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.
After a decade of connecting students and teachers to agriculture the acclaimed Archibull Prize will undergo a metamorphosis in 2020 as it evolves to help young people and agriculture meet the complex challenges of the 21st century.
Using creativity to inspire and foster connections and conversations between farmers and the community
The new model sees secondary schools tasked with identifying a local agricultural area of investigation and exploring its challenges and opportunities. The students will be assigned a Young Farming Champion and encouraged to identify tertiary, business and government organisations with whom they can partner in their quest to take ownership of the challenge and share their findings and recommendations.
Secondary schools will also be encouraged to build a partnership with their feeder primary schools for the Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge with the opportunity for the secondary school to offer student mentoring, facilitation and specialist support.
Using creativity to connect and inspire young people and the community to work together to act on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on a local level
Based on the concept of ‘communities of practice’ these partnered learning opportunities between primary, secondary and tertiary institutions will enhance the transition of students through their education journey and provide post-school opportunities through other partnerships with industry and government.
The new model is tailored to support schools to encourage teacher and student collaboration using cross curricula learning. In addition, it will incorporate the development of intergenerational knowledge and skills transfer while continuing to be an exemplary example of student-driven project-based learning.
The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas provide young people with future focused learning linked to real world issues at both a society and agricultural industry level and fosters the top four skills 21st century employers want: collaborative team players, creative thinking, critical analysis and problem solving and influential communication.
Picture You in Agriculture will be piloting the new model in 2020 in schools in NSW and QLD working with 12 secondary schools who will partner with a total of 20 primary schools.
Our Archies are showstoppers and they take any chance they get to amplify the voices of young people in agriculture.
So you can imagine they jumped at the chance to have a night and mix with the champions of great cheese and dairy
The Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion Archies from the 2019 Archibull Prizewere special guests at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Cheese and Dairy Awards night held at the Sydney Showgrounds on February 24.
“Being an agricultural based event, I sought to make sure this aspect was not lost in the glitz and glamour of the final theming on the night,” RAS Coordinator for Dairy Produce and Fine Food Chloe Conder says. “I wanted to celebrate the winning products of the 2020 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show, but also pay tribute to where these products originate and how they came to be available for consumers to purchase. I selected the colourful wool cow to fit in with my “forest” theme of the night, and the dairy farm cow for obvious reasons being the Cheese & Dairy Show!”
Winning the coveted title of Champion Cheese of Show was Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese’s Riverine Blue. Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese has been a multiple recipient of this award over the last decade, proving they understand the palette of their consumers.
“Winning the Sydney Royal Champion Cheese is a great honour and proves to us we are doing something right,” owner and cheesemaker Barry Charlton says. “We have such a dedicated staff, great quality milk and to win this award also helps us to keep growing as a business. It’s quite overwhelming but at the end of the day it really does come down to our wonderful staff.”
Cheese and dairy competitions have been an important part of the RAS for over 150 years, celebrating products including cheese, milk, butter, dairy dessert, gelato and ice cream created from bovine milk as well as sheep, goat, camel and buffalo milk. This year the prestigious competition attracted 799 entries with 117 awarded gold medals. 180 people attended the presentation night.
“The cows were placed on either side of the entry inside the venue, so were on display for all attendees to see as they entered the event,” Chloe says. “They were very well received on the night, with many attendees taking the time to inspect the intricate work and design with some even posing for photos.”
See the full list of cheese and dairy winners here, and add them to your shopping list – you won’t be disappointed.
Young Farming Champion Jessica Fearnley who works in horticulture as a development officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries
In this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we look at how the power of this model has enabled Jessica Fearnley to hone communication skills learnt in the first year of the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program by sharing her EvokeAg experience on the NSW DPI twitter account.
Jessica who works in horticulture as a development officer, joined the Young Farming Champions program in 2019, sponsored by her employer NSW Department of Primary Industries.
“Horticulture is one of highest value industries in the agricultural sector and people interact with it every day. There is a story to be told about the people and the places behind the horticultural industry and the people who consume Australia’s diverse array of fruit and vegetables in terms of how the food is grown, produced and how it ends up on supermarket shelves. I wanted to continue my career development by telling these stories and the Young Farming Champions Program seemed to offer the best way of doing this.” Jessica Fearnley
Through the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program Jessica learnt skills in media and communication.
“My presentation skills improved dramatically after the workshop and I now apply this in my day to day work. I am required to present at field days and conferences and I now know I can get up and entertain people, whilst delivering my message and ensuring it resonates.” Jessica Fearnley
The workshops also taught her the importance of delivering messages simply and this skill become particularly relevant when Jessica was selected by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (CEAT) as one of six emerging leaders to attend the 2020 EvokeAg event held in Melbourne in February, and her employer asked her to tweet about the event.
“I was given the very exciting opportunity to take over the NSW DPI twitter account to advocate my experience at the EvokeAg conference. This stretched me outside my comfort zone and although I was nervous I felt honoured my employers trusted and supported me to amplify the voices I found interesting on the day and advocate their message to 8726 followers.”
“It was a great chance to put into practice the concise communication skills I learnt at the YFC workshops and deliver my messages within 280 characters. As a recent graduate I was elated to have the power for my messages and thoughts to reach so many people. I am very supported by my team around me at DPI and I feel they are equipping me to develop my leadership skills as well as help others through the ability to practise and fine tune what I learnt in the YFC program.”
Picture You in Agriculture knows knowledge itself is not the key to success. Success comes when this knowledge is applied and when young people are given a road map for their leadership journey. When we trust people with autonomy and authority we give them an opportunity to prove themselves. When people are given autonomy over their work they feel connected to a purpose and part of a team that cares for them. With support from NSW DPI and her new Young Farming Champions family, Jessica is taking the first steps on what we hope will be a long and rewarding journey.
Thanks Jess for sharing your lessons learnt and mega shoutout to our supporting partners empowering young people to solve tomorrows problems today
Following on from our chat to new AWI YFCs Matt Cumming and Tom Squires we now find out what the new UNE YFCs thought of their first year of the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program.
Rebecca George and Emily May are both studying at the University of New England and have completed the first year of the YFC program where, like Matt and Tom, they gained media training and skills in how to present their story and networked with other young people in agriculture.
“The opportunity to do personal and professional development and to meet other passionate aggies was my motivation for joining the program. I was keen to learn how to spread positive messages about agriculture in everyday life.” says Rebecca
For Rebecca and Emily, the power of presenting a positive story was a revelation as they became aware of the connotations of reinforcing negative stereotypes.
“I learnt the power of having a positive vision to inspire people to join a common cause. The personal story I have chosen to share with school students has changed and I now place a greater focus on sharing more of the positive impacts of my journey.
I live and work on farms in Western Sydney and urban expansion is replacing our fertile farmland all around me. I want everyone to be as passionate as me about getting the right balance between land for housing people in Western Sydney and land for feeding people.
Did you know the vegetables produced in the Sydney region account for 22% of all vegetables supplied in NSW? At times of the year, the Sydney region is the source of 90% of NSW’s vegetable products.
Not only this, agriculture on the edge of Sydney provides ecological benefits that are known as ‘ecosystem services’ – the types of values that we enjoy from having green space and biodiversity. Other examples include improved water and waste management, reduced urban heat effects and improved air quality, reduced carbon emissions, conservation of biodiversity, and improved nutrient recycling. Farms also provide mutually beneficial partnerships for job creation and renewable energy generation” says Emily
Emily and Rebecca’s first Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders workshop coincided with a professional development day for teachers delivering Kreative Koalas into primary schools and the chance to network was another highlight for the girls.
“My major highlight from the program was the formal dinner we attended during the first workshop. During this night we met people from various backgrounds including new and alumni YFC, teachers and our YFC ‘tutors’. This was a great experience as it made me come out of my shell and talk to people.”
“The other YFC motivate and inspire me so much. This was my highlight of the program. It is a very special thing to have a large group of people who are all passionate and incredibly knowledgeable to work with, and I learnt something every time I spoke with a YFC.”
Recognising the power of learning from others and having opportunities to practice what you learn are pivotal to success the Picture You in Agriculture team work closely with our supporting partners to ensure success.Developing their personal stories, learning about the media and networking with others has led Rebecca and Emily to become more involved with ag-week at UNE and to spread their agricultural knowledge beyond their own circle of friends and family.
“Through connections made with YFC I was put in contact with the Hawkesbury Harvest Trail who offered me the opportunity to be one of their voices for their segment on ABC radio. I have applied what I have learnt by reducing the amount of jargon I use in my speech and ensuring the message I portray is of positive nature. Making sure to not reinforce the negative has also been important in developing my messages to be aired on ABC.” Emily May
Listen to Emily on the ABC on the radio
With both girls keen for their second year of the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program they realise the importance of being proactive in their training.
“I think this program is unique in that the more you put in the more you get out. I am now confident I can use my voice to advocate for agricultural change.” Rebecca George
Shoutout to our supporting partners who are empowering young people to collaborate and solve tomorrow’s problems today
“If you want to keep leading, you need to keep growing, and few things stretch a leader like leading growing leaders.” John Maxwell
Rural Entrepreneur and finalist in the 2020 Channel 7 NSW Young Leader of the Year Emma Ayliffe is paying it forward supporting young farmers to be the best business and environmental managers they can be
At Picture you in Agriculture we know and support the research that follows the 70-20-10 rule research that shows how people get good at their jobs (and love what they do).
70% of what people know and what they know how to do, came experientially. They learned on the job.
20%, somebody showed them, a coach or a mentor.
10% they got in classroom, formal education, higher education, training programs at work or at eternally
“The group is for young farmers (and farmers young at heart),” Emma says, “and it aims to bring together younger people from around Tullibigeal to discuss what is happening on farm and to act as a conduit for information. As a fledging farmer I have a lot to learn and as an agronomist I feel I have knowledge to share.”
Emma created the group, now 58 members strong, via Facebook, spoke to a few young growers and enticed them to the pub for a chat. With $10,000 funding through the NSW Government’s Young Farmer Business Program, the new group held their first workshop, themed “The Business of Farming: From the Ground Up” on February 3.
“At the workshop we had a number of presenters including Tom Nicholas from Healthy Soils Australia, Tristan Stevenson and Hamish Ross (StevTech and Hutcheon and Pearce) talking around new spraying technology and Geoff Minchin talking about pasture management and investment,” Emma says. “And we also had Young Farming Champion Dan Fox who was a real superstar.”
Dan is very grateful to benefit from having access to three generations of mentors and inspiration
“The ideas of soil health and regenerative agriculture – and the benefits of that system – are becoming more popular around the world and I shared our experience with what we are doing on our farm, what has been working for us and what we’ve learnt on our journey,” Dan says of his presentation. “As farmers we can become isolated and so a group like Tulli Young Farmers is a very valuable thing for getting people together, making sure your mates and neighbours are all right and sharing stories. And it’s especially good to see the next generation excited by agriculture.”
Tulli Young Farmers will hold their second workshop – “The Business of Farming: Books, Bankrolls and Bestowals” on March 16, which will take a look at the “office” side of farming, and are planning a bus tour later in the year.
“My aims for the group are to keep everyone talking,” Emma says. “My ideal is an open and engaged farming community that is extremely supportive of each other and the next generation. It is great to be able to offer a non-judgemental and supportive group that can help to enable all growers in our region to be successful.”
Today’s guest blog comes from Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth who has been a very busy girl not only has she just returned from Antarctica she has also submitted her PhD thesis for review and appeared on The Project TV. We see big things happening for Anika in 2020
For over 12 months I have been part of a leadership program run by Homeward Boundfor women of STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) who are working on ensuring the sustainability of our planet.
At the end of 2019 I traveled to Antarctica with this cohort of 100 women from around the world, from all different backgrounds and disciplines, but sharing a common purpose – to help create the best possible future for our planet.
We stepped aboard the Hebredium Sky in Ushuaia, southern Argentina, as talented individuals. Experts in our specific areas – be that marine ecology, molecular chemistry, astrophysics, agricultural science, or climate diplomacy – just to name a few. Each of us raised our hand to say ‘I’ want to be part of ‘us’ who change the trajectory.
I was immersed in an intensive program that covered four key components – leadership, strategy, visibility and science. The program consisted of lectures, personal coaching sessions, group action setting, and individual presentations. We dived into the greatest challenges facing our planet – tackling the complexities of these issues head-on in honest discussion – and brainstorming how to implement effective solutions.
Antarctica sets a unique backdrop of learning for working as a collective. The pages of history are decorated with the stories of individuals heading to uncertain futures at the end of the world. On arriving in the most challenging conditions on the planet, these individuals quickly learnt that the only way to survive was by pulling together. Ice sheets would not be crossed, studies would not be conducted, ships would not sail and buildings would not be built if the team didn’t come together as one in this ice-covered wilderness. Impossible to complete as one, possible to be achieved together. The Antarctic Treaty, signed in 1959, is a prime example of nations across the globe committing together to something bigger than any one country could achieve alone. The preservation of Antarctica for peace and science epitomizes the spirit of international cooperation. It was quite fitting that as we sailed through this frozen landscape during the 60th anniversary of the signing of this treaty.
It was this spirit of teamwork, encouragement, respect and responsibility that bound the participants together – and has set them up to achieve something more than they ever could alone.
Antarctica was our teacher, and as students, we learnt a lot. The landscape showed us the importance of stillness and reflection, the fragility of our natural world, and the power and presence of our incredible planet. This iconic environment also showed us first-hand the influence of human activities on the environment and provided critical insights into the global-scale change required.
Now, I am back home on my family’s farm in Far Western NSW, where again I am reminded on a daily basis of the climate challenges we face. We’ve had to truck in water – the first time in our family’s history on the farm – and summer has been defined by relentless dust-storms and 40+ degree days.
However, something has shifted in me. I am feeling more equipped and motivated than ever to stand-up to the big challenges and protect the incredible places we love and call home. I am feeling more optimistic about our future than I have in a long time. I have met incredible STEMM women working actively on the solutions and who are not shying-away from what needs to be done. I have returned home with new knowledge and networks. I have developed my communication skills and plan to use these to positively influence policy and decision-making on climate action. I plan to continue amplifying the voice of farmers who are grappling with the harsh realities of climate change today, so we can ensure the best possible tomorrow.
and we love to share what we learn from our Young Farming Champions.
In recent years the initial training of the Young Farming Champions (YFC) has been formalised in a two-year Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. In this edition of our Lessons Learnt series we talk to the Australian Wool Innovation sponsored YFC who completed the first half of the program in 2019 – Matt Cumming and Tom Squires.
In their first year Matt and Tom, both shearers, undertook media training, immersed themselves in the networking resources of other YFC and learnt how to tell their own stories to the world to promote shearing as an exciting career choice.
“I’ve worked in shearing sheds, on and off, for 6 years. As shearers we strive to do the best job we possibly can, and we do so in a professional manner. It’s an industry that cares about people and cares about sheep and I wanted the opportunity to share that far and I wide. I wanted to tell people about my life growing up on the land and how great it can be. I thought Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders would be a great stepping-stone in allowing me to do that.” Tom Squires
A career in wool lets Tom lead the lifestyle he has always dreamed of
During the workshops Tom and Matt were given an insight to the workings of the media and got the chance to be interviewed by a journalist.
“One of the key skills I learnt from the training was how the media can help you get your message across and how it can get it all wrong if you don’t have the right facts and or haven’t done your research to ensure they receive the correct message,” Matt says.
For Matt shearing is a lifestyle that allows his family to work and play together
“Being able to talk to leading journalist in the media industry was brilliant,” Tom says. “It challenged me to think from another angle. For example, the one-on-one interview I had with the journalist made me realise journalists wouldn’t run a story unless they know it has an interesting angle for their readers. Now, it may seem common sense, but I never sat back and thought about it. From there it made me think about what is it I really care about and how can I communicate that in a way that will inspire other young people to join me in a career in wool”
Tom and Matt also learnt that to able to effectively talk to the media required the polishing of their own stories; to reduce the use of jargon, to talk in descriptive and personal tones, to use real-life examples rather than facts and to tailor their presentations to a particular audience.
“The program has given me an insight into better crafting a presentation for an audience beyond the agricultural industry,” Tom says. “After presenting, the feedback given was focused around me making sure what was on the slides was able to be read and understood by anyone. This prompted me to shape my presentation more around myself and my own life experiences, rather than telling facts and figures about the industry.”
Adding to this story-telling skillset, Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders also delivered training in the often daunting arena of public speaking and introduced Matt and Tom to a network of young agricultural professionals who can support and encourage them in their own careers.
And so, one year into the program, what have been the highlights for these new YFC and how are they employing their new skills? For Tom, seeing other young leaders striving for success in agriculture has become a great driver.
“In some ways its like shearing,” he says. “In the shearing sheds you always want to be as good as the best shearer (referred to as the gun) in team. You look at the gun and think if he can do it why can’t I? This program was the same for me. I looked around at what the others had achieved and what they had done for the industry and it made me want to do the same.”
For Matt the program is providing continuation of his leadership journey.
“I now have the confidence to want to change and to make a difference within my industry by telling my story and achieving my goals,” he says. “The Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program has taught me that I can lead the way in my industry, and it has given me skills to develop myself and help others to achieve any outcome we are striving for.”
The Picture You in Agriculture team is committed to equal opportunity leading to equal outcomes. As part of this committment we support students in rural and urban students to have hands on opportunities to get a taste of diversity of careers on offer in the agriculture sector.
Students and teachers from Lake Cargelligo Central School (L) and Wee Waa High School (R) with their Archies
The visit to Western Sydney University was a highlight in a year of deep and diverse learning experiences for these students as part of The Archibull Prize. This innovative and fun program engages secondary school students in agricultural and environmental awareness through art, design, creativity and teamwork. It is known for its vibrant life-sized fibreglass cows (the Archies), which can be seen anywhere from the offices of politicians to the Sydney Royal Easter Show. In November each year The Archibull Prize concludes with a presentation and awards day. This is what is generally known about The Archibull Prize.
What is not so well known is the capacity of the program to bring together urban and rural communities in a collaborative manner. This year students from Wee Waa High School and Lake Cargelligo Central School, in northern and western NSW respectively, packed up their Archies and drove to Sydney for the awards ceremony.
“It was certainly a different experience transporting the Archie in the horse float that is usually designated to transporting the schools show steers to various shows around the country,” laughs Wee Waa teacher Verity Gett.
Hosting the rural students, in the unfamiliar urban environment, were fellow Archibull participants from Hurlstone Agricultural High School.
“Hurlstone Agricultural High School was excited to be able to host both schools and Western Sydney University (WSU) partners were very supportive of the visit and facilitated a tour for the students and staff.” Kris Beazley Principal of recently announced Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education
And so the visit became more than The Archibull Prize. Students also had the opportunity to attend an ABC Heywire workshop, meet celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis and to make a special presentation at the awards ceremony.
“The students really enjoyed working with the Young Farming Champions in the workshop from ABC and came up with some interesting stories. They are now considering entering their own story in the Heywire Storytelling competition.” Lake Cargelligo teacher Tara-Jane Ireland
Students and Young Farming Champions came together for a story tellling workshop with ABC Heywire
Emma Ayliffe was the Young Farming Champion working with Lake Cargelligo Central School as they studied the Australian grains industry through The Archibull Prize and she welcomed the opportunity to strengthen her association with the students in Sydney.
“It was wonderful listening to their experiences at the Heywire workshop and watching their stories develop. And it was great to see friendships develop between Lake Cargelligo and Wee Waa students as they realised their similarities and connections. I hope to continue my relationship with them beyond the Archies.” Emma Ayliffe Young Farming Champion
Following the Heywire workshop students travelled to Western Sydney University
“At the WSU Farm and precinct students had the opportunity to understand the interaction in the peri-urban landscape between urban development and agricultural production. They were also able to see all elements of the university’s water management systems in action.”
At the university students were able to explore the campus and ask questions regarding tertiary studies, learning that these days there are multiple pathways to university or TAFE entrance beyond the traditional ATAR scores.
For many of the students it was their first trip to Sydney and traffic, public transport, the boarding house and the sheer number of people proved eye-opening.
“They were fascinated by the facilities at the Hurlstone Agricultural High School campus, particularly the kitchen and dining facilities which are bigger than our Food Technology room,” Tara-Jane says.
Finally it was time for the awards ceremony and the day was opened with an Acknowledgement of Country by Lake Cargelligo student Brooke Kirby.
Lake Cargelligo student Brooke Kirby opened The Archibull Prize Awards Ceremomy with an Acknowledgement of Country .
“Brooke was very nervous,” Tara-Jane says, “but proud to represent her school and culture at such a big event.”
For their Archibull project Lake Cargelligo Central School was highly commended for their infographic while Wee Waa High School was highly commended for their Archie Artwork.
“The awards ceremony was a great event, with so much excitement in the room and so much inspiration for the future of agriculture and farming, despite challenges like climate change and drought,” Verity says. “It was very exciting for our students to meet and speak to Costa and we are looking forward to skyping him one day from our school farm and maybe getting him out here to visit. Overall it was a great opportunity for our small rural school to be involved in such a program and we are very proud to have received highly commended (or second place!) in the artwork section for our Archie ‘Chronibull’.”
Both Wee Waa High School and Lake Cargelligo Central School are grateful for the Sydney experience and in particular the hospitality from Hurlstone Agricultural High School and Western Sydney University .
I’m not yet thirty but I’ve already worked in grains, viticulture, horticulture and now the wool industry. It’s been an unconventional path but that’s OK. I think its important people know that with a bit of enthusiasm, anyone will take you on and give you a chance. Looking forward I’m excited to continue to learn new skills, with a view to becoming a leader and a manager of people, in whatever corner of the industry I find myself. One thing is for sure, I’ll be doing work that makes me happy. says Sam Arnfield Project Officer with Australian Wool Innovation
At Picture You in Agriculture we get a buzz out of sharing stories about young people who grew up in the city and discover agriculture is an exciting industry where innovation, disruption and creativity are fostered and where careers with purpose can grow limitlessly
I grew up on a concrete farm five minutes north of the Adelaide CBD. While I have zero family background in agriculture my love of food, biology and geography made studying it a natural choice and I was very lucky to have a fantastic high school ag teacher, Chris Muirhead, who was buoyant about the prospects of careers in agriculture.
At that time, university enrolments were on the slide and the sentiment in the industry was poor. South Eastern Australia was in the midst of the Millennium Drought and the wool price was around a third or what it is today. However, with booming middle classes in Asia and the advent of e-commerce and smart technology, Mr. Muirhead saw changes on the horizon for our world and our industry. He recognised the importance of enticing people from non-traditional backgrounds into agriculture at a time when young people were leaving the family farm in droves, never to return. I ignored him and followed my school mates to law school.
I took some time off after school teaching English school kids how to play cricket. This was the perfect opportunity to take stock and work out what I really wanted to do with my life. Returning home, I ditched law school before even starting and embarked on a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Adelaide Uni. It was there I met my best friends. We drank together, played footy together and ended up working together for some time.
Without a farm to go back to, or any practical agricultural skills, I foolishly chose the graduate job I thought could earn me the most money. I took a job in grain marketing – not the smartest move for a kid who’d failed maths every year in high school. I sucked, badly, and lasted six weeks and one day.
It was a lesson in doing things for the right reasons and a reminder that you should always do things that make you happy. Maybe that’s a selfish outlook, but we spend more time at work than we do with friends, family and loved ones so we may as well be happy while we do it.
With a degree and no job, I sheepishly went back to a research organisation I’d done some work experience with and begged for a job. I began as a casual, doing all the things nobody else wanted to do – counting potatoes, counting weeds, washing cars and weighing grain. It was mundane but it was fun. At that time, the organisation was packed full of young people, most of whom I’d studied with. We had fun and we worked hard. I stuck around like a bad smell, eventually landing a full-time job where I could spread my time between horticulture, viticulture and the grains sector, conducting field trials for new agro-chemistry.
Jobs in agriculture offer diverse opportunities
The job allowed me to travel around South Australia, learn some practical skills and gain a knowledge in a raft of sectors but I eventually realised I was working because I loved the people and not the work itself. After five years it was time for a change, and time for some more skills.
As serendipity would have it, I met a girl while I was searching for my new job. She just happened to be moving to Sydney. I quickly changed my filter settings to ‘Ag jobs in Sydney’ and before too long we were off. I landed a job at Australian Wool Innovation, which was odd to my friends considering I’ve never worked in wool in my life.
I barely knew the front end from the back of a Merino. I must have bluffed my interviews well, but I think it goes to show that if you’re keen and passionate about ag it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done, or what you know, people will give you a chance.
I got learned up pretty quickly on the sheep front and I’m currently coordinating projects in the Leadership and Capacity Building portfolios. This group of projects aims to capture and retain the best and brightest people within the wool industry. I work with initiatives such as Young Farming Championsto foster the development of young wool industry participants and to encourage YFCs to become inspirations for young people. Other projects involve fostering careers through scholarships, educational resources and leadership programs. I get to work with passionate, smart and driven people from all around Australia every day.
A typical day at the office can include sharing the properties of wool with school students
Although I’ve only been here a year, I’ve learned an incredible number of skills and have grown more confident in my abilities as a communicator. From people management and organisation as well as managing funds and writing legal contracts it’s been a steep learning curve. Stepping out of the paddock into an office was tough but it’s a step I needed to make. My colleagues have been so generous with their time, and I’m absolutely loving my role.
The history and camaraderie that exists within the wool industry is, I think, unique to wool. Everyone I speak to is hell-bent on improving and driving Australian wool forward. Everyone’s got lots of great ideas and with that comes some robust conversations.
At the core of it, wool is a choice for growers and consumers. The challenge to encourage people to continue to grow and buy this fantastic fibre is one that the industry is tackling head on. That discerning consumers around the world are attracted to the sustainable credentials of wool is encouraging and I think the current market value reflects this.
I look forward to playing my role in encouraging young Australians to enter and remain within this vibrant industry.
I’m not yet thirty but I’ve already worked in grains, viticulture, horticulture and now the wool industry. It’s been an unconventional path but that’s OK. I think its important people know that with a bit of enthusiasm, anyone will take you on and give you a chance. Looking forward I’m excited to continue to learn new skills, with a view to becoming a leader and a manager of people, in whatever corner of the industry I find myself. One thing is for sure, I’ll be doing work that makes me happy.
The John Ralph Essay Competition is held annually by the Australian Farm Institute in recognition of their founding chairmen and aims to foster conversations around agricultural policy issues. “Given the announcement of the John Ralph Essay winner is the key event in Ag Week in Canberra it is a great platform to put forward your perspective,” Greg says. “The policy focus, the need to present well thought-out and supported ideas, the calibre of entrants and the wide reach of the reading audiences makes the John Ralph Essay competition a focal point for discussions in Australian agriculture.”
In his essay, titled The Future of Animal Agriculture, Greg acknowledges the rise of vegan and vegetarian diets and concedes replacing animals on the plate with other sources of nutrition is possible; but he asks how society would cope replacing the other complex roles animals fulfil.
“Animals do not exist in our society simply because they taste good. Primarily animals have become an integral key to the success of human society as animals convert food we cannot eat, into food we can….. The abilities of these animals to eat the widest range of feedstuffs and turn it into eggs and meat have made these animals indispensable. Likewise, ruminants that can convert inedible grass, brush and other high fibre feedstuffs to meat and milk have become a dominant species utilised in both intensive and extensive production systems.”
Greg argues that the production of animal-free meat products involves by-products, which are typically fed to animals.
“Without animal agriculture to convert these by-products and unwanted end-products it becomes a difficult question for society as to how these current feedstuffs would be used in a hypothetical animal free future for agriculture.”
In the complex world in which we find ourselves Greg believes animal agriculture will continue to have a fundamental role in society but needs to find a way for real engagement with its consumers and customers. “Engaging with the community and sharing what we do in animal agriculture and why we do it is a passion for me,” he says. “The topic of the essay this year was a great opportunity to communication my thoughts on the future of what we do.”
Greg is highly respected by Young Farming Champions; most of whom have passed through his workshops, tackled his difficult questions and come to appreciate his support and honesty. It may interest them, then, to hear Greg’s personal motivation for entering the John Ralph Essay Competition:
“When I started university my essay writing was so bad that I got sent off to a remedial writing support service after submitting my first essay. One of the big drivers for entering was to just prove to myself I could do it.”