As part of our series showcasing champions in government, not for profits and the private sector doing great stuff we will be sharing stories about rural entrepreneurs, community champions and young people walking the talk as role models.
The research shows for young people in rural, regional and remote Australia to navigate change and take advantage of agricultural and STEM career pathways in their region they have to see “what and who they can be”.
Today we are showcasing two of our Young Farming Champions who epitomise place based leadership at the highest level and are using what they have learnt on their journey to multiply other leaders in their region.
First Hilux out of the shed is Emma Ayliffe followed by cropping farmer Marlee Langfield is spending plenty of time on her tractor in the next few weeks.
Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) believes in giving voice to young leaders in rural Australia. It does this by equipping them with skills to communicate their stories, in positive terms, to varied audiences, and by providing a safe place to practice what they have learnt. We call these people our Young Farming Champions (YFC).
YFC understand that in order to create stronger communities in regional, rural and remote Australia place-based leadership is key. Leaders working in their own regions, with their own people, are highly motivated with a strong desire to capitalise on future economic opportunities.
Here we shine the spotlight on two of our successful place-based leaders: Emma Ayliffe and Marlee Langfield.
As often the youngest person sitting on boards and committees Emma has come a long way from her childhood tailing wild merinos on stations west of Port Augusta. Today she is a respected agronomist, business owner, farmer and community leader.
Emma Ayliffe cofounder of Summit Ag, entrepreneur and board member
Emma joined the YFC program in 2015 and has been an active member ever since, rising to the position of Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership Team (for YFC alumni) in 2020. In these short five years Emma began her working life as a cotton agronomist on the lakebeds south of Menindee, was head-hunted by Elders to fill a combined research, development and agronomy role, and in 2018 co-founded agricultural consultancy Summit Ag.
Along the way she has been a committed community and industry leader with roles including:
- 2016 – Current: Sponsorship Co-Ordinator and Committee member, Southern Valleys Cotton Growers Association.
- 2017 – 2018: Regional Advisory Panel member, GRDC.
- 2017 – Current: Local Advisor: Event design, GRDC.
- 2018 – Current: Founder, Tulli Young Farmers. assisting the transition of the next generation of local farmers back to the farm and foster peer-to-peer learning
- 2016 – Current: Agronomic advisor, Irrigation Research Extension Committee (IREC)
- 2019 – Current: Board member Picture You in Agriculture
- 2019: Tullibigeal Netball Club Netballer of the Year for managing, assistant coaching, umpiring and assisting the club
Emma has presented at various industry events including the 2019 Summer Grains Conference and the 2019 PYiA Professional Learning Weekend.
In 2020 Emma was named a finalist in the NSW Young Achiever Awards in recognition of her leadership in rural Australia.
Marlee Langfield Photographer Catherine Forge Source Museum of Victoria
As CEO of Cowra agribusiness Wallaringa Trust, farmer and grain grower Marlee is a steward of the land and a leader in her community. Her family have been farming around Cowra for five generations, three of which have been on Wallaringa.
Marlee joined the YFC program in 2016 and in 2020 took on the position of Social Media Co-coordinator, a natural progression for a young woman already holding leadership positions within her local community including:
- Member of Cowra Show Society
- Publicity Officer for Morongla Show Society
- Member Morongla Red Cross
- Member Morongla CWA
- 2014 Cowra Show Young Rural Achiever
- 2016 Cowra Young Citizen of the Year
In 2019 Marlee’s farming journey was highlighted in the Invisible Farmer project and in 2020 she is furthering her leadership journey as part of the Grain Growers Limited Social Leadership Program. Once graduated Marlee is set to become part of the #grains100 alumni -a group of 100 influential and powerful voices that can communicate critical subjects beyond the farm gate.
“I believe communities need creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. Transition of leadership from one generation to another is inevitable and if we, as young people, want to breathe life into our communities and see them continue from strength to strength we need to come to the table and be active participants.”
Marlee and Emma both believe one of the important facets of leadership is mentorship of the next generation, and in this they welcome Jess Fearnley to the role of Cultivate Intern with the Youth Voices Leadership Team..
Jess Fearnley Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program participant and Australian Women in Agriculture Youth Committee member
Jess is one of our current participants in the Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program with expressions of interest now open. Successful applicants will receive a two-year package of support including media training, networking and mentorship opportunities to help them share their stories with the nation and graduate as Young Farming Champions.
Jess, who began her YFC journey in 2019, is already displaying leadership potential being on the Australian Women in Agriculture Youth Committee. PYiA looks forward to giving voice to yet another place-based leader in rural Australia.