Cotton on to Cotton with Tamsin

Art4agriculture has a brand new partnership with the cotton industry and we are very excited about it

Cotton Australia is investing in their next generation of farmers and inspiring people who support farmers and we have identified a number of cotton industry rising stars who will be sharing their stories with you via Art4agricultureChat over the coming months

Our first cab off the rank is Tamsin Quirk …….

 

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About Me

If anyone had said to me seven years ago that I’d be a student at the University of New England completing a Bachelor of Agriculture I don’t think I would have believed them.

Coming from a non-farming background with both my parents in the health industry, I felt like I didn’t have the skills nor the knowledge to go into an agriculture related career.

Not only have I have learnt new things and developed new skills, I have formed lasting friendships and networks that are truly invaluable.

As A Kid

I grew up in Moree in NSW and it is cotton country.  Its is also quite famous for its Hot Mineral Baths which were were discovered accidentally when searching for irrigation water in 1895. 300,000 visitors of all ages visit annually and many believe in the healing powers of the Artesian mineral waters.

The streets are filled with Toyota land cruisers and an array of other utes and 4WD’s – I love coming home from the city, or uni, to see three or four muddy big Toyotas parked down the main street. Another thing I absolutely love is the dress code, every second person is wearing a pair of boots and jeans with their sleeves rolled up, and then you’ll get the occasional Agri-Business guy walk past in his polished R.M Williams boots and moleskins. There is always and will always be a rural feel to the place which is what I love, and I think “how could you want to be anywhere else?” It’s so easy-going and has such a sense of community. Everyone says hello in the street and everyone knows who you are.

I’d lived in town until I was 12 and had never really been involved in agriculture, but once we moved out onto a bit of land, things changed.

My first introduction to the cotton industry was in primary school and I remember looking out the window and seeing the huge pieces of machinery being escorted past the school during harvests and cotton season, and being inquisitive as to what they did and how they worked.  Check out the latest innovations in Cotton Picking here

Cotton Picker

Can you imagine how city people look when they see these monsters driving down the main street of Moree

Where it all began…

For one of my year 9 and 10 elective subjects at school I chose Agriculture. This was when my passion sparked. I had never reallyknown where I wanted to go in life until then. My agriculture teacher specialised in agronomy and this opened up an exciting world I had never really been exposed to. She was so enthusiastic about Ag. Walking through a paddock to check the veggie garden, the whole class would be pulled up to get a 5-minute rundown on a weed she’d just walked past and it was amazing to see someone so passionate, confident and knowledgeable; and it wasn’t just one weed, it’d be two or three on the way down and at least another one on the way back. I suddenly wanted to know about all the ins and outs of crop production and with cotton being so widely grown in the area, it was hard not to become involved. I soon was topping my Agricultural class in year 10 which resulted in me receiving the Dallas Parsons Memorial Award, which is given to students who have worked hard and been identified as having a bright future in Agriculture.

Years 11 and 12 saw me add Primary Industries to my studies and then I really saw my future opening up, I was topping the classes again and I couldn’t wait for every Ag and Primary Industries lesson. Although both the classes weren’t very big (with only 5 girls sitting the HSC Agriculture exam and me and one other boy sitting the Primary Industries one) I  had so much fun and learnt so much about the important industries that feed, clothe and house us from doing the subjects. I got to the point where I wanted to do nothing else as a career, and Agriculture was my soul focus.

Hard work, passion and commitment delivers cotton to my door

Coming towards the end of year 12 I set my eye on winning the Auscott Scholarship.Every year the local Auscott cotton ginning company awards this scholarship to a local Moree year 12 student who has worked hard and has persistence and enthusiasm for the career that they want to take. The scholarship is worth $11,500 for every year of study for 3 or 4 years. After a long process of waiting in anticipation I was shortlisted and then had a phone call to say that I had been chosen to be the recipient. The scholarship will be a massive aid for helping to pay for my accommodation and textbooks as well as giving me a contact network as I go forward to a career in the cotton industry.

Cotton Scholarship

Auscott “Midkin” farm manager Sean Boland with the recipient of the award Tamsin Quirk, and her parents Shayne and David Quirk –  Photo courtesy of Moree Champion read the full story here.

Learning, learning…

As my knowledge for agriculture grows, so does my passion and I realise and appreciate how lucky I was to have grown up in a community underpinned by the cotton industry. Our local cotton farms are family run businesses and cotton is the economic and social lifeblood of our community

I realised that not everybody had highways that looked like some-one had just busted a thousand pillows open all over the side of the road, and trucks all loaded up with wheat and cotton weren’t a regular thing in the main streets of other towns.

Cotton Cotton Everywhere

Does it get more beautiful than images like this?

The most important thing growing up in Moree has shown me is how important it is to have young people in the industry with a fiery passion and a desire to educate those who aren’t fully aware of the valuable role our farmers play in feeding and clothing not only Australians but many other people around the world.

The cotton industry is very lucky indeed to have Tamsin don’t you think?

The Voice of the Future

Art4agriculture has a big picture vision for Australia. We want a vibrant, dynamic and innovative food sector that is seen by next gen as a career of first choice.

Art4agriculture is on a crusade to do whatever it takes to create a culture of change at industry level and make investing in our young people the number 1 key performance indicator. We are finding exciting, inspiring young people in agriculture everywhere we look and we love it.

Today’s guest blog comes from Horizon Scholar Ashley Hobbins who is currently undertaking a  Bachelor of Applied Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania

Wet day checking for new calves

Ashley was a PICSE student and has been associated with farming all her life. She would like to work as a teacher in Agriculture, inspiring students to undertake a career in primary industries.

Here is Ashley’s story …….

Agriculture is at the core of everybody’s life but for some people it runs a little deeper, it’s a way of life and an industry which inspires. You don’t have to run a thousand head of cattle or grow hectares of crops to have a passion and drive for this amazing sector which is worth so much but unfortunately unnoticed by so many.

My story begins on a cattle and sheep property in the country side of Victoria where as a child I spent my days following dad around when he fed out hay to livestock or penned up sheep in the shearing shed.bobby calf and me

It is however the city where most of the chapters to my story are written. I love living in the city and being able to walk down to the shops to grab a bargain or getting dressed up for a Saturday night out on the town but to me there is nothing like putting on a pair of old jeans and work boots and spending the day out in the paddock. I am currently in my final year of a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Tasmania and am working towards gaining my Masters of Teaching. It is no secret that the field of agriculture needs more workers and I personally believe that programs such as well-run school farms in high schools create knowledgeable and skilled students ready to enter the workforce or continue further education in agriculture. After working in the industry it is my intention to become a teacher and hopefully inspire students to forge a career in agriculture.

Brooks High School was a major stepping stone for me as it was here that I was introduced to the science behind agriculture and motivated me to pursue the career I am. There are also great programs available such as the Tasmanian Farmers and Grazier’s Discover Agriculture program where I was shown some of the many industries within agriculture and given the opportunity to have a week’s work experience in the dairy industry. I have also been lucky enough to have work experience in the poppy and wine industries as well as government research. There are so many chances for travel within the industry as it is everywhere you go and whilst being involved in the Primary Industries Centre for Science Education program I travelled to Western Australia. I also travelled to Warwick on a Charolais Society sponsored trip where I participated in cattle handling, preparing and judging and was awarded the husbandry award.

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Many people disregard university as an option as it is too expensive but the fact is that there are so many scholarships out there to help budding agricultural scientists. Through the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Horizon scholarship I have been provided with not only financial support but also a mentor who is there to help me through my degree. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Canberra every year of my degree to build my skills in leadership and meet some great people. This year I also travelled to Sydney on a sponsored trip to participate in the Charlie Arnot workshop.

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Ashley and fellow Horizon Scholars at FFAgOz workshops in Sydney with Charlie Arnot

Winning the Greenham Tasmania scholarship in 2011 saw me having lunch with the Governor of Tasmania and my acceptance speech for the ACAS/Coca Cola scholarship boosted my confidence considerably. The reason why I mention these accolades is to highlight that if you get out there and discover the possibilities there is every chance you can be offered a way and means of getting where you want to be. University is not the only option and I have enjoyed going through the more practical pathway, completing a VET II Certificate in Agriculture before attending college.

Grinding soil samples

There are so many great people in the industry and being involved in extracurricular activities has allowed me to meet some of these people. I’ve been able to talk to students during recent PICSE and TFGA camps as a guest speaker and co-facilitator at the 2012 TFGA Hobart camp, as well as running a workshop at the Growing Your Future 2011 event. Getting involved in our university’s Ag Science Society as secretary has allowed me to interact with industry members.

In addition to work experience I’ve also worked in a shearing shed, cutting vegetables, packing and preparing vegetables and working with beef cattle as well as selling fruit and vegetables. My passion for beef cattle started with showing at high school where I showed Murray Greys, Angus and Charolais cattle. I was then asked to show for a Belted Galloway stud and now show for a Murray Grey stud as well as being involved in the Murray Grey Youth.

There are so many prospects in the agriculture sector and my story is just a snap shot of what opportunities are available. The industry is full of enthusiastic workers from all walks of life and is waiting for even more people to enter the industry and make a difference. So why not take a leap of faith and explore the interesting and amazing sector that is agriculture?!

Back to me. There is no denying that Ashley is a superstar. She sees opportunitities for professional development and she grasps them with both hands and makes life happen for her. Ashley is obviously special but she isnt a one off nor need she be. I get phone calls from young people in agriculture from all around Australia with obvious potential to be another Ashely everyday.

They are out there industry. You just need to invest in them.

A big shout out to Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation for investing in Next Gen though Ashley

Meet Krissy Riley the Flying Governess

Imagine living three hours from a town. Three hours if there is an emergency. Three hours from a pub. Well I live three hours away from all of these things.

My name is Krissy Riley and I live and work on a cattle station in the Kimberley. Three hours from anything.

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Two years ago, I was a swimming teacher in a Queensland mining town, I was paying $500 a week rent and spending a fortune just living. I was always on my phone. I was reliant on technology to get by in everyday life. I would spend $10 on a gossip magazine, which I would read while eating my microwave dinner. Full of protein and toxic goodness. Was this the life I wanted to live?

I needed some direction. I Googled and I Binged. And I stumbled across a website called www.governessaustralia.com I decided to upload my resume, sit back and wait.
I was not prepared for what happened next. Within three days I got over 30 job offers from all over Australia.

But none of the jobs felt right. Until one day I received a phone call that changed my life.
It was from a woman called Helen, from Anna Plains cattle station, three hours from Broome. She was very polite and got straight to the point. I would be teaching two children School of the Air. metimandjo

And then she put the children on the phone.I decided right then that I would take the job.
I had never lived or worked on a cattle station before. Flying across the country, I knew this was going to be a big change. I was so nervous. Words can’t explain how I felt that day.

My job turned out to be amazing. It was so fulfilling. Helping two young children learn was truly satisfying. I got to watch them grow and become young adults. They were picking up on my jokes and my sense of humour.

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The months past at Anna, and I had slowly come to terms that I no longer had mobile reception. I was reading books instead of watching TV. I was listening to triple j instead of mainstream radio. I was enjoying life!
But when animal cruelty in Indonesia’s abattoirs forced the Australian government to shut down live exports, Anna Plains’ employees feared for their jobs.

And while the station, which musters thousands of head of cattle by helicopter, might seem larger than life, last year it was brought to its knees.

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There was a lot of the anxiety on the station during the live export suspension. It was a pretty scary time, you think you’re going to lose your job, your home.

We did stop mustering for about a month, we were going to rallies in Broome, speaking to the members of parliament, trying to really push, say that it wasn’t our fault

It was very difficult to explain to the children who lived on the station what was happening. It is their home, their livelihood basically, being pretty much shunned in front of them.

The station is now back up to normal, although I think many people have been affected. I know a lot of people would have lost their jobs: a lot of jillaroos, jackaroos, ringers, things like that, and it’s obviously going to affect a lot of young people out there.

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Two years on, moving here, three hours from anywhere, I still believe it is best thing I had ever done!

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OPPORTUNITES GALORE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN RURAL REGIONAL AND REMOTE AUSTRALIA

Krissy was one of 33 young Australians who were selected to participate in the 2012 Heywire Regional Youth Summit which takes place over six days each February. Young Heywire winners aged 16 – 22 fly in from all over the country to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for an all-expenses-paid week where they discuss ideas, walk the corridors of power and make life-long friendships.

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Each Heywirer represents a rural or regional pocket of Australia, and was chosen to attend on the strength of their written, video, audio or photographic stories that they shared on this website.

Over the week the Heywirers do heaps of activities, some important and serious, others just plain fun. The week includes a reception at Parliament House, a visit to the Australian War Memorial, optional sporting activities at the AIS, a tour of ABC Canberra (including a chance to sit at the news desk!), and the Heywire No Talent Quest.

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There are plenty of optional sporty activities too, like touring the AIS, visiting the Sportex museum and even using the professional training facilities at the AIS alongside elite athletes.

The Heywire Regional Youth Summit is a chance for the participants to develop outstanding ideas and proposals that will create change in their local communities.

Krissy and her Heywire team of Melody Pedlar, Alyssa Allen and Emma Visser are hoping to create a website that is a one-stop shop for information on rural issues.

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“I’m working with a group I met at the Heywire Summit that’s raising awareness about agricultural communities, what you can do, what jobs are out there and what education is available. For instance, if you’re doing School of the Air and you want to do extra courses, you can go there and click on the education link and check it out and see what’s available.” said Krissy

Their website which will be called “AGregate” would also help show careers in the Agrifood Sector as a viable career option that people might not know about.

Hear the girls present the AGregate team pitch here

Creative Cowboys

 

Today we feature the outstanding and multi-talented Queensland farmer and artist Annabel Tully

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Annabel Tully painting with her “easel” on her homeland “Bunginderry” in Qld’s Channel Country

Firstly a little background

Art4Agriculture is an independent, non-political, partnership focused, not for profit grass roots organisation. We deliver programs designed by farmers for farmers that focus on youth, careers, the community, the environment and the arts and link all of these back to agriculture

We only work with organisations who partner for the common good of agriculture.

In 2011 RIRDC provided seed funding to get our Young Farming Champions program off the ground. What a watershed moment that has proved to be for the future of food security in this country.   

RIRDC have a number of initiatives that nurture rural and regional talent and one of these is the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

To me this award identifies outstanding rural women in each state of Australia who day-in and day-out perform with flare, dedication and success resulting in creating growth and well-being for their own businesses, their communities and organisations they belong to.

Each winner has identified an exceptional community or industry good program they wish to undertake and the award provides them with funding and a support network to bring their vision to fruition.

Just by being nominated for an award is a tremendous boost for any individual or team program. Its says “We think you are equal to or better than the very best in the country”

Having participated in a number of award processes I know there are many positive flow on effects.  Art4agriculture have been awarded grants and contracts and our Young Farming Champions have received opportunities of a lifetime as a result of the attention focused on successful award entries.

Art4agriculutre has now formed a partnership with Annabel Tully who shares our commitment to deliver the best outcomes for agriculture at every turn

You can see why Annabel lights our fire by reading her story here

I’ve just been on the most incredible journey…….

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No it’s not Nepal, Cambodia or the Greek Isles, I’ve just spent the last 12 months being a part of the Rural Industries Research Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Awards process in Queensland. (It does go national) I am thrilled to say I am a finalist headed for a big interview process in Brisbane next month. This journey of self-reflection has really nailed down for me exactly why I have a fire in my belly about anything rural and remote and what am I going to do with it?

So a little on my background… I’m a woman (for starters), a wife, a mother, a farmer, a teacher , an artist and an advocate for our bush way of life. For many years I have put my hand up for anything that had a farming or arts touch to it. But what really keeps that fire burning, is the people, without us, there is no agriculture. Sounds pretty simple, if not, stupid, I know, but when we are confronted with all the pressures of contemporary agriculture…..environment, global food security, financial pressures of feeding and educating another generation… blah blah blah…. the people part of agriculture is something I am not willing to forget. Let me share this journey with you if I may be so bold as to ask for a moment or 2 of your precious time???

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So my pitch for the Awards is a project I call “Creative Cowboys.” Come one, come all!

I’m offering an opportunity for fun and laughter and a reason to connect with the person standing next to you. I plan to offer all-inclusive arts based activities for people living in farming communities – yes even those who can’t even draw a stick figure! The aim is to offer some respite for farmers, a no man’s land where we you may chat to the stranger next to you about not very much at all, and that’s the whole point.

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Annabel Tully 2011 Tongalderry Channels (wet) Oil, pigment and found ochre on linen

Bushies are a resilient mob, a humble mob, a sometimes quiet and unassuming mob. We are faced with many challenges, and this is what brings the enormous rewards and our determination to stay. We problem solve, more often than not, without the assistance of others. But without the people, there is no agriculture. So I aim to offer a little respite, a shady tent at a field day or rodeo, if you like, where friends, neighbours and strangers can come together and have some fun, a little calm before the next storm. Because if you are a bushie, you know what I’m talking about…. there will be a next time, not so far in the future, when we will need to band together for survival.

Whether I am successful in my bid for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award bursary for this project is not the end of this journey. I’ve already reached my destination. The process of simply applying for the awards has enabled me to realise what my skills are and how I can make a difference. I am clear about my role in this glorious life I lead in the bush. Are you?

You can read more about and/or contact Annabel here

web: www.annabeltully.com

email:  info@annabeltully.com

Margaret Rivers’ Cate Blanchett goes back to her roots

Our blog today features next gen superstar Joanna Wren. Joanna was WA Trainee of the Year in 2008 and is currently a fellow Agrifood Skills’ Ambassador with Art4Agriculture’s Lynne Strong and Hollie Baillieu

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Joanna Wren – photograph by Stephen Blakeney (see footnote)

Joanna has had a very diverse career pathway that has led her back to her roots, from a Bachelor Arts and a love of television and theatre to her passion for horticulture and a strong understanding of the employment and environmental challenges the industry faces, Joanna is committed to becoming a leader in her field. Joanna runs own her business Sunshine Produce, in partnership with her brother. When not getting her hands dirty in the market garden, Joanna enjoys developing her artistic talents as a member of the Margaret River Theatre Company

This is Joanna’s story straight from the heart…….

I come from a farming family and loved growing up on the farm

Over the years my family have grazed both cattle and sheep and for as long as I can remember Dad and Mum have grown vegetables commercially.converted_81

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I used to spend weekends and holidays planting cauliflowers, weeding capsicums and pruning tomatoes, not really even realising at the time that I was gaining new knowledge and skills every season I worked.

Whilst I loved the farm I also have a real love and passion for theatre and film and television and chose to study a Bachelor of Arts at Perth University. After spending four years living in Perth as part of my degree I realised that I really missed the country and made the decision to take a city break and move back home for six months and work with Dad growing vegetables. But six months turned into eight which turned into twelve and I have now been back down on the farm for over four years. I found not only did I really enjoy growing vegies, but that the skills that I had gained from growing up in the farm environment had never left me. I was hooked and wanted to learn more and so I did a Certificate IV Traineeship with my parents business “Wren’s Vegie Patch”

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‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

When it was time to look at a career path for me, I never really looked at a VET pathway in horticulture or agriculture as an option but now as I reflect on my Traineeship I can really clearly see how suitable training can not only make you “work ready” it can have such a positive effect on an individual’s life. Not only did I gain more practical skills and increased my knowledge of production horticulture but with my growing confidence I took on more responsibilities within the business (with fantastic encouragement from my parents) which included other things such as supervising and training staff and marketing.

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‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I was lucky enough to win the 2008 Trainee of the Year award at the WA Training Awards and with my prize money started my own little business which focused on growing smaller amounts of mixed vegetables for the local market. Not long after I formed a business partnership with my brother and together we now run Sunshine Produce, a production horticulture business in the South West corner of Western Australia. Based in the Margaret River region, we produce cauliflowers, tomatoes and pumpkins for the domestic Perth Market.

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‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I have still kept my interest in promoting local food and am always working to expand our local sales. And when I’m not harvesting, packing, irrigating, weeding, fertilising, working on the accounts, handling orders or sleeping, I am to be found working on a value added product that I’ve developed – a yummy pasta sauce using my own vine ripened tomatoes. At this stage it is just a small side project, but I’m hoping to see it grow to bigger volumes.

Back in 2008, I also got my training and assessing qualifications which enabled me to begin training other people in Horticulture at the South West Institute of Technology in Margaret River.

Jo Wren teaching

I really see the importance in having clear and relevant training pathways available to young people in horticulture so that they can see where their training is taking them. And I also see the need for practical, flexible and no-nonsense training for my industry and I try to reflect that as best as I can in my training programs.

I recently was appointed as an AgriFood Skills Australia Ambassador and it has been such a wonderful experience to be given the chance to represent my Industry at a National level. I have also really enjoyed spending time with the other seven Ambassadors who are from all across Australia and from all different Agriculture backgrounds and I can’t begin to describe how inspiring it is to be surrounded by these people who are so passionate about promoting Australian Agriculture and encouraging more people to become involved in such a fantastic and varied industry.

Now don’t get me wrong, growing vegetables can be ridiculously hard work and is definitely not for everyone. During the peak season of January through to May I work seven days a week and with a busy harvest a twelve hour day is not unusual, and is in fact commonplace. It can also be heartbreaking, we’ve had a whole crop wiped out by a freak hailstorm, complete plantings of cauliflowers destroyed overnight by rabbits and roos, it sounds dramatic but with vegetable growing a single day can make or break a season. But yet there’s something about it that I really connect with. I love the fact that I can grow quality, sustainable food for people. The satisfaction and sense of pride that comes with sending off a full truck of produce to the Markets. The fact that I get to work outside in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. The relief and burst of confidence when business decisions work out in your favour. The anticipation of waiting to see whether or not all your crop setup work has paid off. Even with its challenges, it is such an exciting and diverse industry to be a part of and I hope that in my own small ways I can contribute to the sustainability of the Australian horticulture industry and watch it grow from strength to strength.

Footnote

Other great stories about Joanna and Wrens Vegie Patch can be found here

Q&A Young Grower Feature Rising Star

2008 Spice Magazine Wrens Patch

Making a difference – everybody has all that is required

“All you need is two eyes, two hands and your heart in the right place to make a difference”

I had the pleasure of attending the Heywire Gala Dinner last night. Art4agriculuture is a proud supporting partner of Heywire and Heywire of us. The relationship is a collaborative partnership that is as simple as cross promoting each others activities.

One of the features of the dinner was a number of inspiring speeches from young people. They included some of this years winners like Alyssa Allen and Melody Pedler, former winner Naomi Gooden and Jack Black look alike Chris Raine the inspiration behind Hello Sunday Morning who said this last night  “All you need is two eyes, two hands and your heart in the right place to make a difference” He is so right. If we really want to we all have the necessary body parts that we can mobilise to make a difference .

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Chris Raine from Hello Sunday Morning – wow doesn’t he look like Jack Black

Art4agriculture exists for young people in agriculture and provides them with the opportunity to make a difference in so many ways and they ARE and they can show you.

Just a couple of examples

Young Farming Champion Alison McIntosh featured here in the wining secondary school video from the 2011 Archibull Prize from Caroline Chisholm College

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Young Farming Champion Stephanie Tarlinton inspiring next gen to be dairy farmers in this primary school winning video entry from Schofields Public School

The dedicated Art4agriculture team and now the 2011 Young Farming Champions alumni wake up each morning committed to providing vehicles and platforms to source funding, open doors and smooth the way to showcase the talented young people in agriculture. Sadly too often in agriculture we make what should be easy, too hard and we burn our young people out

One of our 2011 Young Farming Champions Alumni Emma Visser was lucky enough to be one of the 35 young Heywire winners from regional Australia who travelled to Canberra for the week long Youth Summit .

In their final job for the week, the group presented the big ideas they’ve been working on to their peers, an expert panel from different sectors, stakeholders and senior ABC staff.
After dividing themselves into nine interest groups during the week, each group was required to pitch a concise idea that would benefit the community relating to their specialty.
The groups were focusing on topics like small town survival, immigration and inclusion, the impact of mining on regional communities and Indigenous heritage.
Emma Visser and her team of Alyssa Allen, Krissy Reilly and Melody Pedler after much collaboration decided they would pitch a website called AGregate – a website to collect information about careers, education opportunities and student exchanges in regional areas. You can hear the AGregate pitch here

The Pitch

Emma and her team pitch the “AGregate” website

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The AGregate team like all the Heywire winners were presented with their winners certificates by Senator Joe Ludwig Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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Emma and Senator Ludwig

Borrowing from  website http://www.abc.net.au/heywire/stories/2012/02/3426986.htm 

Emma Visser is a city girl who moved to the Illawarra region of New South Wales, she says it (AGregate) would help show people that you can make the move successfully.
“I have a strong passion for agriculture and I’m not from an agricultural background.
For me it’s important other young people get that opportunity, and Heywire has been a great way for me to show that even if you’re not from a farming background you can still get in to a career in agriculture”.
She says her main objective was to try and bridge the gap between rural and urban communities, and make life easier for someone searching for a potential career in agriculture.
Naomi Gooden a 2002 winner was especially impressed with Emma’s group’s use of a website.
“These are innovative ideas using technology of today that Australians can connect to”.
Naomi went on to say “ Just because you’ve pitched your idea doesn’t mean the idea is done – you don’t have to rely on a government department to take up your idea, you can go home and do it.”
It’s a sentiment that would resonate with fellow audience member Chris Raine, founder and CEO of the website Hello Sunday Morning.
As a hard-living advertiser he chose to give up alcohol and blog about the process.
The popular website is now a go-to portal for people wanting to try a healthy challenge and contribute their stories.
Naomi says there are always people happy to help see ideas become realities.
“You can find mentors and support but if you really believe in your idea, don’t let it stop here, it’s very possible – this is the first step of something really great.”
Emma Visser says the week-long summit has given her skills she’ll be able to use later in life.
“We’ve picked up a lot of things which have built our confidence to get up and put forward something we’re passionate about and do it effectively.
“We were taught how to relax so we’re not as nervous and the importance of storytelling – we found out it’s important to tell a story so you can connect with an audience on a emotional level which makes it more personal.”
Technology is something Emma is passionate about, and just like her AGregate website, she will continue to make informative videos about life on the land, just like her Cows Create Careers video that attracted a whooping 15,000 web hits in 2 years. In fact its gone viral and has been attracting 1000 hits week for the last 4 weeks
“I love multimedia – it’s the most effective way of telling my story”. said Emma
“It’s great when I go in to schools and communicate with them because with my videos they can hear from me and see my job and what I do.
“It’s a great visual aid and I’ve heard people say they want to be like me because of these movies.”

Emma is just one of many young people Art4agriculuture has identified who are using “the two eyes, two hands and their heart to make a difference.”

Never before has it been more important for Australia to invest in our young people in rural regional and remote Australia. They are the lifeblood of our communities

If you are an Australian farmer you can make a difference by lobbying your peak industry body to invest in your next gen farmers.

Back to Emma and her thoughts on the long term outcomes of opportunities like being a Young Farming Champion who are provided with professional development and the skills set to confidentially share their story with urban audiences

Emma sums it up

“I have told my story so many times I don’t need a script. My story comes from the heart, it resonates with the audiences I want to reach. It is inspiring young people to follow my career pathway into farming. It inspires young people to step out of their comfort zone and it inspires young people to see the value in collaboration. I am nineteen years old and I have the skills and confidence to spend next 80 odd years making a difference”

EMMA 0001

As a proud Heywire supporting partner we are thrilled to let you know entries are open for the 2012 competition. If you fit the age criteria or know some-one who does tap them on the shoulder and suggest they enter for the opportunity to experience the best week of their life
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Meet all of the 2011 Heywire winners and why not enter the 2012 competition NOW.

McLeod’s Daughters telling next gen agriculture needs you

I was recently asked by Stephanie Coombes to answer the question Why do you think less people are becoming involved in agriculture?”

My answer was “I think less people are getting involved because industry is not exposing the next generation of potential agriculture entrants to the enthusiastic inspiring young professionals in our food and fibre industries who are living the dream and have the capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career opportunity”

Now whilst industry may not be getting out there and telling its story the media is. Sometimes the outcomes are positive and too often they are very damaging. However there have been some very successful vehicles such as McLeod’s Daughters that captured the imagination and heart strings of many young girls particularly young girls who love horses and attracted them to agriculture career pathways.

What’s exciting about these young people is they inject new ideas, promote change and generate innovation. Today we providing you with a perfect example of this, Stephanie Coombes doesn’t just want a career in agriculture she wants to start an domino effect and inspire other young people to join her. To kick start this she has developed a “Careers in Australian Agriculture” website www.ausagcareers.com

This is Stephanie Coombes story …….

Ten years ago, if anyone had told me I would be working in the agricultural industry when I was older, I probably would have answered- “You think I’m going to be a farmer?”

Born and raised in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, agriculture wasn’t something I was connected to growing up. I had always had a love of animals, especially horses, but that was as far as it went. Furthermore, I didn’t really know anything about agriculture except the anecdotal stories of farmers on tractors out in the paddock, and shearers shearing sheep

Some years later, I still have trouble explaining to people why this city girl chose an agricultural science degree. I think I thought I would end up working on a farm like “McLeod’s Daughters” (try not to roll your eyes!). I loved that television show growing up, and I would have to say it is what definitely sparked my interest in agriculture.

Stephanie McLeod… could I be another illegitimate daughter?Mum, is there something you aren’t telling me?

Going into the Agricultural Science degree, I actually had no idea what I was getting myself in to… as in NO idea! The reason as to why I chose that degree, and why I remained enrolled in it, are very different. Once I got into my degree, I discovered this whole other world, and I haven’t turned back since. I thought I was going to work on a farm as a labourer, like in McLeods Daughters, but at uni I learnt about the science, business and technology which underpins agriculture. There is just so many facets to this industry I often got overwhelmed thinking about them all, and what I wanted to do when I finished.

Initially I became really interested in soil science, and by my second year I was hooked, and odd as that sounds. I was a bit nerdy sometimes, because this was all new to me, I found it so interesting and I just wanted to learn it all. However, in the winter holidays of my second year I went out mustering to a cattle station in for their annual 6 week muster. It was then and there that I decided that beef cattle production was the area I wanted to pursue. However when I got back to university and took another class; pasture science, cropping system, grain marketing etc., I could easily imagine myself having a career in any of these industries. My interest in cattle remained strong, and that’s how I got to where I am today.

 The first yard up of the season at Wongawol Station, 2008

Fast forward a couple of years, and I have graduated with first class honours, and I’m currently editing my thesis so it can be published in a scientific journal. I completed my thesis in the field of meat science. Yes, the science behind steak! I didn’t even know it existed until my 3rd year of university! Gosh, the amount of work that goes into producing and developing each and every one of the commodities and products available at the local supermarket is astounding. Meat science was something I had only had one lecture on before I chose it as the field of my thesis. The lecture wasn’t from my university either, my lecturer had invited a guest from another university to speak, and I am so grateful that she did! Completing my own research was an awesome experience, but to also be researching something I was genuinely interested in and passionate about… I know how I lucky I was.

Taking muscle samples from beef carcasses in 2011 for my thesis

This certainly is not where I thought I would be when I was saying “when I grow up…” as a child, and needless to say my family are still somewhat confused as to how this city girl became mad about beef cattle! The things I have learnt and experienced throughout my degree, not to mention the places I have been and they people I have met, make me feel very lucky. I have been able to go to work/ university/ tafe each day and do something that I enjoy, and be a part of something that actually interests me. I love what I do, and I often joke that my some of my jobs are a “working holiday” because I enjoy them so much. Don’t worry though, there are days when I would rather stay in bed, but for the most part, I love what I do.

In 2010 I took a semester off uni and moved to Katherine, NT, to complete a Certificate II in Agriculture. I had spent 3 years building a solid foundation of knowledge based upon theory, and had done two mustering seasons, but I wanted to develop my practical skills and have them recognised with the certificate. Going to college was one of the best things I have ever done. It was not only an incredible experience to live away from home, and learn about beef production in a new environment, but I met my best friends through the course. It was also a really safe learning environment, as in we could all have a go at learning and not feel silly or embarrassed if we didn’t get it right. I was lucky to do the course with a really good group of kids, and as there was only about 12 of us, we were a tight knit bunch.

Some of the KRC class of 2010 having a happy snap in the workshop during out mechanics class.

We learnt a range of skills at college, from welding, mechanics and tractor operation, to branding, castrating and mustering cattle. The best experience for me though, was being able to work with show cattle, and take them to a rural show on display. I had only ever worked with commercial cattle before, and they aren’t the type that liked to be patted! Show cattle, are completely different, because you can lead them around like a horse. We not only led the show cattle, we brushed and bathed them, and played with them. I really got the chance to learn about the cows up close and personal, and fell in love with the Brahman breed, even though I was showing a bull who was not too fond of me!

Rambo and I having a stand off. I had Chris as my protection, but maybe he would have been better placed between Rambo and I!!

Luckily Star was much more of the cuddly type!

In the second half of 2010 I then moved to Gatton, Qld to do a semester of classes through the University of Queensland. UQ had really different classes to my uni at home, and they were way better too! I took specialised classes in animal biosecurity, animal health and diseases, and animal biometeorology, which is about how animals interact with the weather. I also took a grain marketing class, as I mentioned above, I still had interests in other areas of ag. Animal biometeorology was by far my favourite class. Again, I suspect my inner nerd is to blame, but I loved all of the practical classes, and doing research for my assignments. Living on campus was a great experience too, it’s how I met the rest of my best friends! The people were great, and no one cared that I was from the city!

Dressing up as a cowgirl for a “Cowboys and Indians” themed party on campus. Even several years later, I was still trying to play the role of a cowgirl!

Everywhere I have been I have learnt something different about the industry, and learnt how interconnected it is with the way our society functions on a day to day basis. I am continuously surprised by how innovative and technological the industry is, and what role Australia plays in feeding the world.

Now that I have finished university, I have two career goals. 1) To work in the live export industry, in animal welfare, training, education and supply chain management and 2) To be an active advocate for agriculture, to do my part to reduce the urban/ rural divide, and run a campaign to expose people with no agricultural background to the industry and the opportunities it offer. The latter is what led me to create my website Careers In Australian Agriculture

My advice to anyone thinking about getting into agriculture is… do it! We need you! The world needs to feed 50% more people by 2050, and as Australia is one of the most efficient food and fibre producers in the world, we will play a fundamental role in that. People need to eat, and Australia has the ability to feed the world in a clean, green and ethical way. No matter what experience you have, or what your strengths are, there is a role for you in the industry. The agricultural industry offers careers from the boardroom to the bush, so no matter whether you are more comfortable behind a motorbike or a microscope, there is a role for you!

Wow Stephanie cant wait to see where you be and what you have achieved in ten years time. I am highly confident you wont be standing still

Stephanie now has her own blog you can follow her journey here