The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
Young people are in a unique position as they face the reality of an uncertain future but potentially they are bestplaced to push for and define the long-term societal response to the planet they envision. They are also the most vulnerable to the legacy of decisions made by older generations. Although young adults arguably have the most to gain and the most to lose their voices are not prominent, and too often engagement with this crucial demographic is in many ways limited. The Archibull Prize seeks to enable and empower students to make decisions and take actions that contribute to creating a sustainable future. To assist the students on their journey we pair them with young professionals (Young Farming Champions) from the agriculture sector.
Around half the world is under 30 and nine in ten of these young people live in developing countries.
Some are calling it Peak Youth – never before have there been so many young people in this world.
Due to this, their voices are going to be heard, and their actions are going to be felt. Their presence in global to local issues will be known. Why do I think this? Because the young generation are now more educated, tech-savvy and connected than ever before. And they care about their future.
This is why youth coalitions are growing and hashtags like #YouthVoices18 matter.
Young people restless for change are striving for fair, just and ecologically-sustainable development.
The youth today are going to face challenges like never felt before in history.
Climate change, forced migration and ecological degradation to name a few.
When natural environments cease to function as they should, and communities fracture and disperse, young people are caught in the wave of consequences from past actions and inactions.
But the youth also play an important role in overcoming these challenges.
Youth voices are particularly powerful.
Their smart-phone megaphones and global cyber-networks mean ideas and information are shared instantaneously. They see the injustices, they hear of the biological-plundering, and they are motivated to speak up, knuckle down and swipe-left on the status-quo.
For instance, young people in many parts of the world are calling on their governments to do more to prevent harmful climate change impacts. They say the failure to protect their future by slow or inadequate action violates the rights of young people to life, liberty and property enjoyed by previous generations. The idleness to set in place policies and structures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions exacerbates the risk and intensity of droughts, bushfires and floods – severely impacting those setting out on a career in agriculture.
Young people pursuing farming have no small task on their hands. Striving for high quality produce and global food security whilst reducing our environmental footprint is one of the most significant challenges of our time. Many experts predict that by 2050, population demands from nearly 10 billion people will require a 60% increase in global food production or a significant change to the global distribution, storage, consumption and access to food. Education and empowerment of young people in agriculture is critical.
When planning a brighter future, we need to be guided by young people, drawing upon their energy, creativity and skills for positive change. There are so many exciting young people working in genetics, soil science, irrigation engineering, carbon capture research, etc. – powering ahead in research, technology development and sharing their stories. Our leaders must not only acknowledge their interest, but seek the input of the youth, to implement measures that effectively protect young citizens from the foreseeable impacts of the ‘mega-challenges’ like climate change, and provide the platforms for young people to rewrite the narrative.
Young people in agriculture are taking a seat at the solutions dining table.
Their restless desire to change the trajectory should serve us all food for thought.
As the people who will be most greatly impacted by climate change, social upheaval and ecological unravelling, they need to be armed with the skills and knowledge to face these head-on, and they need to be part of developing the global redesign.
When given the capacity, support and trust – these restless young people push the boundaries and become a force for ambitious positive change.
Today’s guest blog comes from Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe who travelled to South Australia to join the AgCommunicators team and Cosi on the Seed to Store promotional tour to South Australian schools
Emma (centre front) had a great time as you can see ……
On Monday and Tuesday this week I was lucky enough to be part of the GRDC and AgCommunicators Seed to Store Tour around SA.
Seed to Store is a video competition that is run by the GRDC where entrants are asked to make a simple 1 minute video that showcases the grains industry and tells the story of the seed getting from the paddock to the store. As part of the process the GRDC asks a specialist group of people to promote the event, the grains industry and the great opportunities the industry provides as well as create a buzz around the competition. The winners of each category are shown at the Royal Adelaide Show and win themselves a cheeky $1000!
My 1,863km journey began in Hay where I live. On my 7 hour drive to Adelaide I had time to ponder on the week ahead. Would the kids be excited? Would we be able to deliver some good messages? Would I forget what I was meant to say in my talk? How much are these kids even going to care about grains? Would the schools truly be happy to have us there?
Monday morning the lovely Sarah McDonnell picked me up and we began our way to our first school, St Francis De Sales in Mt Barker. We met the third member of our team there, the iconic Andrew “Cosi” Costello who presents a show called “South Aussie with Cosi” on Channel 9. This school was amazing; we were greeted by a sea of some 120 year 6 and 7’s who were all eager to hear about grains, show off their new horticulture building but most of all excited to meet Cosi!
Did you know that there are 50,000 edible plants in the world that we know of, yet 60% of our diets are made up of wheat, rice and corn?
The lovely Sarah telling the students about the Seed to Store Competition
We spent about an hour at each of the schools talking about grains and our involvement in the different areas of Agriculture. Cosi had studied as Roseworthy, like myself, but had worked in the livestock industry. He now runs a charity in Cambodia called Cows for Cambodia that is focused on helping to break the poverty cycle as well as teaching Cambodians about farming practises. Sarah was a food scientist before moving into education, focused on primarily Agriculture and I am an agronomist, so it was my job to explain a bit about what goes into growing grains. Other than having to endure us talking we also played a few games such as can you guess the grain and can you match the grain to the food it becomes? Did you know that Barley is in Mars Bars?
The Roman goddess, Ceres, who was deemed protector of the grain, gave grains their common name today – “cereal.”
From here we headed to Unity Collage in Murray Bridge in the Cosi Car. Once again the excitement of having Cosi visit the school became apparent quickly. It was also here that I learnt that Cosi was quite hilarious as he retold of his stories of struggles at high school with having a police officer as a father. After a quick lesson on “how not to pick up chicks” we chatted about grains, careers and tested everyone’s knowledge.
Helping the Girls team win at guessing which grains become which foods at Unity
Checking out the Rhino that Cosi Bought Tailem Bend
The Cosi Car…it was hard to miss and attracted a lot of attention
The final school for day one was Keith Area School, and after a bit of a delay we got there about 45 minutes before the end of day bell. I thought this could be interesting, right before home time all these guys are going to want to do is get out of here but they were great fun! They were very interactive and attentive and an absolute laugh. Cosi was grilled about what they needed to do to win the big bucks with their videos.
As he is one of the judges its smart for entrants to know Cosi’s Pearl Barley’s of Wisdom
After staying the night in Keith we headed to the Area School at Coomandook. We had nearly half the school come to listen, and what a way to start the day. Everyone was highly entertained by Sarah story about “sensory analysis”, or taste testing to you and me, and how her love of Arnott’s chocolate biscuits had driven her to date a guy who worked there! The questions were fired thick and fast at the end of the session about grains as well as careers.
Selfie with the year 7-11’s from Coomandook
From here we headed to Birdwood High School in the Adelaide Hills. It was quite a long drive and Cosi couldn’t resist a snack on the way…and what is better than one that he promotes!
Coz it’s a Bargin!
The final school of the day was Birdwood High where we managed to get a whole range of students from year 8 to year 12. We got to the school right before the end of lunch bell. Our first port of call was the Ag Block where we got to cuddle some orphaned lambs. Once in the hall with everyone they were really involved which was awesome, and as a special treat I got to see my cousin who goes to school there.
Playing guess which grain is which food at Birdwood High School
We all said our goodbyes and I was on my way home again. On my 7 hour drive home I once again got time to reflect on the couple of days that had just been and all the laughs and things I had learnt. I learnt that the kids in a lot of these schools are genuinely interested to find out where their food comes from and their teachers genuinely want to teach them that.
I learnt that, once I got over my nerves and worry about forgetting what I had to say, interacting with students like this is very rewarding. And I leant the Seed to Store competition is a great opportunity and incentive for students, and community alike to learn about and showcase grains and pick up a lazy $1000! Most importantly I learnt that it is important for people like myself to go and showcase the good news stories and highlight the positives of the industry because for a lot of these kids it is probably something they have ever thought of looking at as a career, and to show them there is a lot more to agriculture then being a farmer.
Check out some of the previous winners here
The 2014 Winner – The Australian Grains Industry has a Great Story to Share
This is a great video entrant and runner up, from last year
And this guy won himself $1000, that’s a lot of chocolate!
Thanks to Belinda from the GRDC and Lynne from Young Farming Champions for this amazing opportunity and to Sarah and Cosi for the laughs and memories and I can’t wait to (hopefully) do it all again next year!
Today’s guest blog post comes from Deanna Johnston who is very proud to be a rookie farmer.
Another great story from the inspiring new generation of farmers
If day care consists of riding shotgun with Dad in the tractor when sowing and harvesting; sleeping in the tender wool bin during shearing time then this has been the best start to my rural career. Hi I’m Deanna Johnston and I’m a rookie farmer.
I had already started shearing, doing the long-blow on our Coolalee rams before I was going to primary school. My Dad worked as a shearing contractor before settling back down to the farm which gave him invaluable insights as to how other farmers run successful farm. Dad had always had an interest in sheep, especially Merinos and he began to get more serious about the sheep enterprise on the farm in the year 2000. We turned to the SRS strain of Merinos and started breeding for a purpose – dual purpose merinos. Currently we are experiencing an extended dry period and are grazing 2000 breeder ewes with another 800 little mouths in the feedlot.
After primary school the next step for me to broaden my knowledge and an early start to my career calling to the agricultural industry was to attend Yanco Agricultural High School. Right from year seven I was part of the sheep show team in which I was able to become part of the McCaughey White Suffolk stud where we started to implement Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer into the breeding program.
Completing my Certificate IV in Woolclassing and Certificate II in Shearing by the age of 16 proved to me that this was the industry I wanted to be part of. Since then, shearing competitions and wool handling competitions have become my weekend hobby.
In March this year I came out in fourth position in the State Final Fleece judging competition in Sydney. These competitions are great for refining the skills that are taught in TAFE Certificates. An added bonus is you meet other young people with the same passion for the wool and sheep industry.
In 2014 I was runner up the National Young Guns competition at LambEX in Adelaide which over 1000 people attended. This competition involves writing an essay on the topic: “attracting young people into the prime lamb industry” and creating a poster to go with it. When in Adelaide I had to speak on my topic, answers questions posed by the judges who also adjudicated on the essay, poster and speech component. This was an incredible experience for me as I met many industry leaders, local and overseas producers and scientists and academics who all had the same passion: the future of agriculture in Australia and the the world.
The PETA campaign against the shearing industry was released while I was attending the LambEX conference. It hit me hard as I was very disappointed that industry my family was part of was being portrayed in this negative light This made me even more determined to share the positive stories far and wide about the wool industry I love and the farmers I know who care deeply about their animals.
Having been lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by the sheep and wool industry I know it has a lot of offer. I want to share this message with other young people who haven’t had the same opportunities. The Australian wool industry provides thousands of jobs both in Australia and overseas. No matter where your interests lie, the wool industry has a career path suited to you. Careers in the wool industry can be divided into two main areas — on-farm and off-farm. By attracting young people into the sheep and wool industry, it will only grow and become more successful, not only focusing on the producing side but through the whole chain from paddock to plate and in this case clothing.
With the end of my HSC year nearing I have been fortunate enough at my age to have to have met some amazing industry professionals including Dr. Jim Watt and Errol Brumpton (OAM). When I finish school my ambitions are to study a double degree in Agriculture and Business at the University of New England in Armidale with the prospects that I will come back on the farm and take over the sheep enterprise (I haven’t told Dad yet I might tell him about this a bit later).
So how I spent day care wasn’t so bad at all as it left me with a great passion and a dream. Being in this agricultural industry is where I want to stay as the world is going to become more reliant on what the industry can offer. The future is exciting and I am lucky I will be a part of it along with many other young and enthusiastic people.
Breaking news – The 2016 National Merino Challenge results are in and Deanna has taken out 3rd palace in the secondary school division and her school Yanco Agricultural High School have won Champion Team
Today we are catching up with Sharna Holman who I invited to write a blog in 2012. You can find it here Its so rewarding to find four years later a young girl from the city so inspired by her journey from Ag in the classroom to the Sydney Royal Easter Show and a scholarship to the Australian Cotton Conference now fulfilling her dreams with a career in Cotton
This Sharna’s update ……..
My name is Sharna Holman, a born and bred Sydneysider and since I could remember I have had a love of animals, being outside and working with others. However these days while a lot of that is the same, home is in Emerald, Central Queensland and I work in agriculture loving everything it has to offer. But the real question is how did a Sydney girl end up in Central Queensland working in the cotton industry?
Over four years ago I spoke to and wrote a blog titled Sydney Show a Career Maker for Lynne Strong about how influential the Sydney Royal Easter Show and agricultural shows can be on young people thinking of becoming involved in the agricultural industry. I was extremely fortunate in attending Muirfield High School, in Sydney’s north-west, which had a farm where my passion for agriculture was quickly sparked. Students had the opportunity to participate in competitions at agricultural shows as well as being involved in Art4Agriculture’s own The Archibull Prize program. It’s these opportunities that encourage students like myself, particularly those who don’t come from agricultural backgrounds, to find out more about the industry and the different career paths available.
Muirfield High School’s food and vegetable display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show
Muirfield High School’s Archie on display in the Food Farm in 2011.
At the end of school, I definitely knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture so began studying a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney because of the diverse subject options and professional development available. I went into the degree not being exactly sure what I wanted to do but throughout the four years I went through so many options: geneticists, agricultural marketing and communications, researcher, agricultural teacher, agronomist? Whatever I was learning during the semester I loved and wanted to learn more. Throughout my degree I grabbed as many opportunities as possible that helped me learn more about the agricultural industry and interests within the industry.
The University of Sydney team coming 2nd place at the Grain Growers National Universities Crop Judging Competition in 2015.
In 2014 I was awarded a Cotton Australia scholarship, having the opportunity to attend the 17th Australian Cotton Conference on the Gold Coast. I left the conference having learnt about Cry proteins toxins used in plant breeding, pickers, fibre quality, marketing Australian cotton as an ethically and sustainably produced fibre and so much more, as well as having had the chance to network and learn from the experience of growers, researchers, and people who work in the industry in many capacities.
A really good question would be, ‘Sharna, cotton? Have you ever seen a cotton plant before going to the cotton conference?’ and the answer would be a definite no, but did I want to learn more, yes!
It was through networking with researchers at this conference that I organised my honours project investigating the development of tolerance to toxin in Helicoverpa moths, one of the main pests in the cotton industry, with the assistance of a CRDC Summer Scholarship. So in the Summer of 2014 – 2015 I moved to Narrabri and began working on my honours project at the Australian Cotton Research Institute. It was here that I learnt so much more about the cotton industry, agronomy and pest management through having the chance to spend time with researchers and assist with trials. I finished university knowing that I would love the chance to work and be further involved in the cotton industry.
Early this year I was fortunate in getting a job I love, in an industry I love and made the 16 hour journey from Sydney to Central Queensland. I work in the cotton industry as an Extension Officer working with growers helping them connect to research to improve their productivity and profitability, while also having a role in CottonInfo, the cotton industry’s extension program, as Technical Specialist for Disease, Ratoon and Volunteer Management. Even though I have only been working in my role for a short period time, I absolutely love the feeling of waking up to a job I love.
I assist with research trials occurring around Central Queensland. This trial is exploring the different planting windows growers have the opportunity to plant in with the release of Bollgard III in the 2016 – 2017 season.
I get to meet, work with a variety of different growers and people.
I have the chance to learn new things everyday
I don’t have a ‘normal’ working day. Some days I will be in a field working on a trial, other days I might be in a meeting, or you could find me at my desk analysing results or writing up an article on crop protection for growers. Some days I even get to have an awesome view from the picker.
I am so lucky to be involved in an industry where the growers, researchers and industry members are incredibly innovative and passionate. The cotton industry is constantly trying to look for new ways to be sustainable and efficient while remaining productive throughout the entire production chain. Everyday I look forward to helping growers find and obtain information through resources, trial results and workshops.
I believe anyone can find a role they would love within the agricultural industry, whether that be within research, business, marketing, farm management, mechanics and robotics – there are so many different career paths. However for someone without an agricultural background, often agriculture is misunderstood and people only see the surface. Opportunities like participating in events ( or volunteering) at agricultural shows and the Art4Agriculture’s Archibull Prize program allow you to get a hands on view and see the exciting agriculture sector I see with boundless cutting edge career opportunities.
Today’s guest blog comes from WA Sandgropper Nick Eyres
This is Nick’s story………
Never having written a blog, I don’t really know where to start, but hey, I’m Nick Eyres and I’m attempting to complete my undergraduate BSc in Agricultural Science at University of Western Australia. The hardest question I have to answer any time I meet a new person, is “where are you from?” I s’pose it’s no different when writing a blog?
Anyway I’ll get there. Most of my life has been pretty cruisy I guess, being the youngest of 3 boys (and the tallest) I have always had older brothers looking out for me, they made sure I took all the blame for the drama we got up to when we were kids. Of course, I was always around to beat up when they wanted some quick entertainment. I didn’t understand that game. Naturally, they were bigger then me so I didn’t put up much of a fight until one day, when after they swapped with me all my $2 coins for their 50c coins (they are bigger after all) I told them that “one day I’ll be bigger than you.” Whilst that dream came true but I never got to collect on their debts. Anyway, growing up in Tambellup, like any rural place, family is a big deal so we’ve always been close.
Steve and me (centered) with some cousins having some quality chook time in Tambellup
Eventually, in 2000, we moved to Geraldton, where we farmed in Eradu, following dad’s dream of getting rid of the sheep. But soon we found ourselves in Watheroo putting a crop in, in 2004. This was a ripper farm. I was asked years ago which of our farms was the best, this one came with an Emu called Hector.
Me and Steve picking malee roots in Geraldton
It is pretty awesome looking back on being a kid and being thrown into a new environment all the time, even though sometimes it is hard not knowing anyone, it teaches you at least a couple of things. I went to 6 different primary schools by the time I had finished year 6, at which point we had to move to Perth when dad got diagnosed with the big C, just after the first crop in Watheroo was in the ground. 2004 was a bumper year, one of the best the region had seen in a number of years, but for us it was a different story. My older brothers (Steve and Tom) were both off at boarding school in Perth, so there were many trips for me to the city to await more news from the doctors, and for dad to get his treatment. It was July when he was first diagnosed, and he passed away in December that year. This was a pretty average time for us all, but the amazing thing about it was that we still had a crop that was being harvested. Family and friends called in from all around the state to help us get that crop off, and that’s a pretty incredible thought.
While it’s a pretty sombre thing to share, I reckon it’s the only way I can outline my love for not only agriculture, but the community that comes in the deal. This is exactly why I am passionate about being involved with the industry, and keeping these communities together.
At the gate of Acacia, our last property in Watheroo
Since 2004 I have lived in Perth, with my mum and my brothers until slowly, one by one, we all left home as soon as we could. I finished school in 2010 unsure of what to do, and after working as a labourer for a year, I tried a semester of engineering at UWA to find that it is in fact exactly what I don’twant to do (apparently a common scenario). After discovering that your career should be whatever you enjoy, I started Ag Science and haven’t looked back. I have definitely taken advantage of the student lifestyle too, rediscovering my passion for sport, getting involved with rowing (which I had forgotten about since I finished school) at UWA. I started to train and compete in a High Performance program that took me to the national championships for the last two years, in my bid to make an Australian team.
2013 UWABC mens 8+ winning the state sprint champs
While thus far I have been unsuccessful, it has ignited in me a passion for the sport, and for fitness and a lifestyle that is based around being healthy and active. The satisfaction you get from racing well is something that is bloody addictive, and leaves you hungry for more success. I love the training, the people and the sleeping when you are competing, but the best thing is definitely the food – as much as my heart desires. Yeah, this sport is a little bit of a contrast to the lectures in my undergraduate, but that’s why I think (not my boss when I am asleep in my lunch break) that the two work so well together, and why one has complemented the other so well.
Definitely not a lecture theatre. Me (left) and Sam (in blue) racing the U23 men’s pair in NSW earlier this year.
There are a few things that interest me, with regards to agronomy really. I suppose it could go either way, but while I think there is more clarity in the science behind crops, animal nutrition is a huge frontier for growth. However, having started with a double major in Ag and Chemistry, soil chemistry does tickle my fancy, but who knows? I do think with the massively expanding technology base being used in Ag systems, there is a huge potential in precision farming in the future.
Mika teaching me the ins and outs of the sheep yards
Finishing 3rd year now, and another year working as a researcher’s assistant at AHRI (Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative) based out of UWA. My days are spent counting seeds in a lab and looking after pot experiments – if I’m not in a lecture – to keep the bread on the table (well, to be honest the bread in our household is free thanks to the art of dumpster diving), but this is all between training and looking after my new kelpie puppy Mika. Keeping a sheep dog occupied when it’s on permanent holiday isn’t hard when all your lecturers love having a dog listen in on the content of the lecture.
None the less I guess I’m starting to think about work opportunities now and what the next step of my life will hold, but really, who knows these days.
Perhaps I can fly drones for a living.
So long as what I choose is a passion, the road will pave itself, right?
Farmer (fahr-mer): noun, a person who is outstanding in their field. That’s me! Being a farmer is not a “job”; it is a way of life. It is my life! This great way of life inspires me to share it with others, to be an agricultural communicator; to help reflect who I am, what I stand for and the opportunities Australian agriculture boasts.
My DNA is what connects me with the land. As far back as my family name goes we have always farmed. From a very young age I took an active role alongside my parents in the works of our 743ha farm, “Wallaringa,” located in Cowra, central west NSW. Steering the wheel of the farm Ute in the correct direction while Dad fed the sheep, whizzing around on my red Honda XR50 to transport lunches to the paddock, and falling asleep listening to the ABC’s Country Hour on a dusty old blanket shoved behind the tractor seat while Dad planted the crops. This was a way of life; this was my childhood, and a healthy and happy one at that! My Mother will tell you that until I started school I didn’t know what a ‘weekend’ was, as I had never really had a ‘weekend’ off from farming.
As I grew up I watched my father fight Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for eleven years. During this period he continued to run “Wallaringa” to the best of his ability, which at times was from a hospital bed on the fourth floor in Sydney’s St. George Hospital. Sadly my father passed away in 2008. He was a man of the land whose strength, courage and determination was an inspiration to all. Especially to me, this is where my inner strength and passion for Agriculture, mainly cereal grains and oilseed production derives from. His wishes were structured so that until a rightful age “Wallaringa” will pass directly to me, (his only child) and I had the opportunity to decide whether farming is my future as well as experience life while the farm is cared for. in 2018 I am now 23 and after much soul searching and consultation I am now the CEO and farm manager of ‘Wallaringa”
The journey has been exciting with lots of opportunities to grow, learn and network with industry professionals
In 2011 I had the opportunity to live and study year ten in Okotoks, Alberta Canada with my Mother. We seized this twelve month adventure and lived it to the fullest! We incorporated occasional travel during this time which allowed me to see and experience first-hand international agriculture: an American corn harvest, the Prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, rich red, predominately potato bearing soil of Prince Edward Island. Truly my fondest venture to date.
Returning from Canada I attended All Saints’ College Bathurst for the remainder of my school years as a full time boarder. Without doubt I selected Agriculture as a HSC elective.
The knowledge and skills I acquired over these years fed my appetite for the industry and a ‘want’ to communicate the lifestyle, issues and rewards farming offers developed within me. My HSC major work for Drama, ‘Doin’ It Tough’ (a self-written monologue) aimed to communicate the stresses and strains placed on rural farming families when drought occurs. This performance was very well received which lead me to believe that live theatre is a valuable means of communicating messages from the agricultural industry.
The day I completed my final HSC exam I hot footed it out of the exam room and into the Canola Cutter cab. Driving and operating agricultural machinery, large or small, doesn’t faze me at all.
I practically enjoy driving my John Deere 9860 STS header at harvest time however, I equally enjoy working for GrainCorp as the Cowra and Noonbinna Sample stand operator (better known as ‘the bird in the bird cage’).
In 2014 I undertook a Certificate III in Agriculture with Access Group Training. The stylised flexibility and highly qualified staff this method of training boast made the concept of distance learning a smooth journey. I excelled in my studies condensing the two year course into ten months as well as being nominated for the NSW Training Awards. In May I won Western NSW Trainee of the Year. Recently I was interviewed for the state title to be announced in September.
It is an honour to be representing agriculture on a regional and state level!
My objective is to raise my voice to promote a rural lifestyle, educate non-farmers and encourage younger generations to consider Apprenticeships and Traineeships in agriculture, which therefore inspires them to enter into this vibrant, flourishing and promising industry.
My decision to progress onto further training was an easy one; I completed a Diploma in Management, again with Access Group Training. Every day I was equipping myself through my studies, practical hands-on experiences and with the help of industry experts to ready myself for the time where I am today “Wallaringa” owner and manager. I am proud to join the one of ever seven farms today managed by a woman!
Along with my studies I am involved with the local show societies, am an active member of the Morongla CWA and Red Cross, a budding rural lifestyle photographer and an enthusiastic part-time field day employee for CASE IH and Bisley Workwear. I thoroughly enjoy these other pursuits and see them as valuable opportunities to share my passion.
I’m honoured to be recognised for my contributions and take the opportunity to encourage people of all ages to give back to the community. I’m aware we are all busy with work, school, study however, we must make time to give back to help and to connect with something greater than ourselves.
I plan on being a lifelong advocate or ‘agvocate” for agriculture whether that be orally, physically or visually. My long term goal is to lead by example and explore the many career paths within the industry, especially farm management.
I am proud to be a leading female in a predominately male-driven industry. A fire for agriculture burns bright within me and I aim to set the world alight!
The bush is in Hugh Burrell’s blood and farming has been his calling since the day dot. He’s a 4th generation farmer, a 4th year Agricultural Science student and a proud product of Narrabri, NSW. At boarding school in Sydney, Hugh was known for enthralling his boarding house mates with his wild and entertaining “Yarns from the Farm”… perhaps little has changed, because today’s guest blog is a great read!
Let’s hand it over to you, Hugh…
2390: numbers I will never forget. Now that you know all my passwords I’d better let you know who I am. I’m Hugh Burrell, a 4th generation born farmer from Narrabri, NSW. My father is a farmer, my grandfather was a farmer and my great grandfather was a farmer. I am the youngest born of my family, with an older brother and sister. We were all raised on our family property “Woodlands” north east of Narrabri, nestled in the foothills of the Nandewar ranges. Being a family farm spanning many generations we have been involved in a variety of operations from pigs, chooks, sheep, cattle, grains, cotton, to canola and dogs. However my fondest memories come from our days as mixed cropping and cattle producers. These formative years of my life spent trailing, with poddy calf in tow, my grandfather, father and brother around the rich basalt soils checking for weeds in the wheat and pulling out black oats to feed to my poddy lambs at home, are some memories that I still reminisce about today.
With my father and grandfather at the helm of the business when I was growing up, we began a more intensive winter cropping regime. We went from running merino sheep for wool and fattening lambs on oats to a full blown wheat and barley operation. The days spent with “Grampa” on the old Chamberlain tractor pushing up rocks to clear the way for Dad to come through and plant wheat are fresh in my memory. Growing up meant extra work for me, as I grew into my gangly frame I was more useful with jobs like fencing and weed chipping, which my father knew and used to his advantage. However, something he came to learn was that I loved this work, hands on learning, out in the open, and providing something for the world to eat.
Heading off to Narrabri Public School saw this idea of working outside flourish, where my teacher was often heard calling, “Hugh, what are you doing out here?” to which I would show her the perfectly cultivated rows of the sandpit and reply, “Just farming.” This became a more frequent response as the years went on and this “just farming” idea became a driving force.
We began leasing a property on the other side of town to our farm, so during the week Grampa would pick me up from school and we’d head out to check the sorghum, wheat, and mungbeans we grew out there. During the summer we would take turns scaring the birds off the ripe sorghum heads while recounting our day to each other, being a quite kid I just listened to the stories. This seemingly endless time spent driving around the crops, refilling the tractor, checking for weeds and talking to each other was the foundation of my passion for farming. The nature of a family farm is essential to agriculture throughout the world; the care that is taken with each step and the knowledge that can be transferred between generations is a vital part of our industry.
A few wheat bix
Growing into my brother’s clothes it was time to ship off to boarding school. I was 11, and my first day of school at The Scots College was only my second ever visit to Sydney. This was another foundational experience for me, the place where I met some of my closest mates to this day and that fostered my rural blood. Being one of 200 or so country boys in a school of 1000, it’s fair to say we stuck out. Our city friends often quizzed us about our holiday activities, to which I loved telling stories of the farm, harvesting, mustering, spraying and everything else that we got up to. Talking to others about farming – some who were almost oblivious to the facts – was great fun for me, I loved getting up in front of the boarding house on our first night back after the holidays to recite “Yarns from the Farm.”
Moving along at school, I studied Biology and Business Studies in the hope of pursuing a career on our family farm, continuing my forefather’s tradition. However, with some succession decisions still in the pipeline and my dream of heading home to “Woodlands” stalled for the time being, I knew uni would be a great opportunity. I ended up at Sydney University enrolled in Agricultural Science, which has been a great experience for me, instilling a respect for research and its part in agriculture, particularly in Australia.
Throughout my degree I have been lucky enough to be involved in various field trips around NSW, learning from others in the industry about how they apply science to their farms and businesses. This has really nailed down the point of agricultural research, which I am dedicated to use in my career in agriculture. In my third year of study I was involved in the Developing Agriculture in Developing Countries unit which involved a three week trip through Laos, South East Asia. We were able to meet with multinational companies, non-government organizations and government bodies to talk about the impact that agricultural development has on a developing a country. This was an amazing experience, from planting rice with the locals to hiking through the rugged limestone cliffs; it was a true example that agriculture can take you anywhere.
Rice planting in Laos
I am now in my 4th year of study with a focus on agronomy and precision agriculture. I’m looking to undertake my honours research project in 2016 in the grain production area, centred on crop and variety selection and management in the Narrabri area.
I’ve been working every summer holidays with Australian Grain Technologies (AGT) in Narrabri, helping harvest the trial crops, seed cleaning, and hand harvesting for 3 weeks in December 2014 at 40oc – that was a true experience. This work has truly highlighted the importance of plant breeding for select region specific traits that give farmers that little bit extra ability to grow more crop per hectare and per mega-litre, especially in these challenging climatic times.
I have a passion for agriculture that has been fostered from birth. Being brought up in a region built on farming, it’s safe to say it’s in my blood. I am really looking forward to the challenges ahead of my honours project and what the real world holds. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll be back out in the bush soon, chasing the sun all day and growing food for the world – hopefully somewhere out around postcode 2390.
Today’s guest blog from Hannah Powe is a story about following your passion and grabbing opportunities with both hands. Hannah’s love of beef cattle has taken her from New South Wales to New Zealand and through the cattle country of Canada and the US. Wherever she is, Hannah will be happy as long as there are cows!
Here’s Hannah’s story…
“Some folks just don’t get it. They think owning cattle makes no sense. It takes too much time, too much equipment, not to mention the expense. But the fondest memories of my life – they might think sound funny – were made possible by Mum and dad, ‘cause they spent the time and they spent the money. You see, the most important lessons helping values grow so strong, come from loving cattle and passing that tradition on” – The Tradition
Hi, my name is Hannah Powe and I’ve spent my life surrounded by motivated, encouraging and passionate people who all love the same thing I do: Beef Cattle.
My interest in agriculture has grown from those people, along with the support and drive of my mum and dad. Growing up in the Hawkesbury region of NSW my family primarily grew mushrooms; beef cows were simply a hobby. But this farm girl always had a desire to make it so much more.
From a young age I remember running around among the cows with my big sister, getting stuck in the mud, playing with calves and travelling across the state to attend shows and visit friends on other farms. The part I loved most was always simply look at and being surrounded by cattle.
Even though I grew up close to Sydney, I appreciated having such an agricultural based childhood. It made me aware of where our clothes came from, how food was produced and the overall connection and importance of primary producers in the scale of everyday living in Australia.
My decision to pursue a career in agriculture and the beef cattle industry begun at my first Angus Youth Roundup held at Canberra in 2009. Coming from a Murray Grey background – my parents started our stud with primarily Murray Greys in the 1980 – and having little experience in how a heifer show worked, I was surprised by how professional, yet also welcoming and eager, every was. Throughout that weekend I met many people that challenged and motivated me to want to learn more. I placed 3rd in my first ever parader class and gained new friends – many who are still my closest friends today.
Growing up, I was always a quietly spoken and shy girl. It was a continual struggle for my family and friends to get me to speak in public, especially to take part in a junior judging competition, until I had to associate judge the cattle section at the 2009 Boorowa Show. People that have seen me grow and flourish still remind me of this experience every year, especially when I’m in the position of helping someone younger who faces similar challenges to me. It really grounds me, shows me how far I have come as a person and highlights how lucky I am to be supported by the beef industry and individuals who have helped along the way.
After this there was no looking back, or should I say, no holding me back. I have sought out every opportunity to compete in junior judging competitions as well as had the privilege to associate or judge local shows across the state. Travelling far and wide across Australia and internationally, to represent my breeds and meet likeminded, passionate and encouraging people that fuel my drive to achieve. I am thankful to my family for never holding me back.
People that know the Powe family, know that it’s a family thing. Our cattle are the glue that sticks us all together. Mum and dad manage our property while my sister and her husband grow the feed that my dad mixes to feed the cattle. When we go to a show or field day each person has their role and even though we probably don’t always seem like it, we are thankful to have each other there.
In 2009 we introduced Red Angus to our herd as the focus breed which has been an exciting and rewarding endeavour, with many major successes.
The next year I moved away to boarding school at Yanco Agricultural High School. My family believed this would help me ‘focus’ but while I did study, I spent every spare moment working with the beef show stock team. I felt Yanco was a place where I belonged – a home away from home, with cows. Being situated on a rural property, surrounded by like-minded agricultural kids from across Australia, and the industry events I was exposed to really pushed me to want so much more.
After school I made the natural choice to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. To gain experience in another part of the red meat production chain, while at uni I challenged myself by taking part in the Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition (ICMJ).
My hunger to learn about international agriculture and different beef production systems began in 2013 when I had the privilege to compete for Australia in the World Angus Forum (WAF) in New Zealand. The WAF is the pinnacle of the Angus community, bringing people together to celebrate and learn about the breed’s progression worldwide. New Zealand will always be a connection to so many different countries for me; I was lucky enough to meet a network of international delegates which has led to many overseas adventures to areas no one would have imagined.
Directly following the WAF I travelled to Canada for a six week individual travel program. A highlight of the trip was being able to attend Northland’s FarmFair International and Canadian Western Agribition – two of the major stock shows in Canada – as an Australian delegate. I spent time visiting with producers of bulls we use in our production system and saw new and upcoming genetics, all while working in a totally new environment and making another home away from home with cows.
Following my overseas adventure, my interest changed direction and I became more driven to engage, influence and share information with others. Previously being part of the Angus Youth committees, in 2014 I took on the role of communications and promotions director before this year becoming the vice-chairperson. I hope to keep giving back to the programs that encouraged and influenced me. One thing I love is seeing kids grow, develop and become more confident within our industry.
Recently I chose to explore the other side of our production system – the commercial beef industry. Throughout my summer holidays I worked at JBS Swift Riverina Beef Feedlot located in Leeton, NSW as part of the animal induction team. Busy days made for enjoyable learning about grading cattle going into the feedlot and animal health programs.
In 2014 I was privileged to be awarded the Murray Grey Senior Youth Ambassador that enabled me to undertake an international study trip to Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas. As well as studying subjects in genetics, reproduction and US beef production systems, I had the opportunity to explore the local stock shows and visit world class facilities for reproduction technologies and beef data analysis.
In my six years of involvement in the beef industry, the most significant and memorable moments have come from being surrounded by people that push and challenge me, the wise words of wisdom or support they offer, and the friendships made with families on the holiday show circuit.
But the most rewarding part is the love I have for my animals and the simple joy the cattle bring to my life. Those that know me well, know to not get between Hannah and her cow! My passion for them is never ending.
The only certain thing I can say about my future is that I know it will be with beef cattle – a passion instilled in me thanks to my family. I am about to undertake my final year work placement at Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) and Animal Genetic Breeding Unit (ABGU) in Armidale, NSW, where I will gain experience in genetics, research and data, and work alongside some of the industry’s great influential minds.
Home is where the cows are and I know no matter where I am in the world I can find refuge in the back blocks surrounded by cattle, enjoying the true agricultural experiences many of us dream about.
From the family farm to commercial feedlots, today’s guest blog from Rozzie O’Reilly takes us on a journey through what it takes to put a great steak, or lamb chop, on your plate. Rozzie says, “Agriculture is my passion and my life, and this is my journey to date…”
Here is her story…
My agricultural journey began twenty two years ago when I born the daughter of a fourth generation sheep and cattle farmer in the beautiful Riverina of southern NSW. Needless to say, agriculture is in my blood. Our family farming enterprise is no stereotype though. Dad was tragically killed in an accident when I was a toddler, leaving Mum to raise four kids as well as manage her livestock. In addition to running livestock on our small block of land at Narrandera, we primarily agisted stock on surrounding properties.
Hanging out with some of our cows at home
It was Mum’s determination and courage, as well as her ability to include us kids in the farming enterprise, that lead me to instinctively develop a passion for agriculture and in particular a love for sheep and cattle. From the time I could walk I was in the yards helping Mum draft stock, in the woolshed penning up sheep and rouseabouting, and on the back of the ute helping supplement feed stock. I simply loved getting out and about to help Mum do the daily jobs of producing both food and fibre.
Helping feed out hay with my brother on the left & feeding poddy lambs on the right.
At the end of Year 12 in 2010, I followed my passion and applied to the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale to complete a Bachelor of Animal Science, majoring in Livestock Production. The following year I moved to Armidale (950km away from home) to begin study and have never looked back since. This was possibly the greatest life decision I have ever made! Throughout the four years of university, not only did I learn a great deal, ranging from livestock nutrition and genetics through to plant pathology (and everything in between), but I was also exposed to an array of amazing opportunities which strengthened my interest in the industry.
During my first year of university I also completed a Certificate IV in Wool Classing at TAFE. Not only did this provide me with a recognised qualification, but it also allowed me to gain work in shearing sheds during holidays to help pay for university fees. At this same time I began taking part in sheep fleece judging and was fortunate enough to compete for the Armidale Show Society at local, regional and state level. Let me tell you, judging fleeces at the Sydney Royal Easter Show is certainly much more stressful than the home woolshed, but nonetheless very enjoyable and a great networking and learning experience.
In 2012 I competed for UNE at the Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ) competition, which is an annual conference that exposes university students to all sectors of the red meat industry. While training for the competition I learnt how to assess market suitability, meat quality and yield in beef, pork and lamb species. Though getting up early to stand in meat chillers for training does not sound like a hobby nor great fun, I certainly learnt a lot and gained an appreciation for the most important part of the red meat industry: the consumer.
Me and a fellow UNE team mate judging a beef carcase class.
I was fortunate to be selected as a member of the 2013 Australian ICMJ Team who toured the United States for four weeks. This was an incredible opportunity! Our team competed in three major US meat judging contests, travelled across ten states and gained a unique insight into the US meat and livestock industry through a number of tours. Visits included the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the USDA Meat Animal Research Centre, three major US packers, as well as feedlot, ranch and retail visits. Essentially, the tour was a complete paddock to plate insight into the US, and allowed comparisons between Australia and the US to be made.
The 2013 Aussie ICMJ Team in the US; on the left we are outside the JBS Headquarters in Colorado, while on the right is the awards we gained following one of the competitions we competed in.
I am forever grateful for what I have personally gained from my ICMJ experience and would love for as many people as possible to gain what I did. To help achieve this, I co-coached UNE ICMJ teams for two years following my participation and am now currently a committee member of the Australian ICMJ committee. My role on the committee is Careers Expo Coordinator, which is something I am very passionate about as the youth of today are inevitably our future.
2014 UNE ICMJ Team which I was lucky enough to be a part of the coaching team.
Another wonderful opportunity was the 2014 Indonesian Beef Production Tour, a three week tour coordinated by the University of Adelaide. It was certainly was an eye opener, giving a fantastic insight into each sector of the supply chain in which Australian cattle are exposed to in Indonesia. A significant highlight of the trip was visiting one of TUM’s new abattoirs (TUM is the company that was exposed on Four Corners, which lead to the closure of live export to Indonesia in 2011). The new facility clearly demonstrated that animal welfare is of utmost importance. This had a great positive impact on me, as it is quite contradictory to how live export to Indonesia is portrayed by a number of groups in Australia. Ultimately, this experience gave me the confidence to be able to promote live export upon returning to Australia.
2014 Indonesian Beef Production Tour; left is a research feedlot we visited, while on the right I am pictured with Febrina, an Indonesian Animal Science university student.
During my final year of university I undertook an Honours research trial in the field of sheep genetics. I tried to determine whether sires re-rank, in terms of their performance, in different environments. Honours certainly was not a ‘walk in the park’; I analysed tens of thousands of data recordings and spent hours in front of the computer. However, the process was rewarding and I gained a very strong appreciation for scientific research, and now understand the vital importance of research to our agricultural industry. I concluded the project with some significant results, which I found exciting and motivating… (and maybe one day I’ll be back to complete a PhD). Overall, I was awarded First Class Honours for my project.
Pictured with Mum after graduating with a B. Animal Science (1st Class Honours).
I was very fortunate for the support of a number of financial bursaries to help fund my degree including the UNE Country Scholarship and the NSW Royal Agricultural Society Foundation Scholarship. I also gained an Horizon Scholarship for the duration of my degree, which not only financially supported me but also aided in leadership, personal and professional development, supported attendance to industry conferences which broadened my agricultural knowledge, as well as organised annual industry work placements. This wonderful program enabled me to broaden my networks and certainly helped shape the person I am today.
Attending the 2014 Northern Australia Food Futures conference in Darwin as a Horizon Scholar delegate.
One particular Horizon work placement proved to be very influential in my career progression. In my second year of university I completed work placement at a 32,000 head beef feedlot. Prior to this I had never set foot on a beef feedlot, let alone considered a career in the lot feeding industry. This placement completely changed my perspective of intensive agriculture and I became intrigued with the industry. Since then, I have completed a Feedlot Management unit at university as well as work placement at two other feedlots, and was also fortunate to gain a Meat & Livestock Australia scholarship to attend the 2013 Australian Lot Feeders biannual BeefWorks conference. Most recently though, since finishing university last year, I have begun a Beef Supply Chain trainee position with Kerwee Lot Feeders. This position allows me to combine the knowledge which I have gained at university and through the ICMJ program to help produce tasty beef of the upmost quality. I find this an exciting concept and I am even more excited to see where this role takes me in the future.
In the pens at Kerwee Feedlot
The world population is continuing to rise at a very fast rate and I believe that intensive farming, such as lot feeding, is going to play a significant role in feeding this ever increasing population. I want to actively help the lot feeding industry to continue moving forward by promoting the importance of high animal welfare and environmental standards, as well as help ensure that lot feeders are up to date with emerging best management practices. Eventually I hope to harness my passion for livestock nutrition and genetics to help maximise production in the most sustainable manner.
Ultimately I wish to be part of the Young Farming Champions program so that I can tell my agricultural story, as well as market, promote and engage consumers with the great products that the Australian agricultural industry produces. I also want to help raise awareness of the diverse range of career opportunities available in agricultural and inspire the young people to consider them.
Australian agriculture is an exciting place to be and has endless amazing opportunities available for people who have drive and passion. So find and follow your passion, seize opportunities and enjoy the ride; you never know where you might end up.
Our guest blog today comes from keen communicator and ag advocate Jamie Thornberry. A trials agronomist with a focus on farmer extension, it’s Jamie’s knack for explaining agronomic concepts and online communication which has allowed his skills to blossom in that difficult line of communication between researcher, farmer and consumer.
This is Jamie’s story….
I remember way back when I was a little tacker in year 3 and we first moved out to the farm in Central West of New South Wales. It was quite different from the small town life that I was used to. For one, my back yard got a hell of a lot bigger. Thinking back I didn’t seem to notice the isolation from my friends as I always had my little fox terrier Muttley by my side. Our farm of 700 acres was relatively small at the time, although at that age I didn’t mind; it was big enough for Muttley and I to go hunting for mice and rabbits.
Presenting our research at Tottenham Ag expo
Around the same time that we purchased the property between Canowindra and Cudal my Nan and Pop bought a small farm at Cargo. I soon found myself split between the two properties which were two very different farming systems. My Dad had a main focus on wheat production and he spent the majority of his time carting wheat throughout Northern NSW, whereas my Pop decided cattle was the way to go. At that age of course the cows appeared to be more interesting to me, and my pop would always take us to see the new calves.
Burning research trial plots with a drip torch
As time pressed on we started to work more and more on the farm at Cargo as well as our own. My Dad quickly grew frustrated with the cows walking over pop’s fences so sheep quickly became an alternative. Around that time I was in my final years of high school, with my favourite subject being Agriculture – of course – as well as a touch of biology and a dose of primary industries to get me out of the class room. These subjects built a strong foundation for a university degree in Agriculture.
In 2009 I commenced my Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. I remember making the decision on which university I would attend; I could study agribusiness in Orange just down the road, or completely throw myself out of my comfort zone and travel to Wagga Wagga. In hindsight it was the best decision I have ever made. The degree at CSU was quite diverse, split between agronomy, agribusiness, soil and animal health. This played a large role in shaping me for the industry as well as starving off boredom when tasked with 2000 word assignments. I graduated in 2013 and, like a typical graduate, began the tiring search for my ideal job in the industry.
With the job market a little harsher than I expected, I started part time work as a freelance web designer and online marketer. So there I was with my Ag degree in one hand and a passion for communications in the other. It wasn’t long until I began to bring the two together, noticing there was huge communication breakdown between farmers and the consumers of their products. This led me to Twitter in search of online discussion around agriculture and there built an online network with local agribusinesses.
Stubble conference in Melbourne
With my ideal media job in mind I applied for a job with Central West Farming Systems (CWFS) as a trials agronomist with a focus on farmer extension. CWFS is an independent, non-for-profit farmer driven organisation delivering agricultural research by farmers, for farmers. Working there I found my career rapidly changed as my role in the team was to play to my strengths in online communications and explaining agronomic concepts.
Looking back at the time when I was deciding on a career path, I think the best advice I could give myself would be a quote from Richard Branson: “If you are presented with a good opportunity and you’re not sure that you have the right skills for it. Say yes and learn the skills later.”
We are in the information age and that gifts us all the tools to learn the skills we need at our fingertips. Looking at the Young Farming Champions program my goal would be to learn the skills I need to build confidence in young agriculturists. While farming in the paddock will always require practical skills, the younger technology driven generation has more to offer the industry than they think. Building communication avenues between farmers and consumers is just one vital step.
To follow what I’m doing, follow my regular updates on Twitter @cwfsystems