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.
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:
This week’s top stories from our Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the country and globe.
In the field
First stop on our round the globe tour this week is with YFC Sam Coggins who has touched down in SE Asia for the next stage of his work with Rise Harvest. Sam is the co-founder of the Rise Harvest smartphone app that provides site-specific fertilizer recommendations for smallholder rice growers in Myanmar.
“I just had a day in the field during an intensive rice course at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, where I tried unsuccessfully to plough rice field with Gertrude the carribou (native water buffalo),” Sam says. ” I will be here for the next three weeks and then I’m going to straight to Myanmar to put learnings into practice developing digital fertilizer knowledge tool with smallholder rice growers.”
On Aussie soil, Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) vice-chair and agronomist Emma Ayliffe sent us this update from her farm near Lake Cargelligo, central NSW:
“The 2019 winter cropping season has seen a much better start compared to last with rains earlier to get crops out of the ground. Small rain events every couple of weeks are helping to sustain our crop but we need a substantial rain event in the next couple of months to get closer to average yields. Compared to last year we are in a much more exciting position as can be seen this this picture,” Emma says.
Friend of the YFC program, National Farmers Federation 2030 Leader Matt Chapness is in Laos and sent us an update while “passing the time on a two hour drive to the village.”
“Yesterday I demonstrated a modified whipper snipper we made to control weeds in direct seeded rice in Laos. This picture (below) shows the results. Field overrun by weeds (left), weed cut (right). I’m off to demo to three other villages today and give them our design.”
Out of the field
Climate YFC and InStyle Magazine Farmer for Change/Klorane Changemaker Anika Molesworth is a triple threat this week with appearances on both television and radio, as well as articles published online!
Anika joined the panel on ABC’s The Drum to talk about climate change, examining the impacts of higher temperatures and lower rainfall, dissecting Australia’s current climate and energy policy, and looking forward to where the country could go from here.
She spoke about how the agricultural industry is being challenged by rapidly changing conditions, why current policy is out of line with the science, and gave examples of the great potential in rural Australia as we move to a low-carbon economy.
Anika also spoke with Triple J’s Hack about drought and the Future Drought Fund which provides relief for some farmers experiencing the word drought in recorded history and the need for emissions to be reduced in order to prevent worse future droughts. Take a listen here.
“In failing to act on human-induced climate change, our political leaders are neglecting the rights of the next generation.
“You just need to turn on your television to know this drought is tough. Every evening, Australian families are being bombarded with footage of struggling farmers, dust-bowl paddocks and hungry animals…”Read more here.
A two time Charles Sturt University graduate, Anika this week starred on the CSU “Insight: explore news, careers and study with CSU” website in the stroy, ‘Women in agriculture- let’s push things forward.’ Read more here. And what a woman she is! Keep up the great work Anika!
If you don’t follow Anika on Twitter, you can find her at @AnikaMolesworth She has been named one of the most influential people in Australian agriculture on Twitter and this week alone her tweeted video on a national drought strategy has been viewed 17,800 times and counting…
What are we learning from the #drought and how should we respond?
Also hitting the radio waves this week was Eggs YFC and YVLT communication creative team member Jasmine Whitten who spoke to ABC New England for the NSW Country Hour. “I spoke about my passion for agriculture and the education activities I have done as a Young Farming Champion and a Landcare coordinator,” Jas says. It’s absolutely worth a listen:
Jas also headed back to her old stomping ground of the University of New England (UNE) last week for the uni’s huge Ag Week event. We spotted Jas in this video from Agmentation (a two-day sprint and pitch grassroots problem-solving event):
Ag Week was the perfect opportunity for our new UNE YFC to introduce themselves over on PYIA. Well done to our Ruby Canning, Emily May, Haylee Murrell, Forbes Corby & Rebecca George for a brilliant week of guest hosting our social media channels. Pop over to PYIA now to take a look back over the week, which included Becca George and Forbes Corby speaking on the Rural Focus Symposium Q & A panel, alongside speakers Andrew Roberts, David Brownhill & Jock Whittle.
“The theme of the day was ‘corporate vs family farming: learning from each other.’ On the panel we discussed challenges for young people entering farming & what we think the future of farming looks like for our generation,” Becca says.
As chair of the Farming Futures committee, YFC Forbes Corby was spotted in this story about the symposium in the Armidale Express
YFC Becca George was showcased on the UNE Agriculture Facebook page as part of the Farming Futures UNE Careers Fair, which is an opportunity for both high school and university students to meet industry representatives and consider careers in agriculture. What excites Bec about the future of careers in agriculture?
Heading west to Narromine, YFC and 2018 Narromine Showgirl Keiley O’Brien recently MC’d the 2019 Showgirl competition, which consisted of interviews, a luncheon and a ball.
“We had five entrants in the competition, each who were a deserving winner, with Annabelle Powell, an embedding nurse, being named the 2019 Narromine Showgirl.
“I was honoured to MC the night as our outgoing Showgirl and had an absolute blast in doing so. It was great to see so many people within our district come together to celebrate our town, our show, and our people. We had a record number of 176 people in attendance, with two fellow YFC Bec George and Lucy Collingridge amongst the crowd.
“Big thanks to our judges: Spike Orr, Vice President of the Parkes Show Society, Effie Ferguson, The 2019 Land Sydney Royal Easter Show Girl Runner Up, and Lydia Herbert, ASC Next Gen Vice President.”
Last week also saw Keiley attend the Grain Growers Innovation Generation conference in Ballarat, Victoria with her employer RuralBiz Training. “Innovation Generation brings together award-winning speakers, innovators and industry professionals from across the sector, to inspire and challenge young people within the grains industry. I had a fabulous time networking and endorsing the flexible training programs offered through my work,” Keiley says.
Not far away in Bendigo it was all action at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show, where UNE YFC Ruby Canning was busy photographing for the Stock and Land Newspaper.
“The Sheep and Wool Show is the largest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere,” Ruby says. “It was a great experience meeting and networking with other individuals within agriculture. Competitors traveled from all over the country, including as far as Western Australian, to showcase their top stock.”
“While I was there I worked closely with Joely Mitchell, the Acting Editor of the Stock and Land. Along with photographing most of the champions, I had the privilege of photographing the industry dinner Lambition, which included meeting and photographing MLA corporate chef Sam Burke, as well as Jason Strong the newly appointed Managing Director of MLA.
“To top the event off one of my photos made the front page of the Stock and Land Newspaper for the second time, and I was shortlisted for the BBM Global Industry Scholarship.”
Congratulations Ruby! Fingers crossed for you with the scholarship winners announced in early October. If she wins, Ruby plans to travel to Canada and America to study the feedlot industry and meat grading and quality systems in comparison to Australia.
Over to Wagga Wagga, NSW, where YVLT mentor leader and Local Land Services (LLS) district veterinarian Dione Howard has been as busy as… well… an LLS district veterinarian!
Last Friday Dione attended the Graham Centre Livestock Forum with Riverina LLS, where livestock researchers, producers and market experts shared their latest insights.
Later in the week Dione spoke to the Charles Sturt University (CSU) Vet Science Class of 2020 about all things district vetting before the students head out on their final year of placements. The following day CSU had its Ag Careers Fair where students come together to hear from organisations in the agriculture sector who they might consider working for when they finish their agriculture, animal, vet or business degrees – lots of opportunities!
This Friday the Riverina LLS hosted a Lamb Post Mortem Workshop, in conjunction with Elders Wagga Wagga, where Dione shared with producers common causes of lamb mortalities and how they can identify what has happened to lambs so that they can make improvements for next year. Wow – what a week!
This week also saw Dione present at NFF House, Canberra, to a Lunch ‘n’ Learn group about her experience as WoolProducers Youth Ambassador for 2018-19. This was the last of her commitments for this program, now it’s over to Woolly YFC Samantha Wan for the 2019-20 Youth Ambassador role!
Speaking of Sam… If you’re heading to Sheepvention in Hamilton, Victoria, this week keep your eyes peeled for Samantha Wan. Sam is presenting the Elders Southern Clip of the Year awards. Looking forward to hearing more about this Sam!
We’re also staying tuned for news from YFC Steph Fowler who flew to Germany this week for the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) which starts this Sunday. Steph is presenting three papers on the meat science research she has been doing at Department of Primary Industries, and Steph’s PhD student will be presenting another two papers. Break a leg, Steph!
Coming up this week in Sydney is the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) of NSW’s leading Agricultural and Agribusiness careers expo, AgVision2019. YFC Lucy Collingridge and Dee George, and friend of the program and NFF 2030 Leader Aimee Snowdown are all heading AgVision’s way – say hi if you see them!
UNE YFC Becca George is gracing the RAS of NSW Facebook Page and website this week as one of the 2019 RAS Foundation Rural Scholarship winners. 22-year-old Becca is a fourth year Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Agriculture UNE student in Arimdale, originally from the small central NSW town of Nevertire. The RAS Foundation Rural Scholarships support students from rural areas who have to relocate to study. Applications are now open for 2020 RAS Foundation Rural Scholarships: Apply here
And did you catch Becca George’s photo on the Ten News Daily Bailey segment? Congrats Becca and we hope it’s pouring with rain out there soon.
YFC and YVLT communication creative team volunteer extraordinaire Marlee Langfield was the face of the recent Rural Women’s Network Hidden Treasures Honour Roll campaign, which recognizes fabulous volunteering efforts of rural women. As a 2017 Hidden Treasures nominee, Marlee was asked to talk about why she loves being involved with her local community and how she hopes the Morongla Show will continue for another 100 years. “They came to the Country Women’s Association/Red Cross meeting to film, which meant they could see me in volunteer action,” Marlee says. Nominations for the 2019 Hidden Treasures Honour Roll have now closed.
Congratulations to Wool YFC Samantha Wan who has been selected as one of three finalists in the 2019 National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia Wool Broker Award! Read all about it on Sheep Central here. Well done and good luck Sam! The prize sounds right up your alley…
“The winner of the 2019 award will win an all-expenses paid trip to attend the 2020 Congress of the International Wool Textile Organisation in Tongxiang, China in May 2020. Arrangements will also be made for the 2020 award winner to visit the wool textile industry in China.
NCWSBA executive director Chris Wilcox said the winner will be announced at the AWIS Wool Week dinner in the evening of Thursday, 22 August.”
Double YFC whammy for the NSW Young Farmers – with two YFC elected at the recent Annual General Meeting. Mega congrats to Meg Rice who was re-elected as a NSW Young Farmer Councillor, and Martin Murray who was elected as NSW Young Farmer deputy chair and onto the grains committee. Well done Meg and Martin!
And a huge warm welcome to the latest amazing talent to join the YFC team, Sally Downie. Sally has been awarded the 2019 Picture You in Agriculture Scholarship. Read Sally’s blog here to discover what makes her so incredible and a deserving winner of this scholarship. Sally’s heading to Beaudesert State School as part of the 2019 Archibull Prize and they’re already as excited as we are!
2019 Archibull Prize school visits are well under way and this week YFC Lucy Collingridge visited Greystanes High School and St Johns Park High School, where she spoke with 50 secondary students. At Greystanes High School, Lucy met with a range of students from years 7-12 who elected to participate in The Archibull Prize this year with their art teacher. Here, Lucy skyped with YFC Emma Ayliffe to give the students an insight in to the cotton industry. At St Johns Park High School Lucy spoke with the year 9 elective arts class who are participating in The Archibull Prize with their art teacher. Lucy also had the pleasure of speaking with the year 10 elective agriculture class who joined the session.
“I loved my time at the schools and I am looking forward to some follow up Google Hangouts with the students and tracking the progress of their Archibulls for 2019!” Lucy says. “Big thanks to teachers Donna Draper, Max Labal and Leah Bonus!”
How special is this…! YFC and Cowra grain grower Marlee Langfield was recently doing some family research when she came across a 1979 newspaper clipping with her grandad Clem Capps on the front cover of The Land newspaper. We love the headline, “Everything Old is new again” because 39 years later, Marlee and her partner Andrew made the cover! Read and enjoy the stories below…
This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the country and globe.
First stop on our round the world tour of YFC this week is the tiny town of Tocal, NSW, where dozens of YFC and Kreative Koala teachers gathered for our first 2019 Workshop.
It’s over to Wool YFC Chloe Dutschke and Horticulture YFC Tayla Field for a workshop recap of the alumni stream:
Our workshop weekend kicked off with a dinner Friday night with a chance for Alumni YFC to catch up and to meet the 2019 intake of YFC and Kreative Koalas teachers.
Saturday started with a brainstorming session including how we can make the most of our program and to showcase Agriculture to the best of our abilities. This involved reviewing, gathering, implementing and analysis of our social media. We have many new ideas and cannot wait to bring them to life.
Josh Farr from Campus Consultancy is our new Alumni workshop facilitator and has brought an engaging energy to the program. We discussed the six needs of life that all of our decisions can be linked back to: Certainty, Variety, Connection, Significance, Growth and Contribution. We used them to understand our motives in situations and to recognize our needs in determining our own personal goals.
Our goal setting session was very rewarding with many of our YFC Alumni beginning to define goals for their own lives using the SMART goal setting rubric whilst also addressing and overcoming problems which can lead to our goals not being actioned.
Saturday’s program was also filled with a session on the sustainability circle conducted by Greg Mills, which showcased five of our YFC Alumni sharing with teachers participating in Kreative Koalas how their role meets the sustainability circle in their work. This was a great opportunity for teachers and Alumni to learn together.
We concluded Saturday with a dinner inviting special guests including Tracey Norman, Mayor of Dungog Council, Lindy Hyam, Chair of Hunter LLS, Jane Llyod Jones, School Engagement Officer at Hunter LLS as well as Julie White and Jo Hathaway from Tocal College. We left the dinner truly inspired after speeches from Lindy Hyam, Youth Voices Leadership Team vice-chair Emma Ayliffe and Josh Farr.
Listen to Emma’s dinner speech here:
Listen to Josh’s speech here:
Our workshop concluded on Sunday but not before YFC had a sustainability session debrief with Greg Mills, reiterating the importance of a good presentation and the use of three key messages and understanding the story we are trying to tell.
Josh once again captivated the YFC Alumni and took us on a journey to understand Emotional Intelligence and our belief system. We were challenged in this session to become vulnerable and delve deep into ourselves to find our beliefs and recognise how they affect our everyday lives. This session was very emotive for all our Alumni recognising how negative self beliefs can shape the way we think about situations and define experiences we have had.
This workshop was by far the best workshop I have attended, it was emotive, engaging, challenging with lots of new information learnt. Thank you very much to the Alumni, new YFC, Teachers and facilitators for a fantastic weekend.
Thank you for a brilliant recap Chloe and Tayla!
In the Field
Wool YFC and Elders Wool Technician and Auctioneer Sam Wan has achieved a selling centre trifecta: Auctioneering the Elders Wool Fremantle offering means that she has now sold at all three wool selling centres in Australia!
This career highlight comes on the back of Sam’s two week study tour to Italy as part of the award for Elders “Thomas Elder” Employee of the Year.
Wool YFC Samantha Wan: Starting in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, the city of Biella became the center of the textile business because of its geographical features. Written documents prove that wool workers and weavers have been active in the region since 1245. It’s known as the ‘Wool City’, as it’s where the best wool mills in Italy are gathered and the most high quality woolen fabrics are weaved.
The water from the area is particularly hard due to its Alpine beginnings. As water runs down from the Piedmont mountains into the Biellese region, it picks up elements of the mineral formations it erodes along the way. The resulting hard water, which is particularly valuable for finishing fabrics, helped to distinguish the local fabrics and aided Biella’s ascent to the top of the world of wool.
Verrone, combing mill to see how the greasy wool begins the journey in Italy
Botto Giuesseppie, iconic fabric mill – one of the three ‘Royals’ of Biella
Tollegno 1900 SPA, mainly a worsted fabric producer, producing 4.5million metres of fabric each year, in over 5000 variations
Fratelli Piacenza SPA, woollen mill specialising in the Noble Fibres (superfine merino, cashmere, yak)
Marzotto, spinning and weaving factory in Valdagno
Simply incredible to see how the wool fibres are nurtured to create garments.
Fascinating stop overs at Parma ham factory and sheep cheese dairy how they carve a niche for their products.
AWI/The Woolmark Company Milan office to hear of the latest collaborations and the Italian perspective on wool in today’s fashion
While wool is always the highlight, the tour also took me to iconic sights and experiences such as a gondola ride in Venice, the ruins of Pompeii (highschool dream fulfilled!), the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, Florentine steak, the Colosseum and so many more!
Most people bring back trinket souvenirs, I’ve brought back a healthy appreciation of coffee and a bit of an espresso habit!
Out of the field
One of our newest YFCs from the University of New England, Becca George, has attended 3 conferences/ workshops across three countries in the past three weeks! “The 24th-26th of June I attended the IFAMA conference in Hangzhou China, then after landing in Sydney from Vietnam I went straight to the YFC workshop & then on the 8th-9th of July I was at the Australian Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast! No rest for the wicked or a YFC ” Becca says. Look back through our posts on Picture You in Agriculture to see more highlights of Becca’s trip.
Wool YFC and Peter Westblade Memorial Scholarship winner Chloe Dutschke recently attended the Intercollegiate Meat Judging competition careers expo, talking to students about her experience in agriculture so far and about the Peter Westblade Scholarship. “My highlight was seeing a record number of 45 companies attend the expo supporting youth heading into ag and the red meat industry. There were a record number of companies with graduate positions, so great to see them investing in the next generation of ag,” Chloe says. “It was also fantastic talking to students who are willing to do the tough jobs, start at the bottom and work their way up, to create innovation and showcase our ag industry.”
Eggs and Poultry YFC and YVLT Communication Sub Committee member Jasmine Whitten has had a busy week attending conferences and workshops across NSW.
“I went to the GrasslandsNSW conference, where I heard Greg Mills speak on social licence and also got to catch up with (Wool YFC) Katherine Bain. The conference covered so much, from how to build more profitable grazing businesses, to how producers are managing the drought building more profitable agricultural businesses.”
“I was also at the Bank Ready workshop which is part of the young farmer business program run by NSW DPI. The event had a great representation of people from lawyers, accountants, bankers and of course young farmers. My brother works on our family farm and he walked away inspired that there were options for young people to get into farming. These events are worth getting to if they are run in your region,” Jas says.
Huge congratulations to YFC and agronomist Casey Onus who was named Agronomist of the Year at the 2019 Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast last week. We are so proud of you Casey, well done!
“The 26-year-old B&W Rural agronomist beat out experienced agronomists from around the country, including fellow Moree agronomist Tony Lockrey who was named runner-up, to win the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award which recognises outstanding contribution to agronomic excellence by an agronomist.”Read more in the Moree Champion here.
Congrats to Youth Voices Leadership Team Chair and dairy geneticist Dr Jo Newton on her awesome op-ed “Forging an agricultural leadership path” published on Farm Online last week.
Well done to Picture You in Agriculture YFC Alana Black on her opinion piece published in The Land this week titled, “We need to be proactive in telling farm stories.”
“In order to stop decline of rural economies, we need to recognise it isn’t purely a geographical issue, and to ensure their strong continuation we need urban consumers to buy into regional communities,” writes Alana. Read the full story here.
YVLT Vice-Chair Emma Ayliffe is inspiring us all this week with her optimism and vision. Emma was showcased on australianleadership.com
Congratulations and a huge Thank You to friend of the PYIA programs Greg Mills who was recently thanked for his long-term contribution and support of our YFC with the presentation of a Champion of Champions award. No one deserves it more than you Greg, thank you! Watch here:
Wool YFC Lucy Collingridge made is back from the Arctic Circle in time to attend the Tocal Workshop. We were excited to hear about the rest of her incredible adventure:
“I headed to Norway and Denmark for a holiday. Most of my time was spent on a ship touring the western coast of Svalbard. I visited the worlds most northern town (Ny Alesund), saw a polar bear and reindeer, kayaked around some massive glaciers, went for a dip surrounded by icebergs and pack ice as it was snowing, and learned heaps about the amazing animals of the Arctic – did you know the Arctic Tern travels from the Arctic to Antarctica and back each year?! The really cool (pun intended) part of the trip was that it was a reunion of friends made on a trip to Antarctica two years ago – 20 of us “Epic Antarcticans” who were all on a Love Your Sister fundraising trip to Antarctica made the trip north for this Arctic adventure! “Places We Go” were on board to film the trip so that episode of the show will hopefully be out later this year.” We can’t wait to watch it Lucy!
Climate YFC and western NSW farmer Anika Molesworth is fundraising for her journey to Antarctica later this year where she will work closely with women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) from around the world on matters that affect the sustainability of our planet. Anika’s journey is part of her 12 month Homeward Bound leadership program and her campaign for support to get to her to Antarctica can be found here: chuffed.org/project/farmer-in-antarctica
Today’s guest post comes from shearing contractor Matt Cumming
Hi, I am Matt Cumming and I am a 27 year old shearing contractor from Northern New South Wales based in Inverell. One of my favourite earliest memories is of going to work with my grandfather, being keen to take part in the action, sliding down the sheep chute at any given chance.
I am a 5th generation shearer, who took a chance when I was 23 and started my own contract shearing run. We work throughout northern New South Wales and south western Queensland.
I was always destined to work in the wool and sheep industry, despite my mum’s best encouragement to finish year 12 and complete my apprenticeship, as a boiler maker/metal fabricator which I started as a school based apprentice. I went shearing full time when I was 20 and three years later CMAT Contracting was born.
CMAT Contracting offers a full contract shearing service, wool press and labour hire. It is important to me to offer a full contract shearing service, from mustering, drenching, lamb marking through to rolling out the last bale of wool for the season. I am very proud of my core team of six, all aged under thirty, for their workmanship and the pride they take in their work. Each member is able to work individually and as part of a team, which results in a happy client. I especially enjoy the moment when they reach personal milestones, which enables them build confidence in themselves and their work.
CMAT Contracting employees, Ewan Winter and Nick Cumming, recording their personal best daily number shorn at Guyra, in the New England region, NSW.
I am passionate about the wool industry and competition shearing and wool handling events, who for me go hand in hand. I not only sponsor and compete in these events myself, but I also encourage my team to do so as well. Competition is important to raise the bar within our industry, as it encourages mentoring from the older, more seasoned professionals to the up and coming, and those considering entering the industry. Australia has produced world champion shearers and wool handlers, who showcase the professional quality within our shearing sheds.
Matt Cumming and Heidi Anderson (CMAT Contracting Wool Classer) competing at the Sapphire Sports Shear, Inverell 2019
I take pride in my small contribution within the Australian Wool Industry, as Australian wool has the reputation of being a high quality product, and as such it demands a high quality shearing and wool clip preparation. I have been mentored by many Australian and World Champions and made some great friends along the way. It is important that the information I have had the privilege to learn and the experiences I have had, I pass on and continue to be an advocate for professional standards within the sheep and wool industry. I encourage all to try our industry, as it can be very rewarding!!
The roles of plant researcher and humanitarian may seem worlds apart but Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite is discovering her agricultural career is leading her to a greater understanding, and compassion, for people from all walks of life.
Rebecca is as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate for The University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute based in Narrabri in northern NSW. Her work involves studying the relationships between heat, nutrition and yield in wheat and other crops.
In 2018 Rebecca travelled to a farming community in Uganda on a Rotary Group Study Scholarship. She lived with villagers for a month to experience first-hand the challenges they had producing food, and designed ways in which that could be improved in the future.
“It was an incredibly humbling experience to live with people who had so little yet who were exceptionally generous and who opened up their homes and their hearts for me,” Rebecca says. “The food was so fresh and delicious! Goat meat was particularly common and my hosts were really surprised that Australia is the largest exporter of goat meat yet we rarely (if ever) consume it ourselves. I made some lifelong friendships and I will most certainly be going back.”
Rebecca again found herself overseas this year when she was invited to speak about her plant breeding work at the Aus-Pak Conference for Food Security in Pakistan. She spent time with research teams, in particular students, and early career researchers from the Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture, one of Pakistan’s newest universities in the city of Multan, just over 500km south of the country’s capital, Islamabad. As she was the only female on the delegation and not of Muslim faith she faced the trip with some trepidation.
“I shouldn’t have worried at all though,” she says. “The Pakistani people I met were incredibly kind and accepting. I was treated like royalty the entire time, presented with gifts and flowers on many occasions, had traditional Punjabi dress and shoes made for me and the Vice-Chancellor even had a tree planted in my honour.”
Apart from conference responsibilities the aim of Rebecca’s delegation to Pakistan was to build collaborations to help with the country’s food security efforts and to implement the use of Australian technologies and systems to improve and future proof their research capabilities.
“One of the absolute highlights for me was getting to talk all things culture and religion with many very open-minded men and women of varying ages. In particular, I had fantastic discussions about the challenges surrounding women’s education and career development which is such a passion of mine both in developing countries and in the western society.”
“Pakistan has suffered from political unrest and religious extremism for many years but they are still an incredibly proud people who only want the best for their country. The trip taught me that kindness comes in many and varied forms and that being different from someone else is not necessarily a bad thing. The world would be a much happier place if we were more respectful of other people’s differences, owned our own individuality and realised that the world would be a very boring place if everyone was exactly the same.”
Find out more about the world of work in agriculture. Visit our website here
Using art as a means to connect with agriculture has been a winning formula for The Archibull Prize for many years, and now Art4Agriculture’s AgDay Careers Competition is replicating this on a smaller scale. In the Careers Competition students are tasked with creating and photographing a Lego character (or using one supplied by partner Little Brick Pastoral), identifying their strengths and then using multiple resources and 21st century enterprise skills to present a pathway to a career in agriculture.
14 year-old Hamish Maclure from Yanco Agricultural College was the 2018 winner of the middle school section of the Careers Competition and his story shows how the program’s blend of creativity, research and literacy can attract and engage all students.
Hamish lives on his family’s 5000 acres mixed grazing farm near Tarcutta in New South Wales and is heavily involved with cattle showing and junior judging. He has competed in three states across Australia this year. He lists his favourite school subjects as maths, science and agriculture but being dyslexic means writing and literacy are not his fortes. However Hamish knows how to best use his resources and chose to research a career as a stock and station agent because “I like to travel and to meet other people and to analyse cattle and sheep.”
Stuart McVittie teaches agriculture to Hamish and his fellow Year 8 students and thought the competition would be a great idea to get kids thinking about opportunities in agriculture much earlier than they normally would, and to help them choose subjects for future school years. Stuart also involved the school’s career advisor who showed the students how to access resources to research agricultural careers.
“Writing is not Hamish’s strength and neither is using computers but he is a practical type of student, which is why he loves handling and showing cattle,” Stuart says. “Getting Hamish to write that story was an excellent task on his behalf. The Art4Agriculture Competition has increased his confidence and given him some positive feedback.”
Hamish’s mother Belinda agrees. “Hamish has done really well in the cattle showing ring but we’re so proud of this because its literacy, which is something he has really struggled with.”. Belinda also believes the competition has taught the students valuable communication and enterprise skills. “The kids had to email their entries themselves to Lynne [Strong] and had to manage that communication, which is I think is a great skill for them to learn.” Learning and experience also comes from making mistakes and when the Yanco students neglected to manage their email communication effectively they missed out on knowing three of them had made the finals and that Hamish had won his division. They also missed out on the awards ceremony in Sydney! “Hamish has learnt a really good lesson about checking his emails,” Belinda says.
For Hamish the competition has meant stepping out of his comfort zone and crystallising thoughts on his future. “It gets us thinking about what we want to do when we leave school and makes us do things that we sometimes don’t want to do but are very important to us. For example we might not want to do the [writing] competition but if it helps us in the long term it is always a good thing.”
“We were stoked that we had a number of kids into the final seven and that Hamish won it,” Stuart says. “We’re quite proud of our kids and I’m glad we had the opportunity to be part of the Art4Agriculture program. It’s been fantastic.”
Although Hamish missed the awards ceremony in November, he and Belinda travelled to the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April where Little Brick Pastoral’s Aimee Snowden made a special presentation of an iPad donated by Career Harvest.
Find out more about the world of work in agriculture. Visit our website here