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.
The House of Wellness program on Channel 7 recently featured some extra special guests – students from St Catherine’s College at Singleton and their Archies and Kreative Koalas!
The House of Wellness explores “the world of health and wellbeing, addressing your health concerns in an entertaining and informative format. From raising your kids, to staying fit, ageing gracefully, and keeping beautiful inside and out, as well as the A to Z of every vitamin under the sun, The House of Wellness is designed with one thing in mind – to help you ‘Live Well’.”
In his introduction to the November 2 episode, Luke Darcy linked wellness to the environment.
“2020 has made us re-think pretty much everything about the way we live from what we consume, our relationships with each other and the environment and the impact we have on the planet,”
Luke’s astute reflection is a mantra long held by the Archies and Kreative Koalas.
After a brief chat about The Archibald Prize Luke, and co-host Jo Stanley, segued expertly to The Archibull Prize and featured Lynne Strong talking about her vision for climate positive agriculture before segueing again to Lynne’s driving passion – Picture You in Agriculture.
Then it was into the classroom to showcase the Archies and Kreative Koalas in action, including asking the students how these programs have changed their perception of agriculture and the environment.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm but this has definitely made it a lot more fun,” said Archies participant Phoebe .
“Its pretty exciting” declared Jessica
“For the forehead we are planning to put an earth with a lot of trees and bushes around the outside. So that’s saying that our planet grows a lot of plants and those plants are vital,” said Jacob.
The segment concluded with a plug for careers in agriculture.
“We have some of the best ag science and agronomy courses in the world right here and by 2030 it is estimated there will be around 48,000 new jobs in the rural sector, which is fantastic. It’s a great field to steer our kids towards,” Luke said.
“And it is girls who are leading the charge
They make up more than 56% of students studying agriculture and related courses.” Jo continued.
PYiA is committed to engaging students, young agriculturalists and future consumers in conversations about their vision for the future of food and farming and their role in it. Thanks to The House of Wellness that vision has reached yet another audience.
Watch the Archies and Kreative Koalas on The House of Wellness
Mega shout out to the students and teachers at St Catherine’s and the team at the House of Wellness who all did a superstar job of showing how exciting agriculture can be
In partnership with Corteva Agriscience we invited emerging leaders in the agriculture sector to share with us what drives them. We also asked them to tells us if they had a magic wand what would they change in the agriculture sector.
Today’s guest blog comes from PhD candidate and crop breeder Calum Watt
“ I get a lot of excitement from being involved in an industry that is everyday looking for ways to produce more, from less, in the most sustainable way possible. No day is same. There is never a dull moment on my career path.”
Calum shares with us:
Careers in agriculture extend beyond the farm gate. “Farmers” can be scientists
Crop scientists can improve the productivity, profitability, resilience and sustainability of Australia’s crops
Communication is critical to connecting science to the paddock
This is Calum’s story
Warming to the idea that a career in agriculture could or would be for me was somewhat of a slow burn at first.
This is a bit unusual given as I grew up surrounded by agriculture in a rural dairy community in the south of Western Australia. Whilst I loved the lifestyle, I never really considered agriculture from a career perspective because everyone involved in agriculture are farmers, aren’t they?
Or at least that is what I originally thought back in my wild youth. My lightbulb moment came one year into a botany degree that agriculture was where I was wanted to be and my role as an agricultural scientist, more precisely a crop breeder would see me join the 82% of careers in agriculture that support farmers to produce food
.At university I developed a keen interest in genetics and whilst I had always had a passion agriculture and plants I had no idea that there was a career that could marry them all together. This is when I discovered the important role of a crop breeder. An ability to recombine genes to improve the resilience, sustainability and productivity of crop production is something so satisfying; something so simple yet something so critically important to improving our local and global food security. The late Norman Borlaug, an inspiration of mine, stove off global food insecurity by manipulating only a handful of genes through breeding, effectively doubling global crop production in what is known as the Green Revolution.
Gene-editing, has the potential to address the concerns consumers care about most: nutritional health, climate change, food waste and the need for more natural production techniques.
Techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, which cuts and ‘edits’ strands of DNA, may enable farmers to reduce their use of pesticides, while boosting the resilience of crops to fungi, extreme weather and enriching their nutrient content.
Being a plant breeder allows me to combine my three main passions into one role where I can improve the productivity, profitability, climate resilience and sustainability of Australia’s crop production and help ensure everyone has access to safe, affordable, nutritious food as efficiently as possible. If we can manipulate one gene, improve disease resistance and reduce the need for fungicides this is a win for people and the planet.
I am so optimistic about the future of agriculture and my place within it . The recent awarding of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing known as CRISPR-Cas9 is an exciting example of just one spanner in the toolbox which crop researchers and breeders can utilise to develop the climate resilient crops of the future.
My excitement at the level of science and technology I get to work with as a crop breeder inspires me to share my story and the research behind the work my fellow crop breeders do on podiums across the country.
I invite you to Join me in an industry that everyday is looking for ways to produce more, from less, in the most efficient, climate resilient way possible.
Calum has recently submitted his PhD and joined the crop breeding team at Intergrain
Listen to Calum share his story on the Generation Ag podcast here
In partnership with Corteva Agriscience we invited emerging leaders in the agriculture sector to share with us what drives them. We also asked them to tells us if they had a magic wand what would they change in the agriculture sector.
Our guest post today comes from vet in training Alice Burwell. Alice shares a passion to make a difference and fight for gender equity that has been a consistent theme in our 2020 stories
“Wow, you want to be a vet. You must really love animals”.
Yes, this is partly true. But this is only part of my story. I would always make it very clear that I wanted to be a preventive healthcare vet for large farm animals and help livestock farmers set up their businesses in a way that keeps animals healthy and prevent health problems in herds whenever anyone asked, even as a seven-year-old.
Yet as I grew up I found myself having to justify my potential value to the industry because I am a young female?
I was determined to show female vets are just as enthusiastic about working outdoors with large animals as male vets.
Why should this matter?
If people work hard to gain knowledge they can contribute to industry, they deserve to be treated with respect for their knowledge and contributions regardless of their background, degree or gender.
What do the girls in the pink vests in this image have in common?
Passion is the common denominator, not gender here. Yes, we are all female. Yes, we are all aspiring rural veterinarians. And the reason we were selected as the student delegates for the Australian Cattle Vets conference in 2020 is because of our burning passion for the livestock industry.
Veterinary science used to be a male dominated sector and I am proud to be part of the generation that is changing this.
Where did this burning passion for the livestock industries stem from? For me, it was the days I would spend growing up helping my father and grandfather in the lambing sheds or feeding calves like these ones
I have always been so determined to make my mark on the livestock industries as a professional and have always had an interest in the wider agricultural sector. The management from paddock to plate and from calf to cow is what excites me. I am becoming a veterinarian so that I can help improve the health, welfare and productivity of our livestock industries through producer education and adoption of new research, at herd levels.
Today veterinarians provide holistic farm services and have broad skills in farm consultancy and management as well as providing technical skills and advice on animal health and welfare.
As a vet I aspire to provide the farmers I work with exceptional value from improvements in animal health and management behind the farm gate as well as support them to optimise the value they get from their farming production systems.
The challenge of showing farmers my worth is a both a daunting and exhilarating task. I have studied veterinary science and participated in many extra-curricular activities so that I can play my part in making the agricultural industry sustainable for generations to come. There is nothing more exciting for me than helping producers turn calves into productive, healthy cows that are the building blocks for a producer’s successful business. Regardless of the species, it is the full circle of producing profitable, healthy beef/dairy cattle and sheep in a sustainable and welfare conscious manner that excites me.
As an industry we have many opportunities to showcase our industry is gender inclusive and ensure veterinarians are valued for the diverse skills and knowledge they bring to the farm team.
“As a rural vet you feel connected with the people you work with on farm and you are also an essential part of rural communities. Its a career where you have a strong sense of purpose and you get up everyday knowing you are making a difference”
In partnership with Corteva Agriscience we invited emerging leaders in the agriculture sector to share with us what drives them. We also asked them to tells us if they had a magic wand what would they change in the agriculture sector.
Our guest post today comes from Elizabeth Argue who at the age of ten was busy opening doors to a career in agriculture
It all started with a passion to be a 10 year old jillaroo and a letter
Elizabeth shares with us:
It’s never too early to chase an agricultural dream
People, and nurturing the potential of people, is the heart of agriculture
Strong rural women can play a pivotal role in agriculture
modern agriculture calls for a range of individuals with an ever increasing range of skills from all walks of life.
When you think of a ten year old girl from a cattle property on the Mid North Coast of NSW. You probably picture a girl riding her horse having fun with the neighbours kids building cubby houses at the river. Although I did build my fair share of cubby houses, my ten year old self was pouring over the pages of The Land newspaper, looking over all the job vacancies on cattle stations. I had decided then that school could wait and making a living working the land on a station, most probably like McLeod’s daughters was for me…
Well I was passionate!
I soon found an ad that jumped out at me for the Acton Super Beef company. So I wrote a letter to the company explaining my passion and eagerly awaited a reply. To my and I think my parents surprise a few weeks later I received a reply from Ms Acton herself, kindly thanking me for my letter but explaining that life on a property can be tough, even for someone older than ten. She emphasised the importance of education and suggested I wait a few more years before heading out.
Fast forward to my graduation from high school, I wrote back to Ms Acton and a few months later found myself as a station hand in Central Queensland. Looking back I thank my ten year old self for opening the door that my eighteen year old self could walk through.
Ms Acton was one of the first strong rural women who played a pivotal role in my journey within agriculture. Broadening my horizons considerably and highlighting the significant contribution strong women make to the industry. I have since realised the immense potential that can arise from fostering relationships and opening doors for others, in particular younger generations. This has led me to appreciate that although there are some incredible innovations, technological advancements and pathways developing within the multifaceted agricultural industry – it is the people and fostering the potential of people that is at the heart of the industry.
The people I met while working on the station ranged from hard working station hands, governesses, animal nutritionists to analysists. The list is endless and that was just centred around one property. Since transitioning to study Agriculture and Business at the University of New England, joining various agricultural committees, traveling abroad and working overseas, my perception of agriculture has changed significantly.
From my naïve view as a ten year old romanticising spending days on a horse mustering cattle I have come to realise the agricultural sphere is so much more than this and growing every day. Although there will always be a call for those stockmen and women mustering cattle, modern agriculture also calls for a range of individuals with an ever increasing diverse range of skills from all walks of life.
It is my passion for people that is driving my vision for the future. I want a career where I can open young peoples eyes to the diversity of rewarding careers in the industry I love. I want to ignite a spark in particular women from all backgrounds to discover their inherent calling in agriculture. There is a plethora of opportunities developing and I would love to be the one to open doors for others to these opportunities, just like Ms Acton and a letter opened for me.
As you can see the Moos are definitely in the News
In the media
Caragabal has received rain! This momentous occasion for students and families of Caragabal Public School in western NSW made ABC headlines. Kids spoke about the breaking of the drought and how sustainable practices are shaping their farming future.
Also talking to the ABC about Kreative Koalas was teacher Martha Atkins from Medowie Christian School in the Port Stephens region. The students also shared their journey to #ZeroHunger with the Port Stephens Examiner
Medowie took out the title of Grand Champion Community Project for Change in 2019, so this is definitely a school to watch out for.
The Port Stephen Koala Hospital will be opening on September 25, and radio station NEWFM radio, previewed the event, which guest stars the Grand Champion Koala artwork from Raymond Terrace Public School.
On our blog
Medowie also featured on our PYiA blog (we love to celebrate our schools and feature them regularly) discussing their goals for 2020 with zero hunger and cookbooks!
Meanwhile, James Erskine Public School reflected on what they had learnt from Kreative Koalas in 2019 and how it has affected their school twelve months down the track.
St Catherine’s Catholic College at Singleton told us how COVUD has had some positive changes, allowing teacher Joanna Towers extra time to study and to investigate the world of regenerative agriculture.
Innisfail State College, who is taking part in both the Archies and Kreative Koalas, is improving critical thinking through collaboration, connection and communication.
Thank you to John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority Education Team for his very well received Deep Dive into Water webinars and the extremely engaged students who joined him. See the story here. John will be available to run more webinars for Stage 3, Stage 4 and Stage 5 after the holidays.
Young Farming Champion Chloe Dutschke is a contract musterer.
Our Young Farming Champions are seizing COVID19 opportunities to learn how to transform in a hibernating economy and are finding innovative ways to re-align our relationships to one another, and to nature.
Young Farming Champion Chloe Dutschke is a contract musterer. COVID19 has meant she currently bunkered down on a 280,000 acre merino station with 10 staff all isolated together in the Western Riverina NSW.
Working on a sheep station means Chloe role is an essential service. This is her story of how she has been coping with COVID-19 in the bush.
In mid-march, before the pandemic really hit, my partner Joe and I moved from the Flinders Ranges SA to the Western Riverina NSW.
Who knew that only weeks later we would be faced with an ever growing global pandemic and a list of restrictions limiting us from heading back to SA any time soon. On arrival to the station we hit the ground running heading straight into mustering for shearing the following week.
Shearing is one of the highlights of working on merino properties. As musterers we bring the sheep into the shed, and take them away again and I love watching the shearers work and seeing fleeces fly. But this year that novelty was lost. With the restrictions that industry put on shearing teams, and the restrictions we imposed on station staff for safety, we were unable to mix with the shearing team or even enter the shed to watch our ewes being shorn. It was a somber reality.
Other than industry restrictions we felt the same pressures every household has faced with the dreaded toilet paper and essential food war. We worried for weeks where we would source enough toilet paper for an extra 25 shearing staff let alone food for the cook to feed the hungry workers. Added pressures included the continual fall in the wool market and the constant fear of shearing being cancelled. Although the virus has made shearing difficult it did not make it impossible. We worked within our restrictions to produce 500 bales of wool with no major dramas and we even received a bonus 40mm of rain.
Of the 10 station staff, four of us are new to the Riverina. We don’t know anyone in town and were really looking forward to being a part of a new community. In most country towns the best way to meet people is joining a sporting team or club but the virus this has completely cut us off. Our station staff have all together to make the best of the situation. Like many people we have got the board games and cards out and are hosting games night, and even hosted a pub night where we made schnitzels and chips and pretended they were just as good as a pub parmy.
The virus and moving to a new state meant that I could not go back to SA for Easter. Usually I would travel to see my family and we would spend Easter Sunday together; instead, this year my family had a zoom hookup and I spent two hours talking to my family from SA, NSW, NT and VIC. At the station we tried to make Easter Sunday special. We found a beautiful wooden table saved from the old shearers quarters in a falling down shed and restored it for the occasion, we cooked a roast lunch and played hours of trivia. As the afternoon drew on, 10 of us sat in the sunshine and toasted the end of shearing and to a prosperous year ahead.
Like many station workers, distance from the closest town makes it hard to attend a dawn service for Anzac Day and with the restrictions it meant it was impossible anyway. To show our respects we decided to host our own dawn service. We resurrected and restored the old flagpole and made wreaths and poppies to lay at the bottom.
We paid tribute to the people who served from the station in years gone by and we also remembered the family members of station staff by reading their names at the service. We listened to the last post echo through the trees and the birds sing during the minutes silence.
Although the COVID-19 virus has had a profound negative effect for many, I am thankful for the end of a stressful shearing and for the moments I have shared with my new station family over Easter and Anzac Day. We have found positives in this ever-changing world, and for that I am grateful.
COVID19 has given us all a chance to reflect on what matter most. It’s been a wonderful reminder of the importance of taking care of yourself and those around you – in your community, your family, your workplace.
Some wise tips for Coping with Covid from the experts
This week is National Volunteer Week with the theme of “Changing Communities. Changing Lives” and we’d like to give a huge shout-out and thank you to over one hundred Young Farming Champions who volunteer, in some capacity, 365 days a year.
Our YFC have exciting and rewarding careers in agriculture and on top of this give their time to anyone from the local fire brigade to state show societies, but most importantly they volunteer to inspire young people to follow them into agriculture. Even in a COVID world our YFC are integral parts of The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas creating a new world of collaboration, community and connection.
Read on for examples of our wonderful YFC in action.
In The Field
The coronavirus crisis continues to dominate our lives but our Young Farming Champions have come up with novel ways to approximate ‘business as usual’.
Local Land Services Biodiversity Officer Lucy Collingridge has set-up a drive-through bait collection point for farmers wishing to participate in fox control. “Foxes don’t social distance, so we needed a program that worked for landholders,” Lucy says. Read all about her initiative in The Land.
Also innovating during the coronavirus is wool broker Sam Wan. With buyers unable to attend the usual weekly sales the industry has had to change to an online medium – and Sam was leading the change. Read more about the online wool auctions on Sheep Central.
Before the wool can get to Sam it needs to come off the sheep and YFC Tom Squires has spent the corona crisis shearing rams. On a property in central Tasmania Tom was a part of a 5-person crew, whipping the wool off 5,000 sheep. However, this time around there was a few additional rules and guidelines with every worker keeping 1.5 metres apart and following strong hygiene practices. “Essentially, the same rules which apply in Woolworths apply to the shearing sheds” Tom says. “It has certainly made some shearing times on farms longer than usual, but everyone’s health is a priority and we are grateful the industry can continue to operate”.
On a lighter note, home isolation has meant some of our YFC are returning to familial roots. Katherine Bain took the chance to continue Easter traditions despite isolation and made a year’s supply of quince paste for everyone!
Planting season has also been in full swing for our YFC croppers as they take advantage of good rain received earlier in the year and get out the big toys. Check out this blog post to see what Marlee Langfield, Emma Ayliffe and Dan Fox are planting, and check out Marlee’s superb images below.
Congratulations to Alana Black who is celebrating twelve months in Scotland working for Jane Craigie Marketing and Rural Youth Project, eating haggis and milking coos. Alana has a Bachelor of Communication – Public Relations from Charles Sturt University and in 2018 was announced as an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Trailblazer for her work on communication and succession planning in family farming businesses. Alana’s Scottish employers are so happy with her they made her an anniversary video. Way to go Alana!
Our YFCs are also working in research laboratories and offices and sharing their technical knowledge with the world. Check out this paper forming part of Calum Watt’s continuing ambition to breed better barley for your beer, this one from meat scientist Stephanie Fowler on fat content of the lamb chop to go with Calum’s beer, and this one from Jo Newton on big data in the dairy industry.
Sharna Holman has been sharing her cotton knowledge on social media – spamming Facebook and Twitter en masse. When confronted on why she has been filling our newsfeed with cotton spam here is what she had to defend her actions: “I think it’s important to showcase agriculture and often our day-to-day jobs and, in my case the trials I’m involved in, to different audiences to highlight the variety in agriculture and agricultural careers. For me, sharing my ‘work life’ on Facebook often allows my city friends to get an insight into what I mean when I say ‘I’ve been in the field’ especially being a born and bred Sydney-sider. Sharing on twitter allows cotton growers and agronomists to get an insight into our trial work, what we are doing and our results and it allows conversations to start with people that we may not have been able to reach traditionally due to distance or time. So sorry, not sorry, for all that spam….”
Out of the Field
World Earth Day was held on April 22 and magazine Marie Clarie asked three scientists about their personal perspective on how these climate events are affecting the wild spaces where they live and work. One of these was our Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth who is a farmer at Broken Hill. She inspired the heart and minds of many with a single quote, “I only have to look out the window of my home to see the impacts of climate change,” she says. “It breaks my heart to see the land suffering this way. However, with this sadness for what has already been lost, and the anger for the lack of action taken to address a problem we have been warned about for so long – comes hope.” Anika is continually creating a better future by being a part of the conversation. We are always wondering where we will see Anika feature next. Keep watching this space!
Not to be out done YFCs Tom Squires and Lucy Collingridge celebrated World Earth Day by sharing their love of nature and adventure on our social media channels. Lucy summed up perfectly why we should all celebrate World Earth day, “the earth is such a fragile yet beautiful wonder, and I am lucky to be alive at a time when you can jump in a plane, train, boat or car and see so much of what it has to offer. From watching whales breech only metres from our zodiac in the depths of Antarctica to kayaking next to glaciers that are thousands of years old. What an absolute privilege it is to be able to experience so many of nature’s wonders – not only when we travel abroad but also at home.”
And all of our YFCs are stars on the revamped Archibull Prize website. Tayla Field, Jasmine Whitten, Jessica Fearnley and Casey Onus talk sustainable communities, Lucy talks biosecurity and there are over 30 career profiles on the amazing lives of YFCs. Also on the website is the first project from the newly formed YVLT Innovation team, which showcases Anika and provides a structured way for the general public to engage with her. Read more on the Innovation team in this blog and keep an eye out for exciting developments in the near future.
Still on Anika and during lockdown she has taken the time to connect with farmers from around the world via Zoom. “I have organised or facilitated seven online events over the past few weeks – which has been such a fantastic and energising experience! We can learn a lot from our global farming family and we can be there to support one another during these challenging times.”
Also innovating during lockdown is Dione Howard who has been judging agricultural essays. “The South Coast and Tablelands Youth in Ag Movement created an online show and fellow 2020 RAS Rural Achievers Ryan McParland and Kory Graham have invited the rest of our group to take part in the show as judges,” she says. “I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s entries and feeling inspired about the year ahead for shows and community events across Australia.” Make sure you join ‘Online Show 2020’ Facebook group for updates and results.
Usually during April Lucy would also be doing her bit for agricultural shows at Sydney Royal and even though she couldn’t be there in person this year, she gave her time for an interview with show ring announcer Lyndsey Douglas. Read the full interview here.
In more exciting out of the field news UNE students Ruby Fanning and Becca George have been selected as part of the Angus Youth Consultative Committee. The Committee provides consultation and representation on behalf of Angus Youth members, and will be a wonderful opportunity for them to explore their leadership potential. Read more on their selection here. Congratulations girls.
Our YVLT Chair Emma Ayliffe, continues to kick amazing goals and after six years of study has completed her Master of Science in Agriculture. This is alongside running her business Summit Ag, farming her own land with partner Craig and donating endless hours as a volunteer. Congratulations Emma – you are an inspiration to us all.
Emma also inspires us with her work/life balance and here she and Craig enjoy a beer and a sunset snap to celebrate two years of farm ownership. Let’s cross our fingers they get wetter years for the next two and keep the farming dream alive!
and the best news you can join the team
Thanks to Corteva Agriscience two scholarships are available to join our Growing Young Leaders program
At Picture You in Agriculture we believe empowered young people have the capacity to solve tomorrow’s problems today. The Innovation Hub is a Young Farming Champions alumni community of practice for individuals and groups to build an innovation mindset, explore new ideas, collaborate, experiment and accelerate learning applied to a real-world project that nurtures a bright future for agriculture.
Our Young Farming Champions are real people working in real jobs in real-world situations. Sometimes they may have big ideas for projects to benefit the entire agricultural sector. Sometimes they may be struggling with life changes. Sometimes they may have light-bulb moments of inspiration. Sometimes they will hesitantly mention a brilliant design that has been bubbling away in their sub-conscious. Sometimes they may have challenges. The Innovation Hub provides a forum for Young Farming Champions to express their ideas and challenges to a committee of their peers.
The Innovation Hub committee will then assess the merits of each, and its relevance to PYiA core business, and either take the idea further with simple methods of support for projects and passions, or connect the YFC to others in our extensive network who may provide the support they require.
In the inaugural test-case for the Innovation Hub Anika Molesworth tells us why working with the Young Farming Champions community is so important to her.
“Connecting and collaborating with young people in rural Australia (and those in urban places who are working in ag too) fills me with so much energy – I love working with people who are passionate about making a positive difference and don’t mind getting their hands dirty on farms! Apart from being a highly motivating group, they also challenge me to learn more about the wider farming sector and see new perspectives. What I am learning from my Young Farming Champions peers I then take into schools, where I have the great honour to teach students about sustainable farming and climate change. We cannot solve the big challenges in agriculture through disjointed and isolated effort – and the Innovation Hub creates a space where we can truly come together, stretch ourselves and support one another.”
With the inaugural Innovation Hub initiative, we are able to support Anika’s desire to connect and collaborate with her favourite audience – larger numbers of school children – in a structured way. This has been achieved by promoting her on The Archibull Prize website and directing interested people to her ‘last-Friday-of–the-month’ meeting schedule. By providing scaffolding around how people can connect with her, Anika takes her story and knowledge from rural paddocks to classrooms around Australia.
See Anika’s full initiative from the Innovation Hub here.
PYiA looks forward to sharing more stories from the Innovation Hub in coming months; stay tuned to hear how Young Farming Champions are supporting Young Farming Champions.
I’m not yet thirty but I’ve already worked in grains, viticulture, horticulture and now the wool industry. It’s been an unconventional path but that’s OK. I think its important people know that with a bit of enthusiasm, anyone will take you on and give you a chance. Looking forward I’m excited to continue to learn new skills, with a view to becoming a leader and a manager of people, in whatever corner of the industry I find myself. One thing is for sure, I’ll be doing work that makes me happy. says Sam Arnfield Project Officer with Australian Wool Innovation
At Picture You in Agriculture we get a buzz out of sharing stories about young people who grew up in the city and discover agriculture is an exciting industry where innovation, disruption and creativity are fostered and where careers with purpose can grow limitlessly
I grew up on a concrete farm five minutes north of the Adelaide CBD. While I have zero family background in agriculture my love of food, biology and geography made studying it a natural choice and I was very lucky to have a fantastic high school ag teacher, Chris Muirhead, who was buoyant about the prospects of careers in agriculture.
At that time, university enrolments were on the slide and the sentiment in the industry was poor. South Eastern Australia was in the midst of the Millennium Drought and the wool price was around a third or what it is today. However, with booming middle classes in Asia and the advent of e-commerce and smart technology, Mr. Muirhead saw changes on the horizon for our world and our industry. He recognised the importance of enticing people from non-traditional backgrounds into agriculture at a time when young people were leaving the family farm in droves, never to return. I ignored him and followed my school mates to law school.
I took some time off after school teaching English school kids how to play cricket. This was the perfect opportunity to take stock and work out what I really wanted to do with my life. Returning home, I ditched law school before even starting and embarked on a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Adelaide Uni. It was there I met my best friends. We drank together, played footy together and ended up working together for some time.
Without a farm to go back to, or any practical agricultural skills, I foolishly chose the graduate job I thought could earn me the most money. I took a job in grain marketing – not the smartest move for a kid who’d failed maths every year in high school. I sucked, badly, and lasted six weeks and one day.
It was a lesson in doing things for the right reasons and a reminder that you should always do things that make you happy. Maybe that’s a selfish outlook, but we spend more time at work than we do with friends, family and loved ones so we may as well be happy while we do it.
With a degree and no job, I sheepishly went back to a research organisation I’d done some work experience with and begged for a job. I began as a casual, doing all the things nobody else wanted to do – counting potatoes, counting weeds, washing cars and weighing grain. It was mundane but it was fun. At that time, the organisation was packed full of young people, most of whom I’d studied with. We had fun and we worked hard. I stuck around like a bad smell, eventually landing a full-time job where I could spread my time between horticulture, viticulture and the grains sector, conducting field trials for new agro-chemistry.
Jobs in agriculture offer diverse opportunities
The job allowed me to travel around South Australia, learn some practical skills and gain a knowledge in a raft of sectors but I eventually realised I was working because I loved the people and not the work itself. After five years it was time for a change, and time for some more skills.
As serendipity would have it, I met a girl while I was searching for my new job. She just happened to be moving to Sydney. I quickly changed my filter settings to ‘Ag jobs in Sydney’ and before too long we were off. I landed a job at Australian Wool Innovation, which was odd to my friends considering I’ve never worked in wool in my life.
I barely knew the front end from the back of a Merino. I must have bluffed my interviews well, but I think it goes to show that if you’re keen and passionate about ag it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done, or what you know, people will give you a chance.
I got learned up pretty quickly on the sheep front and I’m currently coordinating projects in the Leadership and Capacity Building portfolios. This group of projects aims to capture and retain the best and brightest people within the wool industry. I work with initiatives such as Young Farming Championsto foster the development of young wool industry participants and to encourage YFCs to become inspirations for young people. Other projects involve fostering careers through scholarships, educational resources and leadership programs. I get to work with passionate, smart and driven people from all around Australia every day.
A typical day at the office can include sharing the properties of wool with school students
Although I’ve only been here a year, I’ve learned an incredible number of skills and have grown more confident in my abilities as a communicator. From people management and organisation as well as managing funds and writing legal contracts it’s been a steep learning curve. Stepping out of the paddock into an office was tough but it’s a step I needed to make. My colleagues have been so generous with their time, and I’m absolutely loving my role.
The history and camaraderie that exists within the wool industry is, I think, unique to wool. Everyone I speak to is hell-bent on improving and driving Australian wool forward. Everyone’s got lots of great ideas and with that comes some robust conversations.
At the core of it, wool is a choice for growers and consumers. The challenge to encourage people to continue to grow and buy this fantastic fibre is one that the industry is tackling head on. That discerning consumers around the world are attracted to the sustainable credentials of wool is encouraging and I think the current market value reflects this.
I look forward to playing my role in encouraging young Australians to enter and remain within this vibrant industry.
I’m not yet thirty but I’ve already worked in grains, viticulture, horticulture and now the wool industry. It’s been an unconventional path but that’s OK. I think its important people know that with a bit of enthusiasm, anyone will take you on and give you a chance. Looking forward I’m excited to continue to learn new skills, with a view to becoming a leader and a manager of people, in whatever corner of the industry I find myself. One thing is for sure, I’ll be doing work that makes me happy.
Top stop stories from Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the globe!
In the Field
“Connect and Collaborate” are the two words we use most often at Young Farming Champions HQ, and this week it’s our pleasure to start our Muster with two stories highlighting these values.
Wool YFC and Tasmanian based shearer Tom Squires and YFC and Wool Broker of the Year Samantha Wan teamed up to secure sale success for Squires Pastoral.
Just 18 months since the start of the Squires Pastoral wool growing operation, Tom Squires has topped the weaner wool price for the Elders Wool Sale on October 10th. Elders Wool Auctioneer Samantha Wan sold Tom’s first three bales of wool at $14.32 per Kg, topping the weaner wool category in the sale.
Tom says, “While the market has taken a beating with prices falling 33 percent in 12 months, I’m positive there is a future for wool. The wool market is one of the most volatile markets in the world, but you take the lows with the highs and at the end of the day just hope that the highs outweigh the lows.”
Given the current market, Tom was happy with the result and says “it’s a nice feeling knowing that the wool you work to produce is in demand.” Tom’s remaining three bales will be held onto in the hope the market rises in the coming months. Well done to you both!
From the wool warehouses of Melbourne to the dry paddocks of New South Wales, where two Grain YFC have connected to help each other’s farm businesses prosper through the drought.
Narromine based YFC Keiley O’Brien and Cowra farmer and YFC Marlee Langfield met at their first YFC development workshop in Sydney in 2016. Living, and running farm business, hundreds of kilometres apart meant they didn’t run in the same circles, but this year when Marlee was looking for help with a job she didn’t have the machinery or expertise to do, she knew just who to call. We’ll let them tell the story….
KEILEY: I’ve been in the Art4Agriculture program as a Grains Industry Young Farming Champion since 2016, although where I live, we haven’t had any grain to farm at all this year. And to be honest, the last year or two before that have been touch and go as well. My partner Ross and I, alongside his parents, run our family owned business Noble’s Ag Contracting, based in Narromine, NSW.
We thought this drought would be over by now. We planned our upcoming wedding around it being over. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s continually getting worse. Skies like the one below show the harsh reality, that this drought is worse than anything we have experienced before. I’m not certain if it is the worst in history, who am I to make that call!? But it certainly is the worst in our history. And living in it is hard.
Just about every morning you can find me out of the house at 6AM on my walk around the property that we live on. I’ve found the daily ritual of walking the best way to start my day, but lately it’s moved from positive to negative, as the paddocks and grass around me, which would usually be looking lush at this time of year, are truly dry and dead.
It’s a slap in the face each morning that our business will struggle to make an income this year. Without anything growing in those paddocks, there is nothing for us to harvest or bale for hay. We certainly aren’t alone in this situation, especially within our area, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.
We have also lost access to all of our irrigation water, as we pump from the Macquarie River and it is currently at a record low. This means that our irrigated Lucerne enterprise will halt this year, with no water to grow a crop. We also run the risk of our established Lucerne crops dying off due to lack of water and predicted extreme heat over summer.
Financially, this is a worry – especially when some of our irrigation infrastructure is new and still requires repayments. Emotionally, it’s sad to sit back and not be able to do anything about it, like turn the pivot on to keep the crop thriving and an income streaming in. But that’s drought.
It has been dry and bare for a couple of years now. We decided from the start that as a couple of 20-odd year old’s with a young business and a young family that we’d push ourselves hard just to hang in there and get through this drought, and I believe we’ve done that bloody well to date. But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
Until this drought hit, we had always been able to source enough work within a one hour radius of home. Now to keep things ticking over Ross is travelling up to seven hours away for hay contracting work. That means plenty of nights apart. Plenty of meals eaten on their own. Plenty of missed family moments and those typical ‘how’s your day been’ conversations. It’s also been filled with plenty of questions from Ruby, our two-year-old, asking where her dad is.
We have been lucky to have some good friends and industry connections who have helped us out by giving us hay cutting jobs throughout this tough time. As hard as travelling long distances and working away from home can be, we are extremely grateful for these opportunities.
One friend, who has helped us by letting us help them, is fellow YFC Marlee Langfield and her fiancé Andrew Gallagher at Wallaringa, Cowra.
MARLEE: Andrew and I made the decision to cut all our 2019 canola crop for hay. Of course, this was not the original plan. Normally we would harvest the canola in November for seed and it would be sold to companies that would press the seeds for oil and use the byproducts for animal feed. However, due to the drought and the significant lack of rain on the spring forecast, the tough decision had to be made.
Growing canola for oil consists of waiting until flowering is finished (late September) and the plants then “pod up” forming seeds in the pods. Once 60 percent of the seed in the pods has changed colour the canola is ready for windrowing (cutting) and is then laid in rows on top of the stalks in the paddock to dry out, before harvesting the seed 10 days to two weeks later. But cutting Canola for hay must occur during the flowering stage as this is when the crop is at peak biomass…perfect for hay! Thus, the decision to make hay has to be made early in the growing season.
As we don’t normally aim to make hay, we lack the necessary machinery to do so. I’d seen on Nobles Ag contracting website they had the correct hay equipment and knowledge. Ross was keen and able to help, so the business relationship started from there.
What seemed like endless hectares of cutting, re-conditioning, raking, baling and stacking (add some sleepless nights in there too) later, we have hay!
Andrew and I are really appreciative to Nobels Ag Contracting for their professional hay making services. We now have a quality product ready to sell!
Out of the Field
Grains YFC Calum Watt attended the Fresh Science program in Perth last week and says it was a really valuable experience, training with TV, radio and industry engagement. Calum’s highlight was trying to present the crux of his research (on barley and wheat, hence the beer in hand below) in the time in takes a sparkler to run out of puff, which is about 30 seconds: “Tough!”
Wool YFC and Local Lands Service Biosecurity officer Lucy Collingridge and NFF 2030 Leader and Lego Farmer Aimee Snowdon caught up at the Cootamundra Show… along with Channel Seven’s Weekend Sunrise weather presenter James Tobin who opened the show.
Wool YFC Lucy is the social media and website manager, chief Merino steward and chief steward of the fleece Young Judges Competition, as well as stewarding in other sections as needed. Aimee Snowden attended as an ASC Next Generation Group 9 Delegate and helped with the Young Judges Competitions and beef cattle stewarding.
With string numbers of sheep and cattle exhibited, it was a real booster for the local agricultural industry in a time of hardship. Friday featured more than 100 school aged youth competing in the Young Judges Competitions for fleece, Merino, grains, fruit and veg, meat breed sheep and beef cattle. Lucy and Aimee both helped coordinate these events, which sees one or two students from each group final competition become eligible to compete at the state finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
YFC Marlee Langfield caught up with Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke at her local show on the October long weekend. Marlee is an active member of the Morongla Show and admin of the show’s facebook page. She said “It was an absolute fantastic day where traditions were celebrate and memories made.”
Spotted in The Land this week: Wool YFC Max Edwards buying rams at the Boxleigh Park Merinos annual ram sale last week, showcasing the best of the best in Wellington, NSW.
Our friends the NFF 2030 Leaders caught up at the National Farmers Federation’s 40th Birthday Celebrations last week.
YFC Martin Murray and Tegan Nock also attended and graduated from the 2019 cohort of the 2030 NFF Leaders Program.
Coming up Out of the Field
Eggs and Poultry YFC Jasmine Whitten and Wool YFC Melissa Henry are both crossing the state to attend the Landcare Forum in Broken Hill at the end of the month. Melissa will be attending with her Local Lands Services group and the Saving the Superb Parrot project, which is up for an award. Good luck Mel.
Climate YFC Anika Molesworth is heading to the icy cold of Antarctica mid November as part of Homeward Bound. She’s busy doing lots of preparation, reading about Antarctica, doing homework of science communication and visibility, and organising warm clothes!
“Homeward Bound is a 12-month leadership program which culminates in a three-week intensive voyage to Antarctica. The initiative, turned global movement, aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in STEMM, in order to impact policy and decision making as it shapes our planet. “
Beef YFC Jasmine Green from Summit Livestock has been touring the country judging show cattle at shows in Melbourne and Launceston and if you’re heading to the Geelong Show this week you might catch her there too! Say hi if you see her.
Congratulations YFC Sally Downie! The Charles Sturt University student and dairy farmer has been named Australian Agricultural Student of the Year at the 2019 Farmer of the Year Awards. What an achievement! Well done Sally. Read more here.
Congratulations NFF 2030 Leader Matt Champness who has been named Novice Category winner of the Australian Farm Institute’s John Ralph Essay Competition on The Future of Animal Agriculture. Well done Matt!
And we’re very proud of friend of the YFC Greg Mills, from GoAhead Business Solutions, whose essay entry was also shortlisted in the open category and will be published in AFI’s November journal. Congratulations Greg!
Congratulations to Wool YFC Cassie Baile who has been named one if six finalists in the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association Ltd Awards.
We’re on the countdown to our 2019 Archibull Awards on the 19th November and celebrating this year’s excellent Archie entries over on the Picture You in Agriculture Facebook Page. Pop on over to see all our exciting news, including: