Partnerships the key to attracting and retaining agriculture’s best and brightest

In 2019 Picture You in Agriculture (PYIA) has joined with the University of New England (UNE) to provide the Young Farming Champions (YFC) program to five undergraduate university students.

Many Young Farming Champions have undertaken their studies at UNE with alumni including research geneticist Dr Jo Newton, Local Land Service Officers Lucy Collingridge and Jasmine Whitten, animal welfare researcher Dr Danila Marini, cadet lawyer Meg Rice, agronomist Casey Onus, beef marketing executive Kirsty McCormack and sales managers Kylie Schuller and Diana George.

The Young Farming Champions program has equipped these early-career professionals with skills to share their agricultural journeys and, in doing so, enhance their career ambitions and take their place amongst the leaders of Australian agriculture.

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So why does a partnership between PYiA and tertiary institutions make such good sense?

From the student’s perspective:

  • Connects them with early career professionals and emerging leaders and opens their eyes to the plethora of jobs available in the agricultural sector,
  • Builds networking opportunities,
  • Installs and builds student confidence,
  • Provides exposure to industry partners,
  • Allows students to stand out from the crowd
  • Provides targeted holistic leadership development opportunities
  • Join a movement of like-minded people who can amplify each others voices

From the tertiary institution’s perspective:

  • Increases feelings of engagement and belonging in the university community,
  • Grows communication, collaboration and leadership skills,
  • Improves progression, retention and aspirations of promising students,
  • Showcases support for current students
  • Exposure on national and international stages as a supporter of emerging leaders

From an employer perspective:

  • Identification of the best and brightest young agricultural minds,
  • Improved attitudes and curiosity for a broad spectrum of careers in agriculture,
  • Increased ambitions for young talent to see leadership roles & pathways for development within the agriculture industry,
  • Opportunities to collaborate with research institutions, industry & young leaders striving to make positive change.

By partnering with tertiary institutions PYiA draws Young Farming Champions directly from a pool of keen agriculturists; students who have agriculture at their heart and who are willing to put their hands up to develop skills outside of their curriculum. Students accepted into the new YFC program partnership will undergo professional development to become the voice and next-generation leaders of Australian agriculture.

Watch this space for the announcement of our 2019 UNE Young Farming Champions

Young Farming Champion Muster April 2019 Edition 1

This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the country (and globe!)

In the Field

Sheep breeders descend on Dubbo.

Central West NSW was home to all things sheep on the week of the 18th of March. Wool Young Farming Champion (YFC)  and Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) Secretary, Peta Bradley was present along with a 300 plus strong crowd at the Sheep CRC Final Conference celebrating 19 years of industry collaboration, research and adoption. Following this Sheep Genetics, who Peta works for, had their Leading Breeder conference, 170 sheep breeders from 6 states plus New Zealand attended.The conference theme was “Breeding sheep for a Future Environment”. See the word cloud below from the conference under the #leadingbreeder19 tag taken from the avid sheep breeders on Twitter.

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Jasmine Whitten our Eggs Young farming Champion has been busy attending the Local Landcare Coordinator State Gathering in Sydney. This was an event where all the coordinators from across NSW got together for a few days of networking, sharing and learning from each other. At the event Jasmine participated in strategic planning, governance, and group facilitation workshops. She learnt a few tips and tricks which will hopefully make their way into her school presentations in this year’s Archibull Prize.

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On top of this Jasmine in her role as a Local Landcare Coordinator at Western Landcare worked with the Buckwaroon Landcare Group organised a schools event for year 4 students at Cobar Public School. This event was called Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms and taught students how farmers care for their soil through the use of QR codes, using a stream table and an experiment which focused on the importance of grasses in our farming systems. It was a huge success with students asking if they can do it every single week!

Check out this little girl explaining how it all works  – another Jasmine in the making

YFC Calum Watt is kicking big goals in Western Australia as he researches better breeds of barley at Murdoch University in Perth. Calum is completing a PhD aiming to increase barley yields under future predicted temperature increases and has been nominated by his university to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in August. We look forward to the insights from the symposium – jump over to the blog to read more about Calum’s research!

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The ‘field’ for many of our YFCs currently extends well beyond the paddocks of Australia – YFC Laura Phelps is currently in the United Kingdom leading the team responsible for EU-Exit for the Food Standards Agency. The Food Standards Agency makes sure that food is safe, what it says it is and that the rights of the consumer are protected. Laura has put together a guest blog for us on what she’s loving about working in the UK and the path that led her there – have a read and check out her visit to Hogwarts!

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YFC and YVLT Chair Jo Newton guest hosted the Picture You in Agriculture Facebook Page from Ireland which also happens to coincide with the day of the Irish – St Patricks Day! Originally Jo started her YFC experience has a Wool YFC and she got her sheep fix by heading to an Irish sheep farm for lambing. You can read more about Jo’s experiences on our Facebook Page.

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Some of the Eastern States were lucky enough to get under some much needed rain over the last fortnight with some significant rainfall reports recorded. Reports of >120mm in Central West NSW were recorded and some rivers which have not flown in 2 and a half years now have water moving downstream.

As Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge commented it would have been pretty awesome to watch the Castlereagh River start flowing again in Coonamble! This footage right on 12pm as the waters hit town ☔️

Fingers crossed that this is a sign of things to come for the rest of 2019 and follow up rainfall is not too far off the horizon. See our Facebook Page to see where the rain fell!

Rainfall

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Out of the field

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Now for an update on the launch of our Paddock Pen Pals program! Last muster we’d had the first couple of Google Hangout sessions beaming our YFCs straight into the classroom. The next wool YFCs taking the schoolroom to the paddock – or wool selling centre – were Sam Wan and Chloe Dutschke. Sam had an immediate connection with the students from Carlingford West Public School, being a city-kid herself. Chloe tuned in from the vast plains of Hay NSW which amazed the students in their classroom.

Our YFCs are again gearing up for Primary School Preview Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which will be held on 11th April. Students in Years 4-6 will experience the show behind the scenes and learn about Australian agriculture in a series of fun and interactive workshops. This year we are excited to be partnering with University of New England (UNE) and their Discovery Voyager team to bring five workshops to students on the day. YFC Jasmine Whitten will be talking all things eggs, YFCs Sam Wan and Haylee Murrell will be sharing the wonders of wool, YFC Casey Onus will workshop the secrets in soils and YFC Tim Eyes will bring the story of bees to students. We can’t wait to share with you some stories from the day in our next muster!

Earlier this month YFC and Youth Voices Vice Chair Emma Ayliffe recapped her recent trip to Israel over on our Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page. Emma shared many insights into the 2019 ADAMA Young Agronomist Study Tour, including everything from farming systems in Israel to the nation’s rich cultural landscape. 

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Emma’s recap coincided with World Water Day on March 22nd, here’s what Emma had to say about water use in Israel:

I was lucky enough while in Israel to spend a day looking a desert farming, it is amazing to see high value crops being successfully grown in a region that receives 30mm/year! Irrigation allows these small producers to capitalise on their land, even though the water they use is extremely salty. This means that irrigation decisions need to carefully assessed based on weather, soil salt levels and the growth stage of the crop. It is truly amazing to see what can achieved with a bit of determination.”

Catch up on more of Emma’s recap over at our Facebook page!

Prime cuts

Congratulations to part of the YFC family, Greg Mills, who alongside his business partner in FutureGen Education Angela Colliver, was recognised for innovation in training programs in meat processing plants across NSW. Greg and Angela have developed programs to introduce school teachers to the industry, including plant tours and processing operations such as biosecurity risks, ethical handling of animals, use of robotics and packaging. Well done Angela and Greg!

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Greg Mills and Angela Colliver of FutureGenEducation 

This week the NSW & ACT Geography Teachers’ Association annual conference is to be held at Sydney’s ANZ stadium. Climate YFC Anika Molesworth is keynote speaker at the conference and will speak on youth in agriculture, climate and community. This year’s conference theme is “reflecting on the past, assessing the present and shaping the future” and we are proud that Anika has been chosen to share her powerful messages on this theme. Congratulations Anika!

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Introducing the highly successful Paddock Pen Pals

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Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) in association with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has launched a new school-based program to connect students to Australian farmers and agriculture. Called Paddock Pen Pals the program utilises Google Hangout sessions to beam Young Farming Champions (YFC) directly into the classroom.

Google Hangout like sessions have been used successfully in the past to take the schoolroom to the paddock, such as when YFC Emma Ayliffe used the technique with Parramatta Public School for The Archibull Prize. For teacher Esra Smerdon the experience brought a real-world connection to the students. “When we skyped with Emma she was able to show us how they used moisture probes to identify whether or not they needed to water and how they used that data to inform them,” she said. Read more about Emma’s interaction with Parramatta Public School here.

The Paddock Pen Pals program was launched recently at Sydney’s Carlingford West Public School where 300 Year 6 students gained insights into sheep and the wool supply chain from YFCs Danila Marini, Dione Howard, Sam Wan and Chloe Dutschke.

Carlingford West is a large inner-west primary school with a high percentage of English-second-language students.

“Many of my students have little time outside and have never visited a farm,” teacher Zoe Stephens said. “In order to make their learning relevant, I wanted to connect them to real farmers to share what they have learnt and see what real farms are actually doing in Australia.”

The first YFC to talk to the students via the big screen was CSIRO Sheep Researcher Dr Danila Marini who discussed animal wellbeing, virtual fencing and technology.

Danila Marini
Dr Danila Marini, UNE post-doctoral student, is researching the welfare implications of virtual fencing on sheep.

“The students were absolutely fascinated by the process of using digital technology like those new collars Danila is a part of, creating virtual fences,” Zoe said.

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The following day the students were introduced to Riverina Local Land Services District Veterinarian Dione Howard and again both students and teacher were enthralled.

“I think Dione may have inspired some students to become future vets,” Zoe said. “The medical equipment she showed the students was amazing; especially as they could identify that we use the same equipment for humans.”

Wool Technical Coordinator at Elders National Wool Selling Centre in Melbourne Sam Wan was the third YFC to Google Hangout with the students and she had an immediate connection, being herself a city-kid.

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“The students were amazed that someone like them, a city kid from another country, could become involved in the wool trade,” Zoe said.

The final YFC was Sheep Musterer Chloe Dutschke who beamed into the school direct from the vast plains of Hay, and the students were fascinated by the open spaces and huge areas.

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One student commented:

“I always thought the sheep were just in a green little paddock.”

Paddock Pen Pals has given the students an opportunity to talk to real farmers about their daily life and to ask real-world questions about what they produce and how they work the land. In response the students are now making short movie-style presentations to share with their YFCs.

This pilot of Paddock Pen Pals at Carlingford West has been an immediate success with Zoe recommending the program to fellow teachers and congratulating all PYiA people involved:

“I want to extend a huge thank you to Lynne (Strong) and the wonderful farmers. Every farmer brought a unique perspective to our students and opened windows into the world of agriculture that they had never experienced. Highlights from the students were the virtual fencing collars, vet equipment and caring for a flock, looking at how wool is marketed and sold and viewing the great open spaces of Hay. Thank you for your time, enthusiasm and energy. When I asked the students to raise their hand if they enjoyed meeting a farmer every hand when up! That just doesn’t happen with Year 6.”

Thank you Zoe and Carlingford West Public School students our Young Farming Champions declared you were the highlight of their week

 

Primary School Preview Day an opportunity to meet the scientists and young people working in agriculture

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On April 11 the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW will run their Primary School Preview Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) and the Young Farming Champions (YFC) will be right in the thick of it once again.

The Primary School Preview Day is an invitation for students in Years 4-6 to experience the show behind the scenes and to learn about Australian agriculture in a series of fun and interactive workshops.

New for 2019 is a two-fold partnership between PYiA and the University of New England, which will see each workshop supported by a scientist from the UNE Discovery Voyager team. Current students of the university will also attend and learn the art of activation from YFCs Casey Onus and Sam Wan, as well as presenting their own workshop titled Under the Fleece, which will look at lamb chops and other lamb-based menu items.

The activations hosted by PYiA and UNE are a prime example of intergenerational mentoring with established scientists assisting early-career YFCs who, in turn, will take university students under their wings to teach primary school kids.

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Getting Down and Dirty

Five Young Farming Champions supported by University of New England students will present the following workshops asking the kids to get their hands dirty, test the freshness of eggs, explore the uses of wool,  and play the pollination game. This is what can be expected:

Eggscellent with YFC Jasmine Whitten:  Under Jasmine’s enthusiastic tutelage students will become egg farmers and test the quality of the eggs destined for the family fridge, to ensure a great eating experience.

Amazing Wool with YFC Haylee Murrell: Using interactive questions and answers Haylee will teach the kids about the properties of wool, allowing them to touch and feel wool straight off the sheep’s back.

The World Wants Aussie Wool with YFC Samantha Wan: Sam will take students on a journey around the world as she buys fleece from Aussie farmers and turns it into all sorts of woollen products.

Our Soils Feed the World with YFC Casey Onus: Casey will get dirty and teach kids to find worms and other critters that make our soil perfect for growing our food.

The Purpose of Pollinators with YFC Tim Eyes: Tim will use bees, flies, bats and wind to pollinate plants and show kids the difference between pollen and nectar.

Year 4-6 primary school students are invited to an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek of the Sydney Royal Easter Show the day before the gates officially open on the 12 April. On Primary School Preview Day, students will explore the concepts of food and fibre production in Australia in a round-robin workshop format with fun, interactive workshops that are linked to syllabus outcomes. LAST CHANCE! Ticket sales close Mon April 1st.  You can book your school’s tickets here

If your school is coming to Primary School Preview Day dont forget to say hi

 

 

Lessons Learnt No 2 – Creating Confidence to Share your Story

One of the cornerstone programs conducted by Picture You in Agriculture is Young Farming Champions, which trains and encourages young agricultural professionals to share positive stories with all stakeholders, whether that is community, industry or government bodies. In our ten years of operation the methods by which this is achieved have been evaluated and refined, as the YFCs have spread their wings to share their stories – from classrooms to the international stage.

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On commencement of the YFC journey participants attend workshops held by some of Australia’s finest communication, marketing and professional development experts including Lead Workshop Facilitator Jenni Metcalfe from Econnect Communication and Greg Mills from GoAhead Business Solutions.

“Some YFCs are very nervous about speaking in front of their peers, school kids or other audiences,” Jenni says, “but once you give them a structure to follow, some tips – reinforced by video analysis – on how they can appear more confident in front of an audience, and some guidance with visual aids they actually start to enjoy presenting. At the end of the day, if you’re enthusiastic about what you do, people can’t help but listen to your story.”

The aim of the workshops is to not only create confident, independent and reflective thinkers but to equip them with skills to tackle difficult subjects and audiences. In the safety of a controlled environment new YFCs are challenged.

“It says something about the YFCs that one of the most requested training sessions is the one that is designed to be the most uncomfortable. It is awesome to work with a group of young people who are always looking to step up to new challenges,” Greg says. “The ‘Dealing with Difficult Questions’ session is designed to put YFCs in a very uncomfortable and unrelenting situation where they are challenged to answer some of the most difficult questions of agriculture in a high-pressure environment. It gives them the opportunity to practice their communication skills while getting candid feedback on their performance and they gain the confidence to handle any of the real-life situations they may encounter.”

Lucy Collingridge was one YFC to take on Greg’s session in a mock interview with The Land journalist Alex Druce.

“Due to the topic being a highly contentious and emotional issue in regional NSW, I was initially nervous about my replies to Alex’s questions,” Lucy says. “However, I remember as the interview went on and I became more comfortable with using my own experiences to answer questions, I became more confident in myself. In the end, I really enjoyed the interview and being challenged on the topic, as well as being given the opportunity to share my experiences.”

Completion of the workshops leads to YFCs entering schools with The Archibull Prize to put their new skills to the test for the first time as they stand in front of students and teachers. And from here the opportunities are endless. YFCs go on to speak at industry conferences, to the media, to give TEDx presentations, to engage with the public at agricultural shows, to speak eloquently to politicians and to put their hands up for any chance to share their messages.

Lucy now conducts media interviews in her job with NSW Local Land Services and knows the training she has received has given her the skills to tackle contentious issues with confidence.

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PhD student at Murdoch University in Perth and YFC, Calum Watt is another who credits the training with helping his career. As a barley researcher Calum is regularly called upon to present his findings to industry conferences.

“I feel confident speaking generally,” he says, “and I feel practice is a critical part in getting it right and reducing nerves. The YFC workshops have helped me articulate my thoughts far better than before.”

Perhaps the best example of how YFC creates confidence to share comes from Jo Newton who has spoken at national and international events and who recently discussed her career journey in her first podcast with Josh Farr on The Campus Experience. In the 40 minute interview Jo discussed her involvement with Enactus, while studying at the University of New England, and with Young Farming Champions and told of her journey from a nervous presenter with palm cards to today’s confident alumni who walks about the stage without any notes.

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As always, Jo paid tribute to the YFC program in the podcast.

“It’s a pretty special experience getting to work alongside these tireless, passionate, dedicated young people where we have common values and shared passion,” she said. “I feel like every day I open up my emails and see another fantastic achievement of one of our team and it fills me with so much pride to see these other young change-makers standing up for what they believe in and going out and making a difference.”

Josh identified the top quotes from Jo’s interview as

Saying thank you isn’t enough for the opportunities you can have as a young person.

In Australia less than 1 in 3 leadership positions are held by women. In agriculture its less than 1 in 7 leadership positions held by women.

I got real world project management experience hosting an event for 300 people & bringing 20 companies to Armidale. These practical real-world skills help you stand out when you’re looking for a grad job. 

We’re a group of students. We’ve discovered that we don’t really know what we’re going to be next year & we’d like to change that. This is what we’re going to do. 

I said yes to any opportunity to get up in front of people. The nerves are still there & now I see them as a good thing. A colleague said, “The butterflies are a good thing, because it means I care & if I ever get up in front of people to speak & I don’t have that’s when I’ll worry because it means I’ve stopped caring.” 

If you equip a whole team & bring the whole team on the journey you are paying it forward by giving other young people access to opportunity & they pay it forward again & you have this amazing ripple effect.

and the statistics show that impact the Young Farming Champions and the programs they are delivering haveImpact.JPG

Do you want to have the confidence to share your agricultural story?

Applications for the 2019 YFC program are now open. Find out more here 

Application Closing Date 4th April 2019

Contact Program Director Lynne Strong E: lynnestrong@pyia.com.au for an expression of interest form

 

Greg Mills and Angela Colliver win 2019 Meat Industry Trainer of the Year Award

Picture You in Agriculture is a family thing and there are many people who support us and what we do. Two of the wonderful people who we consider part of our family are Greg Mills and Angela Colliver who work in partnership as FutureGen Education. On Wednesday, March 27 they were recognised for their innovative training programs in meat processing plants across New South Wales.

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Greg Mills and Angela Colliver 

Held at the Gold Coast, the MINTRAC National Training Conference celebrates those providing education and training services to meat processors. The 2019 Meat Industry Initiative Award was presented to Angela Colliver Consulting Services for the programs Greg and Angela have developed to introduce school teachers to the industry.

“The award is a recognition of what can be achieved when content is well matched to the curriculum and teachers are given access to industry facilities and industry experts,” Greg says.

The program involves engaging teachers in a suite of Technology Mandatory training days, which have been held at high schools, meat processors and training organisations including Canley Vale High School, James Ruse Agricultural High School, TEYS Australia, Gundagai Meat Processors, JBS Australia and RuralBiz Training.

Each training day was accredited by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and attending teachers were accredited with six hours of professional learning. Plant tours were facilitated and these introduced teachers to a range of processing operations including biosecurity risks, ethical handling of animals, use of robotics and packaging.

The training initiative attracted 173 teachers who teach Technology Mandatory, Food Studies or Agricultural Studies in Years 7-8 in schools and their feedback has been very positive:

  • “I will be encouraging teachers I know to implement plant tours and these educational resources into their programs as our schools need to provide educational learning that is relevant to the employment opportunities for this region in the future”.
  • “As I was taken through the abattoirs this experience will improve the way in which I explain the processing in the Beef Product Study.”
  • “This was the most wonderful PD I’ve ever attended. I was able to bring resources home and implement them immediately into comprehensive programs provided by the course presenter on the day.”

The training initiative has been re-registered with NESA for 2019.

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Check out Greg and Angela’s award winning Careers and School Resources here 

Congratulations Angela and Greg.

Young Farming Champion Calum Watt advancing the WA Grains Industry

“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”

CalumW_Photo.jpg Young Farming Champion Calum Watt is kicking big goals in Western Australia as he researches better breeds of barley at Murdoch University in Perth, and a recently announced $25,000 grant from the Council of Grain Grower Organisations Ltd (COGGO) Research Fund will aid his PhD studies aiming to increase barley yield under future predicted temperature increases.

Established in 2000, the purpose of the COGGO Research Fund is to invest in innovative new research and development projects from across the whole supply chain. “The money will essentially go to paying for glasshouse trials and undertaking genetic studies in the lab,” Calum says. “This project, if fully realised, has large economic potential.”

Calum is the first to realise economics plays only one part of the sustainability circle that is agriculture and his research will address a range of issues that must be balanced and managed by farmers.

“Through genetics and breeding we can develop varieties that use fertiliser more efficiently and increase pathogen resistance resulting in less fungicide and insecticide use,” he says. “Plant breeding can also result in greater water use efficiency (more crop per drop) and higher quality produce through biofortification (improving nutritional content).”

It is for reasons such as these that COGGO was attracted to Calum’s work.

“COGGO is privileged to be able to fund these valuable research projects for the advancement and improvement of the Western Australia grains industry”, Mr Rhys Turton, COGGO Chairman, says. “We have a long history of providing catalytic funding for new R&D ideas and have seen many past recipients make a significant impact on returns for Western Australian grain growers.”

Away from university Calum is making a mark on national and international levels presenting at barley conferences in Perth and Latvia this year and attending a statistics workshop in Bangkok. Both these overseas experiences have been funded by a postgraduate research scholarship. He has also been nominated by his university to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in August.

In 2018 Calum represented agriculture in the Western Australian Young Achievers Awards, reaching the semi-final stages.

“What I realise from events such as these is ultimately how small our industry is yet how much recognition we can achieve,” he says. “It’s a great networking event and it’s really the only type of awards night of this calibre over our way for youth in agriculture.”

Calum’s career will be one to watch as he endeavours to use his research for the greater good.

Calum Watt

“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”