Women redefining what farming and leadership is

Lynne Strong runner up National Rabobank Industry Leader of the Year and some of her support team L to R Kirsty John Art4Agriculture Event Manager Philip Bruem AO Chairman of the Board Australian Year of the Famer and Ken Moore from RIRDC

Lynne Strong is this year’s runner up in the National Rabobank Farm Industry Leader
of the Year. 

Lynne shares her journey to overcome the microphone shy hurdle see “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “ See here http://blogs.abc.net.au/rural/2011/06/women-are-farmers-too-so-why-dont-we-hear-them-more.html

Lynne says

“Firstly we all need to acknowledge men and women are different in many ways and recognise that’s a good thing

Secondly we need to redefine what a farmer is and farmers are many things

In the first instance they are members of the noblest profession.  They feed and clothe the world. Today farmers feed 5x as many people as they did in 1950 which allows consumers today to spend only 10% of their income to stay alive compared to 50% in the 1900’s.  

But farmers produce so much more than food.  Australian farmers protect and enhance over 60% of the Australian landscape. On top of this our farmers produce experiences
and values that are often overlooked like our farming culture and heritage and
generations of handing down of skills and knowledge,

But sadly it’s not just urban communities who forget this. Farmers and industry, too
often fail to acknowledge that women farmers are champions not only behind the
farmgate they contribute at an unparalleled level beyond the farmgate.

Its undeniably true there are amazing women out there who can hold their own and
stand side by side with men driving headers, handling bank managers, drenching
cattle, artificially inseminating cattle, birthing calves and the list goes on. Yet they are not acknowledged as “real farmers” because of their sex. This is a travesty and many women are justifiably lobbying hard to change this mindset

There are also many farming women who are doing equally amazing things beyond the farmgate who are celebrated by the community, but go unrecognised by industry.

Why is this?  That is the question I pose

Surely it’s as obvious as the nose on your face that it is pivotal for agriculture to build
relationships with consumers and decision and policymakers.
To help address this and create a culture of change, I have focused on advocacy and telling the positive farming stories in preference to taking on agri-political roles.

I am the first to admit it is petrifying being interviewed. Radio was bad enough the idea of TV bought on a panic attack.   

When I first put my hand up to do this I planned, rewrote and practiced what I was going
to say over and over. I began to grow more confident as new and different speaking
opportunities arose   

Then one day I spoke in front of 40 people at a Slow Food brunch and froze. It
should have been easy. I wrote my speech, practiced it and decided I could do it
without notes. But instead of just telling my story I had over thought the talk
and the content to my peril

Whilst I just wanted to hide, I was even more determined to never make the same
mistake again

So I found myself a vocal coach. Her name is Annie Burbrook and she is very special
and now supports our Art4Agriculture young farming champions,

Annie is so many things. She is a former ballerina with the Australian Ballet company
plus a NIDA graduate actor and director. Her CV includes roles in Blue Heelers
and being the voice of WIN TV and Estee Lauder. Annie is also vegetarian and a very
proud greenie and I have learnt so much more from her. She shares her
professional knowledge and skills with me as well as her insights into her life
choices and her social responsibility passion. I have listened and learnt and found
the confidence to proudly shout from the rooftops that I am a farmer and I don’t
have to milk cows to prove it.

I know I can talk on the radio (and TV) because I have done it. Our Art4Agriculture young farming champions are doing it and all farming women can do it. All we need is some professional development and capacity building and support networks. I have found in my case it has been a much faster journey by looking beyond industry for some of these skills and networks.  

Female farmers have so many untapped skills. The benchmark for too long has been measuring how many farming women sit on boards.

We need to define our own futures, step into the spaces and fill the gaps that we are good at and who better to inspire us than ourselves.  

I would also like to acknowledge the spirit and resilience of the farming men in my life. My husband Michael and son Nick. Our journey hasnt always been easy but its been worth it 

Farmers are hunks - When I was at uni my girlfriends called Michael "HT" which stood for Heart Throb. Even 35 years later you can see why

My son Nick who runs our two farms

Its all about team work. Our people and our passionate dedication to our cows and our landscape



and we have women on our farm team who stand side by side with the men milking our cows who produce milk for over 50,000 Australians each year 

Emma and the next generation who adore her

   Emma also spends lots of voluntary hours beyond the farmgate promoting careers in Agriculture





Girls are Farmers too

Girls are Farmers too

Another post in our call to arms to address this question recently posted by the ABC story “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “Found here http://blogs.abc.net.au/rural/2011/06/women-are-farmers-too-so-why-dont-we-hear-them-more.html

The Art4Agriculture network was formed with a key objective to reverse this trend

In fact our vision is an Australia wide network of enthusiastic, inspirational young farming professionals who can confidently

  • Share their stories and have two way conversations with urban communities to help bridge the gap between city and rural communities by increasing knowledge, generating trust and understanding of modern farming practices.
  • Promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative,
    rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career choice.

Whilst it was certainly not our intention our network is currently all female and
believe us we are working hard to rectify this   Com’on guys give us a ring we will welcome you with open arms.

Back to question posed by the ABC story we are very proud to say Art4Agriculture team of young farming champions is NOT microphone shy. Pivotally they are committed to building momentum and creating the necessary critical mass to reverse this trend by inspiring other farming women to join their ranks. But as I said guys can be agriculture advocates too and we look equally forward to convincing them they can do it just as well
as us.

As a testimonial to the power of AGvocacy Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion “Farmer Steph” has now visited all her Archibull Prize schools and found the experience exhilarating.

Here are some highlights in her own words from her school visits.

 “At the primary school I was talking to 85 Yr 5/6 students. The children asked
so so so many questions with hardly a topic not explored! A teacher had even
prepped a boy to ask if I was looking for a husband but the student was away, thankfully!

I had questions that were easy to answer and some not so easy

Such as “what happens to a calf if it is born with a disability”, “how do cows have babies”,  “what if that hurts coming out”, “do cows fart” haha

The children were really interested in asking questions but also telling me about their farm experiences.

I was also told that “your too pretty to be a farmer”, “me and my friends like your shoes” and not just by the students but I was also invited to the staff room for recess
and told by many teachers “oh you’re not what I was expecting a farmer too
look like” and “oh not all farmers are men”. The hour and twenty minutes I had with them flew past and was not long enough to answer all the questions so they would like me to visit again!

The high school I visited doesn’t offer Ag as a subject so I was talking to creative
arts students from all years. The students were similar to the primary school
in that they asked lots of questions although some a little more serious around
topics of how much farmers earn, price we are paid for milk, is university
essential for farmers, and received lots of comments about how the media
portrays a really different image to what I represented. They all told me I
wasn’t what they were expecting when they were told a farmer was coming to talk
to them and one girl told me she had never known farmers could be girls!

P.S They also loved my shoes! haha

Visiting the schools has proved to be a real highlight of my farming journey and I am confident all the Young Farming Champions will enjoy their Archibull Prize school visits just as much as I did ! “

 See the video “Farmer Steph” created for the school visits here


and her Powerpoint Presentation can be found here




Farmer Steph says Farm Girls Love Shoes Too

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Stephanie Tarlinton began her the Archibull Prize journey this week.

Firstly “Farmer Steph” joined students and teachers from Schofield Primary and Rouse Hill Anglican College for a photo at the Archibull Prize official launch at Woolworths @ Bella Vista on Monday

Young Farming Champion for 'Dairy' Stephanie Tarlinton (left) with teacher and students from Rouse Hill Anglican College

Then on Thursday she visited both schools to share her farming stories and her passion for cows and shoes

Young Farming Champion for 'Dairy' Stephanie Tarlinton (left) with teacher and students from Schofield Primary School


Want to be inspired?

See Farmer Steph’s video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pbkxc6QUOo

Archibull Prize Launch @ Woolworths @ Bella Vista

Woolworths played host to the launch of the 2011 Archibull Prize yesterday at their head office at Bella Vista.

Community Investment Manager Virginia Tomlinson said “Woolworths is proud to be a supporting partner of Art4Agriculture and the 2011 Archibull Prize.  It’s an exciting program with a fresh approach to talking to future generations about the importance of sustainable food production.  The Archibull is a very smart way to build agricultural and environmental awareness through art, creativity and teamwork.”

Photo (L – R) Virginia Tomlinson - Woolworths with teacher Helen Glover and students from the Macarthur Anglican School, Cobbity with David Thomason – Primary Industries Education Foundation

Students from 21 schools have begun their quest to learn what it takes to feed Sydney for a day.

The students are participating in the Archibull Prize, an Art4Agriculture initiative that uses art and multimedia to promote the important role agriculture plays in our lives.

Art4Agriculture is a network of young farming champions who deliver events and activities that focus on youth, career opportunities, the environment and the arts, all with a link back to agriculture.

This year, the Archibull Prize asks students reflect on the theme “The Rural – Urban Divide – What does it take to feed Sydney for a day?”  Schools are provided with a blank fibreglass cow that students will decorate to highlight what they’ve learned about the challenges of housing and feeding the world with a declining natural resource base.

“The average person doesn’t consider the resources required to keep a city well fed, let alone the world!” says Jamberoo dairy farmer Lynne Strong, who Chairs Art4Agriculture.

“It’s staggering enough to discover you need 90,000 cows to produce 1.3 million litres of milk that Sydney consumes every day, but then how much land do you need for those cows? How many people to run the farm? How much feed for the stock?  These are the questions we hope the students will consider along the way.”

Participating schools have received their blank cows and have been randomly allocated an agricultural commodity that they are to feature in their artwork. These include beef, grains, sheep (wool & meat), dairy, chickens (eggs and meat) and cotton.   They then use the blank fibreglass cow to inspire or create an artwork or design.  They can paint it, film it, project onto it, create an animation with it, drape it with things, photograph it, or create an installation or a sculpture.  Students are also required to make a video, keep a blog and design a PowerPoint presentation tracking their journey from blank cow to masterpiece.

The completed “Archibulls” are judged by an independent panel to determine the winner.  They then go on display at various locations around Sydney allowing the general public to vote for the People’s Choice award. The “Archibulls” are also exhibited at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, providing a total audience of around 1 million people for the students to share what they’ve learned.

“This year we are excited that a group Young Farming Champions will visit and support the schools during the project” said Lynne Strong. “These young farmers will provide information about their industry, assist the students with the development of their ideas but most importantly, provide a young face of modern farming which we hope will inspire the students.”

David Thomason and Young Farming Champions Heidi Cheney, Grains Young Farming Champion; Hollie Baillieu, Cotton Young Farming Champion; Stephanie Tarlinton, Dairy Young Farming Champion

The Archibull Prize builds a bridge for farmers and communities to reach out to each other, share stories and improve understanding and work through potential solutions together.

“It’s so important that farmers and consumers reconnect.  This will help our young rural people farm with confidence that they’re responding to consumer needs, while the city students will learn about agricultural production and be able make better decisions as consumers.” said Lynne

In addition to Woolworths, the program is also supported by RIRDC, Meat & Livestock Australia, LandLearn NSW, Kondinin Group and Primary Industries Education Foundation.

The “Archibulls” will be completed by 11th November with the winners announced early December,

List of Schools Participating in the 2011 Archibull Prize

Maraylya Public School
Macarthur Anglican School
Windsor Public School
Schofield Primary School
St Michael’s Catholic Primary School

Alice Betteridge RIDBC School

Mt Druitt Tutorial


St Ignatius College

Richmond High School,

Caroline Chisholm College,

Colo High School.

Rouse Hill Anglican College,

Muirfield High School,

Northholm Grammar School,

Model Farms High School.

Terra Sancta College,

Crestwood High School,

Cranebrook High School,

Hurlstone Agricultural High School,

Quakers Hill High School,

Castle Hill High School

Photos of the Launch can be found on our Flickr page

Lynne Strong named as finalist in the Rabobank Farm Industry Leader of the Year award

Art4agricultue Chair Lynne Strong celebrates 2nd feather in cap this week. Not only is she a finalist in the Eureka Prize she has now been selected as a finalist in Rabobank Farm Industry Leader of the Year 2011.

The winers of the Eureka Prize will be anouced in 6 September and the Australian Farmer of the Year awards will be held held in Sydney on 7 September 2011.

A memorable week indeed for Lynne

Hosted by the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards celebrate the highly professional, innovative, and sustainable approach farmers take to developing the agricultural industry across Australia.

The Rabobank Farm Industry Leader of the Year award recognises farmers who pursue industry development beyond their own farm gate, creating positive change for Australian agriculture.

Lynne recognises central to a great number of issues facing Australian agriculture is
lack of consumer understanding and acceptance of agricultural production and
processes. To address this Lynne has committed hundreds of voluntary hours to
initiatives that encourage two way conversations between rural and urban
communities and introduce young Australians to careers in agriculture

Lynne has championed the delivery of the innovative and engaging Art4Agriculture events and activities that focus on youth, careers the environment and the arts all linked to agriculture.

Art4Agriculture education programs present a unique opportunity for young Australians to use creative arts and multimedia to gain knowledge and develop skills related to the production of the food they consume, the fibres and other natural resources they use and the gardens of their environments. Art4Agriculture web based education resources have now attracted over 50,000 web hits in just over two years.

Some of Lynne’s key achievements that impressed the judges include

At the farmgate

  • Establishing an active and successful farm business which is focussed on sustainability and continuous improvement
  • Adopting new technologies and innovative marketing strategies
  • Lynne is one of 34 farmers involved in the Climate Champions program who are
    advancing climate change knowledge to inspire other farmers to adapt and use
    resources wisely, reduce pollution and mitigate the impact on their business of
    climate change legislation.

The Climate Champions are also engaging with scientists to ensure climate change
research is delivered to farmers in a language they can understand and results
they can use.

Equally, Lynne and her fellow Climate Champions recognise most farmers learn from other farmers and are motivated by seeing the science work in their own backyards. To
facilitate this they are actively engaging with government to ensure funding
for extension is seen as high priority.

Beyond the farmgate

Lynne believes that while farmers in general don’t see the need to build relationships with consumers and decision and policymakers, it is pivotal to agriculture. To help address this and create a culture of change, Lynne has focused on advocacy and telling the positive farming stories in preference to taking on agri-political roles.

To achieve her advocacy objectives, Lynne and her Art4Agriculture
 including the Young Farming Champions design and deliver projects and activities that bring consumers and rural producers together to build trust and confidence in Australian farm production systems.

Some of Lynne’s key achievements beyond the farmgate include:

  • Creating relationships which look beyond the farm-gate
  • Actively increasing the profile of the dairy industry and agriculture generally
  • A champion for connecting the next generation to agriculture and extending this to non-farming children
  • Educating the Australian community about all aspects of the farming sector – including Australian farmers comittment to producing nutritious, affordable and ethical food for consumers
  • Mentoring young people looking to agriculture as a career choice, working with young farming champions, andproviding and encouraging pathways for young people into the industry

Lynne’s vision for the future isn’t too difficult; it just requires a different way of
thinking. She believes a profitable and sustainable healthy future for the
farming sector is achievable – the health and welfare of all Australians and
many people around the world depends on it.

To drive the process of change requires champions and leaders. But to change grass roots perceptions, we need grass roots action. Farmers care about the country, their
livestock and the people they provide with food and fibre. Beyond best farming
practices, farmers have to be out in communities, walking the talk – from
paddock to plate, from cow to consumer – and building trust between rural and
urban communities. Lynne wants farming men and women to go out and sell the
message that feeding and clothing the world is an awesome responsibility and a
noble profession, and that it offers great careers. Just imagine if we could
achieve her vision of an Australia-wide network of trained, passionate farmers
talking directly with the communities they supply!

Lynne Strong and her husband Michael at Clover Hill Dairies

Art4Agriculture Chair celebrating nomination as a finalist in the prestigious Eureka Prize

Climate-savvy farmer Lynne Strong announced as finalist in Eureka awards

Art4Agriculture Chair Lynne Strong is one of a group of 34 Australian farmers who have been announced as a 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize finalist for their work in motivating action to reduce the on farm impacts of Australia’s increasing climate
variability .

The EurekaPrize is recognised as Australia’s most prestigious science award

Lynne has been involved for 18 months in the national Climate
Champion program
  which brings researchers and farmers together to
share information

The farmers, who represent most major agricultural commodities from all over Australia, have been selected for successfully adapting their farms to produce more food using
fewer resources whilst generating less on farm waste.

The climate champions are sharing stories with fellow farmers to improve the farming
communities understanding of the impact of Australia’s increasing climate
variability and increase the adoption of practices and tools for managing
climate risk.

“Farmers live and die by the weather. They want to know when it’s going to rain, how much, and what the season promises.  Farmers can’t control the weather but we
can control how we prepare for it,” says dairy farmer Lynne Strong from

The Climate Champions are also working with the scientists to trial early research products and practices, and ensure the research is communicated in a language the
farmers can understand and transfer into on farm action.

We are also working with the government to ensure the research reaches the paddock. Surveys say 9 out of 10 farmers learn from other farmers. They want to see results in
their own backyard.  If we are going to feed the families of the future the government of today must invest heavily in on farm extension”  says Lynne

The Climate Champions program is run by science communication consultancy Econnect Communication on behalf of the national Managing Climate Variability program, the Grains Research & Development Corporation, and Meat & Livestock

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, school
science, science journalism and science communication. The Eureka Prize for
Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge, which is worth $10,000, is designed to
highlight work that has achieved outstanding outcomes in three areas:

  • increasing understanding and positively changing attitudes about the cause, process and impacts of climate change and the need for action
  • improving skills to respond to climate change
  • Positively changing behaviour towards helping reduce the impacts of climate change.

The Eureka Prize winners will be announced on 6 September 2011.

For interview:
Lynne Strong, phone: 02 4236 0309, lynnestrong@cloverhilldairies.com.au

Media assistance: Sarah Cole, Econnect Communication, phone: 0402 833
193, sarah@econnect.com.au

Eureka Prizes:

Using Social Media to Get Heard by the Herd

In just two years Art4Agriculture has attracted 50,000 hits to their Cream of the Crop  web based agriculture education resources  written for young people by young people. Lets see if we can double this in 2011.

If you can,

Spin a
yarn about sheep

Chew the
fat about pigs

Or talk
turkey about poultry……

then tell your story and Win a CASH PRIZE!

Check out all the details here http://www.art4agriculture.com.au/creamofthecrop/index.html