Meet Sally Downie a champion for wellbeing

Meet Sally Downie our newest Young Farming Champion and the winner of the 2019 Picture You in Agriculture Scholarship.

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Photo by Forbes Corby

My name is Sally Downie. I’m the daughter of dairy farmers. It’s in my blood.

I grew up on a dairy farm near Forbes NSW with my family. I was the only girl in the family and the youngest. I had some big shoes to fit.A large pair of dirty, well worn boots, the pair you pull on each morning and don’t take off until much later in the evening. They are familiar, comfortable but a token of hard work.  For years I strived to fit into those metaphorical shoes.

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Farm life was normal to me. I’d come home from school and be up at the dairy milking cows, feeding calves and following mum around the farm.

In high school I began to show dairy cattle. It became my mission to show an animal of my own at every Forbes Show. I soon began to show cattle at Sydney Royal Show and International Dairy Week in Victoria. It was at these shows my eyes were opened to the opportunities in the dairy industry and the amazing people involved. I really began to look at cows, to see what made a good cow. I listened to the judge, to what they looked for and how they said it. I felt that this was my place.

By my senior years of high school life was very different. I was still invested in the farm and in love with cows. I was determined to be a dairy farmer, just like my mum. But I had my own goals, I had to make my family proud. Academics clicked for me, I did alright in school with little struggle (expect when it came to maths). I would work after school on the farm then come home to get assignments done, burning the midnight oil. To my family this was odd and something my brother found to bother me about. I began to struggle as I became sick. I was back and forth from hospital admissions and an array of tests, my list of absent days grew. I seemed ok but inside life was a living hell. I finished year 12 as Dux. I returned to work on the farm showing no interest in university.

Things fell to pieces quickly. By December I was very sick, February I was in hospital for several weeks, by April I was 33kg but took on the role as Central West Dairy Coordinator with DairyNSW anyway. Again I went to Sydney Royal but I was a mere shadow of myself, tired but determined. By May I was 30kg and absolutely devastated as I was told I’d be sent to hospital and I’d miss a farm tour of a local dairy farm. I tried to convince them to admit me after the tour. I didn’t win. I still had plans to visit New Zealand with the dairy network in June. At the same time my family were told I had three days to live. June came around and I was still in hospital, a feeding tube up my nose, weak, bed bound. In September I was discharged from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. An eating disorder,that was my diagnosis. How do I live with that? What farmer won’t eat? If dad can’t accept it how can I?

I fell in love, I saw more opportunities in agriculture,

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I began a university degree but I also saw another side to agriculture, the silent suffering, the devastation of mental illness. I accepted my illness. I accepted mental health and began to speak out about it I could no longer say silent about such suffering. I allowed myself to roam, to seek new paddocks.

I opened my eyes, I opened my heart, I opened my world up.

Sally Downie

Resilience starts with believing in yourself. Sally Downie Runner Up Sydney Royal Easter Show Girl 2019

Sally is an alumni of the highly prestigous ABC Heywire Trailblazer program. Read her story here

Watch Sally on Landline here.

You can read more stories about Sally here

Sally now works for Forbes Council as their drought resilience officer. We are very excitied to have Sally join the team.

 

Young Farming Champion Muster July 2019 Second Edition

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.

Tocal College Workshop

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. 

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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 ItalySam Wan Wool 1
  • Botto Giuesseppie, iconic fabric mill – one of the three ‘Royals’ of BiellaSam Wan Wool 5
  • Tollegno 1900 SPA, mainly a worsted fabric producer, producing 4.5million metres of fabric each year, in over 5000 variationsSam Wan Wool 4
  • Fratelli Piacenza SPA, woollen mill specialising in the Noble Fibres (superfine merino, cashmere, yak)Sam Wan Wool 2
  • Marzotto, spinning and weaving factory in Valdagno

 

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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

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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. 

Becca George

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.”

Chloe D Meat Judging

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.”

Kath Jas and Greg

“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. 

Jas Rabo Bank workshop

Jas topped off her week by attending the YFC Workshop in Tocal, and is this week heading to the GRDC event at Spring Ridge, “Dealing with the Dry: farm management options during and after the drought.” Say G’day if you spot her! 

Prime Cuts 

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! 

Casey Onus

“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. 

Jo Newton Farm Online Story
Jo writes, ‘’Leaders aren’t born overnight. Leadership needs to be viewed by our sector as an on-going journey.
We need to come together as an industry and put more structure behind the development of our future leaders. We need to offer them support from all angles and respond to what they say they need next.
If we stop reinventing the wheel and started putting four-wheels on the cart, we can travel in the right direction, together.
For our sustainable future, experienced leaders and emerging leaders need to work together. The emerging need to be brave: step up, get involved, take a chance.
The experienced need to reach back down and pull us up.
By working together, we can ensure that our leadership journeys don’t end when the industry event does.” 

Well said Jo! Read the full story on Farm Online here.

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.” 

Alana The Land July 2019

“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 

Emma A

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:

Lifetime Highlights 

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: 

Lucy Collingridge

“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! 

Lucy Collingridge Kayaking

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 

Anika Antarctic

 

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices19 #KreativeKoalas 

Young Farming Champions Muster February 2019 1st Edition

This week our Young Farming Champions (YFC) would like to take a moment to extend our thoughts and well wishes to those farmers in Queensland currently affected by devastating widespread flooding. To our North Queensland cousins, we are thinking of you! #StrongerTogether

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

In the Field

Happy International Women in Science Day!

Our Young Farming Champion network is full of legendary women using science to make the world a safer, healthier, more abundant place for humans and animals to live. Today Picture You in Agriculture is celebrating them and their vital work with this video starring YFCs Lucy Collingridge, Danila Marini, Alexandrea Galea, Anika Molesworth, Jo Newton and Dione Howard. Wonderful work from wonderful women! #WomeninScience #InternationalWomeninScienceDay #WomeninSTEM

Wool YFC Bessie Thomas made headlines in the Rural Weekly this fortnight with a joyful story following her family’s journey through the last two years of drought. Bessie, her husband and their almost three-year-old daughter farm merinos in far-western NSW. She has received much kind feedback following the story and wanted to thank everyone for their ongoing support through the drought. Read the story here.

Bessie Sparks of Joy

Out of the Field

Congrats to YFC Bron Roberts who has just launched her new business venture B R Rural Business offering tailored management solutions for productive beef enterprises. Bron says, “I’m passionate about the beef industry and helping producers to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. If you or anyone you know need a hand keeping records and want to use them to make real decision to improve your livestock productivity then I’m your girl!’ You can support Bron in her venture on Facebook here

Bron new business

Youth Voices Leadership Team Mentor Leader and Local Lands Service vet Dione Howard spoke to NSW Country Hour late last month. Listen in here from 11min35sec to hear Dione outline the risks of livestock eating toxic weeds causing liver damage. Great job Dione!

Beef YFC Kirsty McCormack, who’s currently living and working in Canada, was spotted in this case study by Rural RDC.

Kirsty McCormack

YFC Tim Eyes and his partner Hannah, who run The Food Farm on the NSW Central Coast, recently joined Nationals candidate for Gilmore, Katrina Hodgkinson in judging the 2019 Kiama Showgirl. Well done Tim and Hannah!

KatrinaTim Eyes Showgirl judge

Tim will also be returning to the Sydney Royal Easter show this April. Tim was over the moon when he got the call from the RAS of NSW in 2017 inviting him to be the farmer the glamping participants get to share the campfire experience with over the 14 days of the show. He so looking forward to inspiring the lucky glampers to be as excited about the agriculture sector as he is again in 2019. Read all about it here.

Cotton YFC Martin Murray was profiled on NSW Young Farmers Facebook page this week for his role on the Young Farmer Council. Great read Martin!

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“I’m an agronomist working for a group called AMPS, we’re an independent agchem reseller with a very strong focus on on-farm research to improve grower outcomes. I work with our research team in the running of our trials and our growers to transfer our research findings into on farm results to further strengthen their businesses. “I joined NSW Farmers in 2015 as they are able to effectively represent the farmers of NSW, taking their thoughts and concerns to parliament. I also joined the Young Farmer Council so I could be proactive in representing the interests and concerns of young people in or entering agriculture. “There are two major ways we can give young farmers a hand up going into the 2019 state election. First, stamp duty relief will remove the significant disadvantage in relation to other first home buyers, because we can’t currently access the exemptions offered to young city residents purchasing homes zoned as residential. Second, we can help lift the productivity of our farm businesses through investing in our farmers’ digital, financial and risk management skills.”

Prime Cuts

Our Youth Voices Leadership Vice-Chair Emma Ayliffe is an invited speaker at the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference. Em’s been invited to talk on ‘Careers in Grain’  in the student forum. You can find our more detail about the program and register to attend here.

Emma is also jetting off to Israel shortly as part of her prize for winning Runner Up in the ADAMA Agronimist of the Year awards. Safe and happy travels Emma! We’re looking forward to hearing all about it.

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Sticking with the conference theme, Youth Voices Leadership Team Chair Jo Newton, will be heading to Edinburgh in April where she’s had a paper accepted at the British Society of Animal Science Conference. The paper highlights the value of using data from commercial Australian dairy farms to demonstrate the benefits of herd improvement practices.

Jo Newton

Jo’s not the only YFC venturing to the Northern hemisphere. One of our newest YFC Alana Black will be heading to Scotland. While there she will be working for the Rural Youth Project. The Rural Youth Project aims to “develop feasible strategies to develop leadership and enterprise skills amongst young people in agricultural and rural communities based on understanding their current situation, aspirations, opportunities and challenges.”

alana black

Given the massive contribution Alana’s to the YVLT Communication Sub-Committee we know she’s going to make a really valuable contribution in Scotland and we’re looking forward to the sharing of ideas and experiences between the Rural Youth Project and PYiA. Read more about Alana’s journey here.

Congratulations to YFC and Climate Action advocate Anika Molesworth who has been appointed to the Crawford Fund’s NSW Committee.  The Crawford Fund is a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness of the benefits to Australia and developing countries of Australia’s engagement in international agricultural research and development.

The 2018 Narromine Showgirl and Grains YFC Keiley O’Brien will represent Narromine at the Zone 6 Final of The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition on February 16 in Young. Keiley will be up against 39 other Showgirls, from which three finalists will be chosen. Read more in the Narromine News here. Good luck to Keiley, and also to YFC Jasmine Whitten who will head to Narrabri to compete in her Showgirl Zone Final on February 26th! #goodluck

Keiley O'Brien
Photo: GEORGIE NEWTON PHOTOGRAPHY

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices19 #ThisisAusAg #StrongerTogether

Australian dairy industry cheering on researcher Dr Jo Newton in the Victorian Young Achiever Awards

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Dairy research scientist Dr Jo Newton has been named as a finalist in the 2018 Young Achiever Awards for her work fostering change in the Australian dairy industry through the adoption of genetic tools and technologies.
Dr Newton is one of three finalists out of 60 young people nominated under the Leadership Award category for the 2018 awards, with the winner to be announced at a gala dinner on May 18.
Dr Newton currently works for Agriculture Victoria Research on the ImProving Herds Project, which aims to determine the contribution of herd improvement to the Australian dairy industry.

“I grew up in suburban Melbourne and was introduced to agriculture through my experiences at Tintern Grammar’s on campus farm,” she said.
“Work experience in high school helped me set my sights on an agricultural degree and I moved interstate to study for a Bachelor of Rural Science.”

Dr Newton also completed her PhD in animal breeding and genetics before taking on her role with the Victorian Government.

“I saw the position advertised and the chance to work on an applied multi-disciplinary project in livestock genetics with direct engagement with industry was exactly what I was looking for,” she said.
“Working in agriculture means we are in a fast-growing sector; couple that with the digital revolution and a strong demand for graduates – it all makes for an exciting future in agriculture.”

She believes Australia has a strong track record when it comes to delivering cutting edge research, but there is room for improvement with its transfer of knowledge.
Dr Newton encouraged other young people to get into agriculture, particularly young women.

“Agriculture is still a male dominated industry, and being mentored by strong female role models early in my career, including my manager and PhD supervisor, has certainly played an important role in my development.
“I feel honoured to have been selected as a finalist; young people may only be 20 per cent of our current population but we are the future. I really hope to use this spotlight to promote the diverse career pathways and wonderful opportunities in the agricultural sector.”

ImProving Herds is a three-year, $1.8million project that has gathered evidence from real farms to determine the contribution of herd improvement to Australian dairy businesses. Funded by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation and Dairy Australia, ImProving Herds is a collaboration involving the Victorian Government, DataGene, Dairy Australia, Holstein Australia, and the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia (NHIA).

Media Article
Monday, April 30, 2018 | Media contact: Mel Curtis (03) 5561 9938
http://www.agriculture.vic.gov.au

Footnote

Jo has a big fan base across agriculture and we are all cheering her on. You can vote for Jo in the People’s Choice Awards here 

#GoGirlfriend #YouthVoices18 #Youthinag

From Dagwood Dogs and Prize Dahlias, Sheep Shearing and cattle judging the local show movement is still at fever pitch in Crookwell

I have spent most of my time at local shows either showing cows or horses.

The upper Lachlan Catchment Landcare group was a great supporter of the 2014 Archibull Prize and Crookwell being part of this region their local show was a great opportunity to celebrate their local Archibull Prize 2014 entries, tell the great stories of our sheep, cattle, wool and dairy farmers and meet the locals

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So I jumped in the car last Saturday to join the wonderful Mary Bonet and the Upper Landcare Group in their tent at the Show

Mary Bonet Upper Lachlan Landcare

 The delightful Mary Bonet

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Seeing these wonderful books at our stand created for the Cattle and Sheep industry by the Kondinin Group was blast from the past by showgoer Scott Boyle who help collate them whilst working at Kondinin in WA 

Having had quite a walk to get in the gate I was thrilled to meet Dr Rod Hoare who is the Chief Ground Steward and has access to this great little golf cart- the perfect vehicle to tour the show sites for this little black duck

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 Chief Ground Steward Rod Hoare enjoyed the traditional dagwood dog whilst touring the showground in this wonderful little buggy

First up was the local sheep shearing competition an iconic part of livestock agriculture in Australia. Competitors are judged by the quality of their shearing as well as the speed of the shear. Visit True Blue Australia to find out more

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I took this little time lapse video of the intermediate class won by the shearer at Stand 2

Next up was the pavilion. The photos share the kaleidoscope of colour of the arts and crafts and vegies, produce, flowers, cakes and everything that says the finest of rural Australian local show culture

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I caught up with some ladies working and supporting rural mental health through the Rural Adversity Mental Health program and we had our picture taken for the local paper.

Then Mary introduced me to local member for Goulburn the Hon. Pru Goward who was very impressed with the Archibull artworks of the local schools

Prue Goward and Lynne Strong

Pru was keen to see the 2014 Champion Archibull Prize Winner “Ni-Cow’ and I was only too happy to show here but we seemed to be in a Tony Abbott black spot

Then we had a little tour of the cattle sheds and the cattle judging

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Where we met Ernie Stevenson an early and influential member of the Murray Grey society.

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Back at the tent I met local cattle farmer Ken Wheelwright who is part of the KLR Mastermind Group.

Ken and Lynne

More about Rod, Ernie and Ken in my next post on Clover Hill Dairies Diary

Then it was time to catch up with local Young Farming Champions and former Crookwell Show girls Jasmine Nixon and Adele Offley

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Ah the local show so much to see so little time but thanks to Rob and all the wonderful locals I think managed to fit most of it in

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Then the two hour drive home in the fog and the rain but it was all worth it

Archibull Prize judging takes us to China

Day 1 of Week 2 of the 2014 Archibull Prize judging saw artwork judge Wendy Taylor head west towards the Blue Mountains

First off the rank was Hurlstone Agricultural High School

This is what Wendy had to say about their Archie who they have called Ni Cow

“Ni Cow isn’t a bull in a china shop. She is a cow from China.

Everything about her has layers of meaning and complexity and has been well thought out. She is well balanced visually, and takes an interesting viewpoint with both her sustainability message -that of financial sustainability -as well as her viewpoint of the dairy industry. She is relevant and intrinsically unique. Her delicate patterning and limited colour palette perfectly reflect the concept. No detail has been missed and every component adds to the total picture.

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Next up was Hawkesbury High School

Wendy said “Baa-Baa Rella” has the best horns!

They are red and white striped and link perfectly with her name and elements of the wool industry (Barber’s Pole Worms). She shows us two very different views of the wool industry in Australia. One side is vibrant, lush and reminiscent of the paintings of Tom Roberts, while the other side is a graphic and complex collage. The simple map on her side is a great element which complements her story well.

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Then Wendy headed back to Caringbah where she visited James Ruse Agricultural High School

Would you like to see inside the Dairy industry? Or inside “Archie”?

The hero element of Archie is the story itself. All elements of the industry are covered in her concept, with the process line from paddock to product being the ‘inside’ story. The working milk pump is a star, as is her interactivity. Her vibrant colours stand out and she is fun and playful. She has features all over to make the viewer smile.

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Meet Sarah Saxton proving careers in agriculture are found in cities too

Meet Sarah Saxton who career in Agriculture saw her moving from the country to the city

Sarah Saxton

This is Sarah’s story ……………………

Every morning I wake up so proud of what Australian farmers are putting on our tables and so excited that I get to be a part of that process. I want every Australian to have the opportunity to feel how I feel about Australian Agriculture, because it feels great!

A one hour train commute and a desk job in the CBD might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think ‘career in Agriculture’ but that is how I have found myself a rewarding career in the Australian Dairy industry.

I was born in Gippsland, Victoria on the family sheep property and have moved throughout rural Victoria and NSW following my family’s mixed farming interests. After the wool crash in the early 90s my parents decided to hit the road managing farms, dad soon becoming an expert in the art of growing grass seed. This stroke of fate meant moving house 9 times and living in Omeo, Euroa, Holbrook and Khancoban to name a few!

Growing up on a mixed farming enterprise meant lending a hand to dad on a whole range of tasks, most of which (bar rock picking and cleaning the header!) I thoroughly enjoyed. When I wasn’t riding horses and travelling to rural Ag shows across the country my summers where quickly filled driving headers and handling the constant supply of agistment stock. As it happened I was not the only female driving headers in the Upper Murray region and a group of us soon became sought after for our affinity with the beastly machines. In the summer of 07/08 we were noticed by The Land and featured on the front page which we all found quite a lark!

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The female header driving crew, photographed by The Land, me second from left.

Looking back I was very lucky to have two parents so vehemently passionate about farming and engaged in progressing their farming practices. I have no doubt this positive, proactive attitude has helped propel me into a career in Agriculture.

Although my feminine touch was clearly appreciated during harvest, cows were what stole my heart. When there was agistment stock on the farm that calved I was always the first out in the paddock, a sharp eye trained to any calf looking helpless without its mother. Although dad accused me of calf robbing it was the generosity of a few soft hearted beef producers which lead me to gather a small number of orphaned poddy calves each year. A lesson in responsibility and earning money quickly developed into a lifelong passion and so after completing boarding school and going on a gap year I moved to Melbourne to complete a Bachelor of Animal Science & Management at the University of Melbourne.

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I quickly took to university like a duck to water and was awarded a Dean’s Honour award and a number of scholarships for academic achievement. Although I knew I wanted to work with animals finding the right direction has been a constant exercise of probing and questioning. Whilst at University I undertook work experience assisting PhD students working on sheep metabolics in an underground lab, I worked in an abattoir in Brisbane, did vintage wines at a large commercial winery in Griffith, and spent some time helping out the local vet. And at the end of all that I was still none the wiser on what my career would shape up to be! Checking out the diversity of careers is something I encourage every young person interested in a career in Ag to do, as you have no idea how many possibilities are out there!

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Something that I believe is not adequately addressed in the current model of Agricultural education is that Agriculture is a highly valuable industry, not just a career. I hope to educate Australia’s next generation of consumers that Agriculture is an industry full of possibilities.

I want to raise awareness in kids and adults alike that a whole range of people, in country and city, are involved in getting food on their table and that those people are the cornerstone of our economy and society as we know it. I hope to open people’s eyes beyond the stereotypes of farming (as amazing as it is) to realise the plethora of career opportunities out there for people, in dairy, and the broader food and fibre industry.

By my final year at university I had developed a keen interest in the field of animal breeding and genetics and was fortunate to be offered a scholarship by the Dairy Futures CRC to study the emerging field of genomics. My research project, titled ‘Interrogating a high-density SNP chip for signatures of selection in Dairy and Beef breeds’ challenged me and opened my eyes to the amazing depth of science, innovation and technology which exists, largely behind the scenes, in the Agriculture industry. I was lucky enough to be supervised and mentored by one of the world leaders in genomics research Professor Mike Goddard from the University of Melbourne and it was with his help and support that I gained first class honours for my project. It was through the CRC’s first rate education and engagement program that I was introduced to the Australian Dairy Industry. Through this program I was able to travel to field days and present to farmers about the latest in genomic research. I was also able to assist with the program ‘Get into Genes’, teaching school kids about the science of genomics. It was these experiences that made me realise it was time to shed the lab coat and get out talking about all of that exciting Research and Development

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AgFest Tasmania, 2012

My current role as Extension Officer with ADHIS involves delivering the latest science and technology in genetic improvement to Australian dairy farmers. This is done through one on one engagement, public speaking at industry events, and designing tools to make decision making easy.

It is this blend of travelling to rural areas talking to farmers about real issues and staying up to date on the latest in science and research which I love about working in the dairy industry.

ADHIS is a non for profit organisation which means our core focus is always on getting the best information and resources out to every dairy farmer. Having organisations like this dedicated to the betterment of the industry is an incredibly valuable resource and I am not sure farmers realise just how lucky they are!

Working in the CBD in close association with organisations like Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) and Dairy Australia has offered me a behind the scenes insight into the big issues facing the dairy and broader Ag industry. Issues such as milk price, animal welfare & the risk/benefits of free trade are issues which I am deeply passionate about.

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Promoting our wine at Rootstock, Sydney

 

Whilst at University I was lucky enough to meet my now husband, a winemaker on the Mornington Peninsula. Being a new member of the family winery has given me a fantastic experience in a unique sector of the food and fibre industry. The wine industry’s ‘ground to glass’  production process connects the ‘food and fibre’ and ‘food and wine’ industries in a way not commonly seen in other agricultural industries. Being exposed to and engaged in this end of the food chain has allowed me an insight and perspective into a demographic deeply passionate about food yet largely ignorant of farming.

It is one of my big life goals to strengthen the relationship between the Food and Agriculture industries into what should be a symbiotic relationship.

I have recently been appointed a board member on the Mornington Peninsula Food Industry Advisory Body, a position I hope will begin me on this journey.

Coming from the country to study and now work in an urban environment has highlighted to me the importance of maintaining and strengthening the connect between food producers and food consumers.

With declining populations in rural Australia as farms and farming communities ‘get big or get out’ there is less and less opportunity for people to engage and connect through the traditional channels of a family members or friend’s farm. With these relationships less likely to happen organically I believe it is essential that we look to new models of communication and strengthen our voice to foster passionate, informed consumers and future generations of food and fibre producers. If Australians want to remain in control of our food supply chain it is essential that we build strong and long lasting relationships with each other and every member of our community.