Lessons Learnt Number 6 – time to throw out your perceptions of Millennials and open your eyes to the world of opportunity in rural and regional Australia

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Not so long ago the stereotypical image of a person in agriculture was of an older, struggling, white male and the image of a Millennial was of a young person sitting around a café eating smashed avocado and complaining about the unattainable property market. In this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we talk to The Regional Investor and bust those stereotypes wide open.

The Regional Investor could be you. She is a 26-year-old agronomist working in regional NSW. Her job in agriculture is well paid. She lives in a rural town with a strong community of young professionals. And that busts the second myth that a career in this industry is no more than a low-paying job in the sticks. “To me, a career in agriculture means getting well paid to do something you love,” she says.

In fact, The Regional Investor’s career as an agronomist pays well enough to allow her to follow her financial dreams of building a property portfolio, with her partner, in rural Australia. “Property investment provides a tangible asset regardless of your location or starting point,” she says, “and investing in regional areas offers opportunities to get into property at lower price points with better cash flow to help you get started.”

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Gaining financial skills alongside her agricultural degree has been a mixture of education and experience for The Regional Investor. “When I finished uni and got a well-paying job the first thing I did was get a dirty car loan and a big V8 ute,” she says. “I learnt very quickly that I didn’t like bad debt. I had that car for less than nine months and it would have cost me about eight grand. It was a valuable lesson about debt.”

The ute taught her that her surplus income from agriculture should go towards something that would appreciate rather than depreciate and so began a financial journey into property investment. She met with a mortgage broker who “opened our eyes to the different ways you can structure finance”, she used the internet to research for nearly four years and she then committed two years to a Master of Business Administration (MBA). “The MBA gave me more of that financial background but it also gave me business skills I now use day to day as an agronomist.”

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The Regional Investor invests in rural towns with a diversified workforce – “we tend to stay away from mining towns that may go bust overnight” and in properties with positive cash flow. “We only buy properties that pay for themselves so we only have to fund that initial deposit,” she says “and from there they pay themselves off and grow a little bit in equity that we can pull out and put into the next one.” Ultimately it is her aim to own a range of properties – from residential to commercial – across Australia.

The Regional Investor sees many advantages to a career in agriculture in rural regions. There is the well-paid job, the opportunity to get into the property market and the network of young professionals like her. To give back she volunteers as co-chair of the local Young Aggies group and shares her property experiences on Instagram as @the_regional_investors where her tag line is: “Borderless investors from regional Australia. Building a property portfolio from scratch. No Lotto, No Inheritance. Just two PAYG 20-something’s.”

Recent surveys such as the SEED report (Developing student interest in the agriculture sector) and the Gallup Findings on the Changing Nature of Work, with Jim Harter have found that in young people’s minds a career in agriculture isn’t just a career but a lifestyle, and that the separation of work and life is less and less defined. Results also identify the lower cost of living and greater sense of freedom as the most positive aspects of regional living. These may become the stereotypes to which a new generation, and The Regional Investor, belong.

And to the avocado myth: Do Millennials sit around all day in cafes eating smashed avocado? “I think that’s an interesting point,” The Regional Investor says. “People may think a career in agriculture and investment in property means you have to save and have no life. That’s not the case. I’ve still been overseas every single year and will continue to do so. We are not going to sacrifice our lifestyle to build something when we could die tomorrow.”  It seems you can have your avocado and eat it too.

Follow @The_Regional_Investor to get great tips like this

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When I first started telling people that we were looking at property investing I was given ALOT of advice. Some good and some bad depending on the experiences that particular person had with property themselves. People giving you advice 100% have the best intentions, but sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself why the good and bad stuff happened. 
Did they self manage a property and have a bad tenant? 
Did they rent out the family home and not make money because it wasn’t investment worthy in the first place? 
Did the bank of mum and dad help them out?
Most importantly were they proactive in educating themselves before they started or did the wing it and then wonder why it didn’t work?
I’ve learnt to take something out of every piece of advice especially horror stories. I work out what they did wrong, how it can be avoided and try to avoid making the same mistake myself. 
Some of the best advice I’ve receive to date;
– Work out how someone is getting paid, often off the plan with the flash brochures and rental guarantees comes at a cost…. to you. Buy in an established market, not a new development with no resale history. – Create a win-win situation for yourself and the seller. Be negotiable, realistic & timely.
– Don’t get emotional, if the numbers don’t make sense walk away. If you can’t take emotion out of it outsource to someone that can; buyers agents, accountants and your broker. – Don’t be afraid to ask a silly question, a silly mistake is far worse and can be costly when it comes to property. – Employ services based on quality not price, it’s better to loose a little money for the right job than to pay for it twice. – Never cross collateralise. Ever. Pay your lenders mortgage insurance, if you can’t buy it without a guarantor then you simply can’t buy it.
– There’s no afterpay in property, if you can’t manage the money then property is not for you. Get rid of the Foxtel, the gym membership and everything else you don’t use. Monthly subscriptions hurt your serviceability hugely. – Don’t take advice of anyone who isn’t where you want to be.
– Don’t miss out on the things you want, work harder, save more, do both

 

Careers in Agriculture – offer real world skills to solve real world problems and an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world

2019 celebrates 10 years of The Archibull Prize.  The foundation strength of the program is the rigor with which we monitor and evaluate and tweak it. Creating a culture where review and evaluation are seen as critical steps to gather evidence for agriculture to make informed decisions and allocate resources smartly for community engagement activities is at the heart of everything we do.

To celebrate ten years of highly insightful data the Picture You in Agriculture team will be sharing their lessons learnt via conference presentations, blogs, posters, infographics, animations …….. All the ways the wonderful world of communication has to offer people who live in the 21st Century

LESSONS LEARNT – ONE

OPENING YOUNG EYES TO CAREERS IN AGRICULTURE

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Opening young people’s minds to the diversity of careers in agriculture that offer an opportunity to provide  practical real world skills to solve real world problems and have a positive impact on the world is a key objective of The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions programs

Research shows the traditional source of inspiration for careers is family, friends, television celebrities and high profile sports people . Research also shows children leaving primary school have closed their minds to up to 70% of careers. Our challenge has been how to open their minds to be curious about the world of work and tap into  what motivates young people .

Research shows young people highly value careers where they can make a difference The Archibull Prize entry survey question reinforces this desire

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In their January 2018 report Drawing the Future UK charity Education and Employers explored the career aspirations of primary school children from around the world: “Early intervention can be a very cost effective, targeted way of raising children’s aspirations and broadening their horizons,” the report says. “The evidence suggests that giving children the chance to meet volunteers from the world helps them to see the meaning and relevance of the subjects they are studying at school. Embedding experiences of the real-world in learning and the school curriculum can lead to increased motivation resulting in increased educational attainment.”

The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas programs employ these strategies by assigning each school a Young Farming Champion (YFC), a young agricultural professional who is perceived as speaking from a vantage point of real authority as they earn a wage and grow a career within the industry.

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We have found the YFCs also play a key role in providing young people with role models and tackling stereotyping around gender and ethnicity, which opens their eyes to possibilities not previously considered.

We have also learnt that offering a careers competition, in conjunction with The Archibull Prize, is a positive way to extend our reach and engage students not directly involved with the program. Our annual National AgDay Careers Competition asks students to identify their strengths and interests, choose a career in agriculture and research the educational pathway to that career. In 2018 over 30 entries were received for the competition from primary and secondary schools in urban, rural and distance education environments, and 22 unique careers were identified.

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Elders wool broker and AWI YFC Samantha Wan is an example of the calibre of young professionals working with school students to encourage careers in agriculture.

Sam mentored students at Picnic Point High School in 2018 with The Archibull Prize and teacher Lisa Gourlay was particularly impressed.

“Sam arrived with three suitcases full of her own clothes that were made from 100% wool including shoes and jackets. She came with loom and finger knitting and pom poms. She came with a ball of energy and was so genuinely passionate about sharing her career and this project. She really was an inspiration.

When we looked at what jobs were available in the sheep industry we were very narrow minded thinking of the farm and the sheep. Then we meet Sam who is beautiful and young, from Blacktown, who is now working across rural Australia and internationally.”  Lisa says.

The Archibull Prize use of entry and exit surveys of students and teachers allow us to monitor the impact our Young Farming Champions are having on the students they are building relationships with.

Within these surveys word clouds are used to collate responses. The following word clouds illustrate the change in agricultural career definition from the beginning to the end of the program.

Identifying the issue 

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The Archibull Prize entry surveys show students struggle to name a career in agriculture and only identify farming related activities

Identifying the messenger and what success looks like 

Exit survey

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The Archibull Prize exit surveys year on year highlight the impact our Young Farming Champions are having on the students 

Teachers value The Archibull Prize for its capacity to provide students with the real world skills to be ready for the jobs of the future.

Join the team of teachers and students who are part of the solution. Expressions of interest for the 2019 Archibull Prize are now open and can be made by contacting Art4Agriculture National Director Lynne Strong at lynnestrong@art4agriculture.com.au

#YouthinAg #StrongTogether #YouthVoices19