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.
The House of Wellness program on Channel 7 recently featured some extra special guests – students from St Catherine’s College at Singleton and their Archies and Kreative Koalas!
The House of Wellness explores “the world of health and wellbeing, addressing your health concerns in an entertaining and informative format. From raising your kids, to staying fit, ageing gracefully, and keeping beautiful inside and out, as well as the A to Z of every vitamin under the sun, The House of Wellness is designed with one thing in mind – to help you ‘Live Well’.”
In his introduction to the November 2 episode, Luke Darcy linked wellness to the environment.
“2020 has made us re-think pretty much everything about the way we live from what we consume, our relationships with each other and the environment and the impact we have on the planet,”
Luke’s astute reflection is a mantra long held by the Archies and Kreative Koalas.
After a brief chat about The Archibald Prize Luke, and co-host Jo Stanley, segued expertly to The Archibull Prize and featured Lynne Strong talking about her vision for climate positive agriculture before segueing again to Lynne’s driving passion – Picture You in Agriculture.
Then it was into the classroom to showcase the Archies and Kreative Koalas in action, including asking the students how these programs have changed their perception of agriculture and the environment.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm but this has definitely made it a lot more fun,” said Archies participant Phoebe .
“Its pretty exciting” declared Jessica
“For the forehead we are planning to put an earth with a lot of trees and bushes around the outside. So that’s saying that our planet grows a lot of plants and those plants are vital,” said Jacob.
The segment concluded with a plug for careers in agriculture.
“We have some of the best ag science and agronomy courses in the world right here and by 2030 it is estimated there will be around 48,000 new jobs in the rural sector, which is fantastic. It’s a great field to steer our kids towards,” Luke said.
“And it is girls who are leading the charge
They make up more than 56% of students studying agriculture and related courses.” Jo continued.
PYiA is committed to engaging students, young agriculturalists and future consumers in conversations about their vision for the future of food and farming and their role in it. Thanks to The House of Wellness that vision has reached yet another audience.
Watch the Archies and Kreative Koalas on The House of Wellness
Mega shout out to the students and teachers at St Catherine’s and the team at the House of Wellness who all did a superstar job of showing how exciting agriculture can be
Oh wow, wow, WOW. Our very own Jo Newton has been awarded an OAM! We are so very proud of this young woman whose has contributed to scientific research, inspired countless young people to consider a career in agriculture, volunteered hours of her time and overcome some major life-hurdles along the way. And even with an OAM she remains humble, respects her contemporaries and continues to give back. Read all about it in her own words here and read Beef Central’s celebration of rural OAMs (including Jo) here.
In The Field
Even though restrictions are easing COVID-19 remains a big part of our lives and affects how we do business. YFC Chloe Dutschke recently shared her experiences of mustering and shearing in these socially distanced times with the National Farmers Federation, who published her story here. In these days when most people take to social media to express an opinion it is refreshing to see Chloe’s story and photos in long form. Well done Chloe.
Speaking of COVID Kylie Schuller chose a pandemic to move to America to take up a position as North American Sales Manager for Andrews Meat Industries. She spent one week in the office before lockdown, which has certainly been an interesting way to start a promotion! You can listen to Kylie’s American experiences in a podcast series from UNE. The series, which looks at the opportunities for work placements for students, also features Emma Ayliffe and Jo Newton.
Speaking of podcasts, friend of the YFC Matt Champness (who has commenced a PhD on irrigation in rice production with Deakin University) joined Sam Wan recently speaking with Generation Ag. Matt spoke about small holder farming and food security, while Sam did what she does best – talk about wool!
Another of our woolly YFCs, Deanna Johnston, is creating beautiful lanolin soaps and creams and marketing them as The Peeping Sheep.
“I’m a country girl who loves to shear and I have a passion for sheep and wool from the paddock to the final product. Making my own soaps started because I have sensitive skin and I couldn’t use most soaps I bought. So, The Peeping Sheep was born! I make everything in my very own kitchen with care and love.”
Get in quick – you definitely don’t want to miss these products! Sam Wan is even using them on her eight-year-old dog Charlie.
“With winter, wet weather and walks her feet needed some TLC so I’ve bought The Peeping Sheep gift pack and will use the 100% lanolin on her paws.”
It’s also been out of the field and into the limelight for a number of our YFCs. Marlee Langfield’s beautiful photography graces the cover of the June edition of quarterly magazine Grain Grower
Meg Rice is the poster girl for the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders advertisements appearing in the May/June edition of the AFI newsletter. Thanks to Corteva AgriScience two emerging leaders will be selected from a field of 60 applicants to join our Growing Young Leaders program
Martin Murray has been paying it forward mentoring school students at Gilgandra (read about it here in The Land) and there are rumours another YFC is taking up calendar modelling – stay tuned for an update.
Students Madison Hourigan, Amelia Murray and Thomas Eason with Teresa Standing, Gilgandra High School agriculture teacher, and Martin Murray, AMPS Commercial agronomist, Armatree. Photo. Gabrielle Johnston.
Also in the limelight are Jo Newton and Emma Ayliffe who will feature in Well-Being Wednesday in upcoming weeks. Well-Being Wednesday is a free webinar hosted by Cynthia Mahoney and Louise Thomson discussing the wisdom and stories of rural woman. Jo will share her challenges and opportunities on June 24, Emma on July 1.
Congratulations also to one of our inagural YFC cohort Alison Hamilton who has been announced as one of NFF’s 2020 Diversity Leaders. Alison is an agricultural powerhouse. She and her family run a small beef trading business, Alison owns and operates AJM Livestock Solutions, she is a Councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership program (ARLP), was the 2010 NSW RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Runner Up and was recently appointed to the board of Riverina Local Land Services. Way to go Alison!
Only an OAM could pip Emma Ayliffe’s Yacker as our headline act this month. Realising that a lot of farmers hate texting or don’t use social media, Emma and her Summit Ag business partner Heath McWhirter have developed the app Yacker. Yacker uses modern technology to connect people though the old-fashioned telephone, creating conversations rather than keyboard wars. Download your own version of Yacker and join the community today.
The YFC introduced a new initiative in June with the launch of the Leadership is Language series. First cab off the rank was Lucy Collingridge interviewing Dr Nicole McDonald. See a replay of the conversation here and stay tuned for upcoming episodes.
Climate Action Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth had a dream come true signing a book deal with Pan MacMillan
Anika says she is loving writing and has been spending her days researching content for her book and planning its structure. “Progress is going really well and I am enjoying the experience” says Anika whose book is on climate change and food security issues as well as the topic of leadership.
PYiA recognises the importance of the work-life balance, which is why we love to celebrate those big life moments in our Muster, alongside our career ones. So big congratulations to YFC James Kanaley and his wife Jess who welcomed their first child, Isla Lucy Kanaley, on May 17.
We are very proud of our Young Farming Champions who are turning their passion into persuasion, through our school programs The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas, sharing with teachers and students that agriculture is the place to be in the 21st century
In a hard-fought contest of live presentations, resumes and quizzing on industry issues, Sam was judged the award winner against Australian Wool Network wool and sheep specialist Russell Macgugan from Victoria and Western Australian Landmark broker Matthew Chambers.
Sam said she appreciated being part of the award alumni, especially among the several Elders brokers who have won the award and who she now looks up to.
“This is very much, as with anything I’ve ever done, a testament to all the people who have helped me get to where I am.
“Those who have given me a chance and supported some of the strange things I’ve decided to do and been prepared to give it a go and see how it flies.”
Although not born into the sheep and wool industry, after starting with Elders about seven years as a trainee, Sam said she has built her life around wool through her support role, advocacy, community work and involvement in industry programs.
“It’s all been because of wool, all the opportunities have been because of wool.
“So it’s not just a wool family, but it’s building a life around it,” she said.
“But it is very much a family and (tonight) I’ve been able to see some faces I don’t see very often and to have that support network — I know they are all there.”
The award’s prize includes an economy airfare, accommodation and Congress fees to attend the IWTO Congress in Tongxiang, China in May 2020 and a tour of the Chinese wool textile industry. The Award recipient will be exposed to the wider wool industry beyond greasy wool auctions and the international trading rules system for wool.
Sam’s passion persisted from the first interview
Elders National Wool Selling Centre manager Simon Hogan said it was so satisfying to see Sam win the award, whose passion first stood out in a telephone interview for a wool technical support officer role.
“It was her passion and enthusiasm for agriculture and wool, and her desire to get into the industry.
“She had researched the role, she had researched Elders and it is still showing through now,” he said.
“Sam is so passionate, and her dedicated and her willingness to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to make sure everything is done has followed through from day one.
“Wool is Sam’s life, she wears wool, she knows all about the product…Sam is wool 24 hours. She is up against it not coming from a farming background with so many challenges to overcome.
But what she brings to our team is a point of difference, she brings a different skillset.
This included her IT, social media and marketing skills. Sam’s role at Brooklyn includes completing all weekly sale operations, providing technical advice to clients, district wool managers and the branch network. She auctioneers weekly in Melbourne and as required in Sydney and she is an excellent auctioneer,” Mr Hogan said.
Sam also created an internal weekly wool market report podcast and is always looking for ways to expand the Elders Wool digital and social media footprint. Her IT skills helped develop, implement and support of Elders’ new wool-valuing system across all three wool selling centres. She is also studying a certificate on Blockchain technologies.
Mr Hogan said examples of innovations introduced at Elders by Sam included livestreaming of the wool catalogue.
“Without Sam we wouldn’t have thought of that and now the whole industry is doing it.
Sam brings a different dimension to our team — she breaks the mould.
Sam brings that diversity and that’s what makes a good team – she’s a brilliant asset and we all love her.”
Mr Hogan said every district wool manager has their grower clients.
“But Sam’s clients are everybody’s clients, she supports the whole lot and makes the district wool managers look good.
“Her attention to details and perfectionist manner makes it all comes together.”
Keep looking outside and to the future
Despite her achievements, Sam said there is still work to be done. The broker award and the Elders ‘Thomas Elder’ Employee of the Year award she won last year for improving end-to-end service to wool growers, helped set the bar for her.
“You just need to keep looking to the future.
“It’s a traditional industry which is what I love about it, but there are still things being used in different industries that we can bring in to make more money for the growers.”
Next week as part of her ongoing work in advocacy and educational work with youth as an Archibull PrizeAustralian Wool Innovation Young Farming Champion she will talk about her wool career at three high schools in Sydney.
“There a whole bunch of us Young Farming Champions in different fields of agriculture out there sharing our stories.”
Calibre of broker award finalists was excellent
On behalf of fellow judges WoolProducers president Ed Storey and Sheep Central correspondent Murray Arnel, AWTA raw wool general manager Ian Ashman said the calibre of all three presentations was excellent.
He said the complexity of modern day wool broking and the detailed skill set needed to do the job effectively was clear from the finalists’ presentations.
“In a close run race, the panel believes that Samantha best met the assessment criteria.
“In particular, Sam impressed with her strong focus on communication, education and engagement, both within the wool industry and to the wider community in general.”
“Her innovative approach and ability to introduce new tools and techniques to assist both broker staff and clients to get the best possible financial returns is extremely impressive.”
Mr Ashman said it was extremely difficult to separate the finalists and all would be very worthy winners.
All finalists impressed the judges with their passion and dedication to the wool industry, commitment to providing outstanding service to grower clients, their work in educating the next generation of brokers and the extremely high quality of their written submissions and face-to-face presentations.
The judging panel this year gave equal weighting and consideration to applicants who were office or field-based, within criteria that including innovation, service delivery, business outcomes, performance standards, ethics, presentation, dedication, business relations and industry awareness.
Art4Agriculture’s annual National Ag Day Careers Competition is taking a LEGO theme this year and here we catch up with LEGO’s Australian Teacher of the Year Jess Schofield to find out how LEGO and project based learning (PBL) are promoting STEM careers.
QUT Bachelor of Education (Secondary) graduate Jessica Schofield was awarded LEGO Education’s Australian Teacher of the Year 2018. Photo source
Jess teaches maths, robotics and technology at Injune State School in central Queensland. With only 80 students the school is miniscule by international standards but this does not deter Jess from taking her students on an annual LEGO-inspired robotic journey. For her efforts in working with students in 2017s Robot Olympics Jess was recently named as the LEGO Australian Teacher of the Year and travelled to Boston USA to talk about her work as a STEM teacher.
Jess attended the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) at a time when STEM was the buzz word and, while studying, worked for three and a half years training local teachers in the Brisbane area to use robotics and technology in the classroom. Her first permanent job was at Injune, where she has now been for three years, and her experience helped convince parents that LEGO was for more than just the playroom. “Each year there is a global robotics competition with a regional tournament held in Brisbane. QUT contacted me and said they were willing to offer sponsorship if I would like to bring a team down, and when I put that to the parents they were pretty keen to give it a go,” she says.
“The kids have little LEGO robotics challenges where they have to program their robots and they also have to do a research project and present that,” Jess says of the robotics competition, which has many similarities to The Archibull Prize with both being a prime example of PBL in schools. “From a teachers point of view PBL is a little bit terrifying,” Jess says. “In ordinary teaching you have a set assessment piece and a set curriculum to teach to, you know exactly where your kids are starting and where you want them to end up at. PBL is daunting because you start a ten week unit with some vague idea of what you want the kids to produce at the end but exactly what you cover in that ten weeks is totally up to the kids.”
She also sees PBL as a way to engage students who are not traditionally academically inclined. “PBL interlinks subjects together without the kids realising,” she says. “For instance if their robot is going too fast they need to work out how to half the speed. They might be studying ratios or fractions in class and struggling to put it on pen and paper and yet they do the same application without realising because they can see the immediate results or the immediate impact of those calculations.”
Injune lies in an agricultural area and in their first year of the robotics competition the students drew from their backgrounds.
“The kids came up with this really crazy idea of training horses to be like guide-dogs so people with vision impairment or age could still go out mustering,” Jess says, but although many of the students can envisage themselves working on the family property at the conclusion of school Jess says they would not think of this as a career. “I am looking forward to engaging the students in the (Art4Agriculture) careers competition to help them explore beyond what they currently know or are involved in.”
Exploring options and pathways is the aim of the Art4Agriculture 2018 National Ag Day Careers Competition and by combining LEGO and PBL it is hoped a new generation will consider agriculture as not just a job but as a fulfilling and rewarding career.
When I was fifteen my school careers adviser told me “You can’t become a farmer because that’s a boy’s job!”.
It was clear that she didn’t know me very well. My upbringing has shown me there are no ‘boy jobs’ or ‘girl jobs’, especially in agriculture! Rather than accepting this outdated notion, it kickstarted my journey to a career in agriculture.
Welcome to Jasmine Whitten’s story ………
The one thing everyone will tell you about me is that I ask ALOT of questions. I was fortunate to grow up on a diverse farm near Tamworth which produced beef cattle, wool and Lucerne hay. Spare a thought for my parents who were bombarded with questions from the day I learnt to talk. Anything from why are we feeding out hay or what does this broken part on the tractor do?
I can almost guarantee I asked that exact question just before this photo was taken and I was told to go grab the hammer from the ute.
I loved life on the farm. No day was ever the same and I never missed a chance to do things better or faster than my siblings.
My first paid job was helping to unload a truck load of hay at the age of 8. When you live an hour out of town it can be difficult to make it to sporting commitments. So, I always knew it was highly unlikely that I was going to end up being an athlete, unless, they made hay moving a sport?
In high school, I joined the school cattle team to learn more about agriculture and prepare and show cattle. My parents shared my passion and it wasn’t hard to convince them to do the two-hour return trip to pick me up from the after-school training sessions.
I was very surprised to learn that most of my peers on the cattle team were urban kids and I was one that grew up on a farm. But I had just as much to learn as they did.
The cattle team taught me so much more than learning to care for animals. It taught me public speaking, team work, the role of a mentor and how to pass my knowledge onto others (which was perhaps the greatest challenge but the most rewarding).
In hindsight the most important discovery is I now know how important is to have role models, mentors and just people that believe in you 100%. For me, it was people like Kate Lumber. I first met Kate at school where she passed on her cattle showing skills, coached me in meat judging at university and encouraged me to take every opportunity along the way. She now works as an agronomist in Moree.
Going to country shows are some of the best memories as I have. I have made lifelong friendships, met people from all over Australia and built rural networks I know I can tap into for support and advice on my career journey.
I always set the bar high for myself and I was determined to be the best I possibly could at cattle showing and judging. After every competition I would go up to the judge and saying “how can I improve?”
They were always so supportive, taking me through what I could tweak better next time. This commitment to continuous improvement paid off. After four years of showing and judging cattle I was awarded first prize at the Sydney Royal Stud Beef Cattle Judging Competition. At 17, I was the youngest in the class and I was so proud that I had put in the effort to achieve my goal. To this day I still give back to the show movement by volunteering at youth camps and local shows whenever I can.
I am now following my dreams and studying a Bachelor of Rural science at the University of New England. This degree gives me an opportunity to gain experience all over Australia and I take every opportunity I can. I have worked as a Jillaroo on properties near Rockhampton, Hughenden and Kununurra. I have even competed in meat judging competitions, participated in animal welfare research, worked for an agricultural consultancy companies, through to product sales and learning what it takes to be an auctioneer.
The UNE meat judging team on judging day!
My day in the office as a part of the auctioneering team at Tamworth sale yards.
The opportunities I have been given have allowed me to find my niche in the egg industry. The technology and innovation in the industry is phenomenal. Egg farms are continually investing in the application of new technologies which is having huge rewards for both the hens and those who work in the industry. Working on an egg farm requires extensive knowledge in the areas of environmental stewardship, animal nutrition and best practice animal wellbeing just to name a few. It’s a rapidly changing industry which has captivated my interests completely!
I can’t wait to go back to my school and share with my careers advisor that agriculture isn’t just about being a farmer and you certainly don’t have to be a boy.
You can be a vet, IT technician, agronomist, policy maker, researcher, journalist, accountant and many more with some jobs are not even created yet!
“I still remember in Year 10 being told by the counsellor at my old school that the farm was no place for a woman,” she said
“But we’re not going to be the cooks anymore. We’re going to be industry leaders. We’re going to be the ones telling the boys what to do.” Source
There will always be barriers to stop you achieving your goals. Don’t let stereotypes around what careers women or men should or should not follow blind you…… You can be anything you want to be! Seek out people who have followed the career path you aspire to, ask questions, and learn from those who have gone before you.
Find a way to climb over, push through or blow up your barriers and most importantly never forget to look back to help others climb over and push through their barriers.
It is undeniable that teachers have a major impact on student learning and career choices. We have all heard stories about teachers discouraging students from following career pathways in the agriculture sector. Why is this so?
Industry image also plays a key role in the ability to attract young people into the agriculture sector.
Its hard to be what you cant see. Our Young Farming Championsare proving to be the ideal role models to inspire talented young people to choose agriculture related career pathways
“The language typically used in the farming sector to describe the roles of those employed in the industry is out-dated and reflects a mindset which is unattractive to young people. Farm jobs are advertised in terms such as farm hand, station hand, milker and shearer. These terms suggest low levels of skills, training, intellectual content and consequently low status. This is an inaccurate picture of the actual requirements of the contemporary farm employee. Farms require highly motivated, intellectually capable and broadly competent workers. They need people who are able to deal with a wide range of practical problems promptly and with ingenuity. Farm workers need to keep up with the latest research and developments in agronomy and business management. They need to be able to operate and maintain a wide range of technologies from the mechanical to the digital. They need to understand the impacts of global events and markets as well as local policy and market variables. They need significant financial planning and management skills, as they may be dealing with multimillion dollar budgets and regular transactions in the hundreds of thousands. These are exciting, diverse and challenging roles. Little of this comes across in the current nomenclature used to describe jobs in the agricultural sector and in the way the industry is depicted in the media and popular culture”Source
The Archibull Prize program entry surveys confirm this outdated image of careers in agriculture with students struggling to identify careers in the sector beyond farming related activities. Most of the students’ words were about activities that farmers did i.e. feeding, harvesting, gardening, shearing, milking, watering.
In following Word clouds the larger the word in the visual the more common the word was used by the students.
‘In 2017, more than 323,000 people were employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing but if you consider those employed in the farm input and output sectors, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) says agriculture supports more than 1.6 million jobs in areas like transport and logistics, retail and processing. That means roughly 80 per cent of agricultural jobs are beyond the farm gate and the opportunities are wide and varied.’ Source
With 80% of careers supporting farmers both beyond and behind the farmgate year on year The Archibull Prize evaluation shows us the key to success is exposing teachers and students to exciting young professionals working in diverse roles in the agriculture sector. A key hook for both teachers and students is the innovation, science and technology that drives 21st century farming. It is also pivotal agriculture provides them with the tools to workshop the diversity of careers.
Students and teachers relate to exciting young professionals working in the agriculture sector
By the end of the competition students have a specific and varied repertoire related to actual career classifications rather than jobs around the farm. This is evident with more technical words being used i.e. agronomist, vet, engineer, scientist, geneticist.
With a large cohort of our Young Farming Champions being scientists and agronomists their impact is evident through the high numbers of students who listed ‘Agronomist’ or ‘Scientist’ role. This is further confirmed as students listed their top three choices of careers in agriculture they would consider.
Students as the end of The Archibull Prize were asked to list their top three choices of careers in agriculture
With 89% of teachers in The Archibull Prize exit survey saying they were now confident teaching about careers in Agriculture and a 52% increase in the number of teachers who STRONGLY AGREED there are lots of opportunities for jobs and careers in agriculture its clear we have found a winning formula
The Archibull Prize program design allows agriculture to be embedded into the school curriculum across subject areas its hasn’t been traditionally able to reach. After participating in the program 83% of teachers said they would use learning activities about agriculture in other areas of their teaching.
One of the constants that crop up whenever I attend an industry event and the participants are asked what they believe are the biggest issues in agriculture we should address,invariably concerns over aging farmer populations and the problem of attracting young people to the agrifood and fibre sector are at the top of the list.
There are a few serious misconceptions we need to address first
Firstly Myth 1 Agriculture’s much touted ‘Aging Farmer Population’ problem
There are a number of great articles that put our so-called aging farmer population into perspective
Mick Keogh in The Myth of the Aging Farmer and well explained by Beef Central here
In the flood of recent economic analysis detailing the opportunities that the Asian Century will provide for Australian agriculture, one common issue identified as a potential limiting factor has been the average age of Australian farmers.
The major problem with this analysis is that by comparing the age of farmers with the average age of all other workers, a very distorted picture emerges of farmers.
2. Neil Lane in ‘Myths and Legends – Dairy farmer average age’ See here
What the statistics don’t show is the portion of decision making that the owner of the business shares with the next generation – be they family, worker, manager, or sharefarmer. If for example the decision making on a farm is shared between a 60 year old and a 30 year old then it could be argued that the average age of the farmers is 45 years old.
3. Neil Barr in ‘Where are all the young farmers’ Report prepared for RIRDC. The summary can be downloaded here.
Neil in fact discovered that Australia has a competitively young agriculture workforce
Secondly Myth 2 The mindset that thinks you have to own the farm to farm the farm.
I recently had a conversation with current chair of the NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council about their initiative to set up a Young Farmer Finance package See here
Minister Hodgkinsons reply was
I am committed to establishing some kind of a finance scheme for young farmers, but only if it is sustainable and cost-effective.
Whilst I salute the passion and the team behind this concept as a wise person once told me “politics is the art of the possible” and we must get realistic in agriculture. Why should should the government fund young farmers to buy million dollar businesses (especially in a sector as volatile as ours) over any other young person in the community wanting to own their own business.?
So if you don’t have to own the farm to farm the farm. How do you get into agriculture?
In the first instance we have to be clever and innovative about how we market the agrifood and fibre sector to potential entrants.
A great web based tool is Career Harvest which promotes a career in the food and fibre industry in this manner
We spend over a quarter of our lives at work. So why not make sure your career is one that’s innovative, inspiring and drives your passions globally?
Career Harvest is a hub for the most cutting-edge careers within the food and fibre industries. Whether you’re interested in feeding the world, adapting to climate change, developing the environment or managing future energy sources, this site helps create clearer pathways for you to harvest your agricultural career.
Choose a career that ignites leadership. Choose a career that feeds the world. Choose a career in Food and Fibre.It’s your global opportunity.
Taking the next step and recognising there is a career in food and fibre from A to Z with multiple entry points ( and industry crossover opportunities) initiative the creative team behind Career Harvest will be launching a Career Map early next year. The career map will focus around the broader issues facing food and fibre, and be cross sector and cover careers in production right through to the processing stage. The map’s aim is to encourage thought around what roles people might play, and look at broader opportunities, rather than stepping out defined career paths. The map will cover a wide range of primary sectors including but not exclusive to Horticulture, livestock, cropping, Dairy, Intensive vegetables and also the more expansive list of post farm gate options.
In the meantime I would love to share this awesome career pathway publication called Stepping Stones from the Australian dairy industry with you.
After been made aware of this new initiative Stepping Stones I immediately shared it with the current NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council committee
Chair Josh Gilbert had this to say
Dairy Australia have just launched a publication that is creating the Stepping Stones for a better agricultural future- so why aren’t we sharing it with the world and shouting it from the rooftops?
Last week, Lynne shared this exciting new document from Dairy Australia that illustrates ‘career pathways for new and current employees in the Tasmanian Dairy Industry’. Instantaneously, I was impressed!
What fascinated me most when I first saw this document was the great, positive imaging of the industry, important information shared in an exciting way and mostly, the package provided a plan. The guide actively encourages users to start a career in the dairy industry, showing the steps involved and where this field can take them.
The publication explores the many facets of dairying in Australia and actively promotes the benefits of each occupation- rather than just saying that you would have a lot of fun doing it. It highlights the steps needed to be taken in order achieve a long lasting career in dairy, rather than seeing it as purely a job.
This is a document we should be sharing with the world, especially to school aged children who may or may not understand that the dairy industry in Australia is vibrant and exciting. It should also be sent to our current farmers, highlighting some further opportunities that are out there for them in the industry and providing a road map as to how to get there. It is these thought provoking ideas and tips that encourage change and long term prosperity.
Dairy Australia must be congratulated on this resource, while the other sectors strongly motivated to create something similar. If we are to continue encouraging young entrants into the field, it is publications such as these that need to be created and shared.
Its time for agriculture to stop worrying about the so called aging workforce, young people like our Young Farming Champions many of whom don’t come from farming backgrounds are excited about agriculture.
As the forward in Stepping Stones says
Career progression and pathway planning is the key to reaching your career goals…….
And remember, sometimes planning your pathway may seem daunting, so break it into pieces and focus on each goal ahead, one step at a time
Its time for agriculture to start creating more great resources like Stepping Stones that not only give great advice to people who want a career in dairy, how to move into share farming and leasing but also provides great advice to people who want to transition out of the industry workforce but not necessarily leave the farm and how they can support young entrants
I was recently asked by Stephanie Coombes to answer the question “Why do you think less people are becoming involved in agriculture?”
My answer was “I think less people are getting involved because industry is not exposing the next generation of potential agriculture entrants to the enthusiastic inspiring young professionals in our food and fibre industries who are living the dream and have the capacity to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career opportunity”
Now whilst industry may not be getting out there and telling its story the media is. Sometimes the outcomes are positive and too often they are very damaging. However there have been some very successful vehicles such as McLeod’s Daughters that captured the imagination and heart strings of many young girls particularly young girls who love horses and attracted them to agriculture career pathways.
What’s exciting about these young people is they inject new ideas, promote change and generate innovation. Today we providing you with a perfect example of this, Stephanie Coombes doesn’t just want a career in agriculture she wants to start an domino effect and inspire other young people to join her. To kick start this she has developed a “Careers in Australian Agriculture” website www.ausagcareers.com
This is Stephanie Coombes story …….
Ten years ago, if anyone had told me I would be working in the agricultural industry when I was older, I probably would have answered- “You think I’m going to be a farmer?”
Born and raised in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, agriculture wasn’t something I was connected to growing up. I had always had a love of animals, especially horses, but that was as far as it went. Furthermore, I didn’t really know anything about agriculture except the anecdotal stories of farmers on tractors out in the paddock, and shearers shearing sheep
Some years later, I still have trouble explaining to people why this city girl chose an agricultural science degree. I think I thought I would end up working on a farm like “McLeod’s Daughters” (try not to roll your eyes!). I loved that television show growing up, and I would have to say it is what definitely sparked my interest in agriculture.
Stephanie McLeod… could I be another illegitimate daughter?Mum, is there something you aren’t telling me?
Going into the Agricultural Science degree, I actually had no idea what I was getting myself in to… as in NO idea! The reason as to why I chose that degree, and why I remained enrolled in it, are very different. Once I got into my degree, I discovered this whole other world, and I haven’t turned back since. I thought I was going to work on a farm as a labourer, like in McLeods Daughters, but at uni I learnt about the science, business and technology which underpins agriculture. There is just so many facets to this industry I often got overwhelmed thinking about them all, and what I wanted to do when I finished.
Initially I became really interested in soil science, and by my second year I was hooked, and odd as that sounds. I was a bit nerdy sometimes, because this was all new to me, I found it so interesting and I just wanted to learn it all. However, in the winter holidays of my second year I went out mustering to a cattle station in for their annual 6 week muster. It was then and there that I decided that beef cattle production was the area I wanted to pursue. However when I got back to university and took another class; pasture science, cropping system, grain marketing etc., I could easily imagine myself having a career in any of these industries. My interest in cattle remained strong, and that’s how I got to where I am today.
The first yard up of the season at Wongawol Station, 2008
Fast forward a couple of years, and I have graduated with first class honours, and I’m currently editing my thesis so it can be published in a scientific journal. I completed my thesis in the field of meat science. Yes, the science behind steak! I didn’t even know it existed until my 3rd year of university! Gosh, the amount of work that goes into producing and developing each and every one of the commodities and products available at the local supermarket is astounding. Meat science was something I had only had one lecture on before I chose it as the field of my thesis. The lecture wasn’t from my university either, my lecturer had invited a guest from another university to speak, and I am so grateful that she did! Completing my own research was an awesome experience, but to also be researching something I was genuinely interested in and passionate about… I know how I lucky I was.
Taking muscle samples from beef carcasses in 2011 for my thesis
This certainly is not where I thought I would be when I was saying “when I grow up…” as a child, and needless to say my family are still somewhat confused as to how this city girl became mad about beef cattle! The things I have learnt and experienced throughout my degree, not to mention the places I have been and they people I have met, make me feel very lucky. I have been able to go to work/ university/ tafe each day and do something that I enjoy, and be a part of something that actually interests me. I love what I do, and I often joke that my some of my jobs are a “working holiday” because I enjoy them so much. Don’t worry though, there are days when I would rather stay in bed, but for the most part, I love what I do.
In 2010 I took a semester off uni and moved to Katherine, NT, to complete a Certificate II in Agriculture. I had spent 3 years building a solid foundation of knowledge based upon theory, and had done two mustering seasons, but I wanted to develop my practical skills and have them recognised with the certificate. Going to college was one of the best things I have ever done. It was not only an incredible experience to live away from home, and learn about beef production in a new environment, but I met my best friends through the course. It was also a really safe learning environment, as in we could all have a go at learning and not feel silly or embarrassed if we didn’t get it right. I was lucky to do the course with a really good group of kids, and as there was only about 12 of us, we were a tight knit bunch.
Some of the KRC class of 2010 having a happy snap in the workshop during out mechanics class.
We learnt a range of skills at college, from welding, mechanics and tractor operation, to branding, castrating and mustering cattle. The best experience for me though, was being able to work with show cattle, and take them to a rural show on display. I had only ever worked with commercial cattle before, and they aren’t the type that liked to be patted! Show cattle, are completely different, because you can lead them around like a horse. We not only led the show cattle, we brushed and bathed them, and played with them. I really got the chance to learn about the cows up close and personal, and fell in love with the Brahman breed, even though I was showing a bull who was not too fond of me!
Rambo and I having a stand off. I had Chris as my protection, but maybe he would have been better placed between Rambo and I!!
Luckily Star was much more of the cuddly type!
In the second half of 2010 I then moved to Gatton, Qld to do a semester of classes through the University of Queensland. UQ had really different classes to my uni at home, and they were way better too! I took specialised classes in animal biosecurity, animal health and diseases, and animal biometeorology, which is about how animals interact with the weather. I also took a grain marketing class, as I mentioned above, I still had interests in other areas of ag. Animal biometeorology was by far my favourite class. Again, I suspect my inner nerd is to blame, but I loved all of the practical classes, and doing research for my assignments. Living on campus was a great experience too, it’s how I met the rest of my best friends! The people were great, and no one cared that I was from the city!
Dressing up as a cowgirl for a “Cowboys and Indians” themed party on campus. Even several years later, I was still trying to play the role of a cowgirl!
Everywhere I have been I have learnt something different about the industry, and learnt how interconnected it is with the way our society functions on a day to day basis. I am continuously surprised by how innovative and technological the industry is, and what role Australia plays in feeding the world.
Now that I have finished university, I have two career goals. 1) To work in the live export industry, in animal welfare, training, education and supply chain management and 2) To be an active advocate for agriculture, to do my part to reduce the urban/ rural divide, and run a campaign to expose people with no agricultural background to the industry and the opportunities it offer. The latter is what led me to create my website Careers In Australian Agriculture
My advice to anyone thinking about getting into agriculture is… do it! We need you! The world needs to feed 50% more people by 2050, and as Australia is one of the most efficient food and fibre producers in the world, we will play a fundamental role in that. People need to eat, and Australia has the ability to feed the world in a clean, green and ethical way. No matter what experience you have, or what your strengths are, there is a role for you in the industry. The agricultural industry offers careers from the boardroom to the bush, so no matter whether you are more comfortable behind a motorbike or a microscope, there is a role for you!
Wow Stephanie cant wait to see where you be and what you have achieved in ten years time. I am highly confident you wont be standing still
Stephanie now has her own blog you can follow her journey here
Recently Victoria Taylor asked in the Flourish Files AgScience and the Shrinking Work Force “Why can’t we retain students in Agricultural Science courses?” Victoria suggested that one of the reasons was the lack of clarity about the highly diverse careers in agriculture and if a student decides at the end of first year that they don’t want to be an agronomist or farmer anymore, how do we let them know there are a number of other career options open to Agriculture Science graduates?
Picture You in Agriculture have taken up this challenge and will be posting a number of blogs written by exciting young people who have completed agriculture degrees and now work in the agrifood sector or are doing exciting things whilst completing their agriculture related degree
This blog post has been adapted from the presentation Hollie gave at the Careers Advisors Conference in Liverpool, Sydney in November 2011.
Where can an agricultural degree take you? by Hollie Baillieu
The answer is – anywhere you chose!
I couldn’t be happier knowing that I have a strong future in agriculture.
I think that most people have the perception of agriculture as being a male dominated industry. To put it simply, the Agricultural sector wants females, they are encouraging us and they are employing us and more and more I see no hesitation when a woman enters a room looking for a job in agriculture.
I grew up on a small property in Exeter, in the Southern Highlands only a couple of hours south of Sydney. Here we had cattle, sheep, goats and for a time – meat rabbits. I have always been surrounded by dogs, horses, ducks and geese, chickens, and more often than not I would have a lamb or kid close on my heels thinking I was its mum.
I went on to study Agriculture at high school by correspondence as one of my subjects for the HSC which gave me just a taste for what was to come.
After school I took a year off from study so after travelling to India, the UK and parts of America I started the season in the Northern Territory on a cattle station called Newcastle Waters.
The station is 3.5 million acres, holding 50,000 commercial cattle and 5000 stud cattle. Newcastle Waters was special to me because my grandfather had once owned it. The fact that I was there, where my grandfather had been meant a lot to me, however it didn’t really help me adjust to the work ahead.
Dare I say it but most of the men had more ego than brain. This gave me a challenge. I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t rough and blokey, I was tentative, shy, and most of the time I was just nervous I was going to mess it up.
During the day we were on horse back mustering the cattle from their paddocks to the yards. This was a full days ride and at the start of the season we were up at 3.30am, in the saddle by daylight and walking the cattle in until 10 or 11pm at night.
It was blistering hot, my lips doubled in size and my hands peeled from sunburn. We were tired, thirsty and so too were the cattle. The next day would be a day in the yards, sorting, culling, weaning and pregnancy testing. Another long dusty dry day and then we would turn around and do it all again the next day.
I don’t think words could explain exactly what it was like. As I said it was a challenge. I had one thing on my side in that I could ride. There were some jackaroos who had never ridden a horse and I’ll tell you they learnt pretty quickly.
In this environment particularly, a purely physical environment, as a girl you have to prove yourself. A couple of months in I was gradually doing that. At one point I was the only girl in a camp of 10 guys; once again it was a challenge. But I persisted, there was no way I was quitting and by the end of the year, I had gained lifelong friends and I didn’t want to leave.
However it was time to move on and I started a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Sydney University and later transferred to the same course in Wagga.
When I started uni I gave myself choices. I also signed up for the Army Reserve. I knew I loved agriculture but I didn’t know where I could really go with it and I had always been interested in the Army so I thought if I do this and if one doesn’t work out, I have options.
I loved being involved in the reserves and I always felt proud when I put my uniform on, but in the end Agriculture has taken me on and it’s consumed my life really. I think that there are a lot of links between the sort of people that are in the army and those in agriculture. In fact during the interview process they loved that I had a rural background. They mentioned it couple of times that country people can often do very well in the army. Apparently it’s the practical nature and easy going personality that really works in the army.
My involvement in the wider agriculture industry really began when I signed up to the NSW Young Farmers Council late in 2009.
It started with just a phone call to see how I could be more involved in the NSW Farmers Association and from that I went along to the leadership forum. It was fantastic and in 3 months I became the vice chair and in March this year I was voted in as the Chair of the Young Farmer Council. It all happened very quickly and I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be where I am and I would not have had the opportunities that I have had if it wasn’t for the NSW Farmers Association and our Young Farmer Council.
You have those people who are perhaps more practically minded and hands on and those that are more management focused and perhaps corporate based. The great thing is that the agriculture industry can incorporate all of these people
We need practical people who want to be hands and the vocational educational training (VET) courses through TAFE are a fantastic system and can work very well. A few of my friends at university did VET courses while still at school and universities are recognising these qualifications and giving credit points towards a degree.
And the second group of students are those that are more corporate and management focused or just more suited to a university degree.
My experience tells me it is imperative that the correct educational institution is matched to the student. I fell into the trap of choosing a degree at a university that all my friends were going to. I didn’t look into what suited me and hence why I didn’t stay there very long.
When I started my agriculture degree off at Sydney University I did this for a number of reasons. It had the highest UAI acceptance, it had the best name, it was exciting and all my friends were there. I didn’t even look into other uni’s because I had made up my mind Sydney was the uni for me.
Sadly it didn’t work out for me. What I found was that Sydney unis course focused heavily on research. If I was into laboratory work and research I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It had an extremely high level of expectation and achievement and produces phenomenal graduates. What it lacks is the practical component that I love so much. The first year and some of the second I believe – we are put in classes with the med students and vet students. Us aggies didn’t get UAI’s of 99 so the standard was incredible and for me I wasn’t dedicated enough to really push myself and go through with it. And sadly there many who felt the same.
So I transferred to Charles Sturt Uni (CSU) in Wagga and I haven’t looked back since. At Sydney we wouldn’t have done the practical stuff until 4th year but in Wagga we were living within a working property so we were constantly surrounded by it, we lived and breathed it and loved it.
At CSU, they know every individual – you are not a number, you are a person. The courses are so relevant and the lecturers are so in tune with what the students want from the course
CSU have just started a really interesting element to the agriculture degree. It is now a four year course but in that 4thyear – half the year you are actually employed by an agribusiness. So you are out in the work force experiencing what its like. Which I think is really good especially if you don’t know what area you want to go into – its not so good for those people who do know where they want to be but it will be interesting to hear from the group for 2012 how it is and what they got out of it.
The other uni’s on the east coast are UNE in Armidale, Gatton in QLD and Marcus Oldham in Victoria. I have had friends at each of these with both UNE and Gatton and they say similar things to what it is like at CSU. The courses are called slightly different things but basically very similar and hands on. Marcus Oldham is a little different because it is a private university. It’s quite expensive but the courses tend to be shorter and they are jam packed rather than being so spread out like the other uni’s often do.
One thing that I have learnt over the past few years is the importance of being involved in the industry before you enter it. So at university get holiday work and jobs that fit your industry. Over the years I have worked in many areas of agriculture including an alpaca stud, a vineyard, cattle stud, a dairy and the cotton industry
You must have an interest and want to get involved in it or when you start your first job – you are behind the eight ball.
I have found that my involvement with NSW Young Farmers Council has helped with my knowledge of the industry, I am more knowledgeable about the issues that are important to farmers in all primary industries and I have a broader understanding of agriculture and its politics in general. I used to get so frustrated at people in my own course who had no solid opinion about the live export ordeal or what was happening with grains, international trade, the price wars, competing against countries that have large subsidies – I could go on. It frustrated me because they had no interest and this was the industry they were entering into. It is so important to know your industry, to soak up all the info out there and grasp a really strong handle on what is happening and get involved.
The way I see it we need to get a broader understanding of agriculture and how it’s related to our every day lives. I love hearing of people who combined degrees. Engineering with agriculture. Architecture with Agriculture. Agriculture with economics. All those people to feed and clothe and house. Innovation and technology – nano, GPS, VRT, GM. I could go on all day saying how I love this industry and how passionate I am – its not just some crazy whim – there is such huge potential, it is incredible and I love it.