Tom Squires inspiring pride in Australian farmers, one voice, one education,one person at a time

Our guest blog post comes from shearer and passionate wool industry advocate Tom Squires

 

This is Tom’s story …………

The sun sets over the wooden stockyards as the last sheep runs out the gate to join the freshly shorn flock. Tools are packed up and goodbyes are said before leaving the old tin shed and heading home. Another successful day.

Hi, I’m Tom Squires. I’m a 23-year-old shearer, born and bred on the coast of Tasmania. I grew up on a 600 acre sheep property which my family ran in-between other jobs. It was here I found my passion for agriculture. When I was young my teachers at school asked, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘A shearer’ I said. So, you could now say I’m living my childhood dream.

At 16, my father let be buy my very own mob of sheep. 10 merino ewes and 1 merino ram. I remember the stress of thinking ‘what if the wool price somehow managed to get lower than what it already was’. The thought disappeared when I shore them for the first time. The smell of lanoline in the air and the fleeces floating onto the table. It was that moment I realized there’s more to farming than money. There’s that sense of achievement in seeing a fleece being packed into a bale, knowing someone will benefit from what you produced.

 

After year 12, I worked in shearing sheds. It was a brilliant opportunity to travel to other farming operations and gain skills in the wool industry. However, I wanted to grow my knowledge in agriculture. So, I flew to New Zealand and undertook a 3-year, Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce degree at Lincoln University. The depth of knowledge in Agriculture and how broad the industry is, took my breath away. Yet, in some ways I think this is an issue in itself. If someone who has lived in the industry all their life still gets blown away by how much there is to learn, imagine the thought of the people who do not know the industry. The only answer is education and I want to help.

Since University, I’ve returned to Tasmania. Whilst I got accepted for an interview from the Ruralco Graduate program, I declined the offer. A great opportunity but not one for me. Instead, I took up the handpiece and returned to shearing. Not long after returning, an opportunity to lease some land arose. I pounced on it like a hungry dog. Now to buy sheep.

There’s an incredible feeling of excitement as you hear sheep hoofs trotting down the ramp into your stockyards, knowing they’re your sheep. But the true thrill comes when you stencil your name onto your first bale of wool. I slept with a huge smile on my face that night.

The agricultural industry needs to develop in a way which makes consumers aware of the whole process and to realize the true pride farmers get from what they produce. It’s a long road to this destination but I want to be a part of the change. One voice, one education, one person at a time.

“Success is not necessarily a single, awe-inspiring victory. Small, bite-sized victories are just as valuable as the major milestones that you set out to achieve.” John Sanei

#YouthVoices19 #YouthinAg #StrongerTogether

Young Farming Champions to shine at Summer Grains Conference

All eyes will be on the 2019 Australian Summer Grains Conference to be held on the Gold Coast from July 8 to 10, where two of our YFC stars will shine. Agronomist and co-owner of Summit Ag Emma Ayliffe will lead the Student Forum program while agronomist Casey Onus has been nominated for the Zoe McInnes Memorial Award.

As well as co-owning her own consultancy business Emma owns a farm with her partner, is Acting Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership team and was runner up in 2018 ADAMA Young Agronomist of the Year. With this depth of experience behind her at such a young age she was a natural choice to speak at the conference and on Monday (July 8) will share her personal journey in agriculture.

“A lot of university students attend the conference and I think it is important for young people to see other young people having a real crack in the world and that you don’t have to be 35-40 years old to be achieving great things,” Emma says. “I think it is also important that people coming into a career in ag hear a whole story, not just the successes and smiles, but the warts, the hard work and the literal tears that goes into being successful; not to scare them off but to ensure that they have realistic expectations of what they are getting themselves into and to see that it is okay to not fit the mould or stereotype that is portrayed.”

You can see a sneak peak of some of Emma’s life journey and her presenting style here

 

The conclusion of the Summer Grains Conference will be a gala dinner on July 10 where the prestigious Zoe McInnes Memorial Award will be presented to one of the country’s finest agronomists. Of the four finalists, three are senior agronomists with years of experience in the grains industry. The fourth is our very own Casey Onus.

“Zoe was the kind of person we should all aspire to be as young agronomists, so it’s a huge honour to be nominated for her award,” Casey says. “I think often as young agronomists we don’t feel as though we have been around long enough to make an impact in our clients’ business and the greater agricultural industry. So to receive recognition through being nominated for an award like this is great feedback that perhaps we are on the right track and delivering real value.”

The award recognises the outstanding contribution to agronomic excellence and the winner receives a $5,000 bursary to allow them to expand their knowledge and assist in delivery of new information to growers.

“Casey was nominated for her commitment and enthusiasm for the agricultural industries,” Emma says, and this is a view shared by her employer Peter Birch of B&W Rural, Moree.

“She is a fantastic and vibrant young lady who is very, very good at IT and precision farming and all that entails,” Peter says. “She thrives on agronomy, does a great job, is very down to earth and gets on well with the farmers.”

Awesome stuff Emma and Casey – we are mega proud of everything you do

Breaking news Casey Onus wins Agronomist of the Year

Casey Onus

mega kudos Casey #YouthinAg #YouthVoices

 

 

Young Farming Champions Muster – June 2nd Edition

This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions across the country and the globe

In the Field

Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes opened the gates of ‘Food Farm’ at Wyong Creek to the Central Coast Harvest Festival visitors over the June Long weekend.

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The harvest festival gives the public a unique glimpse behind the farm gate and an opportunity for Tim to showcase regenerative farming practices.

Those lucky enough to score a ticket, before they SOLD OUT, were treated to an intimate ‘Food Farm’ experience. Harvesting potatoes, milking a heritage Australian dairy cow, collecting the pasture raised eggs, enjoying a sausage sandwich from the Food Farm’s very own grass fed and finished beef and chatting with farmer Tim all while learning about paddock to plate concepts.

“It means SO much to know that there are people out there interested in connecting with local food and farmers”

If your interested in visiting Tim at the Food Farm check out their website

Jasmine Whitten is also about to embark on a career change. After working with the Landcare based at Cobar she is packing up and headed back to her home town of Tamworth where she will take up a position as a Farm Consulting Business Analyst with AgriPath. We wish you the best of luck with your new adventure and can’t wait to hear what you get up too.

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Grain Young Farming Champion Marlee Langfield created a short photo essay of the “Wallaringa” barley crop.  With 12mm of rain flalling this week in the Cowra region (the most incrop rain received so far this growing season!) fingers are crossed for follow up falls as Marlee continues to grow great grains.

Out of the Field

We we excited to announced our newest Young Farming Champion 2nd Year University of New England student Emily May. Emily brings a unique perspective to Young Farming Champions as she has witnessed first-hand Sydney’s urban sprawl impacting on agriculture.

Emily grew up on the outskirts of Sydney in the Hawkesbury district and her first job was working at a local orchard. She has since worked with numerous small farms and market gardens in the area, developing a passion for agriculture along the way. She has also watched as, in a short period of time, these farms have given way to housing developments. Now studying a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of New England Emily is determined to find a way to balance these conflicting land uses.

“I believe that in order to keep agriculture on the outskirts of Sydney we need to utilise innovation and technology to compete with this urban sprawl, and it is this understanding that drives me in my university studies.”

Emily May Tractor

Read Emily’s story here

With a focus on finding a solution to avoid a global food shortage -YFC Sam Coggins has been awarded the International Rice Research Institute Scholarship for 2019. The scholarship will see Sam to travel to the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and undertake three weeks of hands on training on all aspects of rice production in Asia. Sam will also learn about the research focus of IRRI and its partners; structuring effective international collaborations; and importantly, will gain insights and contacts to work effectively as part of the international research community in the future.Sam -IRRS scholarship_

 

For the second year in a row WoolProducers Australia is conducting their Raising the Baa Leadership Program, and for the second year in a row our Young Farming Champions are right in the spotlight.

  • Dione Howard will undertake a fully-funded Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Dione will gain knowledge needed to navigate complex governance challenges and apply innovative and well-informed thinking when considering strategy and policy.
  • Samantha Wan has been selected as a Youth Ambassador who will work towards developing policy briefs and implementation strategies for two key industry issues over the next twelve months. Sam will join the WoolProducers Board as an observer providing her with exposure and experience in policy development and agri-politics in general.

Well done to Dione and Samantha as they actively contribute to building a robust, innovative and sustainable Australian wool industry.

Last week Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge swapped the black soils of the Narrabri Shire for the golden sands of the Gold Coast as she attended the inaugural Australian Biosecurity Symposium. In her role as Biosecurity Officer at North West Local Land Services Lucy is passionate about protecting Australia agriculture and our environment and is always working towards a sustainable, productive and profitable agricultural industry! So she jumped at the opportunity to attend the Symposium. The conference provided the ideal platform to explore how to transform Australia’s biosecurity systems to better protect our economy, environment and way of life.

Lucy will implement her learnings when she returns home to the agricultural wonderland heart that is the North West of NSW -in the meantime Lucy reminds us how work with her in protecting the environment…

“You can be a biosecurity legend with us by cleaning your shoes when traveling, making sure you don’t take any fruit across exclusion zones and declaring any animal or plant products when coming home from an overseas holiday!”

Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth was invited to be a mentor at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps event . Her mentees were Year 11 and 12 secondary students and first year university students who discussed with her the recent student strikes (15th March 2019) and their disappointment at their school curriculum not educating on topics of great global importance.

Anika -41st CRLC(1)

“Last week I made 800 new friends at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps. The energy in the room could have powered all of Australia, as we learnt about climate science, catalyzing change in our communities, and pathways to transition to a low-carbon future.”

This three day event provides citizens concerned about the future of our planet with a chance to join a range of in-depth,practical skill-building workshops that explore key climate challenges and offer insights into solutions.

In addition to mentoring Anika had the rare opportunity to learn directly from an extraordinary lineup of climate communicators including former US Vice President Al Gore, Natalie Isaacs Founder and CEO of 1 Million Women.

Anika -41st CRLC

Natalie Isaacs Founder and CEO of 1 Million Women with Anika

The highlight of the event for Anika was a contingent of people from the Torres Strait Islands and their stories of how climate change is affecting them here and now. Read the story here

Prime Cuts

Congratulations to superstar Agronomist and Young Farming Champions Casey Onus who has recently been named as one of four finalists in the Zoe McInnes Memorial Agronomy awards. The winner will be announced that this year’s Summer Grains Conference on the Gold Coast in July. The award celebrates the life of  Zoe McInnes in died in a farm accident in 2013 and recognises outstanding contribution to Agronomic Excellence. The winner receives a $5,000 bursary to allow them it expand their knowledge and assist in delivery new information to growers. We wish you luck Casey at the Summer Grains Conference and congratulate you on being, very deservedly, nominated for this award.

Casey -Zoe McInnes Mem Agronomy Finalist 

Lifetime Highlights.

Casey, in her spare time, also loves a game of footy and recently represented the Central North Zone in the Women’s 15s at the NSW Country Rugby Union Women’s Championship in Tamworth over the June Long weekend.

Casey -Rugby Country Championships_

According to Casey “the jersey was writing cheques my body couldnt cash”

Archie Action

Young Farming Champions Lucy Collingridge and Jasmine Whitten had an initial meet and greet Google Hangouts with their Archibull Prize Schools

Comments from Lucy

‘There’s something to be said about kids who have no connection to agriculture and their energy and excitement to learn.”

“What an awesome bunch of enthusiastic kids! Can’t wait to meet them next month!”

Questions  from the students flowed freely and included

  • When did you get involved in agriculture, what are we doing to help farmers with the drought, what does your job involve, what do you love about agriculture?”
  • what it’s like to live in Narrabri ,to what colour is Merino fleece, to the biosecurity risks associated with bringing in feed?!”

Jasmine and the team from Granville Boys High managed to do some virtual egg cracking – potentially a world first

And Merrylands High School gave their Archie a Royal Welcome

 

Here’s a good yarn -we’re raising the baa

For the second year in a row Wool Producers Australia is conducting their Raising the Baa Leadership Program, and for the second year in a row our Young Farming Champions are right in the spotlight.

The leadership course has two components, the first of which is the Youth Ambassador role. “The Youth Ambassador position exposes people aged 18 -35 years to policy within Wool Producers and gives them the opportunity to learn and understand the policy cycle and how a board works so they understand how many decisions that affect the wool industry are handled by Wool Producers,” Wool Producers Australia President, Mr Ed Storey says.

Dione Howard was the inaugural Wool Producers Youth Ambassador in 2018 and part of her role was to attend Wool Producers’ board meetings. “I had very little experience with policy prior to the Youth Ambassador role,” Dione says. “It has opened up a whole new world in the agricultural space and I feel that I now have a much clearer idea of how decisions are made that affect farmers and people like myself as a veterinarian.”

In 2019 Wool Producers has nominated two Youth Ambassadors, one of who is Sam Wan

” I saw this as an opportunity to gain insight into the organisation and actively learn in the role,  have a strong interest in learning the intricacies of identifying needs and key stages for policy development and to gain a working understanding of industry governance, achieving objectives and driving improvement within the bounds of shareholders, regulators and the wider community. I see an understanding of the processes behind regulations being able to positively impact my role and scope as a wool broker and day to day dealings with wool growers.” say Sam

There is no denying Sam’s enthusiasm for sharing the wool story far and wide as this video of her engaging with students at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day shows

Dione will be continuing the program in 2019 with its second component – a fully-funded Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

“The Company Directors Course is a fantastic opportunity for future leaders from all sectors of the wool industry to develop and refine their leadership skills for positions on industry Boards,” Ed says. “The skills are very important to ensure good governance and leadership is understood before people contribute to a Board.”

“It is an awesome opportunity to finish the Wool Producers Youth Ambassadorship with the AICD Company Directors Course,I believe it will assist me to take the next step in my leadership journey. I have been fortunate enough to receive the benefit of immersive workshops through the Young Farming Champions program sponsored by AWI and these have enabled me to develop my skills for delivering outcomes for the wool industry on the ground, in schools and at industry events. I believe that by completing the Company Directors course I will expand my skill set to be able to deliver for the wool industry from a governance perspective.” ” Dione says.

Budding horticulturalist Emily May joins the Young Farming Champions team

We would like to welcome our newest University of New England Young Farming Champion Emily May.

Emily joins the team with Laura Bignell moving to Rockhampton to join the Teys Australia Livestock Team.

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UNE Young Farming Champions (LtoR) Forbes Corby, Ruby Canning, Rebecca George, Haylee Murrell and Emily May 

Emily May brings a unique perspective to Young Farming Champions as she has witnessed first-hand Sydney’s urban sprawl impacting on agriculture.

This is Emily’s story …….Emily May Tractor

I come for a non-farming family on the outskirts of Sydney in the Hawkesbury district, an area which used to be a thriving agricultural hub. As I have grown up I have seen the way the area has changed in such a short period of time. Heading into town we used to pass numerous properties growing veggies, fruit or turf but these have now given way to housing developments.

These small farming businesses have been instrumental in my decision to study agriculture. My first job was with a neighbour who operated a citrus orchard and I enjoyed it so much I return each year for the winter harvest on Kathleen Groves Farm. I have also worked with flower growers, on a vegetable farm and for a strawberry propagation company.

I contemplated leaving high school after Year 10 and getting a trade, but my careers advisor Mr Lavelle could see I had a passion for the work I was doing on the farms on weekends, and he encouraged me to complete the HSC. After high school I worked for a civil company and while this job was enjoyable I didn’t have the same passion or hunger to learn more about it like I previously had with my farm jobs. Realising that working in agriculture was something I was good at and really enjoyed only encouraged me to keep pursuing it and I decided to study a Bachelor of Agriculture at UNE, which has been a wonderful and enriching experience.

While studying I continue to work on small farms and market gardens. The value of land continues to rise, as do the expenses of running a farming business and farmers have found it more profitable to sell to developers. I believe that in order to keep agriculture on the outskirts of Sydney we need to utilise innovation and technology to compete with this urban sprawl, and it is this understanding that drives me in my university studies.

We are very excited to have Emily join the Young Farming Champions team who are learning to share their stories confidently and inspiring pride in Australian agriculture.

#YouthinAg #StrongerTogether #YouthVoices

 

 

Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth mentors changemakers at 41st Climate Reality Leaderships Corps event

“The people of Torres Strait taught me climate change is not something for people in faraway countries or in the distant future to worry about. Climate change is impacting people here in Australia in devastating ways, but this story remains largely unheard. There was a great phase said by one of the speakers – if we save the islands, we save the planet. And it is true – if we use our ambition and intellect to reduce emissions and prevent irreversible damage occurring on the most vulnerable people in the most fragile places – then we also manage to save everyone else and all the other places we love and call home.” Anika Molesworth

 

Anika Climate Reality (1)

Anika Molesworth (right) with Natalie Isaacs founder of 1 Million Women.

Anika Molesworth, already on the forefront of research and action on global climate change, was invited to be a mentor at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, held in Brisbane in the first week of June. Here she discovered the devastating ways in which Australia is already affected by climate change, and how people at home can make a positive difference.

Led by former US Vice President Al Gore, the training was a three-day event providing “citizens concerned about the future of our planet with a strong understanding of climate science as well as the critical communications, strategy, and advocacy skills necessary to mobilise communities and catalyse solutions to the climate crisis.”

The Brisbane event attracted 800 participants and, as a mentor, Anika was assigned a table of 12 mentees.

“The energy in the room for hundreds of motivated climate changers was fantastic. With a primary focus on Australia and a regional focus on the Asia-Pacific we learnt about the impacts from summer heatwaves, raging bushfires and the real consequences of climate inaction on livelihoods, human health and natural ecosystems. We also heard from inspiring speakers who are reasons for hope; with a diverse coalition of courageous voices – many from Indigenous and frontline communities – calling for bold and ambitious transitions to a low-carbon future.” she says

Anika’s mentees were Year 11 and 12 secondary students and first year university students who discussed with her the recent student strikes and their disappointment at their school curriculum not educating on topics of great global importance.

Anika Climate Reality (3)

“They taught me you don’t have to have a title or be in a position of power to have influence and be a change-maker. The importance of climate education in schools cannot be overstated. Young people are being recognised for facing up to challenges many find too difficult to engage with. Youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders today.”

Anika was also impressed by fellow mentor Natalie Isaacs. By learning how she could be more environmentally responsible in her own household, Natalie set about helping others do the same and in the process built a network of 1 Million Women championing climate action.

“Natalie exemplifies that change starts with you, right where you are now,. Big change is good, but small changes at home and in the workplace are essential. Evaluate your impact as an individual and don’t underestimate the good you can do by changing small things within your power.” say Anika

The highlight of the event for Anika was a contingent of people from the Torres Strait Islands and their stories of how climate change is affecting them here and now.

“Working on matters of climate change for over the past decade I know well the plight of the Pacific Island nations – such as Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands – and what climate change and sea level rise means for these communities and environments, but, I am ashamed I knew so little about what is actually happening right here in Australia. To learn about how climate change is destroying homes, unsettling communities rich in culture, tides washing away sites of great importance – right here in Australia – was truly upsetting and once again highlighted the urgency of the situation.”

Anika Climate Reality (2)

Last week I made 800 new friends at the 41st Climate Reality Leadership Corps. The energy in the room could have powered all of Australia, as we learnt about climate science, catalyzing change in our communities, and pathways to transition to a low-carbon future.

Thanks to everyone who made this event possible and to all the people in this photo who brighten my day and fill me with optimism.

Lessons Learnt Number Seven – We all rise when we lift each other up

Great leaders inspire.jpg

There’s a psychological anomaly called the Pygmalion Effect by which higher expectations actually result in an increase in performance. That is to say that if people, yourself included, believe in your abilities to accomplish something, you are more likely to succeed.

The reverse effect, by which low expectations lead to poorer performance, is dubbed the Golem Effect.

‘We can speak at 125 words per minute, but we can think at 900 words per minute. The likelihood that the first thing you say is actually the thing you mean is about 1 in 9 or 11 percent. ‘Oscar Trimbole

Today’s lesson learnt is inspired by a journal entry by Wool Young Farming Champion  and volunteer extraordinaire Lucy Collingridge. Lucy has some words of wisdom for young people starting their career and a reminder to us all we can all be leaders.

“Are you off a farm?” – This is a question that I hear more days than not as I work and live in Australian agriculture. When I reply with “No, I had no connection to agriculture until I was 15”, I receive a vast array of reactions. From the intrigue as to how I ended up with my life revolving around the Australian agricultural industry to the judgement that I have no place providing advice to our farmers, and everything in between. At the early stages of my career, as a new graduate with limited agricultural experience but a great passion to make a difference, I let these reactions affect my mood and approach to the industry. I let the doubt creep in and started to second guess myself.

That changed five years ago when I identified mentors to support my career and life journey .  We can all benefit from the advice and guidance of someone who has been there and done that.  My mentors have shown me that it is possible to become the person I want to be in spite of the inner and outer obstacles I face.

During my time at university, through my involvement at agricultural shows and as a result of the opportunities I have accessed, I have met countless people who were like me and had no connection to agriculture at a young age. So many of the successful, passionate and dedicated agriculturalists working in our industry today were not from a farm, yet they have just as much and if not more to give to the sustainability and longevity of our industry as those who were born on the land.

As an industry, we have a responsibility to welcome newcomers with full support and no judgement.  Outside-in thinking means having the courage to fling the window open to people who can offer new insights.  We may find these new agriculturalists could hold the secret to so many of our long running issues

To those who are only starting out in our industry, I encourage you to jump at every opportunity you are offered and take on board all positive and negative feedback and assess it through the lens of “Is the person giving me this advice or making this judgement the type of person I aspire to be?”.

People say a lot

I encourage you to not feel diminished by other people’s judgments. Instead use your passion, your actions and successes to speak for themselves.

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Looking for mentors. Here’s how to assemble your personal dream team