Crafting Careers in Agriculture with Scott Graham from Barker College

Continuing our Crafting Careers in Agriculture series in this blog post we reach out to our thought leaders in the education sector

High school students from urban areas may think they have little connection to agriculture, but Scott Graham, Head of Agriculture at Barker College in Sydney, is not only challenging that belief but spearheading a revolution in the way the subject is taught, leading to a greater uptake of ag-related courses at university.

In January 2021 the Sydney Morning Herald analysed the 2020 HSC results and identified Barker College as an emerging centre for agriculture. Much of this emergence is credited to Scott who commenced work at Barker College in 2010 when 120 students studied agriculture in Years 9 to 12. This year Scott, and his team of five teachers, will oversee 365 students, 95 of whom will sit agriculture in the HSC.

Growing up in Sydney Scott is not from an agricultural background but was introduced to the subject at high school, where it was compulsory in Years 7 and 8.

“I may not have chosen agriculture otherwise [if it wasn’t compulsory] but I really enjoyed it and when it was voluntary from Year 9 onwards I continued and did it for the HSC in Year 12,” he says.

Scott Graham – Head of Agriculture at Barker College

With an interest in science and biology Scott chose to study agricultural science at Sydney University and in 2010 joined Barker, even though enrolment numbers meant he was only teaching three classes of agriculture, compared to a teacher’s full load of five classes. But agriculture at Barker was changing.

“We’ve positioned agriculture as a science in the same way as chemistry or biology, and by making it more academic have attracted the more academically talented students. We also try to make it relevant to their lives. Even if they are not going into agriculture [as a career] they are still going to consume food every day and need to know about it as much as anyone else. There is plenty of talk about how urban people are disconnected from the food supply chain and as interest from kids and their parents grows we need to promote agriculture in the right way. But, actually getting students interested is easy. One of our main issues is getting agricultural teachers as there is a severe shortage across Australia,” Scott says.

Most schools teaching agriculture will have a led-steer and show program but not at Barker College.

“I think this is an old image of agriculture and probably the completely wrong way around. I think if we started showing animals our numbers would drop because our image would change. Agriculture is not necessarily about being a farmer; only 18% of jobs in agriculture are on-farm,” he says.

Scott is researching this new way of teaching with a PhD through Charles Sturt University, looking at how to increase enrolments in agriculture at secondary schools and consequently increase agriculture enrolments at university. He believes the key is high school.

“You’re never going to fill jobs and positions at university if students don’t study agriculture at school and we need to capitalise on this with our students from Year 9 onwards.”

This changing approach to teaching agriculture is reaping rewards. Of the 1300 students sitting agriculture in the HSC across NSW in 2021, Barker College has 95 or over 7% of the total in one school. Of these Scott estimates 30% will go on to study an agriculture-related degree at university and become part of the 82% of people who work off-farm in the food and fibre supply chain.

Crafting a career in agriculture has never looked so good.

And how did Scott find his way into agriculture?

Scott grew up in Sydney with no exposure to agriculture until it was a compulsory subject in Years 7 and 8 of high school.

“I may not have chosen agriculture otherwise, but I really enjoyed it and when it was voluntary from Year 9 onwards, I continued and did it for the HSC in Year 12.”

With an interest in science and biology Scott chose to study agricultural science at Sydney University and in 2010 joined Barker College where he is now Head Teacher of Agriculture.

Visit Barker College Agriculture YouTube channel here

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn

Scott interviews three of his past students who studied food and agribusiness at Sydney University and who are now working in varied agricultural-related fields in urban environments. Watch the video here.

2021 Young Farming Champions – Introducing Bryan Van Wyk

Picture You in Agriculture is thrilled to welcome the fishing industry into our fold and our very first fishing YFC Bryan Van Wyk. Bryan is a shining example of one who is living his best life, working in a career he loves.

Let’s meet him.

Bryan can currently be found in Cairns or on the ocean in his role managing prawn trawlers for Austral Fisheries, but his story begins on the northern coast of Tasmania in Burnie where rock pools inspired a life-long appreciation for the marine environment.

“None of my family fished or had strong connections with the ocean but as a child I was fascinated with rock pools and would spend hours discovering all the different sea animals that lived in them. As I grew older, I found myself spending all my free time either fishing, spearfishing, or diving. The ocean was my happy place and I wanted to find ways to spend more time on the water and expand my knowledge of all creatures living beneath the surface,” he says.

Bryan’s happy place

Bryan attended Burnie High School and Hellyer College (also in Burnie).

“I remember a critical moment at school where all students were asked to think about what they wanted to do when they grew up. At the time I was not exactly sure what to pick but I remember being told that if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. I knew that I loved the ocean, so I began a journey towards studying marine science and tailored my schooling towards that goal.”

Post school Bryan continued to work towards his goal, completing a Bachelor of Applied Science (Marine Environment) with first class honours at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. Following a similar career path to Austral Fisheries CEO David Carter, Bryan was offered a job with Austral in his final year and in 2015 relocated to Cairns.

“It is rare for a graduate fresh out of university and with no experience to be offered a job with such a reputable company so I jumped at the opportunity.”

Bryan is now living the life he loves in Australia’s northern climes, as head of operations for Austral’s northern prawn fishing fleet. In this varied job he manages 11 trawlers, which involves monitoring the catch, product logistics, packaging distribution, equipment and ship maintenance, vessel surveys and liaison with industry bodies. He is also involved with bycatch reduction, product quality improvement and new innovations.

But beyond the job Bryan has high aspirations for fishing and the marine world he so cherishes.

“I would like to become a respected influencer and leader with a positive impact for the industry I work in. I believe that one day I will be leading my organisation in the Northern Prawn Fishery and hope to maintain a profitable operation while staying true to important values such as environmental sustainability and crew wellbeing. I would also like to empower others around me to think about the bigger picture and work collectively to tackle common threats such as climate change, pollution, bycatch and water development.”

With these goals in mind Bryan and Austral have turned to the Young Farming Champions program.

“I hope to learn from other people and their experiences in different industries. I want to compare issues and stories and discover strategies taken to overcome problems. I am keen to grow my personal development and network with like-minded people along the way and to sharpen my public speaking and communication skills.”

Welcome Bryan. We look forward to working with you on your YFC journey and beyond.

We also look forward to sampling some of these fabulous Austral products

 

Tony Mahar says finding hooks, promoting the diversity of careers, creating pathways and connecting people through networks are potential keys to unlocking the future of the agricultural workforce.

“I see an opportunity to create a greater understanding of the breadth of traditional jobs that can be tailored for the agricultural space. Things like nutrition, finance, international trade, code writers, data technology – all of these have opportunities in agriculture. So we’ve got to make sure that when people are coming through school they see the jobs that are on offer and say ‘Oh gee I would like to do that,’ or ‘I’m interested in technology and I can apply it to agriculture’. Once we get people into the industry, connecting them with others, building their networks and showing them the pathways are important steps in retaining them.”

As CEO of the National Farmers Federation Tony Mahar is on the frontline when it comes to advocating for constructive policy around agricultural careers and with the recent release of the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy it is a fitting time to invite him to contribute to our Crafting Careers in Agriculture series.

Tony Mahar CEO of National Farmers Federation

“Agriculture has evolved and our job roles are changing continually. These days you don’t have to be toiling in a paddock to work in agriculture, and as an industry we’ve got to get better at promoting those different careers,” Tony says, although he admits there is no silver bullet solution and it will be a big task involving schools, industry employers, government and stakeholders.

One of the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy recommendations was the introduction of an apprenticeship-type scheme for farm workers. Tony supports this:

“Vocational education, apprenticeships and traineeships have to be an entry point that we really focus on. There are a whole range of opportunities but we’ve got to have it structured around the skills and qualifications that agriculture needs and those needs may include science, economics and environmental aspects.”

Seeing agriculture with a defined career pathway is another challenge Tony sees facing the sector, something that will come with a greater understanding of the breadth of traditional jobs that can be tailored for the agricultural space.

“Things like nutrition, finance, international trade, code writers, data technology – all of these have opportunities in agriculture. So we’ve got to make sure that when people are coming through school they see the jobs that are on offer and say ‘Oh gee I would like to do that,’ or ‘I’m interested in technology and I can apply it to agriculture’. Once we get people into the industry, connecting them with others, building their networks and showing them the pathways are important steps in retaining them.”

Starting with students in primary school and connecting to not only their concerns but the concerns of their parents and family is a critical step to promoting agriculture, particularly in a time when the broader community is taking more interest in where their food and fibre comes from.

Yet sometimes the hook can be sitting in plain sight:

“I was lucky enough to be in a header in Moree a couple of weeks ago, and this is cutting edge technology. It was like being in a flight simulator. You’re controlling this million dollar machine with a joystick and screens and you could be playing in an actual video game. I couldn’t see a kid not getting excited and that makes this a very relatable bit of technology.”

Finding hooks, promoting the diversity of careers, creating pathways and connecting people through networks are potential keys to unlocking the future of the agricultural workforce.

Craig French says there are smart young shearers putting money away and buying houses and investing and buying property.

“There is big demand for agricultural workers on farms and a lot more opportunity for contract work – mustering, lamb marking etc. That means you’ve got a business and can build your own empire. There are smart young shearers putting money away and buying houses and investing and buying property, and post COVID there will not only be work all over Australia but work all over the world. And not all jobs are on farm or in the bush. AWI’s head office overlooks Sydney Harbour so you can live in a capital city and still be involved with the fibre.” Craig French AWI national manager of wool harvesting training and development.

Shearers and Young Farming Champions Tom Squires and Matt Cumming

In this third instalment of our Crafting Careers in Agriculture series we speak with Craig French, AWI’s national manager of wool harvesting training and development, who believes contracting and the renewal of wool processing in Australia offer opportunities for future careers in agriculture.

Craig French is a prime example of where a career in wool can take you. Born and bred in the northern suburbs of Sydney he had a longing for life on the land. Following his heart he travelled to Longreach Pastoral College after school to complete a wool classing qualification.

“I didn’t have a property to go back to so I started my wool career in the wool store in Sydney, then went jackarooing for three years, and then moved to Dubbo as a wool representative. I bought a farm here 18 years ago.”

Now running his own property while working remotely for AWI Craig believes wool harvesting is the perfect entry to a career in wool.

“I think we need to be targeting the Years 8 and 9 kids and giving them an introduction to wool harvesting – shearing, wool handling, wool classing, wool buyers and brokers. There are so many opportunities in the wool sector. I think COVID has made us look at what we do and how we do it and I believe Australia will have more early and middle stage processing [of wool] in the future and that will bring more jobs for people. But the initial attraction is shearing and wool handling.”

Formal qualifications are not required to become a shearer, which opens the job to anyone with a strong work ethic.

Craig French (far right) says a career in wool harvesting can take you everywhere

“You may not need qualifications [except for a wool classer, which requires a Certificate 4] but you need skills and AWI encourages these through events such as the annual National Merino Challenge and the School Wether Challenge, which engages with up to 50 schools at a time. One change we’ve seen is we have a lot more girls becoming shearers.”

With good money to be made Craig sees many opportunities for young people to craft their own career.

“There is big demand for agricultural workers on farms and a lot more opportunity for contract work – mustering, lamb marking etc. That means you’ve got a business and can build your own empire. There are smart young shearers putting money away and buying houses and investing and buying property, and post COVID there will not only be work all over Australia but work all over the world. And not all jobs are on farm or in the bush. AWI’s head office overlooks Sydney Harbour so you can live in a capital city and still be involved with the fibre.”

It comes as no surprise that when Craig is asked to nominate a career in wool he enthuses about shearing.

“A decent shearer shearing 150 sheep per day is earning roughly $2000 on a four-day week. It’s pretty good returns – that’s $100,000 a year. It may take 12-18 months to develop the skills to earn that money, however it’s not a bad apprenticeship.”

But don’t just take Craig’s word for it; here is what our Young Farming Champion Tom Squires has to say about his career in wool:

“Learning the craft of shearing at a young age has allowed me to complete a university degree, travel to seven countries around the world, buy my own sheep and to purchase a house. You’ll meet some of the best people in the sheds and have a great time along the way. Regardless of how long you spend in the industry, it’s a time in your life you will never forget.”

#CraftingCareers #CareersinWool #YouthinAg

 

Dr Neil Moss says attracting and retaining people in agriculture starts with being employers of choice

“Dairy business owners need to identify what it takes to become an employer of choice. There needs to be an increased realisation that they are competing not only against dairy but other sectors such as mining or even other more urban based sectors. Some of the shortcomings of the dairy workplace need to be acknowledged, worked around and perhaps modified or compensated for. Improved employer training as well as workplace training for employees is crucial to the success of the industry as it evolves and increasingly needs to look to those who are less familiar with agriculture to join its forces.”

Dr Neil Moss is a director of Scibus and a long-time consultant to the dairy industry. In this second instalment of our Crafting Careers in Agriculture series he shares with us his views on the role of industry in attracting the future workforce.

Australia’s food and fibre sector is in a highly competitive workplace for staff and Neil believes there is a role for industry to swing the competition in the favour of agriculture.

“To compete in this marketplace you need to offer jobs that are financially attractive, have potential for progression, and are interesting; certainly not jobs that are “the bottom of dung pile” to only be considered by those that can’t be employed elsewhere. A dairying career is actually very complex and requires planning and attention to detail. It is a technically challenging job that brings a wonderful balance of working with people, animals, technology and the environment.”

There is a general trend for dairy enterprises to become larger in the future and with this increase in size comes the potential for new jobs, such as a herd manager or fodder production specialists. These jobs may be very suitable and attractive for those who may have both practical skills and tertiary qualifications to support the high levels of animal husbandry, data analysis, reporting and nutrition skills required. However, employment of people in what was dominantly a family-run operation sees new challenges.

“Many successful farms have evolved with family labour and not a lot of off-farm or employed labour. As a result the people who move from sole operators to employers haven’t always been trained, or had the opportunity, to develop the skills and understanding of what being an employer in a modern agricultural enterprise really is. There is a real need for this to be addressed. Dairy business owners need to identify what it takes to become an employer of choice. There needs to be an increased realisation that they are competing not only against dairy but other sectors such as mining or even other more urban based sectors. Some of the shortcomings of the dairy workplace need to be acknowledged, worked around and perhaps modified or compensated for. Improved employer training as well as workplace training for employees is crucial to the success of the industry as it evolves and increasingly needs to look to those who are less familiar with agriculture to join its forces.”

Alongside employer education Neil believes there is a role for industry research groups to conduct workplace forecasting as precision agriculture and measuring and monitoring become more important to the business of dairy.

When asked to nominate a future job within the dairy industry Neil returns to the herd manager as an example.

“The salary can be anywhere between $60-150,000 per annum depending on scale and complexity of enterprise, and may include other benefits such as accommodation. It’s a complicated interesting career with potential for competitive financial rewards, career progression, training within the business and opportunities for international and domestic travel. The potential for taking equity or moving into your own enterprise may be opened up as well. Within the right businesses these can be fantastic career opportunities that should be on the radar of anyone interested in agriculture.”

and how did Neil find his way into a career in agriculture?

Neil was born in Sydney and when he was ten years old his parents brought the general store at Dalgety in southern NSW, and not long after a 350-acre property where they ran cows and calves. Neil’s high school holidays were spent working on local farms, which, in part, fired his determination to study veterinary science at university, which included a PhD in dairy cattle reproduction. Neil has a Diploma of Human Resource Management from NCDEA. He is currently a director of Scibus and is their senior consultant to the dairy and beef industries

Connect with Neil on LinkedIn

 

Crafting Careers in Agriculture Rob Kaan says it starts with engaging with young people and their parents (our consumers )

“We see the consumer being just as important as the farmer. Changing entrenched cultural values and beliefs held by parents is challenging so it’s really important to us to focus on students, which is why we target agriculture and STEM education in schools around the world. This helps the kids form their own educated and hopefully positive views on agriculture.” Rob Kaan MD Corteva Agriscience Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea

At Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) we have four goals.

Achieving Goal 4 – attracting the best and brightest people to the agriculture sector which we do using our Young Farming Champions as role models in our in-school programs The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas also requires a whole of sector commitment to

  • expose young people as early as possible to jobs in agriculture whilst they are at school
  • ensure there are multiple touch points to agriculture along their school journey
  • equip students and job seekers with navigation resources into agricultural career pathways and jobs
  • ensure industry routinely assesses its skills and credential requirements
  • inspire the agriculture sector to take a whole of supply chain approach to being the image we want the world to see.

In this Crafting Careers in Agriculture* series we speak with leaders in the industry to understand their views on the future of the agricultural workplace.

Following the opinion piece from Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe our first Thought Leader is Rob Kaan

Rob is the managing director – Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea – at Corteva Agriscience, a company ahead of the curve when it comes to workforce forecasting to ensure they have the right team on the ground supporting farmers now and in the future.

Rob believes engaging with school and university students and, in turn, their parents (the consumers) is an important avenue for attracting people to agriculture.

“We see the consumer being just as important as the farmer. Changing entrenched cultural values and beliefs held by parents is challenging so it’s really important to us to focus on students, which is why we target agriculture and STEM education in schools around the world. This helps the kids form their own educated and hopefully positive views on agriculture.”

“It’s also why working with PYiA is important because it provides a pipeline from school to university, allowing us to identify and develop talent. A great example is Corteva’s Steph Tabone who has recently joined the Young Farming Champion program.”

Sparking an agricultural interest in students and the consumers is only one step to attracting the future agricultural workforce. Rob believes creating a workplace where people want to work is critical and Corteva is actively addressing this.

“Diversity in many forms is important but gender diversity is critical so we work to have positive policies in place such as maternity and paternity leave and strive to have gender balance within our teams and leadership. Employee flexibility is another important factor and this has been highlighted with COVID. We still need good guidelines and rules in place to support collaboration, but I think young people want a flexible work environment. Another factor is technology. School kids don’t always make the connection between cool technology and agriculture. That is a big gap and one we want to change.”

Finally, Rob talks about what he calls the purpose of agriculture; a notion that the sector not only provides food and fibre, but is influenced by holistic real-word interests.

“Relationships with food companies and the active promotion of integrated pest management (IPM) are important activities that support our corporate values. Young people are also interested in these issues and issues such as sustainability and climate change.”

Corteva’s identification of the needs of the future workplace puts them in an optimum position to be an employer of choice for the students they are currently reaching in schools. And what example would Rob give them of a cool career?

“The future challenges for agriculture are both daunting and exciting at the same time, with a singular focus on the global need to grow more food with less; less labour, less water, less land and less impact. Developing and utilising automated technology is a great example of this– anything from driverless vehicles, sprayers and harvesters to specialised drones and satellites. Automation using cutting edge technology is going to be a huge global market that will help solve significant labour shortage issues in all countries.”

And how did Rob find his way into a career in agriculture?

Rob readily admits to having no affiliation or connection with agriculture during his childhood years. In fact, he wanted to be a veterinarian.

“I didn’t get the HSC marks to directly enter vet science, so the only other pathway was through agricultural science at Sydney University. Once I entered this stream, I found I really enjoyed it and stayed with a focus on agronomy.”

Connect with Rob on LinkedIn

* The Crafting Careers series is an initiative of the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) and their commitment to

  • expose young people as early as possible to jobs in agriculture whilst they are at school
  • ensure there are multiple touch points to agriculture along their school journey
  • equip students and job seekers with navigation resources into agricultural career pathways and jobs
  • ensure industry routinely assesses its skills and credential requirements
  • inspire the agriculture sector to take a whole of supply chain approach to being the image we want the world to see

Emma Ayliffe says there is an urgent need for industry to take a whole of farm approach to careers in agriculture.

We are very excited to be launching our Crafting Career series which is a culmination of a number of interviews with thought leaders in the agriculture and education sectors that call for the agriculture sector to move from awareness to action to ensure we are workforce ready now and in the future

The Crafting Careers series is an initiative of the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) and their commitment to

  • expose young people as early as possible to jobs in agriculture whilst they are at school
  • ensure there are multiple touch points to agriculture along their school journey
  • equip students and job seekers with navigation resources into agricultural career pathways and jobs
  • ensure industry routinely assesses its skills and credential requirements
  • inspire the agriculture sector to take a whole of supply chain approach to being the image we want the world to see

The series begins with an opinion piece by the 2020 Chair of the YVLT Emma Ayliffe which appeared in print and online media this week and is reprinted below

Over the next six weeks Rob Kaan MD of Corteva, Dr Neil Moss from SBScibus, Craig French from Australian Wool Innovation, Tony Mahar(National Farmers Federation) Lesley Leyland (Austral Fisheries)  Professor Jim Pratley and Scott Graham from Barker College will share their vision for a thriving agriculture sector that has a human centred design approach

“We are all only as good as the people we surround ourselves with”

Emma Ayliffe (right) with Summit Ag director Heath McWhirter and consultants Ben, Chelsea and Sam.

Opinion

As an agronomist, farmer, business owner and Young Farming Champion sharing my career journey in schools I know agriculture is providing me with an amazing career.

 

I work in agriculture. One day I might be out in the field advising a cotton grower about how to control whitefly, another day I will be managing my business, Summit Ag Agricultural Consulting, where we have six team members. I’m also a farmer producing wool, first cross lambs and growing wheat, oats, barley and canola. As a Young Farming Champion, I share my agricultural experiences with school kids in the city and the country.

 

I am continually discovering that many students are interested and passionate about agriculture, but they don’t know the breadth and depth of opportunities.

 

Yet we hear every day about on-farm staff shortages, and the consequences of this for increasing food prices. As people involved in agriculture, we need to become far more proactive and strategic in the way we promote agriculture as a career of first choice.

 

The statistics are in our favour. Research tells us there are six jobs for every graduate from an agriculture-related degree. For those not looking for an on-farm job,  82% of those jobs are beyond the farm gate and 40% are in cities. In the next ten years there will be a 15% growth in scientific, research and information technology jobs which support the production of food and fibre. There is also expected to be a 10% increase in jobs behind the farm gate and a 9% increase in jobs that provide agricultural education and training. Agriculture really has got it all.

Research also tells us that young people going from primary to secondary schools have closed their minds to 70% of the careers that are available. We also know 46% of Australians have at least one parent who wasn’t born here.

 

Reaching the hearts and minds of the next generation of agriculturists requires us to reach the hearts and minds of their parents. This starts in our schools. Going into schools and speaking with students, as I do with my role as a Young Farming Champion, means the potential future workforce can see what a career in agriculture looks like. It gives them role models and expands their view of agriculture behind and beyond the farm gate.

 

But if we are going to have real impact promoting agriculture to the next generation, we must move beyond sharing statistics and become specific. We must be able to show future employees (and their parents) what the jobs are and where they are.

 

This means our industry bodies need to provide clarity about predicting and planning for our future workforce needs. If we are to evolve and keep pace with our changing world and respond quickly and positively to unexpected events, we must have strategies for recruiting, training and developing capability, and mobility.

 

Students need to understand that a dairy herd manager can earn $150,000 a year and work internationally. They need to know  that you don’t need the HSC or tertiary education qualifications to earn $2000 for a four-day week as a shearer. Students need to be aware of the career opportunities available – from  modifying cutting edge technology to produce automated vehicles for the cropping industry to contributing to healthy oceans through working within aquaculture.

 

Then students can go home and influence the views of their parents and their communities – our consumers.

 

We also need industry to step up and provide an attractive workplace for future employees; workplaces that embrace diversity and gender balance, workplaces that offer flexible ways of doing business and workplaces that use high-end technology.

 

We need to showcase agriculture as providing food and fibre as well as delivering on strong consumer-driven ethics around issues such as climate change and sustainability.

 

To ensure agriculture attracts the best and brightest employees of the future we need to start now. We must identify skills gaps, conduct workplace forecasting, invest in our young leaders, promote positive stories, and listen to the consumer who is often the parent of tomorrow’s agriculturist.

 

I have an extraordinary career in agriculture. I want others to know they can too.

Seen first at Grain Central  

 

Announcing the 2020 Kreative Koalas artwork finalists

There is no denying teachers and students participating in Kreative Koalas in 2020 are champions

Today we are excited to share with you our artwork judge Wendy Taylor has selected her Top 5 koala canvases

This is what Wendy has to say about her Top 5 ( in alphabetical order)

Caragabal Public School

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a very Kreative Koala.

Dusty Paddocks is an environmental superhero.  He is dressed in a drought landscape with a shirt literally from a farmer’s back. The dry caked earth has permeated everything and is overwhelming him.

However, glimpsed beneath his shirt is a hope for a better future for the land. The abundance of green life sprouting and barely contained beneath the shirt is due to good environmental and sustainable practices. They help the environment endure and recover from droughts, as well as helping to educate local communities.

The unique concept of life on the land and important messages behind Dusty Paddocks is very interesting and captivates the viewer.

Carlingford West Public School

Atlantis is a utopian ideal.

It depicts an idyllic view of the planet we live upon, where beauty and interconnectedness are paramount. Water, which is intrinsic to all life, runs through the design, connecting all elements. It looks at both the little details and the big picture.

It highlights the need for us to work harder to preserve this beautiful and delicate ecosystem as there is quite literally no plan B (or in the words of Atlantis, “no planet B”).

Our planet is one of a kind just like this unique Atlantis.

Emu Plains Public School

Big Barry shows us life below the water.

Beautifully capturing the shimmering and fractured quality of light through water, Big Barry is a clever collage of coral and creatures.

The multitude of colours and textures highlight the many integrated and complex elements which combine to create a coral reef. They show the importance of all elements being in harmony with each other. When there is an imbalance within a delicate ecosystem such as the Barrier Reef, events such as coral bleaching can occur.

Big Barry teaches us that what we do on the land can have far-reaching impacts.

Gol Gol Public School

There is a distinct buzz around this Kreative Koala.

Queen Koala Bee leaves no doubt as to her theme. She is a hive of activity with swarms of busy little bees feasting on her nectar. The importance of these workers cannot be underestimated.

Varieties of bees are cleverly shown as they comb the beautiful gum foliage and flowers for pollen. They teach us about their importance to our community and to the environment, not just through the honey they produce, but also through pollination.

Be careful you don’t get stung, and watch out for her gorgeous claws!

Raymond Terrace Public School

Disco Inferno is a puzzle.

Made from many interconnecting pieces, he is a mix of disco mirror ball and aboriginal dot painting. At once, both modern and ancient in technique and materials.

This is also true of the story being told. The beautiful story about traditional methods of firestick farming and being custodians of our land, is balanced with modern issues around bushfires and the plight of the koala. It highlights the need for a holistic approach to conservation practices and shows that the choices that we make in our local environments collectively impact the global picture.

Disco Inferno’s mirror ball allows the viewer to see their own reflection and ask ‘what can I do to help?’

Extraordinary pieces of art that leave a life long legacy reminding everyone who see them the importance of caring for our planet and each other

#KreativeKoalaKids #YouthVoices #TheoryofChange

Find out about the Top 5 Community Action projects here 

It all begins by empowering teachers to engage their students in the theory of change

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Young Farming Champions Muster February 2021

Dr Jo Newton OAM

Headline Act

It was a proud moment for all involved with Picture You in Agriculture when our very own Young Farming Champion Jo Newton was presented with her OAM at Government House, Melbourne on February 10.

“After a long wait it was a memorable and magical day to attend Government house with my family and manager at Agriculture Victoria, Prof Jennie Pryce, for my OAM investiture and then enjoy a delicious celebratory lunch afterwards. Despite the mandatory mask wearing everyone’s smiles throughout the day were contagious and it was very special to be able to (finally) celebrate with my family and Jennie.

Physical distancing requirements meant the Governor could not pin medals to recipients and I was asked to nominate one of my guests to do this. I asked Jennie to attend the ceremony and pin my medal to me. As well as being my manager, she has been a mentor and role model to me since I started with Agriculture Victoria in 2015. Asking Jennie to pin my medal was also symbolic of the numerous mentors, role models and colleagues in the agricultural sector who have supported my agricultural journey so far.”

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Dr Jo Newton OAM with Dr Jennie Pryce (Agriculture Victoria),  Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau, Governor of Victoria, Jenny Weller-Newton, Alex Newton and Mike Newton.

Among Jo’s many roles as a YFC has been as Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT). The team allows YFC to hone their leadership skills in a safe environment, and to contribute to the running of the YFC program. The YVLT AGM will be held on March 15 and new committee members are encouraged to join. Please contact Jo or current Chair Emma Ayliffe for more details on what this can mean for your career.

In The Field

2020 may have been a year of challenges but one industry emerging shiny and bright from the COVID cloud is agriculture, and we celebrate all our YFC who are working on the front lines; YFC like Dione Howard and Emma Turner, both fierce advocates of the wool industry, who are participating in the 2021 NSW Livestock Leaders Agvocate Program to further enhance their storytelling and communication skills. Or, Emma Ayliffe of Summit Ag who is increasing her marketing of the app Yacker with a 6-month business boot camp run by Farmers 2 Founders.

2020 delayed some agricultural programs but they are taking off in 2021 with renewed vigour, such as the RAS Rural Achievers, which sees Dione lining up with other young agriculturists across the state. Read all about Dione and her fellow Rural Achievers here.

Dione joined other YFC wool enthusiasts Chloe Dutschke and Adele Smith at the Wyvern Training Weekend in February. Hosted by TA Fields Estate the weekend aims to mentor and educate young people in the wool and sheep industry and also conducts the Peter Westblade Scholarship, of which Chloe is a former winner. Adele and Chloe are both on the Scholarship Committee while Dione captivated her audience sharing her animal health knowledge in the Production to Processing workshop.

Moving away from livestock and onto plants and two YFC have been in the news promoting their respective careers in agriculture. Emily May talked about horticulture in Sydney’s peri-urban environment in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of NSW Farmers Federation magazine The Farmer, while grain and oilseed grower Marlee Langfield was the poster girl for the NFF 2020 National Agriculture Day Luncheon. She was also profiled on the Ag Day Bake-off, with some very delicious looking scones!

Congratulations to Emily who has recently started a new job as a graduate agronomist with Thomas Elder based in Forbes, central west NSW, for six months.

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Youth Voices Leadership Committee intern Jessica Fearnley also works in the plant world, as a development officer with temperate fruits (apples and cherries) for the NSW DPI. Not afraid of a challenge, Jess has embarked on a part-time Masters of Global Development at James Cook University.

“ Inspired by a conversation with Corteva Scholarship finalist Francesca Earp I choose Global Development because my dream is to work in research in the international agriculture space. I want to get more of an understanding of the different challenges these countries face, not just from an ag perspective. For example, I am going to do women health subjects (almost like medicine subjects) so I can understand other challenges these women might face in developing countries, as they are usually the farmers while the husbands go off to find work elsewhere. My major will be in climate mitigation and adaptation.”

 

Out of the Field

In an in-the-field/out-of-the-field crossover YFC Alexandria Galea, who works as a sales agronomist at Cotton Grower Services, led the Teach the Teacher Tour this year.

“It is by far one of my favourite events. It was an absolute joy to lead the tour, which saw 60 education professionals venture on farm to gain a hands-on experience of agriculture in the Central Highlands (QLD) and build relationships with the community.”

The Australian Association of Animal Science biennial conference was held during February with a host of YFC in action. The 33rd conference was hosted in Fremantle, WA, and online with regional hubs in Armidale, Wagga and Brisbane. Steph Fowler gave an update on her work on predicting eating quality of lamb using lasers.  Peta Bradley tuned in from the Armidale Hub and co-authored this paper looking at genetic gain across different regions in the sheep industry. Jo Newton shared lessons learnt while valuing herd improvement during the ImProving Herds Project (with an invited paper on the same topic just published in Animal Production Science) and Danila Marini’s work on virtual fencing was mentioned on Wednesday’s plenary session “Barnett Memorial Lecture” by Dr Caroline Lee. Well done team.

Doing their bit to promote rural and regional Australia are YFC Marlee Langfield and PYiA journalist Mandy McKeesick who have both joined Rural Room as media stringers. Rural Room, a network of rural creatives, aims “to create a progressive, dynamic, creative picture of life in regional Australia which extends beyond the stereotypes and perceptions that have traditionally perpetrated mainstream media.”

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Meanwhile, the YVLT’s Leadership is Language series kicked off 2021 with a well-attended seminar hosted by former-politician and community mover-and-shaker Cathy McGowan AO. Stand by for more inspiring episodes of the series as the year progresses.

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Prime Cuts

Sitting at the very top of the YFC Hierarchy of Outcomes is Global Impact – “Young Farming Champions share with the world what they have learnt and multiply their impact.” A shining example of this is Anika Molesworth who has been the “go-to” person for multiple media outlets as they report on the Australian Government’s internal squabble and inaction on net zero emissions by 2050. During February Anika, often with a trembling voice (such is her passion), has appeared on The Project and The 7.30 Report, on RN Radio and ABC PM, and in print with The Australian and The Saturday Paper.

“It’s been difficult to listen to the cowardly comments from some of Australia’s politicians this week. Unfortunately, problems do not go away when you close your eyes or block your ears. You have to actually do something about them. The role of Government is to look after its citizens, and at the moment they are failing to protect farmers from the threat of climate change. And we don’t accept this.”

Anika is a role model for many in agriculture as she invites us all to be part of the team that finds the solution. What to know more? Check out this trailer for an upcoming documentary: Harsh Climate Harsh Truth.

 

Lifetime Achievements

It is with enormous pleasure we announce the birth of Lachlan Hugh Thomas to YFC Bessie Thomas and husband Shannon from Burragan Station in far-western NSW. Lachlan was born on February at 1.10pm, weighing 3.3kg (7lb 5oz) and stretching 51cm long (exactly the same as his sister!).

Another YFC with exciting baby news is Naomi Brannan (Mulligan) who is expecting a baby girl with husband Sean.

YFC Peta Bradley has been swimming to raise money for sick kids as part of the Sunlight Super Swim. Her team, the HighCOWS, has raised over $14,000 to support kids in hospital and Peta has personally swum 120km in 30 days! Not even a change of pool or lightning could stop this aquatic powerhouse. Well done Peta.

That’s a wrap for our 1st Muster of 2021. We are all looking forward to see what March brings

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices #BeTheChange

Technology helping farmers get better outcomes for the planet

This is the second in a two part series journalist Matt Da Silva has created with Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe to share how Australian farmers are using information and technology gains to move toward #NetZeroFarming.

“We are proud to be adopting new practices that are better for our environment and helping to demonstrate that there are other ways of doing things; and, in my role as an agronomist, sharing this knowledge and learning.”

Farm Overview

Business and/or property name: C & E Pastoral, Gleeson’s

Business partners: Emma Ayliffe and partner Craig and his family

Farm size: 1700 acres (688 hectares)

Farm locality/region: Burgooney, Lake Cargelligo (roughly northwest of Wagga Wagga, in the central west of New South Wales, about 550km from Sydney)

Topography: rolling hills, red loam

Rainfall: 360mm per year

Primary outputs: Wool, first cross lambs, grains (mainly wheat but also some oats, barley and canola)

Secondary outputs: If above average rainfall, may plant canola, chickpeas, mungbeans.

Drone technology allows Emma to map the weeds on the farm. A drone is sent up to find green areas indicating that weeds have started to grow.

Tristan Stevenson from StevTech launching the surveillance drone.

Weeds use moisture that might otherwise be used by crops, and they also harbour insects and disease, so it is important to minimise their occurrence. Sending a drone out with a camera attached that transmits a video of the fields lets us pinpoint the areas that need spraying and reduces the use of chemical sprays. The resulting data maps the weed population and allows us to turn it into a green area map.

This allows us to maintain the best ground cover, control our weeds, and reduce resistance risk.

The StevTech ute with the drone on the ground in front of it.

Weed mapping allows us to minimise our chemical costs by targeting the only areas in the paddock that have weeds. We can often look at using higher value chemistries that may be cost prohibitive if we had to spray it all. Only spraying when we have too also helps avoid chemical resistance.

The following two images shows weed cover of paddocks. In the first image, drone mapping produces a 95 percent saving of chemicals.

Thank you to SteveTech for image

In the second image, drone mapping produces an 83 percent saving of chemicals.

Thank you to SteveTech for the image

Data from the drone mapping is  sent to a computer in the spray rig allowing the rig operator to target chemicals to conform precisely to hotspots where weeds are specifically concentrated. The following image shows what is displayed in the spray rig during application of chemicals, the olive green circles on the screen are the weeds being sprayed. Learn more about broadacre cropping weed detection here

The great thing about this technology is that we can utilise the machinery and systems that we already have, so don’t have to spend a lot of money on new equipment.

Thank you Matt and Emma for these insights on how modern farmers are minimising their use of herbicides to get better outcomes for farmers, consumer and the planet. Read how Matt blogged Emma’s story here

Improving farming’s productive efficiency will enable farmers to produce the same quantity of food, or more, with less
inputs, in smarter ways. This, in turn, will enable the sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

We can all be part of the solution. The cost of food waste to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $20 billion each year. Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food—that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets.

The impact of food waste also includes the energy, fuel and water used to grow food that may not be used. When food waste is sent to landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

To help address this important issue, the Australian Government committed in 2016 to develop a National Food Waste Strategy to establish a framework to support actions that work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This ambitious goal aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 for sustainable consumption and production patterns

Join the movement and Fight Food Waste 

#NetZeroFarming #TogetherWeCan #YouthinAg