will see Sam to travel to the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and undertake three weeks of hands on training on all aspects of rice production in Asia. Sam will also learn about the research focus of IRRI and its partners; structuring effective international collaborations; and importantly, will gain insights and contacts to work effectively as part of the international research community in the future.Sam -IRRS scholarship_

 

For the second year in a row WoolProducers Australia is conducting their Raising the Baa Leadership Program, and for the second year in a row our Young Farming Champions are right in the spotlight.

  • Dione Howard will undertake a fully-funded Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Dione will gain knowledge needed to navigate complex governance challenges and apply innovative and well-informed thinking when considering strategy and policy.
  • Samantha Wan has been selected as a Youth Ambassador who will work towards developing policy briefs and implementation strategies for two key industry issues over the next twelve months. Sam will join the WoolProducers Board as an observer providing her with exposure and experience in policy development and agri-politics in general.

Well done to Dione and Samantha as they actively contribute to building a robust, innovative and sustainable Australian wool industry.

Last week Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge swapped the black soils of the Narrabri Shire for the golden sands of the Gold Coast as she attended the inaugural Australian Biosecurity Symposium. In her role as Biosecurity Officer at North West Local Land Services Lucy is passionate about protecting Australia agriculture and our environment and is always working towards a sustainable, productive and profitable agricultural industry! So she jumped at the opportunity to attend the Symposium. The conference provided the ideal platform to explore how to transform Australia’s biosecurity systems to better protect our economy, environment and way of life.

Lucy will implement her learnings when she returns home to the agricultural wonderland heart that is the North West of NSW -in the meantime Lucy reminds us how work with her in protecting the environment…

“You can be a biosecurity legend with us by cleaning your shoes when traveling, making sure you don’t take any fruit across exclusion zones and declaring any animal or plant products when coming home from an overseas holiday!”

Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth was invited to be a mentor at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps event . Her mentees were Year 11 and 12 secondary students and first year university students who discussed with her the recent student strikes (15th March 2019) and their disappointment at their school curriculum not educating on topics of great global importance.

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“Last week I made 800 new friends at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps. The energy in the room could have powered all of Australia, as we learnt about climate science, catalyzing change in our communities, and pathways to transition to a low-carbon future.”

This three day event provides citizens concerned about the future of our planet with a chance to join a range of in-depth,practical skill-building workshops that explore key climate challenges and offer insights into solutions.

In addition to mentoring Anika had the rare opportunity to learn directly from an extraordinary lineup of climate communicators including former US Vice President Al Gore, Natalie Isaacs Founder and CEO of 1 Million Women.

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Natalie Isaacs Founder and CEO of 1 Million Women with Anika

The highlight of the event for Anika was a contingent of people from the Torres Strait Islands and their stories of how climate change is affecting them here and now. Read the story here

Prime Cuts

Congratulations to superstar Agronomist and Young Farming Champions Casey Onus who has recently been named as one of four finalists in the Zoe McInnes Memorial Agronomy awards. The winner will be announced that this year’s Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast in July. The award celebrates the life of  Zoe McInnes in died in a farm accident in 2013 and recognises outstanding contribution to Agronomic Excellence. The winner receives a $5,000 bursary to allow them it expand their knowledge and assist in delivery new information to growers. We wish you luck Casey at the Summer Grains Conference and congratulate you on being, very deservedly, nominated for this award.

Casey -Zoe McInnes Mem Agronomy Finalist 

Lifetime Highlights.

Casey, in her spare time, also loves a game of footy and recently represented the Central North Zone in the Women’s 15s at the NSW Country Rugby Union Women’s Championship in Tamworth over the June Long weekend.

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According to Casey “the jersey was writing cheques my body couldnt cash”

Archie Action

Young Farming Champions Lucy Collingridge and Jasmine Whitten had an initial meet and greet Google Hangouts with their Archibull Prize Schools

Comments from Lucy

‘There’s something to be said about kids who have no connection to agriculture and their energy and excitement to learn.”

“What an awesome bunch of enthusiastic kids! Can’t wait to meet them next month!”

Questions  from the students flowed freely and included

  • When did you get involved in agriculture, what are we doing to help farmers with the drought, what does your job involve, what do you love about agriculture?”
  • what it’s like to live in Narrabri ,to what colour is Merino fleece, to the biosecurity risks associated with bringing in feed?!”

Jasmine and the team from Granville Boys High managed to do some virtual egg cracking – potentially a world first

And Merrylands High School gave their Archie a Royal Welcome

 

Here’s a good yarn -we’re raising the baa

For the second year in a row Wool Producers Australia is conducting their Raising the Baa Leadership Program, and for the second year in a row our Young Farming Champions are right in the spotlight.

The leadership course has two components, the first of which is the Youth Ambassador role. “The Youth Ambassador position exposes people aged 18 -35 years to policy within Wool Producers and gives them the opportunity to learn and understand the policy cycle and how a board works so they understand how many decisions that affect the wool industry are handled by Wool Producers,” Wool Producers Australia President, Mr Ed Storey says.

Dione Howard was the inaugural Wool Producers Youth Ambassador in 2018 and part of her role was to attend Wool Producers’ board meetings. “I had very little experience with policy prior to the Youth Ambassador role,” Dione says. “It has opened up a whole new world in the agricultural space and I feel that I now have a much clearer idea of how decisions are made that affect farmers and people like myself as a veterinarian.”

In 2019 Wool Producers has nominated two Youth Ambassadors, one of who is Sam Wan

” I saw this as an opportunity to gain insight into the organisation and actively learn in the role,  have a strong interest in learning the intricacies of identifying needs and key stages for policy development and to gain a working understanding of industry governance, achieving objectives and driving improvement within the bounds of shareholders, regulators and the wider community. I see an understanding of the processes behind regulations being able to positively impact my role and scope as a wool broker and day to day dealings with wool growers.” say Sam

There is no denying Sam’s enthusiasm for sharing the wool story far and wide as this video of her engaging with students at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day shows

Dione will be continuing the program in 2019 with its second component – a fully-funded Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

“The Company Directors Course is a fantastic opportunity for future leaders from all sectors of the wool industry to develop and refine their leadership skills for positions on industry Boards,” Ed says. “The skills are very important to ensure good governance and leadership is understood before people contribute to a Board.”

“It is an awesome opportunity to finish the Wool Producers Youth Ambassadorship with the AICD Company Directors Course,I believe it will assist me to take the next step in my leadership journey. I have been fortunate enough to receive the benefit of immersive workshops through the Young Farming Champions program sponsored by AWI and these have enabled me to develop my skills for delivering outcomes for the wool industry on the ground, in schools and at industry events. I believe that by completing the Company Directors course I will expand my skill set to be able to deliver for the wool industry from a governance perspective.” ” Dione says.

Budding horticulturalist Emily May joins the Young Farming Champions team

We would like to welcome our newest University of New England Young Farming Champion Emily May.

Emily joins the team with Laura Bignell moving to Rockhampton to join the Teys Australia Livestock Team.

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UNE Young Farming Champions (LtoR) Forbes Corby, Ruby Canning, Rebecca George, Haylee Murrell and Emily May 

Emily May brings a unique perspective to Young Farming Champions as she has witnessed first-hand Sydney’s urban sprawl impacting on agriculture.

This is Emily’s story …….Emily May Tractor

I come for a non-farming family on the outskirts of Sydney in the Hawkesbury district, an area which used to be a thriving agricultural hub. As I have grown up I have seen the way the area has changed in such a short period of time. Heading into town we used to pass numerous properties growing veggies, fruit or turf but these have now given way to housing developments.

These small farming businesses have been instrumental in my decision to study agriculture. My first job was with a neighbour who operated a citrus orchard and I enjoyed it so much I return each year for the winter harvest on Kathleen Groves Farm. I have also worked with flower growers, on a vegetable farm and for a strawberry propagation company.

I contemplated leaving high school after Year 10 and getting a trade, but my careers advisor Mr Lavelle could see I had a passion for the work I was doing on the farms on weekends, and he encouraged me to complete the HSC. After high school I worked for a civil company and while this job was enjoyable I didn’t have the same passion or hunger to learn more about it like I previously had with my farm jobs. Realising that working in agriculture was something I was good at and really enjoyed only encouraged me to keep pursuing it and I decided to study a Bachelor of Agriculture at UNE, which has been a wonderful and enriching experience.

While studying I continue to work on small farms and market gardens. The value of land continues to rise, as do the expenses of running a farming business and farmers have found it more profitable to sell to developers. I believe that in order to keep agriculture on the outskirts of Sydney we need to utilise innovation and technology to compete with this urban sprawl, and it is this understanding that drives me in my university studies.

We are very excited to have Emily join the Young Farming Champions team who are learning to share their stories confidently and inspiring pride in Australian agriculture.

#YouthinAg #StrongerTogether #YouthVoices