Feelings aren’t Facts but they do determine what facts you identify with

Change Starts with me

Yesterday apparently without consultation with agricultural education peak bodies another “New and Shiny” was announced by the federal government with 10 million dollars being allocated to a bring kids and farm together program ($5 million for up to 80 iFarm trailers for city based schools and $5 million for school visits to farms). 

21st century education calls for a deep transformative approach to learning. Instead of merely increasing knowledge, it works with values, mind- sets, worldviews and identity to trigger shifts in behaviours and practice.

Students that attend best practice Australian schools are taught to think critically and creatively about real world issues and work collectively to take action that has real world impact. Students who master this find themselves being headhunted in the workplace.

Its a well know scientific fact that education needs to go beyond changing what is inside people’s heads. Its is also well known that facts don’t care about your feelings but your feelings affect what facts you use. 

The reason for this is that very few people have a complete understanding of the facts on any issue. If you’re not a Ph.D in a relevant field, or haven’t spent hundreds of hours studying a topic, you almost certainly don’t know all the facts.

The bottom line is this: if you aren’t an expert in a field (and you probably aren’t), you don’t know the facts. What you possess is knowledge of a subset of the facts, and how you decide what facts are included in that subset is of paramount importance. This filter is going to be determined by your background, your experiences, your social circle, your interests, and yes, by your feelings. Source 

Current agricultural education industry practice is more output focused instead of outcome focused.

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Value change takes a long time and multiple attempts yet there are limited opportunities to create linkages between industry initiatives, or between previous and current programs, in order to share knowledge and learnings and leverage the breadth of experience and promote successful  outcomes.

To get it right takes a collective outcomes based approach and longitudinal studies. Imagine how efficiently we could make this happen with government support and our agricultural industries working together.

Please no more new and shiny agricultural awareness programs until we have a strategic framework for agricultural education in this country based on best practice 21st century learning principles.

We are #strongertogether #YouthinAg #YouthVoices19



Meet Laura Bignell who is looking forward to teaching the next generation of agriculturalists

Today we are introducing you to our fifth University of New England Young Farming Champion  Laura Bignell

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Hi! I am Laura Bignell and I am a student at the University of New England studying a Bachelor of Agriculture.  I will be extending my studies later this year by undertaking a Master of Teaching (Secondary) so that I can foster my passion for educating the next generation by teaching high-school science and agriculture.

My passion for agriculture stems from my exposure to the industry while growing up. I grew up in Rawdon Vale in the Gloucester region of NSW on my family’s beef cattle property, where we produce composite steers for the export market. I have always grown up with cattle and have been involved with many local shows and competitions.

Laura Bignell

My time at UNE has strengthened my understanding and knowledge of the Agricultural sector and has allowed me to develop interests in soil science, hydrology and technology, which I have been building my unit choices around. Recently I was selected to participate in a study tour with UNE which travelled to Cambodia and Thailand. On this tour I was exposed to some very different production systems, including a feedlot which was growing out Australian cattle!

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There have been many influences on my journey into the agriculture industry.

From a family perspective my grandfather always encouraged me to further my education and broaden my horizons within agriculture. I am very proud to follow his footsteps and be a part of the thriving industry that he has worked and loved his whole life.

From an environmental perspective, the mining in my local area and the regeneration processes to develop the land back into viable agricultural land is one of the first examples of this in Australia. I have undertaken work experience with the environmental sector in the mines near Gloucester, giving me an insight into  the transformation of these zones into productive landscapes.  From this point, my fascination of land care and land regeneration practices followed me to university.

Laura 1Looking forward from regenerated mining land onto the wash-bays and pit

From an educational perspective, my high school agriculture teacher sparked my interest in the field of teaching. I thoroughly enjoyed gaining an insight to the many aspects of agriculture through my high-school years and am passionate to pass those experiences on to the next generations of agriculture enthusiasts. I was reassured this was the right path for me after coordinating the Schools Program for Farming Futures at UNE which promoted careers and opportunities within agriculture. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the enthusiasm and enjoyment from the students was very fulfilling.

I am excited to be part of the evolving agricultural sector and hope that the developments into the future allow for the continued growth and agricultural boom. I look forward to making my mark in the industry.


Meet Rebecca George who is a proud female farmer

We are delighted to introduce you Rebecca George to our fourth University of New England Young Farming Champion for 2019 . Beca has the YFC program in her DNA with her sister Diana a YFC alumna

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This is Becca’s story

My name is Rebecca George & I’m a 4th year agriculture & business student at the University of New England. I grew up on a mixed farming operation in central west NSW, near a small town called Nevertire.

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Although I never thought much of it growing up, agriculture was always a major part of my life.  Farming has always been a family affair at home as not only our business but also our life.

I am the youngest of three girls, the first time in 100 years there isn’t a son to take over our property. However, we were never treated any differently in terms of chores around the farm from feeding the chooks to helping muster sheep on our pink bikes. My father was born and raised on our property and my mother grew up in the city and through both my parents influence I ended up being a farm kid who would return home to a pink fairy themed bedroom. The contrast in my parents’ upbringings taught me from a very young age that you can be both feminine & a farmer, something that has definitely  shaped my personality. My older sister and I got involved in a local cattle show when we were in primary school. That first show unleashed a new love and appreciation for beef cattle and resulted in many kilometres traveled to attend youth shows.

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The many opportunities I was given and the exposure to the red meat industry was invaluable as a youth and as I grew older.  I appreciated those who put in the time and effort to invest in the next generation of agriculture. In the past 2 years I have joined several committees and now volunteer for these events and I have found a passion to support and inspire the next generation of #YouthinAg.

I studied agriculture all through high school & through this was able to develop leadership skills as I began to mentor the younger students. In 2015, during my gap year  I spent 3 months working as an agriculture contractor in County Cork, Ireland. This experience opened my eyes to the diversity in agriculture on a global scale and I began to become greatly interested in agriculture and beef as a worldwide industry.

It was here that I found two new passions; travel & international agriculture. In 2016 I started the Rural Science degree, I had deferred at the end of year 12. Throughout the year as I met new people and learnt more about what was on offer at the University of New England and found  was was very curious about the agribusiness units I saw some of my friends taking. After some further research I changed into my current degree of Bachelor of Agriculture/ Bachelor of Business majoring in International Business. Since making the change I have been able to continue learning about agriculture as well the  essential business skills that are the foundation of  our industry. I have also been given the opportunity to travel abroad & experience international agriculture through the university having been to South America in 2018 as part of the University of New England IFAMA team . In June this year I am going  to China and Vietnam.

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As I near the end of my studies I am excited about a future in agriculture and the experiences I will have that will further shape my career and life in this exciting industry.


Meet Haylee Murrell who is Gunnedah born and bred and looking forward to pursuing a career in Australian agriculture.

It gives us great pleasure to introduce you to our third University of New England Young Farming Champion Haylee Murrell. We first met Haylee when she won the senior section of our inugural National Agriculture Day Careers Competition in 2017.

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Haylee Murrell with her dad and Young Farming Champions Ambassador Costa Georgiadis  

We then invited Haylee to join us as a n intern at the 2018 Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day  and what a star she was

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We are very excited she chose to study her tertiary education at UNE and officially join the Young Farming Champions team

Welcome Haylee  ……

Hello! My name is Haylee Murrell and I am a born and bred Gunnedah girl. Living in an area with 80% of its town invested in agriculture, I was always surrounded by diversity and vibrancy of the industry and I am confident this is what sparked my interest in a career in Agriculture.

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From an early age I was determined I was going to work in Agriculture, and everyday I am more and more determined and passionate about it. This has been fostered by making the most of every opportunity during my primary and secondary school education and the many, many extra activities I grabbed with both hands to learn from and immerse myself in the industry.

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There have been many highlights have helped to cement my decision to pursue a career in Agriculture.

The first one being the people I have met. People have not only been encouraging, they are enthusiastic and excited about the fact that youth are involved in agriculture and that they want to know about the industry. I have learnt more from people in the industry then I have learnt from studying and reading. These people have inspired me and helped pave my way in the agricultural sector. I am in the agricultural sector because I want to meet and learn more off these people and I want to be like them.

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For me, educating young individuals about agriculture is such an important area that must occur for agriculture to remain ongoing and for people to understand how vital it is for Australia’s future as well as a huge interest for me. So when I first entered The Archibull Prize National Agriculture Day Careers Competition I had no idea it would lead to me being introduced to a bunch of young individuals doing exactly that, educating the next generation of agriculturalists. I was honoured to be asked after the Archibull Prize awards to come to the Sydney Easter Show as their intern to help teach young students from the Sydney area about where fruit and vegetables come from and how they can grow their own food at home. I took so much away from this experience, especially the joy and satisfaction I felt after helping the kindergartens learn the importance of eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables everyday. This experience encouraged me to educate other young people and older people about agriculture.

Another highlight on my career journey into agriculture was a recent work placement at the North Coast Local Land Services, which showed me the diversity of careers in agriculture. It allowed me to see the diversity of the landscape and how each region has different problems, pests, crops and farming methods. It was clear to me you can never stop learning about Australian agriculture.

Without the people and experiences in agriculture that I have been involved in my love and passion for agriculture would have not flourished and these are the reasons I want to pursue a career, future and life in Australian agriculture.

I want to encourage all young people to be interested in where their food and clothes come from. I want every young person to have the opportunity to have farming experiences and like me be inspired to follow a career in agriculture

Meet Forbes Corby who is looking forward to a career that will open up international trade opportunities for Australian farmers

Introducing our second University of New England Young Farming Champion for 2019.

Meet Forbes Corby

IMG_1527[7815] This is Forbes’ story ……..

One of the greatest things about the agricultural industry is its broad scale of diverse opportunities. As a 21-year-old completing a fourth year of study in a Bachelor of Agriculture/ Bachelor of Business (Major: International Business) at the University of New England (UNE) my agricultural journey began a long time ago. Living and working on my small family sheep property in rural NSW saw me eager to learn more about the industry.


I studied agriculture and primary industries at school and thoroughly enjoyed it; in part because of the very enthusiastic and visionary teacher I had to guide me. During high school I gained experience working with agricultural traders such as CRT and Ray White where I learnt how to auctioneer. I completed high school and knew that I loved agriculture and business so decided to undertake my undergraduate degree in the two disciplines. At this time, I had little understanding of what more opportunities existed in the industry apart from being a farmer or working in the local Landmark store as a merchant or agronomist.

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Forbes has enjoyed participating in shows and is pictured here at the NSW State Sheep Junior Judging at Sydney Royal Easter Show. 

Since being at university I have developed an extensive network through extracurricular activities and social interaction. Whilst studying at UNE I have lived at Robb college and been on their Rural Focus executive committee as the marketing coordinator and I was a residential tutor there in 2018. In 2018 I was also one of the careers fair coordinators for UNE Farming Futures and in 2019 I am Chairperson of the executive team. Additionally, whilst being at UNE I have travelled twice internationally with my degree, to China and Argentina. Separate from my degree, in January 2019 I undertook an internship with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission in Myanmar, working on identifying high potential growth areas for business cooperation between Myanmar and Australian companies in the Agri-Food industry.


There are many scholarships to support young people from rural and regional Australia to attend tertiary education. Forbes was one of the recipients of the RAS of NSW Foundation Scholarships in 2016 

I have begun to understand the broadness of the agricultural industry and particularly I have found a realization for the importance of international trade and the role it plays in the economy. I looking forward to initiating a career creating trade links in Asian markets which will generate new revenue streams for Australian primary producers.


Partnerships the key to attracting and retaining agriculture’s best and brightest

In 2019 Picture You in Agriculture (PYIA) has joined with the University of New England (UNE) to provide the Young Farming Champions (YFC) program to five undergraduate university students.

Many Young Farming Champions have undertaken their studies at UNE with alumni including research geneticist Dr Jo Newton, Local Land Service Officers Lucy Collingridge and Jasmine Whitten, animal welfare researcher Dr Danila Marini, cadet lawyer Meg Rice, agronomist Casey Onus, beef marketing executive Kirsty McCormack and sales managers Kylie Schuller and Diana George.

The Young Farming Champions program has equipped these early-career professionals with skills to share their agricultural journeys and, in doing so, enhance their career ambitions and take their place amongst the leaders of Australian agriculture.


So why does a partnership between PYiA and tertiary institutions make such good sense?

From the student’s perspective:

  • Connects them with early career professionals and emerging leaders and opens their eyes to the plethora of jobs available in the agricultural sector,
  • Builds networking opportunities,
  • Installs and builds student confidence,
  • Provides exposure to industry partners,
  • Allows students to stand out from the crowd
  • Provides targeted holistic leadership development opportunities
  • Join a movement of like-minded people who can amplify each others voices

From the tertiary institution’s perspective:

  • Increases feelings of engagement and belonging in the university community,
  • Grows communication, collaboration and leadership skills,
  • Improves progression, retention and aspirations of promising students,
  • Showcases support for current students
  • Exposure on national and international stages as a supporter of emerging leaders

From an employer perspective:

  • Identification of the best and brightest young agricultural minds,
  • Improved attitudes and curiosity for a broad spectrum of careers in agriculture,
  • Increased ambitions for young talent to see leadership roles & pathways for development within the agriculture industry,
  • Opportunities to collaborate with research institutions, industry & young leaders striving to make positive change.

By partnering with tertiary institutions PYiA draws Young Farming Champions directly from a pool of keen agriculturists; students who have agriculture at their heart and who are willing to put their hands up to develop skills outside of their curriculum. Students accepted into the new YFC program partnership will undergo professional development to become the voice and next-generation leaders of Australian agriculture.

Watch this space for the announcement of our 2019 UNE Young Farming Champions

Find out more about the world of work in agriculture Visit our website here

Lessons Learnt No 2 – Creating Confidence to Share your Story

One of the cornerstone programs conducted by Picture You in Agriculture is Young Farming Champions, which trains and encourages young agricultural professionals to share positive stories with all stakeholders, whether that is community, industry or government bodies. In our ten years of operation the methods by which this is achieved have been evaluated and refined, as the YFCs have spread their wings to share their stories – from classrooms to the international stage.


On commencement of the YFC journey participants attend workshops held by some of Australia’s finest communication, marketing and professional development experts including Lead Workshop Facilitator Jenni Metcalfe from Econnect Communication and Greg Mills from GoAhead Business Solutions.

“Some YFCs are very nervous about speaking in front of their peers, school kids or other audiences,” Jenni says, “but once you give them a structure to follow, some tips – reinforced by video analysis – on how they can appear more confident in front of an audience, and some guidance with visual aids they actually start to enjoy presenting. At the end of the day, if you’re enthusiastic about what you do, people can’t help but listen to your story.”

The aim of the workshops is to not only create confident, independent and reflective thinkers but to equip them with skills to tackle difficult subjects and audiences. In the safety of a controlled environment new YFCs are challenged.

“It says something about the YFCs that one of the most requested training sessions is the one that is designed to be the most uncomfortable. It is awesome to work with a group of young people who are always looking to step up to new challenges,” Greg says. “The ‘Dealing with Difficult Questions’ session is designed to put YFCs in a very uncomfortable and unrelenting situation where they are challenged to answer some of the most difficult questions of agriculture in a high-pressure environment. It gives them the opportunity to practice their communication skills while getting candid feedback on their performance and they gain the confidence to handle any of the real-life situations they may encounter.”

Lucy Collingridge was one YFC to take on Greg’s session in a mock interview with The Land journalist Alex Druce.

“Due to the topic being a highly contentious and emotional issue in regional NSW, I was initially nervous about my replies to Alex’s questions,” Lucy says. “However, I remember as the interview went on and I became more comfortable with using my own experiences to answer questions, I became more confident in myself. In the end, I really enjoyed the interview and being challenged on the topic, as well as being given the opportunity to share my experiences.”

Completion of the workshops leads to YFCs entering schools with The Archibull Prize to put their new skills to the test for the first time as they stand in front of students and teachers. And from here the opportunities are endless. YFCs go on to speak at industry conferences, to the media, to give TEDx presentations, to engage with the public at agricultural shows, to speak eloquently to politicians and to put their hands up for any chance to share their messages.

Lucy now conducts media interviews in her job with NSW Local Land Services and knows the training she has received has given her the skills to tackle contentious issues with confidence.

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PhD student at Murdoch University in Perth and YFC, Calum Watt is another who credits the training with helping his career. As a barley researcher Calum is regularly called upon to present his findings to industry conferences.

“I feel confident speaking generally,” he says, “and I feel practice is a critical part in getting it right and reducing nerves. The YFC workshops have helped me articulate my thoughts far better than before.”

Perhaps the best example of how YFC creates confidence to share comes from Jo Newton who has spoken at national and international events and who recently discussed her career journey in her first podcast with Josh Farr on The Campus Experience. In the 40 minute interview Jo discussed her involvement with Enactus, while studying at the University of New England, and with Young Farming Champions and told of her journey from a nervous presenter with palm cards to today’s confident alumni who walks about the stage without any notes.

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As always, Jo paid tribute to the YFC program in the podcast.

“It’s a pretty special experience getting to work alongside these tireless, passionate, dedicated young people where we have common values and shared passion,” she said. “I feel like every day I open up my emails and see another fantastic achievement of one of our team and it fills me with so much pride to see these other young change-makers standing up for what they believe in and going out and making a difference.”

Josh identified the top quotes from Jo’s interview as

Saying thank you isn’t enough for the opportunities you can have as a young person.

In Australia less than 1 in 3 leadership positions are held by women. In agriculture its less than 1 in 7 leadership positions held by women.

I got real world project management experience hosting an event for 300 people & bringing 20 companies to Armidale. These practical real-world skills help you stand out when you’re looking for a grad job. 

We’re a group of students. We’ve discovered that we don’t really know what we’re going to be next year & we’d like to change that. This is what we’re going to do. 

I said yes to any opportunity to get up in front of people. The nerves are still there & now I see them as a good thing. A colleague said, “The butterflies are a good thing, because it means I care & if I ever get up in front of people to speak & I don’t have that’s when I’ll worry because it means I’ve stopped caring.” 

If you equip a whole team & bring the whole team on the journey you are paying it forward by giving other young people access to opportunity & they pay it forward again & you have this amazing ripple effect.

and the statistics show that impact the Young Farming Champions and the programs they are delivering haveImpact.JPG

Do you want to have the confidence to share your agricultural story?

Applications for the 2019 YFC program are now open. Find out more here 

Application Closing Date 4th April 2019

Contact Program Director Lynne Strong E: lynnestrong@pyia.com.au for an expression of interest form