Meet Krissy Riley the Flying Governess

Imagine living three hours from a town. Three hours if there is an emergency. Three hours from a pub. Well I live three hours away from all of these things.

My name is Krissy Riley and I live and work on a cattle station in the Kimberley. Three hours from anything.

image

Two years ago, I was a swimming teacher in a Queensland mining town, I was paying $500 a week rent and spending a fortune just living. I was always on my phone. I was reliant on technology to get by in everyday life. I would spend $10 on a gossip magazine, which I would read while eating my microwave dinner. Full of protein and toxic goodness. Was this the life I wanted to live?

I needed some direction. I Googled and I Binged. And I stumbled across a website called www.governessaustralia.com I decided to upload my resume, sit back and wait.
I was not prepared for what happened next. Within three days I got over 30 job offers from all over Australia.

But none of the jobs felt right. Until one day I received a phone call that changed my life.
It was from a woman called Helen, from Anna Plains cattle station, three hours from Broome. She was very polite and got straight to the point. I would be teaching two children School of the Air. metimandjo

And then she put the children on the phone.I decided right then that I would take the job.
I had never lived or worked on a cattle station before. Flying across the country, I knew this was going to be a big change. I was so nervous. Words can’t explain how I felt that day.

My job turned out to be amazing. It was so fulfilling. Helping two young children learn was truly satisfying. I got to watch them grow and become young adults. They were picking up on my jokes and my sense of humour.

krissy and joanna

The months past at Anna, and I had slowly come to terms that I no longer had mobile reception. I was reading books instead of watching TV. I was listening to triple j instead of mainstream radio. I was enjoying life!
But when animal cruelty in Indonesia’s abattoirs forced the Australian government to shut down live exports, Anna Plains’ employees feared for their jobs.

And while the station, which musters thousands of head of cattle by helicopter, might seem larger than life, last year it was brought to its knees.

anna2

There was a lot of the anxiety on the station during the live export suspension. It was a pretty scary time, you think you’re going to lose your job, your home.

We did stop mustering for about a month, we were going to rallies in Broome, speaking to the members of parliament, trying to really push, say that it wasn’t our fault

It was very difficult to explain to the children who lived on the station what was happening. It is their home, their livelihood basically, being pretty much shunned in front of them.

The station is now back up to normal, although I think many people have been affected. I know a lot of people would have lost their jobs: a lot of jillaroos, jackaroos, ringers, things like that, and it’s obviously going to affect a lot of young people out there.

Rodeo 1

Two years on, moving here, three hours from anywhere, I still believe it is best thing I had ever done!

anna1

 

OPPORTUNITES GALORE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE LIVING IN RURAL REGIONAL AND REMOTE AUSTRALIA

Krissy was one of 33 young Australians who were selected to participate in the 2012 Heywire Regional Youth Summit which takes place over six days each February. Young Heywire winners aged 16 – 22 fly in from all over the country to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for an all-expenses-paid week where they discuss ideas, walk the corridors of power and make life-long friendships.

6840502617_6dba03edc0_b

Each Heywirer represents a rural or regional pocket of Australia, and was chosen to attend on the strength of their written, video, audio or photographic stories that they shared on this website.

Over the week the Heywirers do heaps of activities, some important and serious, others just plain fun. The week includes a reception at Parliament House, a visit to the Australian War Memorial, optional sporting activities at the AIS, a tour of ABC Canberra (including a chance to sit at the news desk!), and the Heywire No Talent Quest.

IMG_8196

There are plenty of optional sporty activities too, like touring the AIS, visiting the Sportex museum and even using the professional training facilities at the AIS alongside elite athletes.

The Heywire Regional Youth Summit is a chance for the participants to develop outstanding ideas and proposals that will create change in their local communities.

Krissy and her Heywire team of Melody Pedlar, Alyssa Allen and Emma Visser are hoping to create a website that is a one-stop shop for information on rural issues.

IMG_8210

“I’m working with a group I met at the Heywire Summit that’s raising awareness about agricultural communities, what you can do, what jobs are out there and what education is available. For instance, if you’re doing School of the Air and you want to do extra courses, you can go there and click on the education link and check it out and see what’s available.” said Krissy

Their website which will be called “AGregate” would also help show careers in the Agrifood Sector as a viable career option that people might not know about.

Hear the girls present the AGregate team pitch here

Creative Cowboys

 

Today we feature the outstanding and multi-talented Queensland farmer and artist Annabel Tully

Painting en situ Annabel Tully_low

Annabel Tully painting with her “easel” on her homeland “Bunginderry” in Qld’s Channel Country

Firstly a little background

Art4Agriculture is an independent, non-political, partnership focused, not for profit grass roots organisation. We deliver programs designed by farmers for farmers that focus on youth, careers, the community, the environment and the arts and link all of these back to agriculture

We only work with organisations who partner for the common good of agriculture.

In 2011 RIRDC provided seed funding to get our Young Farming Champions program off the ground. What a watershed moment that has proved to be for the future of food security in this country.   

RIRDC have a number of initiatives that nurture rural and regional talent and one of these is the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award

To me this award identifies outstanding rural women in each state of Australia who day-in and day-out perform with flare, dedication and success resulting in creating growth and well-being for their own businesses, their communities and organisations they belong to.

Each winner has identified an exceptional community or industry good program they wish to undertake and the award provides them with funding and a support network to bring their vision to fruition.

Just by being nominated for an award is a tremendous boost for any individual or team program. Its says “We think you are equal to or better than the very best in the country”

Having participated in a number of award processes I know there are many positive flow on effects.  Art4agriculture have been awarded grants and contracts and our Young Farming Champions have received opportunities of a lifetime as a result of the attention focused on successful award entries.

Art4agriculutre has now formed a partnership with Annabel Tully who shares our commitment to deliver the best outcomes for agriculture at every turn

You can see why Annabel lights our fire by reading her story here

I’ve just been on the most incredible journey…….

clip_image002

No it’s not Nepal, Cambodia or the Greek Isles, I’ve just spent the last 12 months being a part of the Rural Industries Research Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Awards process in Queensland. (It does go national) I am thrilled to say I am a finalist headed for a big interview process in Brisbane next month. This journey of self-reflection has really nailed down for me exactly why I have a fire in my belly about anything rural and remote and what am I going to do with it?

So a little on my background… I’m a woman (for starters), a wife, a mother, a farmer, a teacher , an artist and an advocate for our bush way of life. For many years I have put my hand up for anything that had a farming or arts touch to it. But what really keeps that fire burning, is the people, without us, there is no agriculture. Sounds pretty simple, if not, stupid, I know, but when we are confronted with all the pressures of contemporary agriculture…..environment, global food security, financial pressures of feeding and educating another generation… blah blah blah…. the people part of agriculture is something I am not willing to forget. Let me share this journey with you if I may be so bold as to ask for a moment or 2 of your precious time???

clip_image004

So my pitch for the Awards is a project I call “Creative Cowboys.” Come one, come all!

I’m offering an opportunity for fun and laughter and a reason to connect with the person standing next to you. I plan to offer all-inclusive arts based activities for people living in farming communities – yes even those who can’t even draw a stick figure! The aim is to offer some respite for farmers, a no man’s land where we you may chat to the stranger next to you about not very much at all, and that’s the whole point.

Orgy of Life_onlinegallery_tongalderrychannels wet

Annabel Tully 2011 Tongalderry Channels (wet) Oil, pigment and found ochre on linen

Bushies are a resilient mob, a humble mob, a sometimes quiet and unassuming mob. We are faced with many challenges, and this is what brings the enormous rewards and our determination to stay. We problem solve, more often than not, without the assistance of others. But without the people, there is no agriculture. So I aim to offer a little respite, a shady tent at a field day or rodeo, if you like, where friends, neighbours and strangers can come together and have some fun, a little calm before the next storm. Because if you are a bushie, you know what I’m talking about…. there will be a next time, not so far in the future, when we will need to band together for survival.

Whether I am successful in my bid for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award bursary for this project is not the end of this journey. I’ve already reached my destination. The process of simply applying for the awards has enabled me to realise what my skills are and how I can make a difference. I am clear about my role in this glorious life I lead in the bush. Are you?

You can read more about and/or contact Annabel here

web: www.annabeltully.com

email:  info@annabeltully.com

Margaret Rivers’ Cate Blanchett goes back to her roots

Our blog today features next gen superstar Joanna Wren. Joanna was WA Trainee of the Year in 2008 and is currently a fellow Agrifood Skills’ Ambassador with Art4Agriculture’s Lynne Strong and Hollie Baillieu

Joanna Wren and rake

Joanna Wren – photograph by Stephen Blakeney (see footnote)

Joanna has had a very diverse career pathway that has led her back to her roots, from a Bachelor Arts and a love of television and theatre to her passion for horticulture and a strong understanding of the employment and environmental challenges the industry faces, Joanna is committed to becoming a leader in her field. Joanna runs own her business Sunshine Produce, in partnership with her brother. When not getting her hands dirty in the market garden, Joanna enjoys developing her artistic talents as a member of the Margaret River Theatre Company

This is Joanna’s story straight from the heart…….

I come from a farming family and loved growing up on the farm

Over the years my family have grazed both cattle and sheep and for as long as I can remember Dad and Mum have grown vegetables commercially.converted_81

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I used to spend weekends and holidays planting cauliflowers, weeding capsicums and pruning tomatoes, not really even realising at the time that I was gaining new knowledge and skills every season I worked.

Whilst I loved the farm I also have a real love and passion for theatre and film and television and chose to study a Bachelor of Arts at Perth University. After spending four years living in Perth as part of my degree I realised that I really missed the country and made the decision to take a city break and move back home for six months and work with Dad growing vegetables. But six months turned into eight which turned into twelve and I have now been back down on the farm for over four years. I found not only did I really enjoy growing vegies, but that the skills that I had gained from growing up in the farm environment had never left me. I was hooked and wanted to learn more and so I did a Certificate IV Traineeship with my parents business “Wren’s Vegie Patch”

Picture1

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

When it was time to look at a career path for me, I never really looked at a VET pathway in horticulture or agriculture as an option but now as I reflect on my Traineeship I can really clearly see how suitable training can not only make you “work ready” it can have such a positive effect on an individual’s life. Not only did I gain more practical skills and increased my knowledge of production horticulture but with my growing confidence I took on more responsibilities within the business (with fantastic encouragement from my parents) which included other things such as supervising and training staff and marketing.

Jo on tractor

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I was lucky enough to win the 2008 Trainee of the Year award at the WA Training Awards and with my prize money started my own little business which focused on growing smaller amounts of mixed vegetables for the local market. Not long after I formed a business partnership with my brother and together we now run Sunshine Produce, a production horticulture business in the South West corner of Western Australia. Based in the Margaret River region, we produce cauliflowers, tomatoes and pumpkins for the domestic Perth Market.

Picture2

‘Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferguson’

I have still kept my interest in promoting local food and am always working to expand our local sales. And when I’m not harvesting, packing, irrigating, weeding, fertilising, working on the accounts, handling orders or sleeping, I am to be found working on a value added product that I’ve developed – a yummy pasta sauce using my own vine ripened tomatoes. At this stage it is just a small side project, but I’m hoping to see it grow to bigger volumes.

Back in 2008, I also got my training and assessing qualifications which enabled me to begin training other people in Horticulture at the South West Institute of Technology in Margaret River.

Jo Wren teaching

I really see the importance in having clear and relevant training pathways available to young people in horticulture so that they can see where their training is taking them. And I also see the need for practical, flexible and no-nonsense training for my industry and I try to reflect that as best as I can in my training programs.

I recently was appointed as an AgriFood Skills Australia Ambassador and it has been such a wonderful experience to be given the chance to represent my Industry at a National level. I have also really enjoyed spending time with the other seven Ambassadors who are from all across Australia and from all different Agriculture backgrounds and I can’t begin to describe how inspiring it is to be surrounded by these people who are so passionate about promoting Australian Agriculture and encouraging more people to become involved in such a fantastic and varied industry.

Now don’t get me wrong, growing vegetables can be ridiculously hard work and is definitely not for everyone. During the peak season of January through to May I work seven days a week and with a busy harvest a twelve hour day is not unusual, and is in fact commonplace. It can also be heartbreaking, we’ve had a whole crop wiped out by a freak hailstorm, complete plantings of cauliflowers destroyed overnight by rabbits and roos, it sounds dramatic but with vegetable growing a single day can make or break a season. But yet there’s something about it that I really connect with. I love the fact that I can grow quality, sustainable food for people. The satisfaction and sense of pride that comes with sending off a full truck of produce to the Markets. The fact that I get to work outside in one of the most beautiful corners of the world. The relief and burst of confidence when business decisions work out in your favour. The anticipation of waiting to see whether or not all your crop setup work has paid off. Even with its challenges, it is such an exciting and diverse industry to be a part of and I hope that in my own small ways I can contribute to the sustainability of the Australian horticulture industry and watch it grow from strength to strength.

Footnote

Other great stories about Joanna and Wrens Vegie Patch can be found here

Q&A Young Grower Feature Rising Star

2008 Spice Magazine Wrens Patch

“Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass”.

Today’s guest blogger is Jack Piggott

Jack is currently at Bond University studying degrees in Law (LLB) and Biomedial Science (BBioMedSci).

Jack Piggott

I know it is an unusual combination, but it is more complementary that people think and I enjoy it.
I am a passionate voice of youth, and have been involved in many projects and initiatives to that effect.

For the last week the Art4agricultureChat has been showcasing the amazing youth initiative that is Heywire

I invited Jack to write a blog because not only is he a previous Heywire winner You can read his winning story here excitingly his team managed to get their “pitch” idea up and running – see footnote

jack Piggott 2

Jack shares his Heywire experience ……….

Wow. A year passes so quickly these days. Back in the good ‘ole days, I used to get a full twelve months, now I’m flat out getting 6 with no change! You see it was this time last year I was hopping on a plane Canberra bound, full of anticipation (and trepidation I must admit) for Heywire. If you’re not familiar with Heywire, go and have a look at their website now. I’m serious, go now!

You’re back! Did you spend the better part of an hour reading, watching and listening to the winner’s stories? I know I did. Why? It’s because Heywire attracts some of the most engaging young storytellers from across the country. And because they are from regional and rural areas, they’re telling stories that we don’t seem to hear a lot of these days. Stories about emergency landings while flying with your father, or about homesickness that you get at boarding school 1000km away from your family and culture, and the quirks of donating blood, real stories by real young people living “outside of capital cities” who don’t often get heard.

But the brilliant thing about Heywire is that it doesn’t just stop there. It gives you the skills and contacts to put ideas into action, and to take that action to the people. And that is something rural youth need; because often we have good ideas, only for them to disappear because we’re too far away from where all the action is.

And it’s that, a disconnect, that lies at the heart of the city – country divide, and alleviating it goes a long way to solving the ‘people’ problems that we face in the sticks. I say ‘people’ problems; what I mean is problems with industry perception, recruitment and political issues.

And why do I think that young people are the best to solve these problems? It’s not merely the fact that the average age of famers (of all breeds) has risen from 44 in 1981 to 53 years in 2011 (and to 60 if you’re a Qld. beef producer!). It’s because youth have the most creative approaches to solving some of the big issues in farming and then they ask the question “why not?” I’m not suggesting that we have all the answers, and we have much to learn from the generations who have done a lot of the hard work.

But we need to be involved in the big decisions that are made in the industry. After all we’re the ones who are going to have to live with it. That’s why we need Heywire and programs like it. To shake things up and take a fresh look! It’s as Noble prize winning poet Maya Angelou observed: I love to see the young go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

Footnote

Ideas developed at the 2011 Heywire Youth Issues Forum including Jack’s team were presented to the then Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon as part of the recommendations of a major health conference.
Jack and his team’s Heywire proposal called on the federal government to fund a telephone psychology clinic that would allow people in remote areas to have regular appointments with a qualified mental health provider over the telephone; and access the same provider each time.
“It’s great to see that this conference believes that our idea has merit and that young people can a driving force in health service innovation,” says Jack
The idea was chosen as one of 13 priority recommendations out of nearly 250 submitted to the conference, where mental health was a prominent issue.
“This recommendation presumably stood out because it deals with an issue of undoubted current importance and is detailed and practical,” says Gordon Gregory, Executive Director of the National Rural Health Alliance, which ran the event. “It would provide better continuity of care and confidentiality to people suffering from mental illness in remote areas.”
The conference recommendation reads:
“To increase access to mental health services in rural areas the government should fund a telephone psychology clinic through Medicare. Clients would be referred through pathways that enable them to access existing Medicare rebates (mental health packages). To ensure continuity of care, the patient would be treated by the same qualified mental health professional each time, who would know the particulars of their client, and offer ongoing treatment (as opposed to current telephone services which focus on intervention).”

More details about the Heywirer’s telephone psychology clinic proposal can be found here. And the group’s ‘How to Change a Life’ website can be found here.

Like Jack you too can make a real difference it just requires “two hands, two eyes and a heart.”

Heywire is open for your entries right now – upload them directly to the site. The Heywire competition calls for stories about you and the community where you live.
To enter, visit abc.net.au/heywire

Follow Jack on Twitter  @jackpiggott

Visit his website here http://www.jackpiggott.com/

Making a difference – everybody has all that is required

“All you need is two eyes, two hands and your heart in the right place to make a difference”

I had the pleasure of attending the Heywire Gala Dinner last night. Art4agriculuture is a proud supporting partner of Heywire and Heywire of us. The relationship is a collaborative partnership that is as simple as cross promoting each others activities.

One of the features of the dinner was a number of inspiring speeches from young people. They included some of this years winners like Alyssa Allen and Melody Pedler, former winner Naomi Gooden and Jack Black look alike Chris Raine the inspiration behind Hello Sunday Morning who said this last night  “All you need is two eyes, two hands and your heart in the right place to make a difference” He is so right. If we really want to we all have the necessary body parts that we can mobilise to make a difference .

IMG_8178

Chris Raine from Hello Sunday Morning – wow doesn’t he look like Jack Black

Art4agriculture exists for young people in agriculture and provides them with the opportunity to make a difference in so many ways and they ARE and they can show you.

Just a couple of examples

Young Farming Champion Alison McIntosh featured here in the wining secondary school video from the 2011 Archibull Prize from Caroline Chisholm College

.

Young Farming Champion Stephanie Tarlinton inspiring next gen to be dairy farmers in this primary school winning video entry from Schofields Public School

The dedicated Art4agriculture team and now the 2011 Young Farming Champions alumni wake up each morning committed to providing vehicles and platforms to source funding, open doors and smooth the way to showcase the talented young people in agriculture. Sadly too often in agriculture we make what should be easy, too hard and we burn our young people out

One of our 2011 Young Farming Champions Alumni Emma Visser was lucky enough to be one of the 35 young Heywire winners from regional Australia who travelled to Canberra for the week long Youth Summit .

In their final job for the week, the group presented the big ideas they’ve been working on to their peers, an expert panel from different sectors, stakeholders and senior ABC staff.
After dividing themselves into nine interest groups during the week, each group was required to pitch a concise idea that would benefit the community relating to their specialty.
The groups were focusing on topics like small town survival, immigration and inclusion, the impact of mining on regional communities and Indigenous heritage.
Emma Visser and her team of Alyssa Allen, Krissy Reilly and Melody Pedler after much collaboration decided they would pitch a website called AGregate – a website to collect information about careers, education opportunities and student exchanges in regional areas. You can hear the AGregate pitch here

The Pitch

Emma and her team pitch the “AGregate” website

IMG_8210

The AGregate team like all the Heywire winners were presented with their winners certificates by Senator Joe Ludwig Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

IMG_8190

Emma and Senator Ludwig

Borrowing from  website http://www.abc.net.au/heywire/stories/2012/02/3426986.htm 

Emma Visser is a city girl who moved to the Illawarra region of New South Wales, she says it (AGregate) would help show people that you can make the move successfully.
“I have a strong passion for agriculture and I’m not from an agricultural background.
For me it’s important other young people get that opportunity, and Heywire has been a great way for me to show that even if you’re not from a farming background you can still get in to a career in agriculture”.
She says her main objective was to try and bridge the gap between rural and urban communities, and make life easier for someone searching for a potential career in agriculture.
Naomi Gooden a 2002 winner was especially impressed with Emma’s group’s use of a website.
“These are innovative ideas using technology of today that Australians can connect to”.
Naomi went on to say “ Just because you’ve pitched your idea doesn’t mean the idea is done – you don’t have to rely on a government department to take up your idea, you can go home and do it.”
It’s a sentiment that would resonate with fellow audience member Chris Raine, founder and CEO of the website Hello Sunday Morning.
As a hard-living advertiser he chose to give up alcohol and blog about the process.
The popular website is now a go-to portal for people wanting to try a healthy challenge and contribute their stories.
Naomi says there are always people happy to help see ideas become realities.
“You can find mentors and support but if you really believe in your idea, don’t let it stop here, it’s very possible – this is the first step of something really great.”
Emma Visser says the week-long summit has given her skills she’ll be able to use later in life.
“We’ve picked up a lot of things which have built our confidence to get up and put forward something we’re passionate about and do it effectively.
“We were taught how to relax so we’re not as nervous and the importance of storytelling – we found out it’s important to tell a story so you can connect with an audience on a emotional level which makes it more personal.”
Technology is something Emma is passionate about, and just like her AGregate website, she will continue to make informative videos about life on the land, just like her Cows Create Careers video that attracted a whooping 15,000 web hits in 2 years. In fact its gone viral and has been attracting 1000 hits week for the last 4 weeks
“I love multimedia – it’s the most effective way of telling my story”. said Emma
“It’s great when I go in to schools and communicate with them because with my videos they can hear from me and see my job and what I do.
“It’s a great visual aid and I’ve heard people say they want to be like me because of these movies.”

Emma is just one of many young people Art4agriculuture has identified who are using “the two eyes, two hands and their heart to make a difference.”

Never before has it been more important for Australia to invest in our young people in rural regional and remote Australia. They are the lifeblood of our communities

If you are an Australian farmer you can make a difference by lobbying your peak industry body to invest in your next gen farmers.

Back to Emma and her thoughts on the long term outcomes of opportunities like being a Young Farming Champion who are provided with professional development and the skills set to confidentially share their story with urban audiences

Emma sums it up

“I have told my story so many times I don’t need a script. My story comes from the heart, it resonates with the audiences I want to reach. It is inspiring young people to follow my career pathway into farming. It inspires young people to step out of their comfort zone and it inspires young people to see the value in collaboration. I am nineteen years old and I have the skills and confidence to spend next 80 odd years making a difference”

EMMA 0001

As a proud Heywire supporting partner we are thrilled to let you know entries are open for the 2012 competition. If you fit the age criteria or know some-one who does tap them on the shoulder and suggest they enter for the opportunity to experience the best week of their life
Also tweeting via @heywire and #heywire
On facebook: at www.facebook.com/abcheywire
Join us on flickr here http://www.flickr.com/groups/abcheywire/
Meet all of the 2011 Heywire winners and why not enter the 2012 competition NOW.

McLeod’s Daughters telling next gen agriculture needs you

I was recently asked by Stephanie Coombes to answer the question Why do you think less people are becoming involved in agriculture?”

My answer was “I think less people are getting involved because industry is not exposing the next generation of potential agriculture entrants to the enthusiastic inspiring young professionals in our food and fibre industries who are living the dream and have the capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career opportunity”

Now whilst industry may not be getting out there and telling its story the media is. Sometimes the outcomes are positive and too often they are very damaging. However there have been some very successful vehicles such as McLeod’s Daughters that captured the imagination and heart strings of many young girls particularly young girls who love horses and attracted them to agriculture career pathways.

What’s exciting about these young people is they inject new ideas, promote change and generate innovation. Today we providing you with a perfect example of this, Stephanie Coombes doesn’t just want a career in agriculture she wants to start an domino effect and inspire other young people to join her. To kick start this she has developed a “Careers in Australian Agriculture” website www.ausagcareers.com

This is Stephanie Coombes story …….

Ten years ago, if anyone had told me I would be working in the agricultural industry when I was older, I probably would have answered- “You think I’m going to be a farmer?”

Born and raised in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, agriculture wasn’t something I was connected to growing up. I had always had a love of animals, especially horses, but that was as far as it went. Furthermore, I didn’t really know anything about agriculture except the anecdotal stories of farmers on tractors out in the paddock, and shearers shearing sheep

Some years later, I still have trouble explaining to people why this city girl chose an agricultural science degree. I think I thought I would end up working on a farm like “McLeod’s Daughters” (try not to roll your eyes!). I loved that television show growing up, and I would have to say it is what definitely sparked my interest in agriculture.

Stephanie McLeod… could I be another illegitimate daughter?Mum, is there something you aren’t telling me?

Going into the Agricultural Science degree, I actually had no idea what I was getting myself in to… as in NO idea! The reason as to why I chose that degree, and why I remained enrolled in it, are very different. Once I got into my degree, I discovered this whole other world, and I haven’t turned back since. I thought I was going to work on a farm as a labourer, like in McLeods Daughters, but at uni I learnt about the science, business and technology which underpins agriculture. There is just so many facets to this industry I often got overwhelmed thinking about them all, and what I wanted to do when I finished.

Initially I became really interested in soil science, and by my second year I was hooked, and odd as that sounds. I was a bit nerdy sometimes, because this was all new to me, I found it so interesting and I just wanted to learn it all. However, in the winter holidays of my second year I went out mustering to a cattle station in for their annual 6 week muster. It was then and there that I decided that beef cattle production was the area I wanted to pursue. However when I got back to university and took another class; pasture science, cropping system, grain marketing etc., I could easily imagine myself having a career in any of these industries. My interest in cattle remained strong, and that’s how I got to where I am today.

 The first yard up of the season at Wongawol Station, 2008

Fast forward a couple of years, and I have graduated with first class honours, and I’m currently editing my thesis so it can be published in a scientific journal. I completed my thesis in the field of meat science. Yes, the science behind steak! I didn’t even know it existed until my 3rd year of university! Gosh, the amount of work that goes into producing and developing each and every one of the commodities and products available at the local supermarket is astounding. Meat science was something I had only had one lecture on before I chose it as the field of my thesis. The lecture wasn’t from my university either, my lecturer had invited a guest from another university to speak, and I am so grateful that she did! Completing my own research was an awesome experience, but to also be researching something I was genuinely interested in and passionate about… I know how I lucky I was.

Taking muscle samples from beef carcasses in 2011 for my thesis

This certainly is not where I thought I would be when I was saying “when I grow up…” as a child, and needless to say my family are still somewhat confused as to how this city girl became mad about beef cattle! The things I have learnt and experienced throughout my degree, not to mention the places I have been and they people I have met, make me feel very lucky. I have been able to go to work/ university/ tafe each day and do something that I enjoy, and be a part of something that actually interests me. I love what I do, and I often joke that my some of my jobs are a “working holiday” because I enjoy them so much. Don’t worry though, there are days when I would rather stay in bed, but for the most part, I love what I do.

In 2010 I took a semester off uni and moved to Katherine, NT, to complete a Certificate II in Agriculture. I had spent 3 years building a solid foundation of knowledge based upon theory, and had done two mustering seasons, but I wanted to develop my practical skills and have them recognised with the certificate. Going to college was one of the best things I have ever done. It was not only an incredible experience to live away from home, and learn about beef production in a new environment, but I met my best friends through the course. It was also a really safe learning environment, as in we could all have a go at learning and not feel silly or embarrassed if we didn’t get it right. I was lucky to do the course with a really good group of kids, and as there was only about 12 of us, we were a tight knit bunch.

Some of the KRC class of 2010 having a happy snap in the workshop during out mechanics class.

We learnt a range of skills at college, from welding, mechanics and tractor operation, to branding, castrating and mustering cattle. The best experience for me though, was being able to work with show cattle, and take them to a rural show on display. I had only ever worked with commercial cattle before, and they aren’t the type that liked to be patted! Show cattle, are completely different, because you can lead them around like a horse. We not only led the show cattle, we brushed and bathed them, and played with them. I really got the chance to learn about the cows up close and personal, and fell in love with the Brahman breed, even though I was showing a bull who was not too fond of me!

Rambo and I having a stand off. I had Chris as my protection, but maybe he would have been better placed between Rambo and I!!

Luckily Star was much more of the cuddly type!

In the second half of 2010 I then moved to Gatton, Qld to do a semester of classes through the University of Queensland. UQ had really different classes to my uni at home, and they were way better too! I took specialised classes in animal biosecurity, animal health and diseases, and animal biometeorology, which is about how animals interact with the weather. I also took a grain marketing class, as I mentioned above, I still had interests in other areas of ag. Animal biometeorology was by far my favourite class. Again, I suspect my inner nerd is to blame, but I loved all of the practical classes, and doing research for my assignments. Living on campus was a great experience too, it’s how I met the rest of my best friends! The people were great, and no one cared that I was from the city!

Dressing up as a cowgirl for a “Cowboys and Indians” themed party on campus. Even several years later, I was still trying to play the role of a cowgirl!

Everywhere I have been I have learnt something different about the industry, and learnt how interconnected it is with the way our society functions on a day to day basis. I am continuously surprised by how innovative and technological the industry is, and what role Australia plays in feeding the world.

Now that I have finished university, I have two career goals. 1) To work in the live export industry, in animal welfare, training, education and supply chain management and 2) To be an active advocate for agriculture, to do my part to reduce the urban/ rural divide, and run a campaign to expose people with no agricultural background to the industry and the opportunities it offer. The latter is what led me to create my website Careers In Australian Agriculture

My advice to anyone thinking about getting into agriculture is… do it! We need you! The world needs to feed 50% more people by 2050, and as Australia is one of the most efficient food and fibre producers in the world, we will play a fundamental role in that. People need to eat, and Australia has the ability to feed the world in a clean, green and ethical way. No matter what experience you have, or what your strengths are, there is a role for you in the industry. The agricultural industry offers careers from the boardroom to the bush, so no matter whether you are more comfortable behind a motorbike or a microscope, there is a role for you!

Wow Stephanie cant wait to see where you be and what you have achieved in ten years time. I am highly confident you wont be standing still

Stephanie now has her own blog you can follow her journey here

Meet Sammi Townsend inspiring young people to join her as wool rural ambassador

MeetToday we feature Samantha Townsend in our series about excting young people who are taking up careers in agriculture

When you meet Samantha Townsend from Central Western New South Wales, you get the feeling that the future of Agriculture in Australia remains in safe hands.

Sammi has made her presence felt through her passion for a future within Agriculture, and her mastery of the social media network. This is where so many have been acquainted with Sam’s dream, to win a scholarship to the CSU, through the Ultimate Experience Competition.

Despite not winning the scholarship, Sammi will be fulfilling her dream, to pursue a career in Agricultural Science, at CSU Orange.  (see Footnote)

This is her story…

My name is Samantha Townsend. I have not long turned 18 years of age and have just finished Year 12 at Blayney High School.

I live in a small village on a hobby farm, in Lyndhurst, Central West NSW. It is only a small village of approximately 300 people with a small post-office and a hotel.

Lyndhurst pub

Royal Hotel at Lyndhurst

Our big claim to fame though is nearly being chosen as the site for the capital city of Australia before they picked Canberra! I for one am glad they picked the current site of Canberra… I love waking up to the view of the green rolling hills of our area!

My family lived for many years on my grandmother’s property just of Blayney.We had sheep, cattle, Boer goats and also horses, and that was enough to kick start the passion I have for agriculture! My Nan and Mother were determined I was going to love horses and I was placed on them from a very early age! I used to help show my Nan’s miniature horses at the local shows and gymkhanas.

Samantha Townsend

My grandmother was a real ‘bushie’ as she called herself. She was born in Condobolin but grew up around the Trangie area as a youth. My Pop often said she could work harder than most men he knew when it came to working around the farm and she was a renowned horsewoman in our area! My Nan passed away in 2007, but she certainly left her legacy with me as far as igniting the love of the land I have.

My Pop was also a big influence. Growing up as a young child I used to love visiting his property near Tomingly, NSW. Pop ran sheep and I used to love to go up there and help him at shearing time, when Mum would go up and do the cooking at shearing time. Unfortunately Pop suffered the fate a lot of farmers do and his back got too bad to continue the work he was doing. He retired up on the mid-north coast years ago, but inland Australia has called him back, and he’ll soon be returning to live near us permanently (albeit, not farming however).

The local area I live in is predominantly mixed farming with sheep, cattle and grazing enterprises. I have always been keen to help out around the place and when you’re a local, there is always plenty of rouseabouting, or general farm work that you get offered.I love to help out with own small flock of sheep and am often ‘mother’ to the poddy lambs that get sent our way!

sammi with sheep

A Young Sammi with pet sheep

I am about to enter University this year, heading off to Charles Sturt University in Orange, to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management.

In our HSC year there were only three of us sitting the HSC for agriculture. I find it incredulous that in a wonderful rural area such as ours, that the course is not attracting more students. The wages of the mine in our area look very attractive to many younger people (and older ones too), but it is more than that. We need to encourage people into the agricultural industry and help them realise it is not only a viable career, it is a wonderful lifestyle as well!

I truly value our rural community. We do live in an area where we are not shut off to each other and people genuinely care! One of my best friends from school was diagnosed last year with a horrible disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The whole community has been wonderful with fundraising and helping the family. I know total strangers who have helped that have not even known my friend. This is what living in a rural community is about.

My little brother attends Lyndhurst Public School, which had about 31 children last year. My little brother who is 11 has Aspergers, ADHD, Dyspraxia and Anxiety. This little village school has given him such a sense of self-esteem and has helped him grow and learn to cope with his disabilities. He hasn’t been a number, he has been a valued school member. My family and I try to do a lot for the school through P&C fundraising etc. We know how lucky we are to have such a little school with such dedicated staff not only for my brother, but also for our community, and it’s important to do everything to ensure it continues to be here for future children! Where else but small country schools do you get to experience things such as planting vegetables and then eating your produce or playing football in the school oval and incorporating rules that involve ducking from the diving plovers! I love that pets like chickens and rabbits can be brought to school for news or the family dog ends up in the playground looking for its owners.

I was honoured in October of last year, to be made Miss Carcoar Showgirl and am heading off to the next level at February.

Our wonderful little show attracts people far and wide for the many horse events and the shearing competition.

It is truly a traditional little country show that attracts people young and old alike. I love walking through the art and craft where items such as beautifully handmade patchwork quilts hang adorned on the walls, or seeing little children’s noses pressed against the glass of the windows at the scrumptious looking cakes from the cooking section.

Quilt

Where else but a country show would you have a draught horse pull more than the weights that were available, so people had to volunteer to come and sit on the loads (and be honest about their weight) so the competition could keep going! It is a day of laughter, chatter, and again, that wonderful rural spirit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

People get to glimpse a snippet of this at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, but we are privy to it all the time, and I rejoice in the sense of community that it is all about.

I also am part of the Lyndhurst Rural Fire Service. We meet and have training days and it turns out to be a social outing for everyone as well. Again as part of the community, we are there if others need us.

What I am trying to explain is, although I am not from a huge farm or station, you don’t have to be to have the passion for what rural communities offer. To keep rural communities going – agriculture plays a big part in that! We need to keep young people interested and passionate about careers in agriculture and a rural lifestyle so we can keep   little communities like mine alive for future generations to experience and love.

I hope by going to University and staying in a rural area, I can learn the necessary skills and help to produce positive outcomes not only for farmers and agricultural industries, but also the rural communities like mine.

My experience isn’t vast or magnificent, but by sharing my hopes and visions, I hope that I might connect with another young person and perhaps ignite that little spark of passion that exists inside and encourage them to venture into agriculture too. They would be helping not only the future of rural communities, but Australia’s future as well, after all it is farmers that feed the world!

Personally, I am excited to know that I am going to be part of Australia’s agricultural future!

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” Joel Barker.

Sammi blogs about her Uni journey here http://experience.csu.edu.au/author/sammilee93/

Visit her Youth in Agtion Website here  http://www.youthinagtionaustralia.com/

Follow Sammi on twitter @SammileeTTT