Young Farming Champions Emily May and Rebecca George share their lessons learnt from their Year One journey

Following on from our chat to new AWI YFCs Matt Cumming and Tom Squires we now find out what the new UNE YFCs thought of their first year of the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program.

Rebecca George and Emily May are both studying at the University of New England and have completed the first year of the YFC program where, like Matt and Tom, they gained media training and skills in how to present their story and networked with other young people in agriculture.

“The opportunity to do personal and professional development and to meet other passionate aggies was my motivation for joining the program. I  was keen to learn how to spread positive messages about agriculture in everyday life.” says Rebecca

For Rebecca and Emily, the power of presenting a positive story was a revelation as they became aware of the connotations of reinforcing negative stereotypes.

 “I learnt the power of having a positive vision to inspire people to join a common cause. The personal story I have chosen to share with school students has changed and I now place a greater focus on sharing more of the positive impacts of my journey.

I live and work on farms in Western Sydney and urban expansion is replacing our fertile farmland all around me. I want everyone to be as passionate as me about getting the right balance between land for housing people in Western Sydney and land for feeding people.

Did you know the vegetables produced in the Sydney region account for 22% of all vegetables supplied in NSW? At times of the year, the Sydney region is the source of 90% of NSW’s vegetable products.

Not only this, agriculture on the edge of Sydney provides ecological benefits that are known as ‘ecosystem services’ – the types of values that we enjoy from having green space and biodiversity. Other examples include improved water and waste management, reduced urban heat effects and improved air quality, reduced carbon emissions, conservation of biodiversity, and improved nutrient recycling. Farms also provide mutually beneficial partnerships for job creation and renewable energy generation” says Emily

Their first Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders workshop coincided with a professional development day for teachers delivering Kreative Koalas into primary schools and the chance to network was another highlight for the girls.

“My major highlight from the program was the formal dinner we attended during the first workshop. During this night we met people from various backgrounds including new and alumni YFC, teachers and our YFC ‘tutors’. This was a great experience as it made me come out of my shell and talk to people.”

“The other YFC motivate and inspire me so much. This was my highlight of the program. It is a very special thing to have a large group of people who are all passionate and incredibly knowledgeable to work with, and I learnt something every time I spoke with a YFC.”

Recognising the power of learning from others and having opportunities to practice what you learn are pivotal to success the Picture You in Agriculture team work closely with our supporting partners to ensure success.YFC Impact Talent DevelopmentDeveloping their personal stories, learning about the media and networking with others has led Rebecca and Emily to become more involved with ag-week at UNE and to spread their agricultural knowledge beyond their own circle of friends and family.

For Emily this has led to an association with the Hawkesbury Harvest.

“Through connections made with YFC I was put in contact with the Hawkesbury Harvest Trail who offered me the opportunity to be one of their voices for their segment on ABC radio. I have applied what I have learnt by reducing the amount of jargon I use in my speech and ensuring the message I portray is of positive nature. Making sure to not reinforce the negative has also been important in developing my messages to be aired on ABC.” Emily May

Listen to Emily on the ABC on the radio

With both girls keen for their second year of the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program they realise the importance of being proactive in their training.

“I think this program is unique in that the more you put in the more you get out. I am now confident I can use my voice to advocate for agricultural change.” Rebecca George

Shoutout to our supporting partners who are empowering young people to collaborate and solve tomorrow’s problems today

2019 Partners