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.
“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”
Established in 2000, the purpose of the COGGO Research Fund is to invest in innovative new research and development projects from across the whole supply chain. “The money will essentially go to paying for glasshouse trials and undertaking genetic studies in the lab,” Calum says. “This project, if fully realised, has large economic potential.”
Calum is the first to realise economics plays only one part of the sustainability circle that is agriculture and his research will address a range of issues that must be balanced and managed by farmers.
“Through genetics and breeding we can develop varieties that use fertiliser more efficiently and increase pathogen resistance resulting in less fungicide and insecticide use,” he says. “Plant breeding can also result in greater water use efficiency (more crop per drop) and higher quality produce through biofortification (improving nutritional content).”
It is for reasons such as these that COGGO was attracted to Calum’s work.
“COGGO is privileged to be able to fund these valuable research projects for the advancement and improvement of the Western Australia grains industry”, Mr Rhys Turton, COGGO Chairman, says. “We have a long history of providing catalytic funding for new R&D ideas and have seen many past recipients make a significant impact on returns for Western Australian grain growers.”
Away from university Calum is making a mark on national and international levels presenting at barley conferences in Perth and Latvia this year and attending a statistics workshop in Bangkok. Both these overseas experiences have been funded by a postgraduate research scholarship. He has also been nominated by his university to attend the University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur in August.
“What I realise from events such as these is ultimately how small our industry is yet how much recognition we can achieve,” he says. “It’s a great networking event and it’s really the only type of awards night of this calibre over our way for youth in agriculture.”
Calum’s career will be one to watch as he endeavours to use his research for the greater good.
“I am passionate about plant breeding because it is the most efficient means by which to improve the productivity and sustainability of plant production and I want to use my passion to address world issues, such as malnutrition.”
Food is our common ground, it creates communities, a universal language and experience
This week’s social media sensation (see Footnote) and Wool Young Farming Champion Bessie Thomas from Wilcannia in Far Western NSW who knows all about dry river beds and what its like to farm with very little water is very unhappy about the farmer versus farmer divide she is witnessing in the media and she wants it to stop
This is Bessie’s plea ……..
The environmental crisis of the Murray Darling river systems has hit headlines this week and copping most of the flack is Australia’s cotton farmers.
While temperatures soar, rivers dry up and fish die across New South Wales, bridges are burning in my social media feed too.
Water users, including farmers, downstream are blaming irrigators upstream and right now being a cotton farmer in Australia seems dirtier than the algal waters of the Menindee Lakes.
Murray-Darling debacle aside – read this great perspective from Mike Logan for more on that – this week’s online cross industry interaction has illuminated an ingrained problem that affects us all: there’s a rural/rural divide and it’s not doing agriculture any favours.
I have livestock farming friends downstream who’ve de-stocked and are showering with a single bucket of rainwater because the river water they would usually use is too putrid. And I’ve got irrigation farming friends upstream who’re being blamed for taking water they also don’t have. Verbally their stones are aimed at each other, though I’m sure they’d be friends if they met at a BBQ.
I have a friend who lives in marginal livestock country, farming meat-sheep, working in agribusiness and completing PhD research with an end game of helping feed the world’s hungry. Her farm just happens to be smaller than average for the region.
Her research gives her access to a global audience, with invitations to speak at agricultural events world over. And while some locals throw verbal stones about “hobby farming,” everyone who hears her speak is enchanted by her passion for the industry and love of the outback landscape. Even if her external audiences only take away one positive message from her talks, that is an inspiring thing. It could simply be, “I’ve always wanted to visit the outback and now I’m actually going to do it!” and that would would be invaluable to her region.
I have another friend who works in the city but farms in the country on weekends and during holidays. “Part-time farmers” get a bad rap from us “full-timers,” yet who’s to judge if part-time job is a full-time passion?
When her colleagues ask what she’s up to for the weekend and she tells them about her farm, she is building connections with consumers of our produce. Next time those work colleagues order dinner at a restaurant they’ll think of her and maybe they’ll choose the dish with locally grown ingredients over an imported product. That is an enormous benefit to all of us.
Every step of the agriculture cycle is vital to a healthy and wealthy nation. Every day, Australian farmers produce nutritious, safe and affordable food for 60 million people and are entrusted as stewards of 60 percent of the Australian landscape.
‘If we can’t respect each other as experts in what we do,
then we can’t expect consumers to.’
Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion founder and mentor Lynne Strong recently told me,
“When our fellow farming industries are under the hammer it’s hard to know how to support them without making comment on the controversy. Yet, the best way for agriculture to build social licence, maintain it and be credible, is cross-commodity support.”
We don’t have to agree with each other, but let’s ask questions, listen to the answers and respect each other enough to broaden our minds. It’s time to build cross-industry relationships and be each others advocates.
Let’s bridge our rural/rural divide and embrace the power of collaboration to build lasting connections with consumers.
Bessie volunteers ( in the little spare time she has ) as our social media manager and she created this fabulous video of life on her farm in 2018 Check it out it, its gone viral this week and will melt your heart. We cant wait to share with you the Random Acts of Kindness it has generated
This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions across the country ( and the globe).
In the Field
No farm nearby? No worries! Cotton Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe has taken her paddocks to Parramatta, skyping with students participating in The Archibull Prize. Parramatta Public School teacher Esra Smerdon feels that Emma’s presentation from the paddock – covering all things from moisture probes to weeds – helped to give the students a different perspective. Parramatta Public School have wrapped up their skype sessions with Emma and are sharing the journey of their Archie aptly named ‘Moona Lisa’ on their blog – check it out here.
From the paddock to the classroom … snaps from Parramatta Public School’s blog as they skype Cotton YFC Emma Ayliffe
As the first official week of spring rolls around again, canola producers in drought-affected regions of Australia are having to make tough decisions about their crops. Grains Young Farming Champion Marlee Langfield spoke to 9 News Central West about how her canola crops look to be hanging on following some timely rainfall near Cowra, NSW.
For those farmers who are deciding whether to salvage their canola crops for fodder, grain or grazing, resources to aid decision making can be found at NSW DPI’s Drought Hub.
Out of the Field
All roads certainly lead to Narromine the first weekend in September for the annual agricultural show! Grains Young Farming Champion and 2018 Narromine Showgirl Keiley O’Brien had a busy weekend of Showgirl duties, including everything from judging the junior quest to the scarecrow competition. Keiley will be a guest host on the Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page this week, taking us behind the scenes of the show and her role as Showgirl. Head over to the feed to catch up on all that she’s been up to!
From shows in NSW over to SA, the Royal Adelaide Show kicked off on 31st August and runs until 9th September. Young Farming Champions Meg Rice and Erika Heffer are also 2018 Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) of NSW Rural Achievers and are visiting Adelaide show as part of an exchange program with RAS NSW and Agricultural Societies Council (ASC) of NSW. We look forward to following their experiences at Adelaide!
Erika Heffer, Young Farming Champion and RAS Rural Achiever, tweets from her visit to the Royal Adelaide show.
Young Farming Champion school visits as part of The Archibull Prize continue for 2018, with Cotton Young Farming Champion Laura Bennett visiting Miller Public School last week. Miller Public School’s team are well underway designing their cotton-themed Archie and received further inspiration during Laura’s visit.
Cotton YFC Laura Bennett sharing her story with students from Miller Public School as part of The Archibull Prize
We are also excited to follow Wool Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge’s journey as she is heads to Barraba High School this week as part of The Archibull Prize.
Speaking of schools and agriculture on the curriculum. Congratulations to our Youth Voices Leadership TeamChair Dr Jo Newton on phenomenal feedback on her presentation at the Geography Teachers of Victoria conference last Sunday. Jo told the teachers in the room that she was just one of 80 exciting YFC who could influence conversations and curriculum connections for teachers and students in Victoria. Shoutout to PIEFA CEO Ben Stockwin for facilitating the collaboration
Wool Young Farming Champion and Inaugural WoolProducers Australia (WPA) Youth Ambassador Dione Howard commenced her WPA Ambassador role last week. Dione attended the Animal Health and Welfare Advisory Committee Meeting and Board Meeting in Canberra, learning much about strategy and policy over the two days.
Wool YFC Dione Howard attended the WoolProducers Australia (WPA) Animal Health and Welfare Advisory Committee Meeting in Canberra last week as part of her WPA Youth Ambassador role.
Grains Young Farming Champion Sam Coggins is in India for the next couple of weeks attending the Geography of Food Summer School. The Summer School brings together agricultural students from 12 countries to study millet supply chains and work towards restructuring these chains to achieve a sustainable food system. Sam’s Summer School experience in India will include presentations from invited speakers, discussions, workshops and excursions.
Good luck to Wool YFCs Emma Turner and Bessie Thomas who are this week hosting health mental health social events in far-western NSW.
The Ivanhoe Ladies High Tea will be held at the Ivanhoe CWA Hall this Friday, to coincide with Women’s Health Week, with information about health and wellbeing, make-up and essential oils. Emma and her team will be busy baking and prepping info packs this week ahead of Friday’s big day. Keep an eye on our Picture You In Agriculture Facebook page on Friday to see all the action.
And at Burragan Station, Wilcannia, Bessie Thomas and her team of grounds people have been working round-the-clock on pitch preparations ahead of Saturday’s Barefoot Bowls and Bocce event. Bessie’s husband Shannan voiced concerns over the slightly undulating lay of the land and length of the grass, but Bessie says, “It’ll all add to the atmosphere and that’s the skill of the game – bowlers will have to adapt to the conditions.” Bessie says the “bowling brown” will be mowed on Friday and final pitch inspections will happen Saturday morning.
Both Bessie and Emma will be posting live from their events on the Picture You In Agriculture facebook page so keep your eyes peeled.
Mega congratulations are in order for Cotton YFC Emma Ayliffe who last week was announced as runner-up in the 2017/18 Adama Young Agronomist of the Year Awards. Emma will take part in an overseas study tour alongside Winner Kirsty Smith and Rising Star Michelle Egan as part of her award accolades.
Cotton YFC Emma Ayliffe has been announced as runner-up in the 2017/18 Adama Young Agronomist of the Year Awards
Cotton YFC Anika Molesworth has been announced as a finalist in the 2018 Green Globe Awards. This award recognises young sustainability champions who have developed practical solutions and helped communities to improve their environmental issues. Good luck for the final selection process Anika and congratulations on being named as a finalist!
And to wrap up another huge week for the YFC team, we would like to congratulate cattle and sheep YFC Casey Dahl on her recent engagement!
“It can be lonely spending endless hours on the tractor during sowing or on the header at harvest; I just sing along with the radio for company. You have to be fearless, too. You can’t be afraid of much or it’ll hold you back.” Marlee Langfield
Young Farming Champion Marlee Langfield at just 23 years of age is CEO and manager of her family farm ‘Wallaringa’ in Cowra. in 2016 women represented 28.1 per cent of Farmers and Farm Managers (39 776 people) in the census but only 2.8% of women are in CEO positions.
Marlee had 10 years to prepare ( see backstory below) herself to take on the CEO position and with the support of her family and network of wise advisers she has made the most of every minute. Marlee pours as much energy into her ‘in-field’ activities as her “from the field’ activities.
This week she shares her love of agriculture, its diverse career opportunities for youth in rural Australia with Paterson Rotary. She will also be guest speaker at Vacy Public school for students undertaking a science and technology unit paddock to plate.
Marlee is a great example of young people in rural and regional Australia paying it forward and inspiring others to do the same
Below is the backstory reprinted from a Farmonline interview in 2012 when Marlee was just 15 years old.
WHEN Marlee Langfield’s father Thomas died in 2008, he left his daughter with a love of the land, an aptitude for farming and an inner strength that makes her seem more mature than most 15-year-olds.
Mr Langfield ensured the 1000-hectare cereal cropping farm, Wallaringa, near the NSW Central West town of Cowra, would pass directly to Marlee (pictured), allowing her to decide in her own time whether farming was in her future.
In the meantime, the farm is being managed by Mr Langfield’s nephew Rod Wright.
Marlee is actively involved in running the farm, along with Mr Wright’s sons Joshua, 17, and Nathan, 16.
“The boys are like brothers to me as I don’t have any siblings close to my own age,” Marlee said.
“Rod makes all the farming decisions at this point because I’m not in a position to do that at the moment.
“It’s hard when you’re not sure what you’re doing but when Rod’s around he demonstrates and explains what to do so that I’ll know next time.”
Mr Wright is proud of Marlee’s positive attitude and enjoys playing an active role in preparing her for a farming future.
“Marlee’s ability to adapt and adjust is absolutely remarkable,” he said.
“We’ve tried to maintain a family farm atmosphere, which means that Marlee is getting the hands-on training she’ll need if she decides to continue with a career as a farmer.
“She has great practical skills as well as an ability to take on board new techniques and innovations.
“She’s very talented and, operationally, I would say she’s better than most boys her age.”
Marlee doesn’t see her gender as an issue or an obstacle to a future in farming and says the ability to work alone as well as with others is one of the most important character traits for a successful farmer.
“It can be lonely spending endless hours on the tractor during sowing or on the header at harvest; I just sing along with the radio for company,” she said.
“You have to be fearless, too.
“You can’t be afraid of much or it’ll hold you back.
“I’m very outgoing and capable in that way – not much really worries me.
“The best part about farming is the freedom it gives you.
“You’re surrounded by big open spaces and you can just grab the dog and hop on the motorbike or in the ute and go for a drive up the paddock to check the crop, repair a fence or measure the rain.
“I’ve definitely inherited a love of the land from Dad.
“He grew up on Wallaringa and helped farm this land with his parents, brother and sisters and then on his own.
“Now Dad has passed it on to me.
“I never really thought actively about whether I would take over the family farm; it was always just there.”
To help prepare her for adult life, Marlee is now doing part of her high school education in Canada, where she is checking out the Canadian farming scene.
Her mother Wendy said it was important for her daughter to gain as many experiences as possible before deciding to settle into farming.
“And, of course, she may decide not to come back to the farm,” she said.
“Marlee has plenty of opportunities ahead and this experience will definitely benefit her.”
Yesterday our MOO MOOVERS delivered their 30th Archie for 2018. This means all schools participating in The Archibull Prize 2018 now have their big white canvas for inspiration.
Cartage of these big white canvases is one of the major costs of The Archibull Prize program and one big reason the program is not yet Australia wide.
Our MOO MOOVERS are very special people and moving the Archies is one of their favourite deliveries. This is because the arrival of Archie brings so much joy to the schools.
This year it was especially tough to decide who would be participating. We had some excellent entries from schools well outside our current funding partner zones and we reached out to potential partners who could support those schools.
Educating our young people is the responsibility of the entire community, not just schools. The Archibull Prize encourages schools, businesses, farming industries and communities to form partnerships to improve outcomes for young people and to recognise that by working together they can achieve far more than working alone. Partnerships can lead to better morale among teachers and the better use of resources within schools, leading to improved education outcomes for young people. Business can also experience improved staff morale, better awareness of their industry and community recognition.
Thank you so much to the organisations who came on board you will be well rewarded with lots of Archie love in your community. For other organisations who would like to support schools in far flung places in rural Australia in 2019, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Here is just one example of what your support can do
“Bovinity has been a focal point of the school community and the entire town of Murwillumbah. Her staged travels throughout the town were published on WordPress and then transferred to the school Facebook account. Our following was very well received and highly talked about. We have had offers of additional help to the school farm and the show team from our tours around Murwillumbah. This school farm and parts of township were devastated by floods in 2017 and Bovinity has become a local icon. School cohesion and pride were the most important factors brought forward from the students. Bovinity is what our school needed after the floods. A little bit of silliness and tongue and cheek made the school and town smile. Her story is important to so many students and their families.” – Murwillumbah High School Secondary Teachers David Anderson and Diana Martin
This year a special shout out to Riverina, Northern Tablelands and Hunter Local Land Services who go above and beyond and University of New England for supporting schools in rural and regional NSW.
And a huge shout out to our MOO MOOVERS. As some of our Archie recipients know they have some hysterical stories they could tell about what happens on the road and in squashed goods lifts in very tall buildings but their lips are sealed.
Young Farming Champion and Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) member Laura Phelps recently grabbed an opportunity to broaden her knowledge and share her insights with the UK Government as part of their BREXIT strategy. This opportunity has taken Laura to London where she will be based for the next six months. Laura’s sojourn has opened to door to appoint Bessie Thomas to the YVLT.
Bessie as a grazier and young mother brings a further depth and perspective to the group and shows its commitment to supporting young people in leadership as they face the challenges of balancing work and life.
The YVLT recognises young people are going through rapid transitions from study to work and family and part of its aim is to determine how to best support and encourage them to take on leadership roles.
Formerly involved with Art4Agriculture as an AWI wool Young Farming Champion and in media and communications behind the scenes, Bessie stepped away for a time when she had her first child in 2016.
“The Youth Voices committee seems like the perfect way for me to dip my toes in and get involved with agricultural leadership and support roles again without having to move my focus away from home, farm and motherhood,” she says.
Bessie loves her career as a journalist but she also loves her family and her outback property, and although she was quite sure she could combine them all to her usual high standard, life, she has found, has meant prioritising.
“I have a husband I love, a beautiful young child and a farm currently in drought – they all need me and this is the soil I need to cultivate right now. I can press pause on a career and involvement with external roles, but I can’t press pause on feeding my hungry sheep, supporting my husband, or feeding my hungry child.” Bessie realises she may be able to do it all – but not all at the same time.
The YVLT, now in its infancy, will grow and change as time progresses and how exactly it provides support to its members will also evolve. For now it is enough that one of its goals is to provide a flexible approach to commitment.
“Feeling pressure to over-commit or guilt about potentially letting the team down has stopped me from getting involved with committees in the past,” Bessie says. “With the YVLT I’ve been asked to only give as much of myself as I can. This means I’ll be able to throw my all at projects I’m really keen on when I have the time, or say ‘Sorry guys, I’m shearing/going away/sick and I’m going to be pretty unavailable for the next month’ without feeling guilty about it. Other members are invited to do the same and it means we’ll get the work done as a team without any one person feeling like they have to keep filling in the gaps. It’s a way for me to get involved, use my skills and help the industries I love, but also know that I’m allowed to press pause for a day/week/month or year if I need to, knowing that I can dip back in when the time is right for me again.”
One of the visions of the YVLT is to let young people share their dreams and design the future they want. By attracting one of Art4Agriculutre’s brightest alumni back to the fold and into a leadership position, the YVLT can already call itself a success.
The 2018 Archibull Prize is now in full swing with schools receiving their Archies, connecting with their Young Farming Champions and starting their blogs. I was very taken by this heartfelt blog post from the smallest high school in NSW
Hello and welcome to Bombala High School’s Archibull journey.
This is our very first year of participation and we hope you’re as excited about the Archibull Prize as we are! In this, our very first post we thought we would take the opportunity to introduce our school and address the white bovine in the room… Why Archibull? Situated in the southern most region of the Snowy Mountains shire, Bombala High is the smallest high school in New South Wales. Everything we do at Bombala High centres around our school values which are personal best, respect and responsibility and we pride ourselves in our ability to deliver a high standard of secondary education to the children of our rural community.
So why is Archibull right for Bombala High? I hear you ask. Well of course we are motivated by the generous prizes on offer however; there is more to Archibull than mere accolades. Participating in the Archibull competition will provide a variety of valuable opportunities to our students, most notably the chance to be part of something larger than themselves, as well as the ability to give their small, remotely situated school a voice on a national platform. Being situated on the Monaro it is very apt indeed that our assigned industry is wool. Agriculture and specifically the wool industry make up a large component of the local economy. This means that the Archibull is particularly relevant to many of our students, whose families are employed within the wool industry. A major component of the Archibull is research into the allocated industry and consequently, the Archibull will provide an invaluable opportunity for students to explore the wide range of employment opportunities on offer within the wool and agriculture sectors, as well as furthering their understandings of how these industries operate and contribute to local and national economies.
The creation of our Archibull also provides a range of opportunities for students with different strengths and skill sets. Participation in the Archibull is designed to be inclusive and is not limited to those with artistic abilities. The compulsory blog component of the Archibull is an invaluable chance for our budding writers and information technology students to participate and further their skills. We will also be calling on our agriculture and primary industries students to provide us with information about the wool industry, sustainable agriculture and biosecurity. All in all we have a lot to do in the upcoming months and we look forward to sharing our Archibull journey with you all.
Bombala High School will be working with Young Farming Champion Dione Howard who knows what its like to grow up in a small town in rural NSW. She looks forward to inspiring the students to follow in her footsteps to a career in the agriculture sector.
Special shoutout to the Monaro Team at South East Local Land Services for supporting Bombala High School on their Archie journey
Image: Northlakes High School entry in 2015 Archibull Prize
In a testament to the drive of young people within agriculture, our Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth was one of the key organisers for a recent conference in the far west of NSW bringing climate change and technology together.
On May 12 approximately 50 people travelled to Fowler’s Gap, about an hour north of Broken Hill where Anika farms with her parents, to attend the seminar Outback to the Future. Held in conjunction with the University of New South Wales, the seminar brought together scientists, industry leaders, government representatives, graziers and the general public to discuss the future of these fragile arid lands.
“In the room, we had people from many different disciplines, different ages, from people who have careers studying life under microscopes, to people who spend long days in dusty sheep yards. What we all had in common was a fire in the belly to look after this land, and everyone in the room had unique perspectives and skills that brought value to the conversation. Our focus – how to best manage the fragile environment of the Far West into the future, so as to ensure sustainable farming businesses and vibrant and resilient rural communities.
With ten research organisations represented in the room, we asked the questions; What solutions are at hand? What solutions do we need to create? What research needs to be done, and what technology do we need to develop?
We started the morning session with the big picture. Our first two speakers set the scene with perspectives on research and technology in Australian agriculture, and climate change. We then moved into livestock management and welfare, and the importance of looking after our natural resources for the benefit of our farming businesses. The afternoon sessions had a more personal perspective, as we heard from members of our community – from young members of the community in high-school, to seasoned graziers, and a university lecturer who brings Sydney students to the outback, some for the very first time. The discussions and viewpoints were varied and unique – bringing great value and depth to the seminar.” Anika Molesworth
In the spirit of collaboration another Young Farming Champion, Danila Marini from the University of New England, gave a presentation on virtual fencing and how it could be applied to the vast stations of western New South Wales using a system of smart collars and GPS coordinates. Danila has previously worked on pain relief methodology for sheep and is becoming well known for her animal welfare advocacy.
Another #youthinag highlight was the Landcare Youth Network ( see footnote) presentation with the speakers using no paper notes, preferring phone notes instead and talking about their hopes, their concerns, and the next generation of farmers.
Kagen Pearce, Maggie Tavian and Chloe Roberts from the Landcare Youth Network
Kagen spoke about the importance of educating youth and giving them the skills to thrive. He highlighted the importance of programs like the Youth Network.
Maggie told the audience of the importance of investing more time, money and research into the sustainable farming future of the Far West.
Chloe said we need more from our leaders, including scholarships and grants to develop the capabilities of land mangers and young people in the region.
All three said they were interested in a future owning land in the Far West region, and recognise the need to develop their own skills and knowledge, and promote a supportive local and regional community.
Anika’s take-home messages from the seminar were:
The importance of having research stations like Fowlers Gap in the Far West, where arid-zone research can take place and provide a fostering environment for learning and experimenting.
There is exciting research being undertaken and technology being developed nationally and internationally, which could be applied to farming systems in the region with a few tweaks, and we in the Far West need to demand that it is made accessible and affordable to land managers.
The importance in having seminars and discussions that include the voices and perceptions of people from many different disciplines, industry and ages, in order to promote collaboration and creative thinking.
Congratulations to Anika and Danila, two Young Farming Champions blazing paths in agriculture.
The Western Landcare Youth Network is an annual program aimed at providing young people with a platform to explore a future in agriculture and the environment with access to skills training in these fields. The Network allows Far West youth to connect with each other and make a difference to their communities under the guidance and assistance of mentors. Students also make a difference to their communities by developing local environmental projects that they carry out. The three pillars of this group are; learning, developing and contributing.
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.