Young Farming Champions Muster November 2018 1st Edition

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This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions around the country (and globe!)

In The Field

Cuteness alert! Central Coast farmer, entrepreneur and YFC Tim Eyes and his partner Hannah have had triplets! Triplet goats that is… and they are absolute kid perfection:

Tim says, “Our triplets are from one of our two boer goats. I wanted to get goats after my trip to South Africa.

“They live in the paddock at The Food Farm with our free range chooks and our maremma guardian dog. One kid is female the other two are male. I’m looking forward to some of the highest consumed red meat in the world.”

As part of his role as a YFC, this year Tim’s involvement with the Art4Agriculture Archibull Prize program saw him build an incredible relationship with students at The Lakes College on the Central Coast, who are part of Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets program. Recently Tim was the lucky winning bidder of a mural painted by The Lakes College students, in conjunction with Losty and Mercy College, which raised money for Aussie Farmers. Congratulations Tim!

The Lakes College students are kicking huge goals with the 2018 Archibull Prize and this week they are even taking their Archie on a tour across drought stricken New South Wales to further raise money and spirits for Aussie Farmers. This is an inspiring group of students worth watching! Read more about it below in our Archie Action section.

Out of the Field

YFC Steph Fowler and YFC Lucy Collingridge have jetted off to Alberta, Canada, for the Rural Agricultural Societies of the Commonwealth (RASC) Conference.

The Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) is a confederation of over fifty leading national and regional Agricultural Show Societies, Agricultural Associations and Research Bodies working in twenty Commonwealth countries.

Steph and Lucy both received scholarships from the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW to travel to and attend the event, which is designed to give delegates a taste of the agriculture industry in the host country while providing a forum for discussing mutual successes and challenges in agriculture around the world.

Lucy also tagged along on the pre-conference tour which showcased local attractions, farms and food production facilities. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to network with people from around the world who face the same problems and successes we do here in Australia with our country shows,” Lucy says.

Read more about the conference program and itinerary here

The Cowra Guardian covered a story on Steph’s trip here

Safe and happy travels Lucy and Steph (pictured below)!

Steph Fowler in Snow

Grains YFC and 2018 Narrowmine Showgirl Keiley O’Brien is featured in this week’s Behind the Sash series, sharing her story, love for rural Australia and “demonstrating that the perfect showgirl is who you are and not a sterotype.” Listen to Keiley’s great interview here.

Keiley with lamb

Prime Cuts

It was an exciting day at the University New England Graduation Ceremony last week with YFC and YVLT Chair Dr Jo Newton receiving the Young Distinguished Alumni Award. You can watch Jo’s address, where she encourages everyone to “pay it forward” at this link. Well done Jo – what a year this amazing young woman has had.

Western New South Wales based YFC, Farmer and Researcher Anika Molesworth has been announced as a headline speaker at the Rotary District 9520 (which covers the corners of Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales) Conference in April 2019.   

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Lifetime Highlights

It’s been a huge few weeks at the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, for some of our YFC who have finished studies…

Congrats to Grains YFC Keiley O’Brien  (Bachelor of Agriculture and Bachelor of Business), Cotton YFC Casey Onus (Masters of Business Administration), and YFC Jasmine Whitten and YFC Emma Turner have both submitted their theses.

Mega Congratulations to Cotton Young Farming Champion James Kanaley who married the love of his life Jessica Skilbeck yesterday in the Riverina

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Archie Action

With The Archibull Prize 2018 National Awards and Exhibition Day fast approaching, it’s all action on the Archie front!

This year’s Archie artwork finalists from schools across New South Wales and Queensland have been announced and their life-size cow artworks will start making their way to Sydney for the National Awards in just a few weeks time. Read all about it here to see which school’s Archies will be displayed at the Awards and at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show. Well done to all the students, teachers, school communities and Young Farming Champions involved!

Two inspiring young woman have been announced as the guest speakers for this year’s Archies. CEO of Foodbank Australia and self confessed “huge fan of the Archies” Brianna Casey, and councillor for the City of Sydney and former Deputy Lord Mayor, Jess Miller are both incredible advocates for agriculture and change. It is with great excitement that we look forward to sharing the day of our national awards ceremony with them.

And in the meantime, make sure to get your votes in for your favourite Archie in the People’s Choice Award – voting closes November 12th!

As many finalists head to Sydney, a very special Archie from The Lakes College is taking a looong detour with its creators  – heading west to Mudgee, Coonamble, Brewarrina and Bourke – and raising money for drought affected farmers and communities.

Sixty-three students from Father Chris Riley’s Youth of the Streets program will be fixing fences, feeding cattle, running games for rual kids and hanging out donated groceries vouchers. Their amazing Archie – which students have turned into a giant money box – is going along for the rie. And when you drop a coin into the metal bucket inside, it chimes like raindrops on a tin roof.

 “From the head to the hide, let’s bridge the divide”

The Lakes College Archie

Teacher Amy Gill says their Archie is all about courage, generosity, learning from past mistakes, looking forward and creating change, while the drought relief convey is a tool for education and a celebration of what farmers do, a symbol of support and recognition. Read more about the ethos of The Lakes College Archie here.

Read more about the convoy in this Sunday Telegraph story.

Well done to all the students and teachers involved and our wonderful YFC Tim Eyes!

#ArchieAction #YouthinAg #YouthVoices18

The Archibull Prize 2018 Artwork Finalists Announced

Its gives us great pleasure to announce the following schools in NSW and Queensland have been selected to display their Archie Artworks at The Archibull Prize 2018 Awards and Exhibition Day and at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Gwynneville Public School

Little Bay Community of Schools

Malabar Public School

Beaudesert State High School

Calvary Christian College Snr Carbrook

Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School

Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Irrawang High School

Kellyville High School

Kinross Wolaroi School

Moss Vale High School

Picnic Point High School

The Henry Lawson High School

Bombala High School

The artwork judge has made her decision the People Choice closes on 12th November. Make your choice here

Congratulations to all the schools involved in The Archibull Prize 2018 you have done your school and agriculture very proud

Vote for your favourite Archie – Pick the People’s Choice winner for the Archibull Prize 2018

Its that time of year again where we break all records and the community votes for their favourite Archie.

The Archibull Prize 2018 People’s Choice Award is now open for voting by you

Your favourites need your support

Its time to rally your family, your friends, your enemies, your communities, the world to vote for your favourite Archie for People’s Choice

Reach out via school newsletters, word of mouth, social media, TV and print media – the world is so connected, so many opportunities

VOTE NOW

Please click on the Archie to see a larger view

Voting closes 5 pm ( Sydney Australia time ) Monday 12th November 2018

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Grains and Cattle and Sheep Showcase – 2018 ARCHIBULL PRIZE ARTWORKS

Over the past week we have showcased our 2018 Archibull Prize artwork entries

  1. Horticulture
  2. Pork and Eggs and Poultry
  3. Wool
  4. Cotton – Primary and Rural and Regional Schools
  5. Cotton – City High Schools

and today we bring you our Grains and Cattle and Sheep Archies

First bull of the truck is lil’ T-Bone from The Lakes College on NSW Central Coast.  

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The Lakes College is a Youth off the Streets alternate school who worked with Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes  The school has done a champion of documenting their Archie journey on their blog. Check it out here 

This is what Team TLC had to say about lil’ T-Bone

Our artwork clearly articulates that ‘The future is in our hands’, the current generation of young Australians. We hope our cow bridges the divide between rural and suburbia, politicians and our generation, as well as the disadvantaged and the advantaged in society.

As a team, we wanted our Archie to have an impact on the entire community by essentially transforming it into a giant moneybox to raise funds for rural grants and community initiatives. However, our cow is more then just a ‘cow bank’. It is a symbolic representation of the divide in the community and a call for action all at once.

Our Archie is not perfect. Neither are we (… no one is!) but, our Archie has heart. It encompasses our individual and unique traits, all we have learnt and reflects our core values. It is also, most importantly, an expression of community. We have had all members of our school working on this from our amazing students, to every single teacher, our incredibility hands on principal, generous volunteers, sister school ‘Mercy College’ and rap artist Losty. This totals over 50 people… that is 50 people we have educated about the current climate in agriculture, that is 50 hearts we have touched and we still have more people to reach.

Furthermore, our cow is able to give back to the rural community and help shape ‘Healthy Communities’ across our country. As a giant ‘cow’ bank (not piggy!) we are hoping to raise money for the Aussie Farmers Foundation by taking our cow out into the community.  Community members can bridge the divide by making a donation and a pledge and placing it inside our cow.

Lil ‘T-bone is also marked to go on convey through rural NSW with Father Chris Riley in November this year. This is the cow that keeps on giving to our rural community. It is our way of recognising the courage farmers have and thanking them for their efforts. Our cow will bring about change, not just in our school but in the whole community.

Next Archie off the truck is ‘GRAIN’ville Bakery from  the students at Granville Boys High School who partnered with Young Farming Champion Dan Fox 

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The GRAIN’ville Bakery of the World represents the importance of grain to all cultures of the world.  In our  Year 8 Einstein class there are over fourteen different cultures represented, the class connected with the topic of grain by investigation pastries from their cultural background.  Our cow is a proud baker using Australian products creating pastries from around the world. His stomach is his oven and his rump are the serving boards

The flags on the spine of our cow represent the countries of our student’s heritage and flows into the tail which has Australian Grown written down it. These represent the importance of Australian grains to feeding the world, and are also a nod to the multiculturalism of the students coming from a variety of backgrounds but are also all Australian. This is why the baker cow has the Australian flag on his hat.

For city students that go to the bakery every day and who love their man’oushe (Lebanese za’atar flatbread) understanding the connection between the grains and their pastries is important.   This is why represented on the legs are four grain, rice, corn, oats and wheat which connects the grains to the bakery. Connecting the country to the city.

Next up we have MacIntyre High School in Northern NSW who partnered with YFC Meg Rice to study the Grains industry and create Daffy.

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Our cow is called Daffy as there is an elderly retired farmer whom frequently visits our school farm to offer help and show cattle and he is a bit of an icon so we thought we’d remind our teacher of him being around by naming the cow Daffy to have some fun!! (bush humour…)

Daffy is from the heart of country kids suffering through a 100 year drought where time and energy are precious resources. Each student  who participated did it in scarce time as we all have been needed on our farms to cart water, feed sheep and cattle and poddying (bottlefeeding) many newborns which are all priority tasks of everyday life that take us from our school work, homework and assessment needs.

One side of Daffy shows the process of growing a crop from seed to harvest going through stages of growth from 3 leaf to 5 leaf to tillering, booting and seedset and the  machinery involved along the way.

The other side of daffy shows the issues facing production and pathway to new improved techniques for sustainability to lead us from the drought and parched land to hope and growth. Her head is pointing to the future where the career paths lay. The  jumble of careers represent the thoughts of our ambitions and possibilities.

On Daffy’s legs are what drives the motions of crop production with basic gear like rubber tyres and tyned implements and press wheels for that ideal soil and seed contact for growth and germination.

Archie no 30 come from Kellyville High School in Western Sydney. The students partnered with YFC Dan Fox to study the Grains industry and create Ceres.

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 She represents the fertility of the earth and was the Roman God of Agriculture. The Greeks called her Demeter. Most cultures have a deity they trust the growing of crops and food to, in Aboriginal culture from NSW the name is Birrahgnooloo, Kamilaroi.

Our cow “Ceres” pays homage to the way mankind has created sculptures over time, that have looked on to help with the harvest.

We recognise the importance of technologies and improvements of the agricultural experts to improve productivity and quality of grains for food and feed.We also recognise the effect of chance and the elements, clean air, water, heat and earth on growing successful yields of crops. 

Pretty impressive aren’t they. Now whilst the art judge ponders her choices its your turn next

Watch this space as next week we will launch the People’s Choice and you can support the schools and pick your favourite Archie

in 2017 the people’s choice blog post was a social media phenomenon. 185,000 people across the globe visited the blog post 65,000 people voted in the poll.

Cotton Showcase Part 2 – THE ARCHIBULL PRIZE 2018 ARTWORKS

In the second of our two-part series looking at cotton in the 2018 Archibull Prize here we profile six city high schools.

Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School have leapt straight out of the box with an eye-catching pop-art interpretation of cotton with their Archie ‘The DIVA’ – a dedicated informed visionary activist.

The DIVA is a bold, loud and iconic social media personality who spreads the good word about cotton near and far, and her artwork screams pop-art.

The quote from famous Pop Artist Andy Warhol takes pride of place in our design and boldly introduces the artistic vision of the overall design: “I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art anyone could ever want to own”.

Even Granville’s Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe makes an appearance on The DIVA:

[Emma is] styled as cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, as a further nod to the power of advertising (women workers were widespread in the media as government posters, and commercial advertising was used extensively to encourage women to volunteer for wartime service in factories). Both Emma and Rosie are symbols for feminism and the economic power of women in industry.

How cool is The DIVA?

Another visual stand-out is ‘Bulltossi’ from Ku-ring-gai High School, which was also mentored by YFC Emma Ayliffe,

During their Archibull journey the Ku-ring-gai students were fascinated to learn what goes into making the clothes they wear and, while realising there is much complexity in the cotton industry, chose to take a minimalistic approach to their Archie.

The Archie uses a visual language of signs and symbols to convey the Australian story of cotton. We drew inspiration from Bitossi ceramics because of their use of colour, pattern and shape.

Our Archibull was heavily inspired by the Australian landscape, represented in the ochre colours chosen.

 Colour was also a feature of ‘Ushi Bombacio’, the blue and white Archie from Mamre Anglican College.

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The addition of the loom and the inclusion of our own school tartan to demonstrate the link between our cotton industry and our everyday lives makes our Archie unique.

After a visit from YFC James Kanaley the students also came to realise that while cotton is grown in Australia economics mean it is sent overseas to be processed.

Often we do not even recognise the link between our own agricultural industry and the cotton products (such as our own school uniforms) we use every day. The flags from various countries to which we export or from which we buy products demonstrates the effect of globalisation on agriculture and the textiles industry.

Also being mentored by YFC James Kanaley Airds High School was one of a number who took to their Archie with a saw to produce a cut-out in the stomach, and this was a feature of ‘Queen of Cotton’.

The terrariums [in the cut-out] in the middle of our AHS Queen of Cotton are symbolic of the innovations of planting that require less watering. These terrariums demonstrate that through new initiatives and ideas we can save water, providing opportunities for further crops to be grown.

As a dominant theme the Aird High School students wanted to express their varied multicultural and socio-economic backgrounds in relation to the Australia cotton industry.

Overall, our Archibull, Queen of Cotton, is unique as she represents the ideological and sociological viewpoints of our student population, our Airds Community, wider NSW and Australia’s great and powerful agrarian nation and its relationship to the cotton industry.

Queen of Cotton identifies with our student population and is inclusive of our ‘Indigenous Heritage’, our ‘Pacifica’ identities and the overall sense of Australian identity in us all. Concurrent with our representation of our wider school community, we have used the bracelets of colourful beads on the horns to provide an opportunity to identify with our oriental and refugee students.

 Real-life cotton bushes, glow-in-the-dark paint and interconnected wires made for an intriguing Archie from Irrawang High School who created ‘Synthia’ with the help of YFC Casey Onus.

Man-made fibres are portrayed on one side of Synthia, in contrast to the natural fibre of cotton on the other, with the head showing the contrasting issues of both.

The head is a visual of how the cotton industry is being taken over by synthetic materials. It shows the on-going battle between natural and man-made. Wrapped around the left horn is fine cotton thread and wrapped around the right horn is black nylon thread. This nylon continues on twisting and inter-twining through the synthetic side of Synthia, almost like its getting tangled in all of the destruction that manufacturing this material is causing.

And be careful around Synthia – she has secrets:

Hidden amongst the polyester shirt however, is a Nerf gun. The idea behind it is that the gun can be used as an interactive piece by the audience to shoot “yellow pellets” at the pests and diseases in areas that have a “target” to do your part to get rid of them!

 The last of the secondary schools to study cotton was Dakabin State High School from Brisbane who created ‘Cottonbull’ with support from  YFC Sharna Holman, who works for the cotton industry in Queensland

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Like Irrawang the students were not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, in this case the closure of farms in the Menindee area due to water issues.

Our Cottonbull captures the story about the end to cotton farming in the town of Menindee. The design was inspired by an ABC news story written by Declan Gooch on the 20th of May 2018, (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018- 05-20/menindee-last-cotton-harvest/9779014). The article brings attention the issue of water shortage in the region and the effects this has had on the agriculture and tourism industry. The solution to this issue is a plan for the government to buy back the water allocation and stop water running from Lake Menindee to Lake Cawndilla.

Our Cottonbull is unique because it brings attention the issue of water shortage, loss of tourism and agriculture. We have selected imagery directly relating to the news article, allowing the story to be interpreted clearly. The artwork has educated our students on farming issues in Australia, stages of cotton production as well as facts about the cotton industry.

But wait there is more. Tomorrow we bring you our Cattle and Sheep and Grains Archies and next week we will launch the People’s Choice and you can support the schools and pick your favourite Archie

in 2017 the people’s choice blog post was a social media phenomenon. 185,000 people across the globe visited the blog post 65,000 people voted in the poll.

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2018 ARCHIBULL PRIZE ARTWORKS – Primary and Regional Schools Showcase Cotton

A massive twelve schools studied cotton for the Archibull Prize and in Part 1 of our Cotton Showcase here we profile the colour and creativeness of primary school entrants and rural and regional schools.

First up are the Year 6 students from Raymond Terrace Public School who created ‘Cotton-eye Josie’ who is rockin’ the dreadlock look.

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The school looked at the sustainability of the cotton industry by exploring topics such as climate change, biosecurity, healthy communities and food security, and they were also wowed with the use of technology as shown to them by YFC Casey Onus.

(The students) were intrigued with the technology shared, which forms the 21st century tools Ms Onus uses to perform her work as an agronomist…namely the drones. This gave students the idea of depicting the cotton fields from the perspective of an agronomist drone ie: a ‘bird’s eye view’.

When researching climate change the school looked at ways to reduce its carbon footprint:

We had been sent a pack of Archibull resources in the post, including multiple copies of posters. Students re-used and re-purposed these posters by cutting them into sections and using the creative technique of ‘decoupage’ to cover the torso of our ‘Archie’ calf.

As part of their Archibull journey the students raised over $1000 for drought relief through the Buy a Bale campaign. Well done Raymond Terrace!

The next primary school looking at cotton was the Parramatta Public School who created ‘Moona Lisa’ to tell the true story of the cotton industry through headlines and comics.

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Based on our Skype Chat with Emma (YFC Emma Ayliffe) we discovered the biggest challenges the cotton industry face were society’s view and misconceptions about the cotton industry. Students wanted to tell the story through headlines and comic strips. Our aim was to tell the “true” story of the cotton industry to inform society of the best practices that take place.

Our Moona Lisa is unique in that students drew on their strengths as cartoonists and engaged in deep learning using comics as a form of medium to illustrate and tell the “true” story. This was a complex technique that students mastered while learning about visual literacy and creative storytelling through images and humour.

The last of the primary schools studying cotton with their Archibull Prize was Miller Public School that was assisted by YFC Laura Bennett to create ‘Moostapha Cotton’.

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The left side of our Archie shows the farming of cotton through a model. The model has what a cotton farm looks like throughout each season. We’ve even included a tractor that’s harvesting the crop. We also have a map of where cotton is grown around Australia and have three lady beetles to represent the cotton industries efforts to protect the crop using environmentally friendly farming methods.

Our Archie’s right side shows the cotton production cycle. We thought the best way to show this was to use the infographic from Cotton Australia as it was a simple and effective way to show the entire journey of cotton.

Moostapha’s face was left as that of a cow to show that cottonseed can also be used as animal feed.

Three regional schools from Wagga, Tamworth and Muswellbrook took a good look at the Australian cotton industry and each came up with an individual way to express their findings. Oxley High School from Tamworth needed only to step outside their own back door to find inspiration in the cotton fields of the Liverpool Plains and this became the focus of their Archie named ‘Jean’.

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YFCs Casey Onus helped the students on their jean journey, which grew from the amazing fact that one bale of cotton can make 36 pairs of jeans!

10 pairs of blue jeans are used to create the big sky country (on our Archie). One side of our cow is the starry night sky using Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night”. The other side is the big sky country on the Liverpool plains cotton growing region. The udders are a representation of the dams that are used to pump water onto the large cotton crops, which we have used black pipe and attached it to the cows teats as if it was drawing water from an underground bore and producing what we have above on our fields.

Kildare Catholic College from Wagga went with a minimalist, but striking, interpretation of the cotton industry with their blue and white Archie named ‘Roberta’.

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The Year 10 visual art class were visited by YFC James Kanaley and came to realise the importance of water to the cotton industry. This became the focus for Roberta.

We have learned just how valuable water is to cotton farmers and know that every drop counts. We wanted to show the cotton plants being immersed by the body of water to show that it is a necessity for growth.

Our Archie is unique as it shows a variety of skills, whilst being graphic and simplistic. We aimed to engage the audiences by juxtaposing the bull with the colour blue (a visual representation of water). This makes the bull stand out in a crowd!

The two very different stylistic sides help convey both a realistic and more graphic depiction of cotton plants being immersed in a body of water.

Still in rural NSW and it was the students of Muswellbrook High School who partnered with YFC Casey Onus to create their Archie named ‘Cotton Eye Joe’.

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Using a wide range of cotton products, including crotchet items, dyed cotton, cotton buds, cotton fabric and a cotton mop, Cotton Eye Joe showcases the process of growing cotton and the variety of products it makes.

During the design process, each student had to design and propose how they would decorate the bull. As a group we took the best elements from each student’s proposal and incorporated them into one whole design.

The Muswellbrook Archie drew on the following design elements:

  • Black and white stripes: represent the rows of cotton crops
  • Sunset with farmer silhouettes: to show how hard and long farmers work everyday
  • Cotton Picker centred in the design: to showcase the machinery used and to emphasise the role that machinery and technology play in the cotton industry
  • Hot pink paint: a link to the cotton dyeing process; highlighting that cotton can be more than white.
  • Cotton reels: we wanted to use an everyday cotton item and transform them into an artwork. The cotton reels construct the word cotton but also look like a piece of machinery (inspiration from the Gin).
  • Australian sunset: we used a silhouette of Australia to link both sides of the bull, but to also showcase the Australian Cotton Industry

Watch this space for Part 2 of our Cotton Showcase

 

Meet Alana Black the 2018 Picture You in Agriculture Young Farming Champion scholarship winner

Picture You in Agriculture is thrilled to announce that Alana Black has been awarded a one year scholarship to our flagship program the Young Farming Champions

Alana Black (4)

Alana has been chosen from a stellar list of nominations to participate in a series of Sydney based workshops, under the mentorship of some of Australia’s finest communication, marketing and professional development experts.

The program’s focus is developing confident, independent, reflective thinkers who can share their story and their personal experiences, while voicing their own opinions about agricultural issues in their industry and more broadly.

The program equips and prepares the participants for that often very daunting experience: of standing up to be counted, even in difficult circumstances. The YFC leadership development model is providing the rock-solid foundation and pivotal stepping stones as part of a journey to lead agriculture’s next generation.

Through these workshops and the program’s lifetime mentorship opportunities, the YFC are also equipped with unique insights into all aspects of the agricultural supply chain as well as consumer attitudes and trends.

Read about our Alumni here 

This is Alana’s story

Rydal is a village of rolling hills, daffodil dotted fields and freezing winters; but for me it will always be home.

I’m the fifth generation of my family to live atop the Great Dividing Range. The Applebees, my ancestors, migrated to Australia from Yorkshire in the 1860’s and settled on a farm in Mt Lambie and we never left.

My childhood was spent on horseback with my next-door neighbour, Julie, exploring all that hidden delights that Rydal had to offer. And although I’ve always had an affinity for living in a regional community, a traditional career in agriculture was something I never considered when leaving high school.

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In 2014 I graduated from Charles Sturt University in Bathurst with a Bachelor of Communication – Public Relations and frankly, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

I started studying my post-graduate degree in organisational communication in 2016. Examining the communication structures in organisations made me consider how family owned businesses, such as family farms, communicate when all major stakeholders are related – it can make for some very messy situations! This led me to begin researching succession in multi-generational farming families.

But trying to bring up succession in my family brought nothing but silence and a quick comment on the weather to change the topic. But after a bit of prodding, my mother told me a story regarding succession in my family that kicked-started my involvement in agriculture.

My grandfather Jack wore oil stained trousers with suspenders, a button down shirt and the same hat every day. A shearer, farmer and family man – Jack has always been a large part of my life. Jack was one of 9 children – 6 girls and 3 boys – and when his father died suddenly, the farm and assets were only left to two of the boys. Jack was devastated and I think many farmers can relate to the fact that my grandfather lost an important part of his identity that day.

We’re really lucky that we had a strong family unit that could get past this. All brothers remained close until their deaths, and cousin sold some of the farm back to my brother as he wanted to write a past wrong.

But there are still repercussions from this that are affecting me and my family generations later.

When you’re a farmer you’re beholden to so many different external influences – market prices, government, trade, and the environment – and because of this farmers have developed a stoicism that is helping feed a communication crisis in Australia.

I started Fledgling Farmers as an online platform to help take back the conversation on succession. I’ve travel all across regional New South Wales, and recently to the UK, to talk to young farmers about the importance of communications competence, and educate them on how to start open and transparent conversations in their family.

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In 2017, I was announced as an ABC Heywire Trailblazer and it completely changed the trajectory of my life and Fledgling Farmers.  Trailblazers is a branch of the ABC Heywire competition that provides young regional change makers, who are working on projects to make regional Australia a better place, the opportunity to tell their story on the ABC. Since being announced as a winner, I’ve been a guest on Triple J’s Hack program during their Bush Week Segment (you can listen here), featured on the Life Matters Podcast and presented at conferences such as Grain Growers Innovation Generation Conference to talk about regional youth and succession.

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Being a Trailblazer means I had the opportunity to go to Canberra for a week for the Heywire Summit. Between the Segway rides and speed-networking events, we were involved in professional development and storytelling workshops. We were afforded the opportunity and environment to truly examine our projects; the failures and successes that have shaped what they are today, and discussed how we move forward to future goals.

From pitching our projects in Parliament House to appearing on ABC News Breakfast with fellow Trailblazer Prudence; Heywire has been a truly life-changing experience. I came back from the Summit with a head full of ideas and a heart full of appreciation for Heywire and all that they do.

Rural Youth Ideas Festival, Kinross, Scotland, 2nd & 3rd August 2018.

Like every good millennial,  I love social media and I started following the Rural Youth Project on Facebook and Instagram in February. I reached out to the team behind the project to see what data they had – if any – on succession. After a few emails back-and-forth RYP invited me to come over to Scotland and attend the Ideas Festival to present on growing up in regional Australia and Fledgling Farmers. Rural Youth Project follows the lives of 15 youth across the globe through vlogs. My videos don’t have the usual witty repartee you would usually find on YouTube; and as apprehensive as I was to start filming myself rattling off into a camera, I’ve realised that it’s an important platform to educate people on the barriers rural youth face across the globe. You can view my vlogs here.

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From these experiences, I’ve realised the value of mentors in my career and I would recommend any young farmer or young agribusiness professional to seek out people – inside and outside their industry – to mentor them. I have three mentors, each who provide valuable advice and a different perspective when it comes to Fledgling Farmers and I can’t thank Michael Inwood, Laura Phelps and Jillian Kilby enough for all their help and guidence.

Working in communications is not your typical career in Ag – but I believe it is an important, and often overlooked, aspect of the agricultural industry. My teachers always said that if talking was a subject, I’d get a Band 6!

Through Fledgling Farmers, I’m finally putting the skill of “chewing the fat” to use and get to see the best parts of New South Wales (and the world) while doing it.

Congratulations Alana It is clear you are going to bring new connections and insights to the team and we are looking forward to meeting you in person.