Young Farming Champions Muster April 2019 Second Edition

It’s Sydney Royal Easter Show time! This year we have sixteen Young Farming Champions trekking to Sydney for the show. Whether it’s stewarding merinos, hosting groups of glampers around the campfire, prepping prize poultry or judging show cattle, we are THERE! It’s the highlight of the agricultural show calendar and if you’d like to share the #myeastershow love with us, head on over to the Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page to keep up with our YFCs at the show.

Read on for this week’s tops stories from our Young Farming Champions (YFC) across the county!

In the field

If you’ve ever wondered what the life of a contract musterer looks like, Wool YFC Chloe Dutschke shared insights into her career when she guest hosted our Picture You in Agriculture Facebook page this week. Head to our Facebook page to follow more of Chloe’s adventures.

Chloe Dutschke

It was a busy week for Chloe, coinciding with the announcement of the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Scholarship, in which Chloe was named a 2019 Scholarship winner. Mega Congratulations Chloe! Read more about it in The Border Mail here.

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Wool YFCs Adele Smith, Chloe Dutschke and Dione Howard at the Peter Westblade Scholarship dinner.

Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) Vice-Chair Emma Ayliffe attended the Acres of Opportunity Irrigated Cotton field day in Conargo, NSW. It was an opportunity for growers to look at a new cotton development in the local area.

Emma Ayliffe grower day

Out of the field

Primary Preview Day 1

Well done to our team of Young Farming Champions and friends of the program who helped pull off the incredible Primary Preview Day at Sydney Royal Easter Show last Thursday. Hundreds of school children engaged with activities around wool, eggs, soil and bees, hosted by our YFCs Samantha Wan, Haylee Murrell, Tim Eyes, Jasmine Whitten, Laura Bignell and Casey Onus.

Primary Preview Day 2

The biggest thanks goes to the team of brilliant “doers” who support our Young Farming Champions in these activations. All news from Sydney Royal reports the Primary Preview Day was a smashing success and we owe so much of that to the dream team who are behind us every step of the way. Thank you to everyone involved.

This was also a great opportunity for friend of PYiA, the incredible Aimee Snowdon from Little Brick Pastoral catch up with Hamish McClure, one of the winners of our 2018 National Agriculture Day competition.

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The first Saturday on the Royal Easter Show provided the perfect opportunity for Paddock Pen Pals teacher Zoe Stephens from Carlingford West Public School and YFC Sam Wan and Dione Howard to meet face to face in the Sheep Pavilion.

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Emily King from Australian Wool Innovation made the most of Zoe’s visit with an interview for the Yarn podcast series.  We look forward to sharing Zoe’s yarn with you shortly.

Beyond Sydney Royal, Climate Action YFC Anika Molesworth has had a busy week with keynote speaking gigs to more than 1000 people at NSW and ACT Geography Teachers Association Conference, Rotary Conference and Prime Super – Unleash Your Super Power Events.

Our PYiA Program Director was in the audience at the Prime Super – Unleash Your Super Power Event and said Anika had a very powerful affect on the audience with a number of people commenting that Climate Change was an important issue to them and Anika had empowered them to have meaningful conversations with friends, family and colleagues about Climate Action. Well done Anika!

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lucy with deer

This week Wool YFC Lucy Collingridge travelled to Wee Waa and Walgett to present to two classes of students studying Certificate II & III of a Conservation Land Management course. As a Biosecurity Officer, she spoke to the students about the Biosecurity Act 2015, best practice for pest animal management and why management of invasive species is important, and what everyone can do to minimise the risk of spreading weed seeds. Lucy says, “The skills and confidence that I gained from the YFC program came in handy today! On arrival in Wee Waa, I discovered that the facility did not have a projector for my PowerPoint and I was able to modify my presentation to suit the setting. Without my YFC training I would have let this affect my delivery!”

Wool Young Farming Champion Sam Wan and Eggs Young Farming Champion Jasmine Whitten represented PYiA at Animal Welfare Collaborative Academic Think Tank Summit in Sydney on 9th April.

The goal of The Animal Welfare Collaborative is to act as a conduit for the multiple stakeholders in Australia’s livestock production system (industry bodies, community organisations, animal welfare organisations, research institutes, and the Federal, State and Territory governments) to do the following:

  1. Collaboration: Build respectful, collaborative relationships
  2. Translation: Turn the scientific evidence base of animal welfare into useful, field-ready decision tools
  3. Adoption: Increase the adoption of evidence-based ‘best practices’ in animal welfare
  4. Progress: Facilitate incremental, evidence-based improvements to animal welfare
  5. Participation: Enhance public participation in evidence-based decisions around animal welfare

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YVLT mentor coordinator and Wool YFC Dione Howard spoke at the District Veterinarians of NSW Conference in Newcastle this week about the complications of grazing canola in dry conditions. Around 90 delegates descended from across the state to discuss lessons learnt from drought, the key issues in NSW surveillance activities and to celebrate 101 years of public veterinary service.

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YVLT Chair Jo Newton joined several hundred animal scientists from around the world at the British Society of Animal Science Conference in Edinburgh. She presented some of her research in the genetics and genomics session. Jo also had the opportunity to catch up with researchers at University of Edinburgh and gave a guest seminar on the value of genetic & genomic tools. She managed to fit in some sightseeing too, including a whisky tasting in the largest private whisky collection in the world.

Prime Cuts

We are very excited to introduce the 5 University of New England students who have been selected to undertake the Young Farming Champions Program. They are:

Welcome to the team!

Forbes Corby was spotted at the Sydney Royal Easter Show Ag Bag Stand, where he is spending his Easter break making sure every cent raised by the sale of the Ag Bag goes directly to the RAS Foundation Community Futures Grant program. Great work Forbes!

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Congrats are also due to YFC Sally Poole who will shortly commence a new role as a precision ag agronomist at Precision Cropping Technologies (PCT) in Goondiwindi.

Massive shout out to YFC Alana Black who has had a piece published in The Australian Farmer. In it Alana shares her family’s experience with succession planning and has some great advice for anyone thinking about succession in farm businesses. You can read the story here.

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It very much feels like all roads lead to the Royal this week with many YFC involved throughout the show. Congrats to YFC Bec Thistlethwaite, who has been selected as a 2019 Rural Achiever and is currently enjoying a behind the scenes Easter Show experience. Good luck to Bec this week as we await the announcement of the RAS Rural Achiever Scholarship.

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YFCs Lucy Collingridge, Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Jasmine Whitten catch up at Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Lifetime Highlights

Congrats to YVLT secretary & Wool YFC Peta Bradley on her recent efforts at the Coffs Harbour Ocean Swim. Peta competed in two events, taking home two medals! A gold in the 600m Jetty Swim and bronze in the 2km ocean swim. Now in it’s 22nd year over 600 people competed in the charity event. You can watch some of the action here:

Wool YFC and YVLT communications coordinator Bessie Thomas and her family swapped the bush for the beach earlier this month, holidaying in the beachside paradise of Port Stephens thanks to an incredible random act of kindness. Bessie and her family – who have been farming through drought for several years –  were gifted the week long holiday from Alloggio/Port Stephens Accommodation business owners Will Creedon and wife Karen, former member of the NSW Legislative Council Scot MacDonald, and the Port Stephens Council. Local businesses The Little Nel cafe, Imagine Cruises, 4WD R US sandboarding adventures and Crest Birubi Beach cafe all pitched in to spoil Bessie’s family with delicious meals and amazing adventures. Read more in The Rural Weekly here.

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Bessie Thomas and family pictured with Karen and Will of Allogio / Port Stephens Accommodation

Outback Magazine and PYiA journalist Mandy McKeesick currently writing a feature story on the fishing industry took the opportunity to make PYiA HQ her base this week. Have a great week together Mandy and Lynne!

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Mandy is keen to take some Jamberoo green grass home with her 

 

#myeastershow #YouthinAg #YouthVoices19 #ThisisAusAg

Primary School Preview Day an opportunity to meet the scientists and young people working in agriculture

Jasmine Whitten

On April 11 the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW will run their Primary School Preview Day at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) and the Young Farming Champions (YFC) will be right in the thick of it once again.

The Primary School Preview Day is an invitation for students in Years 4-6 to experience the show behind the scenes and to learn about Australian agriculture in a series of fun and interactive workshops.

New for 2019 is a two-fold partnership between PYiA and the University of New England, which will see each workshop supported by a scientist from the UNE Discovery Voyager team. Current students of the university will also attend and learn the art of activation from YFCs Casey Onus and Sam Wan, as well as presenting their own workshop titled Under the Fleece, which will look at lamb chops and other lamb-based menu items.

The activations hosted by PYiA and UNE are a prime example of intergenerational mentoring with established scientists assisting early-career YFCs who, in turn, will take university students under their wings to teach primary school kids.

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Getting Down and Dirty

Five Young Farming Champions supported by University of New England students will present the following workshops asking the kids to get their hands dirty, test the freshness of eggs, explore the uses of wool,  and play the pollination game. This is what can be expected:

Eggscellent with YFC Jasmine Whitten:  Under Jasmine’s enthusiastic tutelage students will become egg farmers and test the quality of the eggs destined for the family fridge, to ensure a great eating experience.

Amazing Wool with YFC Haylee Murrell: Using interactive questions and answers Haylee will teach the kids about the properties of wool, allowing them to touch and feel wool straight off the sheep’s back.

The World Wants Aussie Wool with YFC Samantha Wan: Sam will take students on a journey around the world as she buys fleece from Aussie farmers and turns it into all sorts of woollen products.

Our Soils Feed the World with YFC Casey Onus: Casey will get dirty and teach kids to find worms and other critters that make our soil perfect for growing our food.

The Purpose of Pollinators with YFC Tim Eyes: Tim will use bees, flies, bats and wind to pollinate plants and show kids the difference between pollen and nectar.

Year 4-6 primary school students are invited to an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek of the Sydney Royal Easter Show the day before the gates officially open on the 12 April. On Primary School Preview Day, students will explore the concepts of food and fibre production in Australia in a round-robin workshop format with fun, interactive workshops that are linked to syllabus outcomes. LAST CHANCE! Ticket sales close Mon April 1st.  You can book your school’s tickets here

If your school is coming to Primary School Preview Day dont forget to say hi

 

 

Our 2017 Archie finalists farewell the Sydney Royal Easter Show  

Each year the finalists in The Archibull Prize travel to the Sydney Showground  in November for our Awards and Exhibition Day.

We leave them in the loving hands of the education team at the showground to be stored and then showcased in all their glory at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in March/April of the following year.

Following the show our Archies then travel back across the country to their homes with the exception of

The Archie who will reside in Minister Blair’s Martin Place office for the next twelve months

Minister Martin Place

The Archie who will reside in the Director Generals Office

Director General Martin Place

The Archie who will reside in the Minister’s country HQ at Orange

Minister Oragne Office

and the Archie’s who have been chosen by the RAS of NSW to take pride of place at their events for the next 12 months

A big shout out to Jenny Hughes RAS Senior Agricultural Education Coordinator and her team for their support in showcasing the Archies to close to 1 Million people at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

IMG_4223 Jenny Hughes RAS Senior Agricultural Education Coordinator double checks the Archie’s are secure as they are loaded by Hunter and Co Transport for their journey from the showground to their place of display for the next 12 months 

 

A big shoutout to our supporting partners without whom none of this would happen

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Sydney Royal Easter Show delivers a winner with Little Hands on the Land

Post a highly successful Primary School Preview Day in the Food Farm at the 2018 Sydney Royal Easter Show the following day our Young Farming Champions Events Team where given a behind the scenes tour by members of the RAS Youth Group

Jasmine Whitten

On Primary School Preview Day Young Farming Champion  Jasmine Whitten and intern Jessica Fearnley ran the Eggs-cellent workshop where students were given a 15 minute snapshot of how farmers ensure that only the very best eggs  make it into the carton in their fridge

First stop was a tour of the Cattle Pavilions were RAS Youth Group member Rachel Rodney provided insights into the planning  required to bring in the animal exhibits in the short turn around time between the show closing at night and opening next morning  Quite a feat when you think over 400 cattle may be moving in and out in a six hour period.

The YFC then moved to the Woolworths Dome and met with some of the teams behind the District Exhibit  displays and discovered there is over 12 months of planing to bring those magnificent display to life.

It was then onto the Poultry Pavilion where RAS Rural Achiever Joe Murphy  shared with the YFC his journey to become a Rural Achiever and the role of the Rural Achievers in assisting with running events at the show.

RAS Youth Group members Tobie Payne and Andrew Horne then introduced the YFC to the media centre team and the main arena announcers.  The YFC  discovered the Showground facilities entertain up to 1,000,000 people during the 12 days of the show and provide venues for sporting and community events for the other 353 days of the year.

Each year at the show there is a strong focus on providing visitors with genuine and fun agricultural experiences.  As it happens Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes is the night manager of one we think is brilliant ( almost as impressive as The Food Farm)

Little Hands on the Land is a working farm in The Daily Telegraph Paddock teaching kids from 2 to 10 the crop-to-shop agriculture story. Its a free activity that takes the little farmers on a journey through 10 stations including a milking barn, chook shed, fruit orchard, tractor pull and more before they get to the farmer’s market to trade their produce for farm dollars. Their hard-earned farm dollars can be spent at the last station – the supermarket.

In this video Tim explains how Little Hands on the Land works in the video below and our Young Farming Champions very enthusiastically took up the offer to show you what a whirlwind Little Hands Experience is like .

As you can see a good time was had by all including our intern for 2018 Haylee Murrell  who assisted YFC Tayla Field to run the Seed to Salad workshop

Haylee

Meet Emma Ayliffe at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and learn how spiders can be your friend

Meet Young Farming Champion, Farmer and Agronomist Emma Ayliffe who with farmer Craig Newham will be running the Good Bugs, Bad Bugs Workshop at Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day.

Emma Ayliffe Agwoment Global

Read Emma’s story in AGWomen Global HERE

Student participants will go home with a new appreciation of the insects around us using cotton farming as the model. The first thing they will learn is there are NO actual bad bugs, just bugs in the wrong place at the wrong time and there are some very pesky little bugs that just love to chew cotton plants. With Australia being the most water efficient cotton producing country in the world and (with Egypt) producing the best quality cotton in the world  ( ours is the whitest and the strongest) our cotton farmers are being very diligent about encouraging the bugs in the wrong place at the wrong time to find somewhere else to live and dine.

Students will discover our cotton farmers have developed a very impressive pest management system known as Integrated Pest Management or IPM for short.

Its a big picture process that requires

1. Knowing your enemy and your friends.
2. Taking a year round approach.
3. Thinking of the farm and surrounding vegetation as a whole system.
4. Having good on-farm hygiene.
5. Considering options to escape, avoid or reduce pests.
6. Sampling crops effectively and regularly.
7. Aiming to grow a healthy crop.
8. Choosing insecticides wisely to conserve beneficials (good bugs) and bees.

Emma and Craig will introduce the students to the good bugs also known as beneficials and the bag bugs that the good bugs keep under control. Then the students will test their bug knowledge

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And like Emma they will find that spiders can be your friend ( at a distance)

Join the Young Farming Champions at Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day. Meet the team HERE

Watch what we do

@eastershow #youthvoices18 @art4ag @archibull #welovewool #eatveggies #welovecotton #weloveeggs #youthinag

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

Meet our Eggsperts Jasmine Whitten and Jessica Fearnley

Young Farming Champion Jasmine Whitten will partner with intern Jessica Fearnley to deliver the Eggscellent workshop at the Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day.

IMG_0798Students will be taken on a journey to become eggsperts discovering how the humble egg is good for both their brain and body. They will be given the chance to become an eggspert starting with dressing for the part (watch this space). Then the real challenge will begin! They will be put to the test as an eggspert. The challenge is for them to determine if the egg should be stamped as consumer quality and put into the egg carton or not.

Jasmine Whitten 5Recognising only the very best eggs reach your fridge students will perform a scientific test using a haugh machine and a yolk colour chart to determine if the inside of the egg is of the highest of quality.

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Eggs provide a number of minerals and nutrients which are good for both the brain and body.

Eggs 2

Let’s discover why they are so good for kids?

  • Eggs contain choline which helps in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involve in nerve and brain functioning and memory. Without it our bodies and brain just wouldn’t function properly.
  • One serve of eggs provides around a third of the recommended dietary intake of folate for children. Folate is essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy cells. Ideal for those growing bodies!!
  • One serve of eggs provides around half the recommended dietary intake of vitamin A for children. Vitamin A is essential for growth and eye health. That means if we have a eyes or a body we should eat eggs!
  • Eggs contain Zinc which plays a role in cell division, cell growth, and wound healing! Exactly what active and growing bodies need especially if their prone to needing bandaids!

We are looking forward to the newly minted eggsperts going home and educating their friends and family about why eggs are good for the body and brain.

Funny easter eggs

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

Sharna Holman is crazy about Cotton.

Meet Young Farming Champion Sharna Holman. She is crazy about cotton. Have a 10 minute conversation with her and you will be crazy about cotton too.

Sharna Holman AgWomen Global

Read Sharna’s story in AGWomenGlobal here

Sharna will be presenting the Cotton or Not workshop at the Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day.  Sharna’s hands on workshop will share with the students  how Cotton plays a big part in our everyday lives. We sleep in it, dry ourselves with it, wrap our bodies in it and we even cook with its oil. And it’s produced by Aussie cotton growers right here under the Australian sun.

In fact right down Eastern Seaboard from Clermont in Queensland to just over the Victorian border. You can even find Cotton at the back of Bourke

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Sharna is a city kid, introduced to agriculture at school. She fell in love with the cotton industry and is super keen for young people to follow her into the industry. In fact there are careers in Cotton from A to Z

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We can all be very proud of our Cotton industry and Australian Cotton farmers

Some interesting facts for you

  • In an average year, Australia’s cotton growers produce enough cotton to clothe 500 million people.
  • Australia is the most water efficient cotton producing country in the world. Source
  • Australia and Egypt produce the best quality cotton in the world. Our cotton is the whitest and strongest. Source 
  • The Australian Cotton industry attracts young people like Sharna. Even their farmers are young. The average age of Cotton farmers is 39 and 40% of cotton farmers are female
  • And its good for the planet. Net on-farm emissions of greenhouse gases on cotton farms are negative because cotton plants store more carbon than is released from production inputs used during growth.

Primary School students can meet Sharna at Stand No 13 on 22nd March 2018

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Secondary Students can hear from and chat to Sharna at the Careers Workshop below Ag Career Arvo Flyer

#youthvoices18 #youthinag #welovecotton #wearnatural

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

Strong cultural message steals the show

Last Thursday was the 1st day of the Sydney Royal Easter Show 2013 and as has become a highlight of my year, once again I ventured to the show to judge the Schools  District Exhibits Display.

My goodness after judging this section for 3 years wow is the competition heating up. This year just four points separated 1st and 4th.

Firstly a bit of background. The competition has the dual purpose of showcasing talented young people and their team work from NSW schools as well as identifying, encouraging and mentoring young people to feed into the iconic District Exhibit Display teams.

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The Iconic District Exhibits in 2013

This year everyone agreed ( including a number of judges of the big displays) that all four schools had taken the competition to a whole new level.

It wasn’t just the quality of the design, creativity, artistic merit and innovation that caught the judges attention. Equally impressive was how the students engaged with the judges (and the general public) and their levels of energy. I was so impressed with the professionalism of the students. They energised me. They really knew their stuff. How to tell the story of the development of the big ideas, why they were so passionate about their theme and how well the teams came together. I could go on for ever they were all just mind-blowing         

Winner 

But we can only have one winner and this year’s winner of the Schools District Exhibits Display competition was Woodenbong Central School who bravely addressed a very powerful cultural issue through there very thought provoking display.

Woodenbong Central School District Exhibit

Building Respect in Our Communities

My two fellow judges Andrew Barnum and Nicole Punt are both well known in the art and design world and once again I benefited immensely from their broad experience and expertise.

As Andrew explained this was a “an artwork with a simple clear message that takes a viewer into the artist’s world and holds them there, makes a connection and leaves a lasting impression”

I approached the judging from a farmer perspective being highly appreciative that all of these wonderful young people were helping me tell farming stories to my urban customers – the lifeblood of every farmer’s business.

Tying for second place was Muirfield High School who reached out to the Art4Agriculture ethos in me with their display that showed how their school agriculture department was ‘opening the door to a green future by inspiring young people to take up careers in the agri-food sector’  

Muirfield High School

Agricultural education opening the door to a greener future

Equal second this year was Calrossy Anglican School whose display had a strong sustainability theme and an equally strong sense of community. You could even smell the Lucerne in their backdrop, their country region just wafted out to you

 

And a very close third was Menai High School who also had a strong focus on sustainability. Using a big foot as the central focus the display moved in the background from the drab colours of the smoke stacks and cooling towers of the mining industry to the bright green fields of produce and very clever examples of sustainable energy use

As you can see months of preparation and blood, sweat and tears goes into the displays and I am confident you will join me in saluting everyone involved

Giving next gen a voice at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

One of the major objectives of the Archibull Prize is to give students a voice through their artwork to not only promote the program and its key messages to hundreds of thousands of people, but to showcase the students’ opinions, learnings and values to the community.

Art4Agricultures partnership with the RAS of NSW (through the Sydney Royal Easter Show) and the RNA of Queensland ( through the Ekka ) gives us a wonderful opportunity to do this

This is how the clever team in the Food Farm have achieved this in 2013 at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Archibull Prize in the Food Farm

James Ruse Agricultural High School and Model Farms High School

De La Salle

De La Salle College

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Shoalhaven High School

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Hills Adventist College and Macarthur Anglican School

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Cranebrook High School

Wyong

Wyong High School and Muirfield High School

Tuggerah Lakes

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary School, Berkeley Vale Campus 

Caroline Chisholm College and Winmalee High School

Caroline Chisholm College and Winmalee High School

From the udder side of the fence

I would like you all to meet our latest Young Farming Champion – Jessica Monteith

How lucky is the dairy industry to welcome this young lady into our midst

Jessica’s story ………..

My life motto has always been “To live with Passion” and I have always focused on the words of Nelson Mandela – “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.

Nelson Mandela Quote

In other words I throw my self 100% whole heartedly into everything I set out to achieve. A life without goals is a life without passion.

Growing up my best friend lived on a dairy farm only a short push bike ride from my house. Right from the start I was always fascinated by the dairy and the cattle and we would follow her dad and grandfather around the farm pestering them with questions and always wanting to help, or more likely hinder their efforts when it came time to feed the calves. I never realised it at the time but these are the cherished memories that inspired me and determined my life goals

I have been lucky enough to meet many people over the years who have helped me achieve many accomplishments that I never would have thought possible, these people I see as mentors whom have shaped my understanding and fuelled my passion for Rural Industries in particular the dairy industry to which I am now devoted.

This passion began when Graham and Jane McPhee of Hillview Park Holsteins in Finley  asked me to join them to help prepare their cattle for International Dairy Week. This annual event  draws around 2000 head of cattle from across Australia. Not only are Jane and Graham the roots of my passion they have helped kickstart my own dairy herd by giving me the best gift ever – the pick of a calf from their calf pen. This calf Hillview Park AJK Eve was my first Holstein and foundation dam of my own Curramore Park Holstein stud.

AJK Eve First calf

I have found the dairy industry is full of people who are very keen to open doors and nurture new entrants and introduce you to others who share your passion.

One of these is Natalie Cochrane of Eagle Park who owns a dairy farm with her husband Tim at Terara just north of Nowra. After I began showing cattle with Natalie I began to fall in love with her signature breed – Illawarra cattle.

Sydney Royal 2012

Sydney Show 2012 and a gorgeous Illawarra Cow

Whilst I had not grown up on the land I found there are plenty of farming people like Natalie who will work with you and show you the ropes and support you to live your dream. My little herd of registered Holsteins and Illawarra’s which now live at Terara on Tim and Natalie’s property continues to grow slowly between breeding and purchasing new genetics from local breeders.

As part of my involvement in the dairy industry I have been lucky enough to compete and succeed in youth events and attend shows across 5 states of Australia meeting many wonderful people along the way who have become friends for life.

My first trip to Sydney show saw me come home with a blue ribbon from competing in the Youth Challenge. This team orientated event involves a group of young people working together in a range of activities that show how well the team can prepare a team of cattle for judging at the show. I came home with a renewed sense of accomplishment and next year went one further winning the  paraders class against others in my age group who had many more years  experience.

One of my biggest achievements was mentoring the South Coast and Tablelands Youth Challenge team to our first ever representation at International Dairy Week and coming away with success. The smiles and excitement of the team after beating some of the best dairy youth in the country will stay with me forever.

Youth Challenge Team

The IDW Youth Challenge Team

Whilst breeding and showing dairy cattle first spiked my interest in the dairy industry, it is the diverse range of opportunities that agriculture provides which keeps me actively involved now.

Sydney Royal 2009

Sydney Show 2009

My role in working with youth in agriculture is helping young people understand the important and pivotal role that farmers and agriculture play in our past, present and future. I also hope it is influencing them to realise the opportunities that agriculture and agricultural related fields can hold for them.

I am now completing a Traineeship in Financial services through Horizon Credit Union whilst also completing full time study for a double degree in Agricultural Science as well as Agribusiness Finance through Charles Sturt University. I am hoping to follow a career path in finance related to and working one-on-one with our farmers to develop their industries and operations to work to full capacity as well as continuing to work with the next generation. The fact that I don’t come from a farming background helps show that exciting agriculture related careers and opportunities are available to everyone.

Once I have all my qualifications I aim to specialise in Succession Planning and Share Farming in the hope of not only keeping the next generation of farmers on the land but also keep generations of farming history, skills and knowledge maintained by giving young people the opportunity to work on land without the need to buy the land they farm on.

The past 5 months have been a whirlwind of achievements and success for me. After winning the Berry showgirl competition, I then made the top 15 in the state out of 650 young women from across NSW. From there it was off to the Sydney Royal Easter Show where I was awarded First Runner up in The Land Sydney Showgirl Competition. This is a feat that still amazes me and when people ask me if I have come down yet I reply that I have no yet had the chance to go up!

Showgirl with Jane Mcphee

1st runner up Sydney Royal Easter Showgirl 2012 with Jane McPhee

From humble beginnings I honestly did not even expect to do well in the local competition and when I see the Runner Up sash stretched across my bed I have to pinch myself to make sure its real. Showgirl was always something I wanted to have a go at after seeing many inspiring young women from our area do well in the competition and witnessing how it helped them get to where they are today. I did not quite understand though just how many opportunities being involved in the competition held for me. The people I have met and networked with along the way will undoubtedly be further influencers in helping me reach my full potential and allow me to give back to the community that has supported me .

The Showgirl competition has inspired me to get even more involved by recruiting and inspiring other young women to step outside their comfort zone and have a go. I will also use my award as a vehicle to share the great story of Australian farmers and agriculture with the community.

Year of the farmer ambassador

But most of all I want to be a real life example of the doors that agriculture can offer to exciting career pathways and inspire other young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Sadly when I was at school the consensus was and it still seems to be that many students are deterred away from considering tertiary education options by careers advisers due a perceived lack of opportunities and lack of money in the industry.

I want to debunk these misconceptions and promote the many facets of agriculture and career options not just on farm but the many people and businesses who support agriculture in rural communities.

Not coming off a farm makes me even more driven to prove that you do not have to be born on a farm in order to pursue and succeed in an agricultural field.

Follow Jess on Twitter @jm458