The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
If you are a Young Farming Champion (YFC) you already see yourself as an emerging leader for agriculture. If you also envision your future includes managerial positions, board appointments and CEO roles then the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) is the perfect training ground.
The YVLT is a group of committed YFC alumni who have stepped up to take responsibility for, and share ownership of, a vision to enable and empower young leaders in agriculture. The YVLT provides a youth perspective to Picture You in Agriculture program development and management decisions, representing a powerful personal and professional development path, giving participants the skills and daily habits needed to take on community and business leadership roles in the future.
The current team members are Emma Ayliffe (chair), Dione Howard (vice-chair), Marlee Langfield (social media coordinator), Meg Rice (Innovation Hub representative), Jo Newton (returning officer), Anika Molesworth (partnerships ambassador) and Jess Fearnley ( minute secretary and intern). In addition the Innovation Hub, a sub-committee tasked with exploring new ideas for real-world projects, is ably staffed by Katherine Bain, Samantha Wan, Tayla Field and Chloe Dutschke.
In a recent evaluation report by Dr Nicole McDonald several themes were identified as motivating factors for joining the YVLT:
intrinsic rewards for doing meaningful work for the future of agriculture,
continuing to develop skills and abilities that would help them be leaders,
being a part of a network of capable people that provide personal and professional support,
giving back to a program that had given them a launch pad towards other opportunities and industry wide recognition.
Nicole’s interviews with team members elicited responses including:
“[The YVLT provides] the opportunity to upskill around committees; getting your head around corporate governance, running subcommittees, supporting a chair, setting agendas, and running meetings. All of this puts me in better stead to manage my own business. There are also a lot of non-tangible skills; for example it’s forced me to set deadlines and expectations for myself, for the people trying to contact me and for my team. I’ve been upskilled in social media and communication skills particularly around formalising of emails and proposals and pitching for funding. Those skills are invaluable.”
“It’s more than a committee it’s a learning opportunity. In a short amount of time I’ve already taken on feedback and learnt more than I anticipated; I’ve learnt skills that I didn’t even think of when I signed up for the Youth Voices Leadership Team.”
“The professionalism is really of a high standard on the YVLT, as well as the consideration of personal and professional outcomes; not only looking at what the organisation is looking to achieve, but also what everybody personally is looking to achieve. Looking at what drives each individual person to get the best outcome has been really impressive and something I haven’t seen in other committees.”
The YVLT is a valuable opportunity for YFC alumni to learn and practice professional and corporate skills in a safe environment. These skills include:
leading innovative and forward-thinking purpose-driven teams,
sitting on effective boards and committees
creating and developing and growing start-ups
program design and delivery
messaging and communications
building partnerships for collective action for collective impact,
Problem solving and strategic thinking
negotiation and conflict skills
become a better listener, build empathy and rapport and use your influence to inspire behaviour change for the greater good
Or, as one of our YVLT so aptly sums up:
“It is a great environment to fail miserably safely, to get some really blunt and honest feedback, to improve on yourself and to improve on your general skills.”
The YVLT holds their annual general meeting in March with all positions open. This is your chance to turn your leadership knowledge and skills into daily habits and create the future you envision.
Today’s guest blog post is by Young Farming Champion. agroecologist, farmer, author, keynote speaker, climate warrior and Climate Wise Agriculture founder Anika Molesworth
Being involved in the agricultural sector has given me a front row seat to food production. I have stood in fields surrounded by millions of tiny corn plants, filled with awe at the fragility and possibility of this new life. I have seen hour-old lambs wobble to their feet for the first time, cheering on those first steps as it finds its mothers teat. I have felt the sense of pride of being a farmer and growing food with the knowledge that this is going to be enjoyed by someone and nourish them.
Ronni is CEO and Founder of OzHarvest. She is the yellow truck driving, dumpster-diving, food waste fighter who has recently released her memoir, “A Repurposed Life.”
Ronni and the incredible team at OzHarvest Education are doing fantastic work on stopping society’s dysfunctional food waste behaviour. Their goal is to adhttps://ozharvest.org/vocate, inspire and influence the community in order to halve food waste by 2030. It is so fantastic to see this work being done because no farmer wants to see their food end up in landfill. This is because it’s not only the food that gets wasted – it’s also all the time, labour, water, nutrients that went into producing it. Precious human and natural resources that need to be cherished, not dumped.
One of the most exciting questions to ask regarding food waste, I think, is
“How do we design waste out of the system?”
This is one of the principles of a circular economy – not just how do we recycle better – but how do we actually create systems where waste doesn’t exist?
Where can we put processes and technologies in place, that an output from one user/sector is immediately utilised as a valuable resource by another.
With one in five shopping bags in Australia ending up in the bin, there is huge room for improvement.
Ronni has a radiating smile as she talks about all the opportunities we have to fix the system and feed people properly. She definitely had me motivated to do more by the end of our conversation! Learning about their objective to collaborate with people right along the food system was particularly uplifting. The OzHarvest team is working with supermarkets, distributors, students and farmers to solve this problem.
We all need to play our part in reducing food waste – from the paddock to the plate – and by doing so, we will
2020 opened with drought, morphed into bushfires, was blessed with rain for what became a bumper harvest and then transcended into a global pandemic, which has taken normal and turned it on its head. Many of our YFCs were forced into hard lockdowns and COVID has impacted us all, challenging us to find new ways to do business and to connect or, as has been often quoted this year,
“life is not what happens to us, it is about how we handle what happens.”
However, Yong Farming Champions (YFCs) are not called champions for nothing and they rose to all challenges that impacted their personal and professional lives.
In 2020 our YFCs have: taken on new jobs (and even overseas postings), joined leadership programs and speaker forums, been guest speakers, produced podcasts (a lot of podcasts) and webcasts, committed to conferences (in person and then online as the year progressed), been awarded Nuffield Scholarships, donated hundreds of volunteer hours, written research papers, connected with schools doing The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas, attended zoom meetings (lots and lots of zoom meetings), taken on committee and board positions, featured on well-being seminars, launched an app (Yacker – are you on board yet?), raised money for charity, won national fleece competitions, bought houses, supported each other in lockdown, joined the mental health and occupational safety conversations, launched websites, created videos, participated in international agricultural networks and completed degrees to become doctors and masters. Whew.
We’ve had a RAS Rural Achiever (Dione), a finalist in the NSW 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards (Emma – who can forget that red dress) and even an OAM (Jo).
The Innovation Hub of the Youth Voices Leadership Team launched the highly successful Leadership is Language series with a range of Australian and international guests interviewed by Young Farming Champions.
We’ve adapted to our ever-changing COVID world with drive-through bait station, online wool auctions, social distancing in shearing sheds, online ag shows, lanolin cream production and online bull sales, just to name a few.
And life has gone on. Hannah Hawker, James Kanaley, Tom Tourle and Jasmine Green welcomed new babies.
Keiley O’Brien, Dwayne Schubert and Naomi Mulligan were married and Anika Molesworth and Melissa Henry postponed much-anticipated weddings.
As we near the end of this exceptionally challenging year we asked the Youth Voices Leadership committee what have been their highlights and what are they looking forward to in 2021.
Emma Ayliffe (Chair):
“I am looking forward to setting up the YVLT committee for a long and successful future through finalising what our future looks like and identifying the leaders of tomorrow. This year has been a fun challenge and to see how the committee responded and what we achieved has been amazing.”
Dione Howard (Vice-Chair):
“I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2021 – our team has learnt so much during this challenging year and I hope we can take those learnings out into the big wide world! I can’t wait to celebrate life events with those nearest and dearest, get on the dancefloor and give people a big hug!”
“last day of our family harvesting – it’s been a wonderful season and bring on the time for rest.” says Dione
Jo Newton (Returning Officer):
“After spending nearly half the year locked down in Melbourne, I look forward to partaking in life’s simple pleasures in 2021 like meals shared with friends, smiles not obscured by masks & the freedom to visit friends & explore Australia”.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how we all emerge from what has been a year like no other, how it has shaped our perspectives and appreciations and use the skills we’ve developed and honed to take on a new chapter in 2021.”
“Sam is also looking forward to some reading time with her dogs”
Anika Molesworth (Partnerships Ambassador):
“The absolute highlight for me was the Language is Leadership series, which has not only brought to my attention some incredible thought-leaders and change-makers – people who are not just talking the talk but walking the walk –but has allowed me the opportunity to connect with them. I could speak with them one-on-one, ask them questions, learn from them and then have a platform to share these learnings far and wide.”
Jess Fearnley (Intern):
“I am looking forward to hopefully seeing each other’s faces in person and working towards some really good programs in the New Year. This year has been a fantastic learning experience and I am super excited about our next workshop with Cathy McGowan in 2021
The last words on our summation of the year that has been 2020 go to Picture You in Agriculture director Lynne Strong:
“As a person who thrives on watching others grow and thrive I have found it very rewarding to watch how flexible and agile the team has been in this wild year. COVID has impacted both our personal and professional lives yet we have remained hopeful, collaborated, reimagined, innovated, stuck to our truth and delivered joy; all the things that get people through turmoil and change. I salute the Young Farming Champions”
Picture you in Agriculture sees itself as a vehicle to provide opportunities for others to engage and empower people who want to be changemakers.
We work with young people in the agriculture sector . We train, develop and teach them how to multiply their impact by working with the community. We call them Young Farming Champions. They represent the diversity of people who work in the agriculture sector.
Our schools and our Young Farming Champions have taken on the big hairy goals – the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or the SDGs for short
We are working with our schools to tackle the SDG targets Australia most needs to meet
We have all heard people say if changing the world was easy we would all be doing it. What we have found it is easy if WE believe it is and WE surround ourselves with enough people who share the vision and are committed to taking action and DO.
There is a formula.
Identify the outcome you want to achieve
Identify what success looks like
Start with a big idea – keep it as simple as possible
Identify the actors
Identify the actions the actors need to take
Identify the expertise you need to outsource
Identify the GO TO Person to access the experts
Design and Deliver your ACTION PLAN
Monitor, Evaluate, Report and Inform
There is important knowledge you need to have
We suggest you start with a basic understanding of psychology
In 2020 we paired with OzHarvest FEAST to tackle Zero Hunger, Responsible Production and Consumption and Climate Change.
We partnered with Corteva Agriscience to build a library of resources for teachers and students
We partnered with Australian Wool Innovation. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Local Land Services and Corteva Agriscience to identify, train and develop young agriculturalists
We partnered with Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education, Changeologist Les Robinson, Science Communicator Jenni Metcalfe, 21st Century Learning Expert Josh Farr and John Holloway and the Murray Darling Basin Authority Education team to deliver professional development workshops for teachers and students. These workshops were funded by NSW Local Land Services and NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment
We partnered with the Geography Teachers Association of NSW and ACT to deliver professional development workshops to teachers
Over the next week we are very excited to share with you a series of blogs that showcase the changemakers we have worked with in our Kreative Koalas schools. All of the students and teachers we work with are committed to leaving a legacy we can all be proud of.
We can all be changemakers, we just need to care enough and surround ourselves with people who care as much as we do.
Sneak Peek you can check out the #KreativeKoalaKids artworks here
Hi everyone, my name is Dylan and I’m passionate about agricultural systems that produce enough healthy food for all and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This passion has led me to commence my PhD studies investigating the agronomy and ecology of a native Australian grass species that was cultivated for its grain by Indigenous Australians. The project is in partnership with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and Latrobe University.
One question I often find myself being asked is ‘What has sparked your passion and driven you to do what you do today?’.
From an early age, growing up in the Riverina I witnessed firsthand some of the challenges facing our agricultural sector. I have the most vivid memories of the millennium drought from growing up on a farm on Wiradjuri Country in NSW. From seeing towering red walls of topsoil approaching over the horizon and enveloping the sky into darkness, to watching green crops wither away from a lack of rain and parched sheep gathering around dams dwindled to no more than a mere puddle. There were many times I wanted to do something to help. As a kid, I felt powerless to do anything. However, as I grew up, I soon realised that I could help contribute towards overcoming the challenges facing our farmers – even ones as big as tackling climate change and land degradation.
We are living through a time of rapid change and challenge, where our agricultural systems are increasingly vulnerable to fracturing. It is a time where the world population continues to rise, placing added pressure onto food security and our planet’s finite resources. It is a time where the health of our soils is poor and in need of repair. On top of this, we are seeing the high-risk nature of farming exacerbated by a changing climate. It is a time which demands adaptive thinking and innovation if we are to ensure future prosperity of our modern agricultural systems.
One crucial way to achieve this is through the incorporation of traditional agricultural knowledge into our modern systems. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth and is renowned for its particularly harsh conditions. Yet, despite this, the continent has been successfully inhabited by humans for tens of thousands of years. Perhaps one of the most held misconceptions is that Indigenous Australians relied exclusively on a ‘hunter and gatherer’ approach to obtaining food. However, Indigenous Australians were incredibly innovative and sustainable when it came to food production. One must only read through Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu’ to realise that food production systems in pre-European Australia were very well established and sustainably managed. One of these traditional food production systems consisted of domesticating, growing and harvesting grains from native grasses. The cultivation of grains for human consumption has played an important role in human survival and societal development around the world (think rice in Asia, wheat in the Middle East and maize in America). For Indigenous Australians, this was no different. In fact, evidence suggests that Indigenous Australians were the first people on Earth to use grain for food, with starch particles found on grinding stones in parts of Australia dating back many tens of thousands of years.
Since European colonisation, there has been great loss to these native grain production systems. Not only has environmental destruction led to native grasslands becoming one of the most threatened and degraded ecosystems in Australia, but highly relied upon traditional knowledge that had been developed and passed down over many generations was suddenly lost as a result of dispossession and genocide.
There is increasing recognition that the growing of Aboriginal food plants will contribute towards a more prosperous and sustainable modern Australian agricultural sector. It will also provide empowerment to Aboriginal communities and play an important role in healing Country. Additionally, the upscaling of native food crops could be an important tool to combat the effects of a changing climate on food production and to protect against losses to biodiversity.
These are just some of the reasons behind what drives me to pursue a career in agriculture and where I find myself today. I look forward to my continued learning journey and hope to do my part in ensuring Australia’s agricultural sector prospers into the future.
We are looking forward to working with Dylan and learning more about his research and providing him with opportunities to share it with next gen consumers and agriculturalists in our school programs
The scholarship will allow Dylan to participate in the prestigious Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program run by Picture You in Agriculture. This two-year training package will give Dylan exposure to some of the country’s top media and communication specialists and give him the skills to accelerate his journey in agricultural leadership.
“As someone passionate about agriculture and the role of youth in the sector, I am thrilled to be selected as a recipient of the Riverina Local Land Services/PYiA Growing Young Leaders Scholarship. Participation in this incredible scholarship program means I will be able to gain a range of skills that will develop my confidence and provide me with a greater sense of empowerment as an emerging leader in the agricultural sector.” Dylan said.
Growing up on a Riverina farm during the Millennium Drought meant Dylan saw the challenging face of Australian agriculture from an early age, but rather than be discouraged, he realised he could be part of the solution for a better future. He studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) at Charles Sturt University and, with an increasing interest in the role of indigenous farmers in the modern landscape, is now undertaking a PhD with LaTrobe University. Dylan’s PhD project is a partnership with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Coorperation investigating Australian native grain-producing grass species building on successful outcomes growing commercially viable indigenous grains in the Narrabri region.
“One of the key skills that the program will help me to sharpen is influential communication. Improving this skill will allow me to more effectively story tell and share my experiences in agriculture with both young people and the wider community. Through storytelling, I hope to achieve not only increased awareness of the many diverse and rewarding opportunities that a career in the agricultural sector offers, but also help develop community understanding of how important the sector is to our functioning world.” Dylan said
The Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program will also give Dylan access to mentorship through Riverina Local Land Services.
“For Riverina LLS, this scholarship forms part of our region’s succession plan. We are delighted to be supporting an emerging agricultural leader with a connection to our region to grow and develop their skills.
We look forward to working with Dylan over the next two years through the raft of opportunities available in this scholarship. Riverina LLS will provide Dylan with mentors from each area of our organisation to build upon his agricultural interest areas of sustainability and land management, indigenous agricultural systems and pest management. Dylan is a great example of the talented young people we have in the Riverina – our region has a bright future.” ” general manager Ray Willis said.
As part of Picture You in Agriculture’s support of our Young Farming Champions and emerging leaders, a series of workshops was rolled out in October. Alongside our fabulous national facilitators Kris Beazley, Jenni Metcalfe, Les Robinson and Josh Farr, we were delighted to add internationally acclaimed Kwame Christian to our repertoire.
Kwame is the director of the American Negotiation Institute, a practising business lawyer, host of the world’s most popular negotiation podcast Negotiate Anything (downloaded over 1.5 million times), author of the Amazon best-seller Finding Confidence in Conflict, a negotiation and conflict resolution professor at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, a regular contributor to Forbes magazine, a LinkedIn trainer and a popular public speaker with his 2017 TEDx talk being named the most popular talk on the topic of conflict.
Working with PYiA, Kwame presented a 90 minute webinar to 14 participants on negotiation and conflict resolution, or as he likes to say: “solving conflict with compassionate curiosity.” But rather than stand in a room and preach, Kwame made the workshop participant driven, asking the all-female attendees what they wanted to achieve, in a pre-workshop questionnaire. Most responses were of the fear/avoidance of conflict, inexperience (as young people) and lack of confidence in negotiation.
Kwame then taught participants that our instinctive conflict responses are fight, flight or freeze but that there was another way. He spoke of acknowledging and validating emotions of both parties and of seeking to understand not judge. He also spoke on:
How to see every interaction as a strategic, persuasive opportunity
How to persuade without being combative
How to develop the proper mindset for effective negotiation
How and when to use these skills for maximum impact
Following Kwame’s workshop participants had the opportunity to put his skills into practice during a further 90 minute simulation exercise facilitated by Dr Nicole McDonald. Recognising all the young women participating in the workshop are negotiating on a daily basis and 60% of women say they’ve never negotiated their salary they identified contract negotiation as a priority.
This two-part conflict and negotiation workshop was a prime example of how PYiA is partnering with like minded organisations who are listening to our young people and delivering professional development based on their wants and needs.
The Young Farming Champions program gives our young people the skills and confidence to tell their stories, many of which you will read about in this Muster. However one YFC kicking presentations well out of the ballpark is Anika Molesworth. On October 28 Anika spoke at her second TEDx event. Commenting on a previous TED talk by indigenous legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, Anika presented the argument that as climate change and environmental degradation worsen we need to radically re-think the ways humans interact with nature.
Anika gave examples of where rights have been given to the environment such as Lake Erie in the US, the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India and all the rivers in Bangladesh. “By granting legal rights to our environment, and rethinking the way we interact and respect our world, are we able to save what we cannot afford to lose?” Anika asked.
Congratulations Anika – you continue to be an inspiration for the YFC family.
In The Field
Into the field now and all of us who work with Mother Nature know she can be a hard and fickle business partner. Just as some of the best crops in central NSW where readying for harvest in October, Mother Nature sent hail in not one but two havoc-wreaking storms. Speaking in the Parkes Champion Post YFC agronomist Emma Ayliffe described the devastation: “What wasn’t affected at first was wiped out in the second event last weekend in most unusual circumstances.” said Emma. “For these people they have gone through a roller coaster of emotion since the event – from saying things like ‘Well, we’ve got more room in the silos for the rest of the crop’, to ‘F@#! it was going to be such a good harvest!’.” Emma’s own property was affected by the hail.
Meanwhile harvest continues under grey skies for our Cowra cropper Marlee Langfield – check out her amazing photo
Even though they both dance with Mother Nature Marlee and Emma are resilient future ready farmers, and this month we celebrated them, and others, in the launch of a new PYiA initiative – Future Ready Farmers. YFC Dan Fox also featured alongside friends of the YFC Karin Stark and Angus Whyte. This series will highlight to students undertaking Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize real-life examples of farmers in modern Australian agriculture.
Out of the Field
Out of the field our YFC are continuing their leadership journeys by embarking on a range of diverse programs. Tim Eyes has joined the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation Trail program and Chloe Dutschke is working with YFC friend Rebel Black in her Emerging Women Leaders program. We look forward to them all sharing snippets of their new-found wisdom with us soon.
Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program participants Jess Fearnley and Emily May participated in a session of Paddock Pen Pals as part of the 2020 Kreative Koalas program. As you can see from Emily’s Facebook post it was a highlight for her
Other YFCs are honing their presentation skills as they share their own stories – both career and life related. Emma Ayliffe sat down with PYiA journalist Mandy McKeesick to discuss Emma’s new communication app Yacker, Anika chatted with Natalie Isaacs, founder of 1 Million Women, in an Instagram live event, Peta Bradley was the guest of a UNE podcast, while Kirsty McCormack (live from Canada where she works as technical sales manager for Quantum Genetix) spoke at the Advancing Women in Agriculture conference.
Young Farming Champion Sharna Holman is sharing her careers in agriculture pathways wise advice in this series of forums with PIEFA
Jo Newton discussed her cancer diagnosis with Women’s Agenda and Dione Howard once again interviewed Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter – this time on the importance of occupational safety.
Our YFCs find themselves in diverse arenas and may be the interviewee or the interviewer. How do they prepare, how do they control their nerves and what lessons have they learnt that we in turn can all learn from? Well, we asked them. Read their responses here.
“To work alongside 5,000 farmers – some of the most hard-working and inspiring people I’ve ever met – is a true privilege,” Anika says. “These farmers do not accept environmental degradation as inevitable. They do not accept worsening climate conditions and increasing fragility in their rural communities. They know we can do better. So they are stepping up, standing face to face with the big challenges, and saying ‘I’ll be part of the solution’.”
It’s “happy non-wedding” day to YFC Melissa Henry and fiancée Simon Maher. They printed their wedding invites in early March but as COVID19 struck and borders were closed the invitations were never sent. Here’s looking forward to a real wedding next November with an even bigger celebration (and bigger cake!).
YFC Dwayne Schubert did manage to pull off a minor miracle with the support of the legal amount of family and friends and trusty zoom for extended family across the ditch married his long term partner Libby Cooper on the farm in Tassie
National Ag Day, on November 20, is usually a frantic time for the team at PYiA as we gear up for the Archies award ceremony but with COVID postponing our celebrations we have found another way to showcase Australian agriculture – we are celebrating and thanking Next Gen through a series of online webinars!
The first webinar will be hosted by Josh Farr. In 2017, Josh founded his first company, Campus Consultancy, which has gone on to become a market leader in the training space for students. His team has taken more than 14,000 student leaders through their workshops on leadership, entrepreneurship & emotional intelligence.
In Friday’s webinar Josh will run two workshops for school students ( in NSW and QLD) and our YFC to hone their 21st century employability and resume writing skills, with emphasis on the four Cs: communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration. This workshop will put the cream of the crop in our schools and agriculture’s future – on the path to being work ready and ensuring they stand out from the crowd.
The second workshop will be hosted by international facilitation guru Les Robinson who will sit down with teachers and YFC to design a sustainability action project through the lens of agriculture. This “Train the Trainer” workshop will provide teachers with techniques and a well laid step by step facilitation model that will help them empower their students to design and deliver their own sustainability action projects in their schools and in the community.
This collaboration between teachers, students and our YFC will give young people community action skills and ownership of the solutions with the capacity to inspire their communities to practice good social and environmental habits. Participants will be provided with tips and tricks on how to keep students engaged and enthusiastic about the project.
In addition to our students, teachers and YFC the webinars will also be an opportunity to celebrate and thank another cohort of future agricultural leaders – our Corteva scholarship finalists. The winners of the scholarship will join our Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program, which will enable them to take their stories to another generation of consumers.
National Ag Day, teachers and students and emerging leaders in agriculture – the perfect collaboration for a bright agricultural future.
We encourage them to be life-long learners and provide them with ongoing opportunities to be critical and creative thinkers and informed and active citizens of the communities the work, live and play in.
They see everyday as a new opportunity to enhance those skills.
One way we did this during COVID was to develop the Leadership is Language webinar series where Young Farming Champions have the opportunity to host a webinar and interview some of the world’s foremost thought leaders on communicating how we can show leadership by the language and communication styles we use.
Our guests challenge us to change the way we talk as leaders by learning the language of creativity, collaboration and commitment. They illustrate the powerful intersection of communication and leadership and offer simple steps to transform your thinking, your influence and the lives in your span of care and how we can reinvent our leadership style to meet the evolving demands of the new marketplace.
With such a star-studded list of guests how did our YFC prepare for their interviews and how did they find the experience? What have they learnt that will help them (and others) in the future?
Lucy Collingridge was thrown in the deep end as the opening act for Leadership is Language when she spoke with Nicole McDonald, and she followed this up with the internationally acclaimed Michael Bungay Stanier in Series 2.
“I have done a bit of microphone commentary/interview work at shows and our Cootamundra Hereford Heifer Show but this rewarding experience threw me well out of my comfort zone.
Before my interview I listened to Brene Brown’s podcast about FFT’s (effing first times). She speaks about naming the new thing, normalising it and embracing the suck – that it will be hard, I will feel nervous and intimidated but it won’t last forever. I needed to deal with the nerves to get to the good part.
In my first interview with Nicole I was able to catch up with her prior to our interview however I didn’t have this with Michael. I honestly didn’t know who he was so I did my research and learnt who he is and what he has accomplished. Speaking to such an amazing human with so much knowledge was daunting but Michael is such an engaging and open person.
I thoroughly enjoyed our chat, especially as he has no background in agriculture so he was a set of fresh eyes to the issues we face in the industry. I can’t wait to listen back to our chat another 10 times to keep getting things from it!”
Anika Molesworth, already an accomplished speaker, presenter and interviewer, sat down for a chat with Francesca Earl and found you can learn something from every experience.
“It was fantastic to have a chat with the inspiring Franny Earp, who has such depth of knowledge on communicating in different socio-cultural settings. It was hard not to get lost in her adventurous stories from working in South Africa to Laos. I was excited to learn from her and hear how she overcame challenges in communication that comes with doing international agricultural work. My questions came from a personal curiosity and that helped the conversation to flow seamlessly… it was difficult to end it because I was enjoying our chat so much!”
Emma Ayliffe was both interviewer (when she spoke with succession planner Sally Murfett) and interviewee (when she spoke about her new app Yacker).
“The Leadership is Language series has been exciting, fun, inspiring and challenging, but also a great opportunity to gain confidence and practices skills in interviewing, questioning and recording.
It was quite daunting to be at the helm of creating a conversation with Sally that was going to be interesting and relevant for a topic that can be controversial and difficult to breach (succession planning) but tapping into her expertise was phenomenal.
Preparation for the interview took the form of reading and researching Sally and her role in agriculture and talking to my partner and his family about their burning succession questions. From there Sally and I had a quick zoom to meeting to discuss what we were going to go through and I watched a few interviews on YouTube to see what I liked in an interviewer.
The bigger concerns I had were ensuring we captured the key points and ideas …. and hoping that the internet held up! I felt the nerves when we started but being a recording we reminded ourselves we had the ability to cut and change where needed.
The best part for me was talking to an amazing person about a topic that was extremely relevant to me.”
Here is a wrap of Leadership is Language – Series 1.
Our very first Leadership is Language conversation opened with YFC Lucy Collingridge talking with social science researcher Dr Nicole McDonald. Nicole spoke about how she found agriculture through psychology and how communication is a key tool to uniting this diverse industry.
“…..communication is how we connect and understand each other. Words are absolutely important, but then it’s also your tone of voice, it’s your volume, it’s your self-expression; it’s what you’re wearing. All of these things send messages about who you are, what you’re trying to convey. Communication is much bigger than just text or words…”
For the second conversation we engaged friends of the YFC Kirsty White and Rebel Black. Human agronomist Rebel spoke about what leadership means to her and why she thinks, at the end of the day, life is a game to be played.
“…..I think leadership, great leadership requires a high level of personal responsibility, and that’s a very challenging thing to do. It’s much easier for us to blame the outside world for the things that are going on in our lives or in the lives of the people that we care about. True leadership, I believe is a hundred percent self-responsibility, which then enables you to navigate through life in a more easeful way,….”
Third up was Youth Voices Leadership Team chair Emma Ayliffe speaking with Sally Murfett about the power of positive communication in succession planning.
“…. nothing happens without relationship and communication. If you can’t get this part right, nothing else is going to happen along the way. So invest in this process. Invest in yourself so that you can sit at the table and have these conversations that are going to get great outcomes for yourself and great outcomes for the family.”
Then it was time for YFC Hannah Hawker to sit down with Graham Smith, the Australian Rural Leadership Program Mentor, who discussed the importance of throwing out stereotypes and misconceptions.
“….leadership really is a series of processes. It’s not a product or an output or an outcome .. .and if you dig down into that, more often than not, communication will come up as the most important process in leadership.”
YFC Anika Molesworth chatted with Francesca Earp about her research work in Laos and why actively listening to your people it the most important tool to understanding them.
“…..have proper conversations with farmers about why they’re doing things and what’s influencing those decisions … tailor ag extensions to why farmers are making those decisions.”
Internationally acclaimed leadership coach Dave Stachowiak was the guest of YFC Dione Howard for the sixth instalment of the series. Together they spoke about how to build ally relationships between consumers and farmers.
“…..we can come back at look at ourselves and say, “Okay, now that we’ve figured out what’s important, or at least some indicators of what may be important, where do we have some common alignment?” That’s a great starting point then for that relationship.”
Rounding off Series 1 of Leadership is Language was PYiA journalist Mandy McKeesick getting the lowdown on the new conversation app Yacker, developed by YFC Emma Ayliffe.
“It’s particularly important to be empathetic in difficult conversations. It’s important to do the work before you go into those conversations, so that you can see things through their eyes and prepare yourself for what the potential reactions could be, and think about the best way to craft the conversation.”
Series 1 has been a remarkable success and we look forward to the next series with a diverse range of guests involved with coaching, communication, stakeholder engagement, collective impact and action, worker health and safety, fishing, water, food recycling and much more.