Making a difference – everybody has all that is required

“All you need is two eyes, two hands and your heart in the right place to make a difference”

I had the pleasure of attending the Heywire Gala Dinner last night. Art4agriculuture is a proud supporting partner of Heywire and Heywire of us. The relationship is a collaborative partnership that is as simple as cross promoting each others activities.

One of the features of the dinner was a number of inspiring speeches from young people. They included some of this years winners like Alyssa Allen and Melody Pedler, former winner Naomi Gooden and Jack Black look alike Chris Raine the inspiration behind Hello Sunday Morning who said this last night  “All you need is two eyes, two hands and your heart in the right place to make a difference” He is so right. If we really want to we all have the necessary body parts that we can mobilise to make a difference .

Chris Raine from Hello Sunday Morning – wow doesn’t he look like Jack Black

Art4agriculture exists for young people in agriculture and provides them with the opportunity to make a difference in so many ways and they ARE and they can show you.

Just a couple of examples

Young Farming Champion Alison McIntosh featured here in the wining secondary school video from the 2011 Archibull Prize from Caroline Chisholm College

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Young Farming Champion Stephanie Tarlinton inspiring next gen to be dairy farmers in this primary school winning video entry from Schofields Public School

The dedicated Art4agriculture team and now the 2011 Young Farming Champions alumni wake up each morning committed to providing vehicles and platforms to source funding, open doors and smooth the way to showcase the talented young people in agriculture. Sadly too often in agriculture we make what should be easy, too hard and we burn our young people out

One of our 2011 Young Farming Champions Alumni Emma Visser was lucky enough to be one of the 35 young Heywire winners from regional Australia who travelled to Canberra for the week long Youth Summit .

In their final job for the week, the group presented the big ideas they’ve been working on to their peers, an expert panel from different sectors, stakeholders and senior ABC staff.
After dividing themselves into nine interest groups during the week, each group was required to pitch a concise idea that would benefit the community relating to their specialty.
The groups were focusing on topics like small town survival, immigration and inclusion, the impact of mining on regional communities and Indigenous heritage.
Emma Visser and her team of Alyssa Allen, Krissy Reilly and Melody Pedler after much collaboration decided they would pitch a website called AGregate – a website to collect information about careers, education opportunities and student exchanges in regional areas. You can hear the AGregate pitch here

Emma and her team pitch the “AGregate” website

The AGregate team like all the Heywire winners were presented with their winners certificates by Senator Joe Ludwig Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Emma and Senator Ludwig

Borrowing from  website http://www.abc.net.au/heywire/stories/2012/02/3426986.htm 

Emma Visser is a city girl who moved to the Illawarra region of New South Wales, she says it (AGregate) would help show people that you can make the move successfully.
“I have a strong passion for agriculture and I’m not from an agricultural background.
For me it’s important other young people get that opportunity, and Heywire has been a great way for me to show that even if you’re not from a farming background you can still get in to a career in agriculture”.
She says her main objective was to try and bridge the gap between rural and urban communities, and make life easier for someone searching for a potential career in agriculture.
Naomi Gooden a 2002 winner was especially impressed with Emma’s group’s use of a website.
“These are innovative ideas using technology of today that Australians can connect to”.
Naomi went on to say “ Just because you’ve pitched your idea doesn’t mean the idea is done – you don’t have to rely on a government department to take up your idea, you can go home and do it.”
It’s a sentiment that would resonate with fellow audience member Chris Raine, founder and CEO of the website Hello Sunday Morning.
As a hard-living advertiser he chose to give up alcohol and blog about the process.
The popular website is now a go-to portal for people wanting to try a healthy challenge and contribute their stories.
Naomi says there are always people happy to help see ideas become realities.
“You can find mentors and support but if you really believe in your idea, don’t let it stop here, it’s very possible – this is the first step of something really great.”
Emma Visser says the week-long summit has given her skills she’ll be able to use later in life.
“We’ve picked up a lot of things which have built our confidence to get up and put forward something we’re passionate about and do it effectively.
“We were taught how to relax so we’re not as nervous and the importance of storytelling – we found out it’s important to tell a story so you can connect with an audience on a emotional level which makes it more personal.”
Technology is something Emma is passionate about, and just like her AGregate website, she will continue to make informative videos about life on the land, just like her Cows Create Careers video that attracted a whooping 15,000 web hits in 2 years. In fact its gone viral and has been attracting 1000 hits week for the last 4 weeks
“I love multimedia – it’s the most effective way of telling my story”. said Emma
“It’s great when I go in to schools and communicate with them because with my videos they can hear from me and see my job and what I do.
“It’s a great visual aid and I’ve heard people say they want to be like me because of these movies.”

Emma is just one of many young people Art4agriculuture has identified who are using “the two eyes, two hands and their heart to make a difference.”

Never before has it been more important for Australia to invest in our young people in rural regional and remote Australia. They are the lifeblood of our communities

If you are an Australian farmer you can make a difference by lobbying your peak industry body to invest in your next gen farmers.

Back to Emma and her thoughts on the long term outcomes of opportunities like being a Young Farming Champion who are provided with professional development and the skills set to confidentially share their story with urban audiences

Emma sums it up

“I have told my story so many times I don’t need a script. My story comes from the heart, it resonates with the audiences I want to reach. It is inspiring young people to follow my career pathway into farming. It inspires young people to step out of their comfort zone and it inspires young people to see the value in collaboration. I am nineteen years old and I have the skills and confidence to spend next 80 odd years making a difference”

As a proud Heywire supporting partner we are thrilled to let you know entries are open for the 2012 competition. If you fit the age criteria or know some-one who does tap them on the shoulder and suggest they enter for the opportunity to experience the best week of their life
Also tweeting via @heywire and #heywire
On facebook: at www.facebook.com/abcheywire
Join us on flickr here http://www.flickr.com/groups/abcheywire/
Meet all of the 2011 Heywire winners and why not enter the 2012 competition NOW.

Attracting and retaining the best and the brightest to agriculture higher education

Art4agriculture Young Farming Champions are promoting agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry and sparking the next generations’ interest in an agricultural career.

Yet the retention rate in university agriculture based courses is far from ideal. Where are we going wrong? How do we fix this?  

Today’s post by guest blogger Art4agriculture’s communication manager Victoria Taylor who blogs at http://flourishfiles.typepad.com/flourishfiles/ reflects on this serious problem for future food security and our investment in young people

10 January 2012

AgSci and the Shrinking Workforce – by Victoria Taylor

 

This morning, @OzPIEF tweeted a statistic from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations stating that employment in Agriculture declined by 94,400 (24.9%) over the 10 years to November 2011.

This caused me to reflect on two other Twitter posts that caught my attention recently.

The first was an article from the Central Western Daily, posted by @SammileeTTT where Charles Sturt University’s new head of agriculture, Professor John Mawson said:

“The proportion of university-trained employees in the industry is not as high as it should be. We desperately need to attract more students into agricultural careers.”

That’s nothing new to those of us who work in or with agricultural industries and the statistics back him up. In 2005 the Productivity Commission in their research paper “Trends in Australian Agriculture” found that the proportion of people working in agriculture with a degree was around 7% whereas 22% of the community as a whole had a degree.

The other tweet was by @KondininGroup which referred to Victorian Farmers Federation concerns that the higher education base funding review has recommended raising the fees for agricultural courses at university by up to 25%.

It seems incongruous that these two pronouncements can co-exist. How can the answer to low enrolments in Agricultural Science (AgSci) be to increase fees?

But it made me think about what may be contributing to a low take up of AgSci degrees. I don’t think fees tell the whole story.

Why are some Agricultural Science degrees still four years long?

Agricultural Science is a complex and technical subject area but computer science, accounting, journalism and even many straight Science degrees are only three years. I don’t think it could be said that those students spending an extra year in Agricultural Science are rewarded financially for their efforts on graduation.

Why are so many Agricultural Science degrees inflexible?

I accept that AgSci provides graduates with a comprehensive understanding across a range of disciplines. I am continually reminded that a solid grounding in basic science is transferable across a number industries, which serves graduates and agriculture well. I wonder though, if a student is ultimately interested in animal nutrition, why do some degrees insist they study agronomy for three years before they can specialise?

What is the link between AgSci and Farming?

An AgSci degree doesn’t teach you how to farm, it teaches the science that underpins agricultural production.  So an industry leader told me recently when discussing this issue.  Some students are therefore disillusioned when they get to university and find the degree is focussed on science, not farming.  

Why can’t we retain students in Agricultural Science courses?

I guess some of the above points may contribute to low retention rates.  One farmer told me of the 100+ students in their first year only 4 graduated. Where did all those young people go? Well, some transferred to straight Science where they had more freedom to pursue their interests, some went home to the farm questioning the degree’s relevance to their family’s operations and some had just changed their minds about what they wanted to do…which is the right of all young people of course!

I’d like to add a lack of clarity about career paths to the list.

Many of you can think of at least a dozen people in highly diverse careers in agriculture – agronomists, bankers, PR people, scientists, advisers, lobbyists, farmers, machinery dealers, policy makers…etc

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 AgSci graduates?

Apart from encounters with family and friends, how often do we take the time to engage with young people to demonstrate how rewarding and diverse a career in agriculture can be? 

We owe it to ourselves, to protect the investment we’ve made in our businesses and industries and to secure the future of food and fibre production, to support and invest in our young people. 

A new group of school-leavers are about to start their AgSci degrees…what will YOU do to keep them there?