Meet Josh Gilbert who believes the beginning has the seeds of everything else to come

Today’s guest blog post comes from Josh Gilbert who is combining a degree in law with a role on the NSW Young Farmers Council to advocate for young farmers. Josh is a great believer in the ethos of Eric Thomas.

‘You are the executive director and screenwriter of your life…. Never underestimate the importance of the beginning. The beginning has the seeds of everything else to come.”

This is Josh’s story ………

Hi, my name is Josh Gilbert. I’ve just completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Newcastle and now in my final year of my Law degree. I currently have a Finance Cadetship at the ABC, but my dream is to provide high quality legal advice to those living in the country, while building a large scale agricultural corporation.

My blog today shares with you my agricultural journey thus far and gives insights into my hopes for the future.

My love of agriculture started on my Great Grandparent’s farms in the Mid North Coast of NSW. My family have always been farming, with my Dad’s side producing beef cattle and my Mum’s all being dairy farmers.

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Me with my dad on my grandfather’s tractor

I grew up in the wheat and sheep belt of the Northern Canberra Tablelands- in a small town called Boorowa. The town boasts a rich pastoral and Irish heritage, primarily emphasised by the Running of the Sheep every year. It is in this community that I learnt of the importance of local farms and the impact that farming families had on a small community.

My family moved back up to the coast in 2000 and a few years later purchased a part of my Grandfather’s dairy farm and started a Braford cattle stud which we called Riverside Park Brafords.

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My first Brahman cattle purchase

We are now third and fourth generation Braford breeders, originally chosen by my Great Grandfather due to their natural resistance to ticks and their tolerance to droughts.

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One of our newest calves- Riverside Park Marvelous

Whilst I originally chose a career in law since we established our cattle stud and working on the farm, my enthusiasm for the agriculture industry has been re-ignited. This passion has prompted me to join the NSW Farmers- Young Farmers Council and seen me attend the 2013 Woolworths Agriculture Business Scholarship in Sydney.

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Touring the meat aisle at the 2013 Woolworths Agriculture Business Scholarship program

Inspired by cattle pioneers James Tyson and Sir Sidney Kidman and my interest in business and commerce, I have big aspirations to create one of Australia’s largest, privatively owned, mixed enterprise, farming companies. I have since started working towards this dream, attending cattle courses, writing farm profitability formulas and conducting further research into the field.

However, my interest in agriculture stems beyond my personal endeavours- with further concerns around farmer mental health issues, the need for assistance to encourage young farmers and the vital role of education for viable farming futures. I believe Government policy and funding is strongly needed in these areas, with agricultural industry support and guidance to help implement suitable measures.

Australian agriculture, especially the beef industry, is supported by strong historic foundations. I believe the long term viability of beef cattle production now relies on farmers getting a fair return for their efforts, community support, adaptation and adoption of environmentally sound farming methods, while ensuring animal care standards are delivered at the highest level.


“You got an opportunity to make a dream become a reality – and when you do, you just got to take advantage of it.” – Eric Thomas

I believe the future of the agriculture sector rests in our hands and it is up to us to ensure we build capacity to continually improve the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of Australian agriculture.

There are many difficulties facing farmer’s everyday, namely; ageing and fewer farmers, difficulties in the retention of younger generations, mental health issues, problems ensuring profitability, concerns obtaining finance and reduced consumer knowledge of where their food comes from combined with increased consumer expectations about how their food is produced. While there are many challenges facing the agriculture sector at large, I believe there are many opportunities.

To take advantage of these opportunities, it is pivotal that the agriculture sector has a unified voice and a cohesive, united brand that we are all proud of. That farmers share their enthusiasm and passion for what they do and why they do it with not only the rest of Australia, but also the World.  It is equally important that farmers have the opportunity to improve their business skills and have access to mental health services, while also drawing upon the ability to develop quality relationships along the food chain with our urban communities.

Young people have the opportunity to gain a broad education that allows us to work off farm to increase our knowledge of successful business practices and gain an appreciation for urban life. This also provides us with a chance to discover the ways urban and rural can work together to ensure the agriculture sector prospers.

Our government will also have a strong role to play. Together, farmers and government must develop policies that will assist young people to access the capital that’s required to get into farming and provide additional financial education to ensure realistic business accounting. Currently, the costs of farmland and infrastructure are a huge barrier to many younger farmers, with government intervention the most applicable way to help change this situation.

Further policy is also needed to help encourage young people to become involved in agriculture and help the sector realise its potential. Additionally, we also need to continue to develop higher-level skills and training for the sector, while promoting agriculture as a positive, diverse and rewarding career path.

Greater skills and knowledge in areas such as finance, marketing and legal, is the key to helping farmers think actively and ask questions to ensure our personal businesses and the wider industry grows. I believe our entire future livelihoods rest primarily on the engagement, recruitment and retention of these people.

We have a real chance to make these dreams a reality. We have the opportunity to make the agricultural profession as reputable and important to others as it once was. It won’t be easy, but the rewards will be great.

I look forward to taking an active role and working with farmers and our communities to realise this.

Well said Josh and I am sure you will agree with me that Josh is a young man prepared to do the hard yards to achieve his big dreams.

There is nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams, just know that all roads that lead to success have to pass through Hardwork Boulevard at some point. Eric Thomas                                             

You can read Josh’s Target 100 profile here 

Dr Harry comes calling

My name is Danille Fox, I am 19 years old and this is my story ……..

Danille Fox

I grew up on our family beef cattle property Bona Vista, 75km north of St George, where we run 500 breeders and 1000 composite steers.

St George

My parents have been the biggest role models in my life and have inspired my strong interest and determination to work in the beef industry. Working for our family business Bona Vista Grazing Company has taught me many valuable practical farm and business skills as well as inspired my love for the rural lifestyle and agriculture.

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Standing with my Mum in our forage sorghum crop which we made silage from to store and feed to our cattle in droughts.

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Mustering the steers off the crop to weigh in the cattle yards with my Dad, brother and the loyal team (the working dogs)

I completed my primary schooling at Begonia State School where most the time I was the only one in my class and the total number of students was no more than 12. Attending such a small school taught me how to make friends with everyone despite our age differences which is a trait I’ve continued to use.

As I am the youngest of 6 in my family, and our property is near a few of my cousins, we were never bored as kids. Building stick cubbies, playing in the cottonseed, swimming and fishing in the dam and ‘cattle yard tiggy’ were just a few of the little adventures we shared.

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 Playing in the cotton seed with my sister and cousins. We feed cotton seed to our cattle during the droughts to our cattle.

I have also grown a love for cattle as since I was old enough to carry a milking a bucket I would wake up early in the morning to go down to the yards with Dad to milk the cows. Even today I still go down and milk the cows with my nieces and I’m sure they will agree that you can’t beat the taste of fresh farm milk.

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I have always loved animals and have multiple home videos of my cousin and myself playing ‘Dr Harry’ on the farm where we would ‘make up cases, such as the dairy cow swallowing a golf ball, and the cat getting its claws stuck in the tree, that we were called out to ‘urgently’ treat.

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Preparing for a muster at a neighbours. Working in the agricultural industry is a team effort and is extremely rewarding.

I began studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 2011 and decided I wanted to combine my passion for Australian agriculture and farming with my love for animals, in particular cattle and am currently in my second year studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland, Gatton.

My dream is to return to a rural area to contribute my skills as a rural veterinarian while contributing to Australia’s beef industry.

Over the years I have taken every opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills in agriculture from working beside my Mum and Dad on the farm, to participating in programs such as TASTE (The Agricultural Skills and Tertiary Experience) at the Dalby Agricultural College and FEAST (Future Experiences in Agriculture, Science and Technology) which were valuable experiences to meet young people from rural areas with similar interests as myself. I have also taken part in various workshops and forums including the Young Beef Producers Forum held annually in Roma as well as being an active member in the Young Angus Youth Society, the Future Farmers Network and the Bovine Appreciation Group and Cattleman’s Club at our University.

In 2011 I became a recipient of the Horizon Scholarship supported by RIRDC. The scholarship enabled me to gain experience at the Katherine Research Station, Katherine and Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory, Darwin in the NT where I worked with veterinarians conducting station tick checks, taking blood tests from cattle and chooks, crocodile catching and much more.

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Work experience in the Northern Territory was a great opportunity to learn and make valuable networks.

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Learning to jugular bleed cattle.

In 2012 I participated in a Beef Cattle Study Tour to the USA and Canada with my parents and other beef cattle producers from Australia and New Zealand. The trip was extremely informative and included a visit to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) headquarters, a trip to the JBS ‘Kunar’ Feedlot and visits to multiple cattle ranches and studs throughout the states.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQfoo46bFaM

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Two of the many highlights of our US Beef Study Tour was visiting Padlock Ranch and the NCBA.

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Dad, me, my friend Emily and my Mum.

I personally have experienced some of the issues challenging our agricultural industry such as variable climates including extreme droughts and flooding, unstable markets and isolation. I also understand the impact that food security and the growing population (estimated to reach 35.5 million by year 2056) will have on Australia’s agriculture and the demand for increased and sustainable production to feed and clothe the increasing population.

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I am standing on the swings at my primary school Begonia in the record floodwaters in 2012. The generosity of people assisting our community during and after the floods was outstanding.

I believe building relationships with consumers is important in ensuring the stability of Australia’s agriculture. Regarding beef, it is vital for the longevity of the industry, that consumers are comfortable with farm production systems and supply chains.

Communicating quality products, sustainable practices and latest technologies are integral to this relationship. User driven social media is a recent innovation allowing producers to tell their stories and build relationships with consumers. Social media is a 2-way education tool and helps connect farmers with consumers allowing producers to find out what their customers expectations and concerns.

Facebook sites like “Ask An Aussie Farmer” is a great example of stepping forward and connecting with consumers.

I see today’s agricultural industry as exciting and challenging and I feel privileged to be a part of an industry which is so vital to Australia’s future. I look forward to contributing to the industry through my veterinary profession and AGvocacy roles

You can watch Danille’s video here

Read Danille’s Target 100 profile here

Meet Naomi Hobson A small town girl having a big adventure!

Today we are thrilled to introduce you to guest blogger Naomi Hobson.

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Naomi grew up in Gunnedah NSW where her family runs a 6500 acre mixed beef and cropping enterprise. Naomi is very passionate about the role of women in agriculture and encouraging and supporting young people to enter agricultural industries. She was recently selected to travel to the National Rural Women’s Coalition Conference as a QLD youth representative. Naomi firmly believes that a career in agriculture is the best place to be

“There is one thing I will guarantee about agriculture, the opportunities are endless! It doesn’t matter what your background may be all you need is enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and the ability to say yes to the opportunities that are presented to you and I guarantee a great adventure will be waiting!”

We asked Naomi to tell us why she believes it is important for the agriculture sector to build relationships with the community. We are confident you will be as impressed by what she had to say as we are

I like the saying that ‘people will only conserve what they love, love what they understand, understand what they know and know what they are taught’.

If we are going to conserve agriculture and the rural way of life then we must bridge the divide between producer and consumer, be the ears that listens to their concerns and the voice that answers their questions and show young people the vast array of career and lifestyle opportunities which agriculture can offer them.

Drawing inspiration from Dorothea Mackellar this is Naomi’s story ……… Enjoy

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

I tend to believe that Dorothea Mackellar drew inspiration for ‘My Country’ from years exploring her family’s property in the Gunnedah district as a child. What makes me think this? Because my own passion and love of the land has been inspired by a childhood of adventure and history in Gunnedah, NSW.

Hailing from the koala capital of the world I have marvelled at many sunsets, watching the sun peek above the trees on the horizon casting an assortment of colours across the landscape. clip_image004

‘A resident koala keeping an eye on the farm’

There are rich red and black soils lying in wait for the next crop, sweeping plains which transform to green pastures with the onset of summer storms.

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 ‘Harvest’

As you look out from the hill tops you can see the backsides of grazing cattle, dutiful mothers nursing their calves and in the distance golden fields of wheat dancing in the sunlight. Growing up in such a landscape you cannot help but fall in love with the land!

Cows Calves

Life as a child in Gunnedah was filled with weekend sports, picnics by the gully with friends and cousins, Tuesday morning cattle sales, standing up on the rails of the cattle yards ‘helping’ pick the best cattle in the mob and you could be sure that a poddy calf was never too far away. As the third generation to work our family land I have watched my father and grandfather in awe as they work cattle, plough, sow and harvest crops, fix machinery and tinker in the shed. Growing up I had always wanted to work with animals and my parents have always encouraged us to do what makes us happy. With that in the back of my mind at the age of 17 I left home and headed to uni with my big dreams and big plans in tow. Little did I know that despite all those big plans, the reality would be so much better!!

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‘Helping Dad’

My greatest adventure so far came in 2010 when I first became involved with Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ). Little did I know this would open a world of opportunity and introduce me to people who would have resounding impacts on my life. Through the program I have had a rare insight into the beef, lamb and pork industries and was fortunate enough to be selected on the Australian National Meat Judging Team. Our team travelled to the USA for a month long industry tour in 2012. While in the US we competed in 2 meat judging competitions, toured and trained in plants owned by the three biggest meat processors in the states Tyson, JBS and Cargill, visited ranches, universities and research facilities across 10 states travelling a total of 5600 miles – sleep certainly became a luxury!

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‘Our route across the USA’

From the first day of training with our university team meat judging has developed my understanding of aspects of meat production from paddock-to-plate, and has provided the opportunity to learn about agriculture and how Australia fits in a global market. It has also provided me with a deep appreciation for the millions of people who work tirelessly to supply growing global populations with a safe, high quality form of protein. Through ICMJ I was afforded one of the greatest experiences of my life which has continued to have positive impacts on my career and personal life to date…and all because I saw a flyer on a pin-board!!

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‘2012 Australian Meat Judging Team at Texas Tech University’

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‘Training at the University of Wyoming’

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‘Enjoying some sunshine – Cattle are housed in barns through winter in Illinois’

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‘Our Van – It was quite a cold trip!’

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‘Visiting the National Cattleman’s Beef Association’

After such a great adventure it was time to head off on the next one and I am currently living out a life-long dream to head ‘up North’. I am working as a Grazing Lands Officer in Far North Queensland with a region of 196,000km2. My partner and I are starting our own beef herd and after meeting so many inspirational women at the National Rural Women’s Conference in Canberra recently I cannot wait to see what other adventures are waiting!

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As you read through the posts on this blog and speak to people in agriculture you will see that everyone has their own adventure and story to share. There is one thing I will guarantee about agriculture, the opportunities are endless! It doesn’t matter what your background may be all you need is enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and the ability to say yes to the opportunities that are presented to you and I guarantee a great adventure will be waiting!

After all, as Dorothea wrote…

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold.

Meet Hannah Barber who has farming in her blood and farming in her heart

Expressions of interest are now open for our 2013 Young Farming Champions and already we can see the selection panel is not going to have an easy time

Just to show you the level of talent meet Hannah Barber who says

Education is the key to ensuring the Australian agricultural industry is understood and supported by our urban cousins and I look forward to a career where I can achieve this, and then come home to the farm every evening.

This is Hannah’s story……

I was born and raised in Parkes, in central west NSW and have been lucky enough to call two farms in the region home for most of my life.

Parkes

My mother & Stepfather own ‘Keilor’, 1400 acres 30km west of Parkes, where we have broad acre cereal cropping, first cross ewes and home to our beloved black Angus stud, Keilor Angus. Our stud is relatively young, only being registered in 2005 but successfully produces top quality cattle with great temperaments and sought after bulls, and this is where my love for the angus breed and the beef cattle industry began.

Calf at home

This little cutey is one of our new angus calves

My father is the third generation to farm ‘Pinegrove’ north of Parkes in the Goobang Valley where although we also have Angus cattle and first cross lambs, cropping is the main activity on the property, with about 1700 of the 2000 acres being sown.

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Dad harvesting the wheat

In 2013 we will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of when my great grandfather Stewart Barber cut through the pine trees and settled his family on his new property. The main house still has the original foundations, and many heritage aspects of the home he built.

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Our family home at Pinegrove Parkes

Apart from acting as a service centre to the surrounding mixed farming areas, Parkes has developed a connection with the mining community due to Rio Tinto’s Northparkes copper & gold mine that has encouraged growth in our area over the last decade. We also have the famous CSIRO radio telescope, or ‘the dish’ as it is affectionately known, that assisted NASA in tracking the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing – our little town brought the world the images of the first time a man walked on the moon.

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The Dish makes a great backdrop for this paddock full of wheat

There is a lot to be proud of my home town, which was why, in 2010 I was incredibly honoured and humbled to be named Parkes Showgirl. My involvement in the rural show movement has been a central part of my year, between junior judging, entering art & sewing and competing my horses all over NSW I have been involved in agricultural shows my entire life. Being awarded 2010 Parkes Showgirl, then being selected to represent Zone 6 as a 2011 State finalist for The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition was the first introduction I had to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of not only my local show but the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

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Me centre with Young Farming Champion and runner up in RAS NSW Showgirl 2011 Stephanie Tarlinton aka @proudlydairy and @duofreefriday

I met so many sensational young farmers and industry professionals and maintained my connection to the show after the competition by joining the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Youth Group, of which I have been a committee member for the last two years. In 2012, having grown within the industry and still having such a huge passion and pride for both my home town and the competition, I entered my local competition again and made history be achieving what others before me have tried, but not succeeded, by winning the Parkes Showgirl competition for the second time.

At the end of 2011 I was selected to attend Australian Women in Agriculture’s Next Generations Leadership and Decision Making in Agriculture course in Canberra, where I was able to develop my professional skills and meet many inspirational women and politicians, which sparked my existing interest in politics into a potential career aspiration. Attendees at these last few courses were invited to apply to accompany the AWiA as Next Generation Delegates to the Inaugural Global Conference on Women in Agriculture in March 2012 in New Delhi, India. I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of the two positions on offer and had an incredible, eye opening experience which really drove home the importance of education and equality in respect to efficient production and food security particularly in our developing countries.

Conference at India

So many exciting things have happened for me in such a short time frame

With local women in India

Me with local women in India

Later in 2012 the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW opened up applications for Next Generation Delegates to attend the Royal Agricultural Societies Council of the Commonwealth Conference in Zambia, Africa. Once again I was shocked and exhilarated to be awarded a position and packed my bags to head to the most magical continent on earth, to mix with incredibly inspirational, passionate young professional from across the commonwealth, and many CEOs and experts of agricultural show movements, including HRH Princess Anne.

In Zambia with head of zambian delegates Matambula (4)

Being given the opportunity to visit these developing countries, talk to their producers and see their production processes was a great way to see firsthand how fortunate, but also unique we are in Australia, however more importantly that the global community is not suffering a lack of arable land and producers, but a lack of education, financial and infrastructural assistance and protective laws to ensure countries such as Zambia, sleeping powerhouses of production, are awakened to feed our growing population.

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Visiting a feedlot in Zambia with other Australian and Zambain Delegates

When I am not travelling the world, or home on the farm, I am in Wagga Wagga finishing my degree at Charles Sturt University. I chose to attend CSU in Wagga as it was the closest uni to home that offered my degree and is still based in a primarily rural area so could still feel like home. Having neighbours less than a few kilometres away was something I struggled to get used to; I always thought someone was coming to my house if a car drove past! In December 2013 I will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (secondary) and have already signed a contract with the DET to be placed in a remote rural area where they require more teachers, so am looking forward to heading west for my next adventure.

 I firmly believe education is the key to ensuring the Australian agricultural industry is understood and supported by our urban cousins and I look forward to a career where I can achieve this, and then come home to the farm every evening.

Hannah has a wonderful dream lets hope Art4Agriculture and our sponsors can help her make it come true

Read Hannah’s Target 100 profile here

Follow Hannah on twitter @Miss_Barber