Young Farming Champion Alana Black sharing her expertise and creating global connections

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Alana Black making the most of the opportunities available to young people living and working in rural Australia

Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champion program envisions a world where the brightest young agricultural minds from across Australian agriculture come together to build a better future.

Similarly the Rural Youth Project, based in Scotland, aims to “develop feasible strategies to develop leadership and enterprise skills amongst young people in agricultural and rural communities based on understanding their current situation, aspirations, opportunities and challenges.”

In 2019 the two programs will share ideas and experiences as YFC Alana Black takes up a role with the Rural Youth Project in Scotland.

Alana grew up in the small town of Rydal in central NSW with extended family on a nearby farm. Once, when driving with her mother, she questioned why relatives were on the farm and not her own family. Thus began a tumble down the rabbit hole of succession. Alana had completed a degree in communications from Charles Sturt University and used the topic of succession in her masters in organisational communication. “Finding out about what happened with my grandfather and his brothers and how succession played out there, and then looking how succession plays out for a lot of families in regional Australia I realised there is a big communications deficit,” Alana says. “People don’t know how to talk to each other about difficult subjects like succession.”

“Being a typical millennial I thought I’d start a website and put all of my findings on there,” she says. Fledgling Farmers was born. Alana was then accepted into the ABC’s Trailblazer program, which gave her new project wide exposure and gave Alana further insight into media and communications. These are skills she has honed with her participation in the 2018 Young Farming Champions program and which, in 2019, she will further employ as a member of the Youth Voices Leadership Team communication committee.

A big part of communication in the modern world is the use of social media and this has led Alana to Scotland. “Again, as a good millennial, I am very active on social media and I came across a Facebook page called the Rural Youth Project,” she says. “They were researching the challenges young people face when they don’t live in a major centre and were doing a survey wanting data from across the world.”

Rural Youth Ideas Festival, Kinross, Scotland, 2nd & 3rd August 2018.

Alana (left) is looking forward to reconnecting with the bright minds she met in Scotland in 2018

Alana completed their survey, followed up with an email asking about succession in their part of the world and was invited to be a video blogger. “Then they said they had an Ideas Festival they were going to run and would I like to come over and speak,” she continues. “How could I say no? I’m actually half Scottish – any excuse to go back is certainly something I’d love.”

Alana went to Scotland for two weeks, did work experience with Jane Craigie Marketing (who initiated and manages the Rural Youth Project) and attended a field day where the ambulance was called for a person suffering heat exhaustion – in 190C.

Alana’s first trip to Scotland was in a volunteer capacity, but this has led to further career opportunities and on 4th June she will fly into a Scottish summer. “I will be working with Jane Craigie Marketing on the Rural Youth Project, which is running over 4 years,” she says.

We look forward to hearing of Alana’s adventures in Scotland with the Rural Youth Project … and to how she copes with the heat of a northern hemisphere summer.

You can read more about Alana here

#YouthVoices19 #YouthinAg #StrongerTogether #ThisisAusAG

23 year old CEO Marlee Langfield says you have to be fearless

“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.

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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.”