Australian dairy industry cheering on researcher Dr Jo Newton in the Victorian Young Achiever Awards

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Dairy research scientist Dr Jo Newton has been named as a finalist in the 2018 Young Achiever Awards for her work fostering change in the Australian dairy industry through the adoption of genetic tools and technologies.
Dr Newton is one of three finalists out of 60 young people nominated under the Leadership Award category for the 2018 awards, with the winner to be announced at a gala dinner on May 18.
Dr Newton currently works for Agriculture Victoria Research on the ImProving Herds Project, which aims to determine the contribution of herd improvement to the Australian dairy industry.

“I grew up in suburban Melbourne and was introduced to agriculture through my experiences at Tintern Grammar’s on campus farm,” she said.
“Work experience in high school helped me set my sights on an agricultural degree and I moved interstate to study for a Bachelor of Rural Science.”

Dr Newton also completed her PhD in animal breeding and genetics before taking on her role with the Victorian Government.

“I saw the position advertised and the chance to work on an applied multi-disciplinary project in livestock genetics with direct engagement with industry was exactly what I was looking for,” she said.
“Working in agriculture means we are in a fast-growing sector; couple that with the digital revolution and a strong demand for graduates – it all makes for an exciting future in agriculture.”

She believes Australia has a strong track record when it comes to delivering cutting edge research, but there is room for improvement with its transfer of knowledge.
Dr Newton encouraged other young people to get into agriculture, particularly young women.

“Agriculture is still a male dominated industry, and being mentored by strong female role models early in my career, including my manager and PhD supervisor, has certainly played an important role in my development.
“I feel honoured to have been selected as a finalist; young people may only be 20 per cent of our current population but we are the future. I really hope to use this spotlight to promote the diverse career pathways and wonderful opportunities in the agricultural sector.”

ImProving Herds is a three-year, $1.8million project that has gathered evidence from real farms to determine the contribution of herd improvement to Australian dairy businesses. Funded by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation and Dairy Australia, ImProving Herds is a collaboration involving the Victorian Government, DataGene, Dairy Australia, Holstein Australia, and the National Herd Improvement Association of Australia (NHIA).

Media Article
Monday, April 30, 2018 | Media contact: Mel Curtis (03) 5561 9938
http://www.agriculture.vic.gov.au

Footnote

Jo has a big fan base across agriculture and we are all cheering her on. You can vote for Jo in the People’s Choice Awards here 

#GoGirlfriend #YouthVoices18 #Youthinag

Meet Emma Polson a young dairy farmer with a passion for cows and education

I love educating the youth in the dairy industry and the youth about the dairy industry.

Let me introduce myself, I’m a dairy farmer with a passion for education.

Yes, that’s right, I milk cows on my family farm, 10 minutes from the beach on the mid-north coast of NSW, and I’m about to commence my career as a teacher.

My name is Emma Polson, I’m 24 years-old and I love being a farmer.

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Every day I get to milk beautiful cows, in a beautiful area, spend most of my time outside and work alongside my family. Add to this a rewarding career supplying quality milk and I’ve got plenty to smile about.

Growing up on my family farm has given me the best opportunities anyone could ask for.

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Me and my family

Some of my fondest memories include my brother Mathew and I getting-up to mischief on the farm. We would make our own “play farm”, basically all our farm toys with pasture grown for the cows from grain collected at the dairy.clip_image006

But life as a farm kid had its responsibilities and helping my father and grandfather in the business provided me with vital skills I still use today.

At home, the cows are my passion.

My family has two herds of registered Holsteins, the “small” herd of 180 head and up the road we lease another farm and milk 300 head.

Our family stud is Blue Silo Holsteins, but there are still cows in the herd that can be traced back to my grandfather’s stud Thistleglen.

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My dad John manages both farms and my grandfather has retired.

His idea of retirement is still getting the cows in each day at 2pm, but we love him for that.

My whole family lives on the farm, including my 2.5 year old niece Miley.

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She is the fifth generation to farm at Oxley Island.

I cherish working with my family and my drive comes from wanting to make a difference in the family business.

I’m proud of our farm and I used to love nothing more than showing my city cousins around when they came to stay. We jumped on the silage bales and camped-out under the stars, eating far too many marshmallows.

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After high school, and during my gap year, I completed an agricultural traineeship through Tocal Agricultural College. During this time I was lucky to visit and learn about a variety of commercial farms, including the college property. We studied topics such as calf rearing, cattle health and breeding. Studying at Tocal was one of my best learning experiences. I met many great people I am still friends with today.

Showing cows has always been a passion of mine. I can remember sitting at my Grandma’s house admiring all the trophies my Dad had won showing cattle in his youth. I knew this was what I wanted to do and started working towards that goal straight away.

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I was always tying-up calves to prepare them for shows. As I got older I attended industry youth camps and major shows such as the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It was there, in Sydney, that I had a crash-course in showing. I was helping my friend’s family and can remember thinking ‘I didn’t know anything’ but they didn’t care. They taught me so much about showing and welcomed me into their family. Showing at Sydney was nerve-racking but one of my best experiences of my life.

Today my role in showing is a little different. Showing has been a great vehicle for teaching the next generation. I still show our stud cattle, but my primary focus is on up-skilling the local youth.

I am secretary of the Manning Dairy Youth. It’s an association supported by the Manning Holstein sub-branch and includes members from the age of 2 to 25. Part of my involvement includes organizing youth events within the region, including the annual calf day. The group has also been involved in a photo-shoot at my farm to help with promoting its activities. Taking countless photos was loads of fun.

Here’s a link to the photographs which were later used for a group promotional video.

Supporting the Manning Valley is important to me. I was supported locally and welcomed into the show circuit, so I want to ensure other young people have the same positive experience.

Improving my cattle judging is a personal goal of mine. Last year I was reserve champion in the junior judging competition the Sydney Royal Easter Show, representing the Manning Valley-of course.

I have just finished a primary teaching degree at the University of New England. Throughout my university studies I have embraced the fact that I am a dairy farmer. During my last year of study I helped the Taree Christian Community School with their Cows Create Careers Program. I also produced an educational video about where milk comes from for one of my assignments. It has been an invaluable classroom resource. I love educating the youth in the dairy industry and the youth about the dairy industry.

Recently I spoke as part of a careers day at a school. The most important point I stressed was that anyone can be involved in the dairy industry, you just need to have the passion. I told them to find someone who is prepared to invest their time in them and help develop their dairy farming skills. I grew up on a farm, but I have found you can never stop learning.

If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me epolson@myune.edu.au.