Art4Agriculture seeking Next Gen Rising Stars

Our 2011 Young Farming Champions have been telling NSW primary and secondary students their stories of involvement in food and fibre production. The students thirst for
knowledge about agriculture has been amazing. The program has become part of
the educational theme in next year’s Australian Year of the Farmer and as
Art4Agriculture National Program Director Lynne Strong explains will be rolled
out to over 9,000 schools nationally.

“The Art4Agriculture programs and the Young Farming Champions will go national as
part of the Australian Year of the Farmer activities in 2012 and we are calling
for expressions of interest from young farmers across Australia to get involved
in the Young Farming Champions program. Art4Agriculuture was developed by
farmers and is delivered by farmers and we are keen to work with state farming
organisations to not only help build the capacity of young farmers to tell
agriculture’s story to a fundamental key audience – consumers but  also
lead their industries into the future”. She says.

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions will also have the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive and diverse program of events during Australian Year of the
Farmer in 2012 (and beyond). These events will provide a platform from which to
develop, build and strengthen the capacity of the Young Farming Champions and
allow industry to develop key farmer-to-stakeholder and farmer-to-consumer

And Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champion Alison McIntosh is already living that

Alison is the not only an Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion she also is the Cattle Council’s Inaugural Rising Beef Champion see and Alison reflects on her USA cattle tour here

In her role as Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Alison has been visiting schools across Western Sydney sharing her story.

Alison found the experience highly rewarding. At Caroline Chisholm College she not
only shared her story with the students they also proudly showed Alison their
farm as well as videoing her and putting her under the spotlight with a mock TV

At Terra Sancta College the students said Alison’s visit gave them a whole new insight
into Australian domestic beef industry. Alison also found herself part of a
photo shoot with the school’s Archibull in amusing spots in the school
surrounds including a photo-shoot with the chooks. Alison’s
phobia of birds is well known amongst her friends and when the students
suggested she hold a rooster she was mortified and gracefully (she hoped she
looked graceful and not petrified) declined

At Richmond High School Alison shared her story with the visual arts students who are
painting the Archibull. Alison said it was clear the students were highly
creative and many sketched and wrote down ideas as she spoke.

“Richmond High School agriculture classes show team have always been very active and highly regarded on the show circuit winning many prizes with their beef cattle and I am looking forward to seeing how their partnership with the visual arts students translates onto their cow art” says Alison

Alison’s in-school presentation can be found here Love My Angus You will too 

This week Alison found herself centre stage at the biggest agriculture A list event on
the calendar. She not only had the great thrill of representing  young
farmers but all farmers across the country by giving a speech on their behalf
at the launch of Australian Year of the Farmer in 2012

Glenn McGrath with Richie Quigley Alison McIntosh and Radiator the Charolais

(Hopefully I can get a better shot of this shortly from the official photographer) 

This is part of what Alison had to say

What an honour it is to be standing here today as a representative of all Australian
I am a 4th generation farmer on my family’s beef cattle farm in southern NSW – and I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living! I have combined my love of
working with people and with animals in the industry I love, and this is very

As a young rural leader I want to enhance the links between urban and rural
Australia, so that all Australian’s have a deeper appreciation for where their
food comes from. The research which Year of the Farmer are releasing today,
highlights some of the challenges which lie ahead for farmers like me in
achieving this – but the coming years activities will go a long way to begin
this important process.

I am excited about 2012; The Australian Year of the Farmer will help bring farmers
like me closer to our customers. Our nation and the world need farmers; The
Australian Year of the Farmer is an important year for ALL Australians. I am
looking forward to spreading the word about our great Australian farming story,
and particularly ensuring that the next generation of young Australians are
well connected to farmers and the farms where their food comes from.

Check out this video to be reminded of how proud all Australian can be of their

Art4agriculture joins the famous faces for the launch of Australian Year of the Farmer

The Australian Year of the Farmer 2012 was officially launched this week at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and Art4Agriculture’s Art and Design Guru Wendy Taylor played a key role by the creating the backdrop display and wow what a backdrop

Isnt this woman a genius!!!!!

Australian Year of the Farmer launch display created by Wendy Taylor ( Red Blue Design) Art4ag Art and Design Gurus

The faces in the centre of display belong to Virginia Tomlinson
(Woolworths) Lynne Strong (Chair Art4Agriculture) and Kirsty John (Event

This masterpiece transformed the Royal Botanic Gardens into an agricultural showpiece to celebrate the broad range and fine quality of produce which Australian farmers grow and harvest.

The display took the form of a map of Australia to emphasise how this
initiative encompasses all Australians, whether they be primary producers or
one of the millions who benefit from the dedication and commitment of Australian farmers.

The display also told a three-dimensional story of Australia by depicting topography as well. The larger and taller produce became the mountain ranges, grading to the smaller grains and fibres which became the lower altitude areas.

The map of Australia was also divided, state by state, to highlight the different produce generally grown in each state or territory. Around 40 different types of produce were shown on the display creating a bright, colourful and photogenic backdrop to launch the Australian Year of the Farmer.

Art4Agriculture was also represented by Young Farming Champion Alison McIntosh who spoke at the launch

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions Richard Quigley and Alison
McIntosh with “Radiator”

Art4Agriculture Young farming Champion Hollie Baillieu also played a key
role featuring on the Australian Year of the Farmer video.

See Hollie here

The Royal Botanic Gardens which was chosen for the launch as it is the
site of Australia’s first European farm and welcomed farmers, farm animals,
farm machinery side by side with Wendy’s cornucopia of Australian agricultural
delicacies for the national announcement that 2012 will be the Australian Year
of the Farmer.

Loran Blades Event Directors and Art4Ag secretariat puts her stamp of
approval on the display

Patron, the Governor-General Ms Quentin Bryce AC, officially launched
the Year in conjunction with Ambassador Glenn McGrath and his wife Sara, and
Natalie Gruzlewski, host of Television’s Farmer Wants a Wife.

Designed to celebrate the contribution farmers make to the Australian
economy and community, the Australian Year of the Farmer 2012 is an education
and awareness campaign founded by a not-for-profit, non-political organisation.

A selection of prize winning stud animals including a Charolais bull,
alpacas and Merino sheep, as well as a New Holland T7.6 tractor driving against
the backdrop of the Sydney skyline added to the agricultural atmosphere.

Young Farming Champions Alison McIntosh and Richie Quigley with famous faces at AYOF 2012 launch

Following the launch, Australian Governor-General Ms Quentin Bryce AC,
joined local school children and Royal Botanical Gardens Executive Director,
Professor David Mabberley, in planting a citrus tree at the site of the first
farm in Australia.

Conceived by NSW-based farmer Philip Bruem AM, and former Sydney Markets
CEO Geoff Bell, Australian Year of the Farmer 2012 is a year-long program of
activities that will celebrate the contribution farmers and rural communities
make to our national economy and society.

“Every person who eats food is connected to farming. Every person
who wears a wool coat is connected to farming. Every person who has timber in
their house construction or sits at a wooden table is connected to farming.

“We encourage all Australians to reflect on the origins of the food
they consume and the fibre and other products they use every day and to seek
out and buy Australian produce wherever possible,” Mr Bruem said.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry the Hon Joe Ludwig MP
said the year-long celebration would highlight how Australia is leading the
world in farming techniques and innovation.

“I congratulate the founders of Australian Year of the Farmer for
creating this program which I believe will highlight the essential role of
Australian agriculture to the maintenance of national and global food security.

“It will showcase the role our farmers play as environmental
managers, creating and delivering sustainability through best practice
management,” Senator Ludwig said.

As part of the Australian Year of the Farmer program, a range of events,
initiatives and the Art4Agriculture educational programs will be rolled out
across the nation throughout 2012.

Highlights will include a nine-vehicle One Country Roadshow travelling
more than 56,000kms to attend more than 400 events, an unprecedented an
Agricultural Innovation and Technology Expo as well as the most significant
food event to be held in Australia, Food of Origin Extravaganza, to promote the
quality and origin of Australian food products – from ‘wheat to meat’ and
‘paddock to plate’. Education will be a strong focus, as will the many career
opportunities available in the agribusiness sector. A photo competition, a
commemorative collector’s coin and stamps as well as a TV program and
privileges card have all been planned as part of the celebration.

Woolworths’ General Manager of Fresh Food, Pat McEntee echoed the
importance of farming to Australian families.

“We source 100 per cent of the fresh meat and poultry and 97 per
cent of the fruit and vegetables sold in Woolworths supermarkets from
Australian producers and growers. Australian farmers support Woolworths and our
customers – and we’re proud to support them,” Mr McEntee said.

Australian Year of the Farmer 2012 is a year-long program of activities
that will celebrate the contribution farmers and rural communities make to our
nation – offering recognition for: feeding the nation, for leading the world in
farming techniques and innovation, and for sustaining the vital agribusinesses
that underpin the Australian economy.

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry visits St. Michael’s Catholic Primary School

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry visited St. Michael’s Catholic Primary School and Crestwood High School in Baulkham Hills last term to present the fresh young face of farming to students

The Young Farming Champions initiative pairs students participating in the Archibull Prize school program with a young farmer who comes to the school and talks to the students and shares their farming experiences.

The Young Farming Champions demonstrate passion for their industry while providing a real life example to young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Because they are young they can relate to students and are adept at breaking down stereotypes of farming and agricultural careers to introduce the dynamic, innovative and high-tech industry in which we all operate.

Melissa is our Sheep Meat /Wool Specialist and is proudly supported by Australian Wool Innovation and Meat and Livestock Australia.

Here is what happened in Melissa’s words ( I am confident  you
will agree it’s pretty obvious Melissa enjoyed presenting the sheep industry to
the students just as much they enjoyed hearing about it )

The St. Michael’s students were from years 3-6 and selected to be
part of the Archibull program. They were all so keen to be part of the Young
Farming Champion visit and volunteered for a role on the day.

They had two students filming me and an official note-taker for
their Blogs. All students had their own note book and all were encouraged to
ask questions – which they certainly did!  Wow the students maintained their
attention for over an hour and were obviously enjoying learning about sheep –
meat and wool.

 It was a very interactive session. Their main interest was in learning about sheep and what happens on-farm through-out the year.

My favourite question was “what do I think of the stereotype of farmers (being 65yr old male)?” This highlighted to me that I wasn’t what they expected and they also recognised there are a lot of different people in farming.

The question which was asked by both schools was “do I feel isolated living in a rural town?” .  I replied that I feel more connected with people now than when I was living in Sydney where I felt almost anonymous. I told them it was just small things that make you feel part of the community like seeing people in the supermarket you know and
stopping and talking to them.  

I took different types of fleeces and wool products into the school, which they passed around and really loved.

The teachers at the school are so passionate about the Archibull Prize
program and are integrating the program within classroom activities.

My Crestwood High School visit was equally exhilarating. I spoke with the whole Yr 9 Ag class and a handful of Yr 9 Visual Arts students who were interested in participating in the Archibull program. As the Visual Arts students were the minority in my audience, I felt like there was a divide in the room and it may have been better to present to these 2 groups separately.

However I was wrong and as soon as I finished my presentation, the Visual Arts students came up to me and were ALL asking questions and then took me to the Visual Arts room and showed me their Archibull cow and their design drawings.

 I was very impressed! They will certainly do the Australian Wool Industry and the Archibull Program proud!

 The High School students were also very interested in my study and career path and also the opportunities that are available to them across the supply chain. They asked a lot of questions about wool and lamb prices, scale of production, cost of production at a commercial level. The Agriculture class were also looking at BioClip as a technology in the wool industry.  See it on YouTube here


There is also a great video about sheep shearers here

I would like to say a special thanks to Claudia Wythes from
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) for supplying me with merino fabric samples to
take into the schools, so the students could feel the difference in wool types.

I would also like to say a special thanks to Deborah Leake from
MLA who is not only investing in the Young Farming Champions program but also ensuring the Beef/Sheep Young Farming Champions and the schools have access to all the resources created for schools by MLA

 “Being part of the Art4Agriculture team is so rewarding as our programs celebrate the immense diversity within primary industries, our people, the range of produce and our commitment to environmental stewardship” says Melissa

Melissa also created her own resources for her school visits

See Melissa’s video here:

and Melissa’s PowerPoint presentation here

Melissa Henry – Tree Changer and Passionate Sheep Farmer

This week Art4Agriculture is thrilled to feature Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry.

We love Melissa she is a dream to work with. Lucky Lachlan Rivers CMA- the job that pays the bills which means she can spend her valuable spare time sharing her stories and inspiring other young people to take up careers in agriculture and natural resource management.

Melissa has joined the Young Farming Champions because
she is passionate about being part of our Art4Agriculture programs developed to bridge the geographic divide that prevents urban students from learning about and observing modern farming practices. The Young Farming Champions value-add to this process by providing urban students with a human face to put to the research they undertake as part of our programs. This gives urban students an opportunity to ask questions of real farmers who are able to relate their learnings to what happens in a modern agricultural enterprise.

Melissa sees that attracting people into agriculture starts with exposing our primary and high schools students to the diverse and exciting opportunities available in the primary industries sector. A critical factor in engaging young people in agricultural career pathways is the timing of career education interventions. Capturing their attention in early to middle secondary years is crucial and she is very proud to play a significant
role in raising their awareness of agrifood sector career pathways by helping
deliver Art4Agriculture programs to this key audience.

“Our industry needs to provide students with positive role models and
experiences. It is also important for students to be able to see how they can apply their knowledge and skills to help feed and clothe an ever growing population sustainably.” says Melissa.

Melissa’s Tree Change saw her move to Boorowa in Central NSW and her career goal is to link her animal science and natural resource management background with a  community focus to empower our urban cousins to successfully and sustainably achieve their own farming goals, no matter how small or large the scale.

“I’m really enjoying living and working in a rural community. I’m able to work side by side with farmers and the community to help them achieve their goals in Natural Resource Management. Many people from Sydney and Canberra are moving into rural areas, redefining the structure and vibrancy of rural communities and contributing to the sustainable local production of food and fibre and this can only be a good thing” says Melissa

See the video Melissa has created to share her story with the students here

In our next blog Melissa will share her school visits to St. Michael’s Catholic
Primary School and Crestwood High School in Baulkham Hills.

Young Farming Champions Finding their Voice

Like all Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions Emma Visser knows how important it is for all young people to have a voice. Fired by her love of animals and agriculture Emma is using her voice and taking every opportunity to engage, empower and inspire others to follow her career education pathway into the noblest profession – farming

Emma and Friend

This month Emma has been very busy sharing her farming stories internationally through her entry in the ABC Heywire Competition. HEYWIRE is an annual competition for young people from regional Australia. It’s a place for young people to share stories and opinions about the news that affects them.  Emma’s video entry captures her life moving from the city to the country. ”Every day brings many new experiences and learning curves. I would love to see more young people know they can get involved with agriculture without having to be brought up on a farm”.

You can watch Emma’s Heywire Entry here

Emma also had a chance to share her story face to face when she visited Windsor Public School as part of their Archibull Prize journey. Emma was very excited to find Windsor Public School was right into the flavour of food experience when she arrived She was met by a teacher dressed as a strawberry and when she signed in she was informed that it was “mufti day” and all the students and teachers were dressed as a fruit or vegetable. Some were dressed as bananas, apples, oranges, and one boy was covered in green paint as he was a dragon fruit.

Firstly she was invited to the staffroom for morning tea and to meet all the teachers. One teacher said that the students kept asking when “he was coming” referring to the farmer that was going to visit the school. When she told them that the farmer was actually a female, the kids couldn’t believe it.

When the bell rang she went the classroom and she found forty year one & year two’s all dressed as fruit and vegetables. So cute. She found all the students very focused on what she had to say. She told them the story of the calves on her farm and their life journey. The students really enjoyed her video and asked LOTS of questions which she really enjoyed listening to. The students asked questions like ‘How many cows do you have, how many cows do you milk, how much milk do our cows make, how long have I worked on the farm, how big do cows get, and how do the cows get their names?’

After answering questions the teacher then put on a video for the students. Some of the students follow the KT’s Farmlife blog online about a little girl who lives on a beef property. Some of the class had watched a video of a calf being pulled out and were very keen to show all their fellow school friends. Some students covered their eyes and ears when watching it, but most of the students were fascinated.

Emma said “I really enjoyed my school visit. The kids were really interested in what I had to say, loved my video and pictures and now all want to be farmers”.

Emma’s Windsor Public School PowerPoint can be found here

Check out some more great Heywire stories from young rural people here

Women redefining what farming and leadership is

Lynne Strong runner up National Rabobank Industry Leader of the Year and some of her support team L to R Kirsty John Art4Agriculture Event Manager Philip Bruem AO Chairman of the Board Australian Year of the Famer and Ken Moore from RIRDC

Lynne Strong is this year’s runner up in the National Rabobank Farm Industry Leader
of the Year. 

Lynne shares her journey to overcome the microphone shy hurdle see “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “ See here

Lynne says

“Firstly we all need to acknowledge men and women are different in many ways and recognise that’s a good thing

Secondly we need to redefine what a farmer is and farmers are many things

In the first instance they are members of the noblest profession.  They feed and clothe the world. Today farmers feed 5x as many people as they did in 1950 which allows consumers today to spend only 10% of their income to stay alive compared to 50% in the 1900’s.  

But farmers produce so much more than food.  Australian farmers protect and enhance over 60% of the Australian landscape. On top of this our farmers produce experiences
and values that are often overlooked like our farming culture and heritage and
generations of handing down of skills and knowledge,

But sadly it’s not just urban communities who forget this. Farmers and industry, too
often fail to acknowledge that women farmers are champions not only behind the
farmgate they contribute at an unparalleled level beyond the farmgate.

Its undeniably true there are amazing women out there who can hold their own and
stand side by side with men driving headers, handling bank managers, drenching
cattle, artificially inseminating cattle, birthing calves and the list goes on. Yet they are not acknowledged as “real farmers” because of their sex. This is a travesty and many women are justifiably lobbying hard to change this mindset

There are also many farming women who are doing equally amazing things beyond the farmgate who are celebrated by the community, but go unrecognised by industry.

Why is this?  That is the question I pose

Surely it’s as obvious as the nose on your face that it is pivotal for agriculture to build
relationships with consumers and decision and policymakers.
To help address this and create a culture of change, I have focused on advocacy and telling the positive farming stories in preference to taking on agri-political roles.

I am the first to admit it is petrifying being interviewed. Radio was bad enough the idea of TV bought on a panic attack.   

When I first put my hand up to do this I planned, rewrote and practiced what I was going
to say over and over. I began to grow more confident as new and different speaking
opportunities arose   

Then one day I spoke in front of 40 people at a Slow Food brunch and froze. It
should have been easy. I wrote my speech, practiced it and decided I could do it
without notes. But instead of just telling my story I had over thought the talk
and the content to my peril

Whilst I just wanted to hide, I was even more determined to never make the same
mistake again

So I found myself a vocal coach. Her name is Annie Burbrook and she is very special
and now supports our Art4Agriculture young farming champions,

Annie is so many things. She is a former ballerina with the Australian Ballet company
plus a NIDA graduate actor and director. Her CV includes roles in Blue Heelers
and being the voice of WIN TV and Estee Lauder. Annie is also vegetarian and a very
proud greenie and I have learnt so much more from her. She shares her
professional knowledge and skills with me as well as her insights into her life
choices and her social responsibility passion. I have listened and learnt and found
the confidence to proudly shout from the rooftops that I am a farmer and I don’t
have to milk cows to prove it.

I know I can talk on the radio (and TV) because I have done it. Our Art4Agriculture young farming champions are doing it and all farming women can do it. All we need is some professional development and capacity building and support networks. I have found in my case it has been a much faster journey by looking beyond industry for some of these skills and networks.  

Female farmers have so many untapped skills. The benchmark for too long has been measuring how many farming women sit on boards.

We need to define our own futures, step into the spaces and fill the gaps that we are good at and who better to inspire us than ourselves.  

I would also like to acknowledge the spirit and resilience of the farming men in my life. My husband Michael and son Nick. Our journey hasnt always been easy but its been worth it 

Farmers are hunks - When I was at uni my girlfriends called Michael "HT" which stood for Heart Throb. Even 35 years later you can see why

My son Nick who runs our two farms

Its all about team work. Our people and our passionate dedication to our cows and our landscape



and we have women on our farm team who stand side by side with the men milking our cows who produce milk for over 50,000 Australians each year 

Emma and the next generation who adore her

   Emma also spends lots of voluntary hours beyond the farmgate promoting careers in Agriculture




Girls are Farmers too

Girls are Farmers too

Another post in our call to arms to address this question recently posted by the ABC story “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “Found here

The Art4Agriculture network was formed with a key objective to reverse this trend

In fact our vision is an Australia wide network of enthusiastic, inspirational young farming professionals who can confidently

  • Share their stories and have two way conversations with urban communities to help bridge the gap between city and rural communities by increasing knowledge, generating trust and understanding of modern farming practices.
  • Promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative,
    rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career choice.

Whilst it was certainly not our intention our network is currently all female and
believe us we are working hard to rectify this   Com’on guys give us a ring we will welcome you with open arms.

Back to question posed by the ABC story we are very proud to say Art4Agriculture team of young farming champions is NOT microphone shy. Pivotally they are committed to building momentum and creating the necessary critical mass to reverse this trend by inspiring other farming women to join their ranks. But as I said guys can be agriculture advocates too and we look equally forward to convincing them they can do it just as well
as us.

As a testimonial to the power of AGvocacy Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion “Farmer Steph” has now visited all her Archibull Prize schools and found the experience exhilarating.

Here are some highlights in her own words from her school visits.

 “At the primary school I was talking to 85 Yr 5/6 students. The children asked
so so so many questions with hardly a topic not explored! A teacher had even
prepped a boy to ask if I was looking for a husband but the student was away, thankfully!

I had questions that were easy to answer and some not so easy

Such as “what happens to a calf if it is born with a disability”, “how do cows have babies”,  “what if that hurts coming out”, “do cows fart” haha

The children were really interested in asking questions but also telling me about their farm experiences.

I was also told that “your too pretty to be a farmer”, “me and my friends like your shoes” and not just by the students but I was also invited to the staff room for recess
and told by many teachers “oh you’re not what I was expecting a farmer too
look like” and “oh not all farmers are men”. The hour and twenty minutes I had with them flew past and was not long enough to answer all the questions so they would like me to visit again!

The high school I visited doesn’t offer Ag as a subject so I was talking to creative
arts students from all years. The students were similar to the primary school
in that they asked lots of questions although some a little more serious around
topics of how much farmers earn, price we are paid for milk, is university
essential for farmers, and received lots of comments about how the media
portrays a really different image to what I represented. They all told me I
wasn’t what they were expecting when they were told a farmer was coming to talk
to them and one girl told me she had never known farmers could be girls!

P.S They also loved my shoes! haha

Visiting the schools has proved to be a real highlight of my farming journey and I am confident all the Young Farming Champions will enjoy their Archibull Prize school visits just as much as I did ! “

 See the video “Farmer Steph” created for the school visits here

and her Powerpoint Presentation can be found here