Young Farming Champions Finding their Voice

Like all Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions Emma Visser knows how important it is for all young people to have a voice. Fired by her love of animals and agriculture Emma is using her voice and taking every opportunity to engage, empower and inspire others to follow her career education pathway into the noblest profession – farming

Emma and Friend

This month Emma has been very busy sharing her farming stories internationally through her entry in the ABC Heywire Competition. HEYWIRE is an annual competition for young people from regional Australia. It’s a place for young people to share stories and opinions about the news that affects them.  Emma’s video entry captures her life moving from the city to the country. ”Every day brings many new experiences and learning curves. I would love to see more young people know they can get involved with agriculture without having to be brought up on a farm”.

You can watch Emma’s Heywire Entry here

Emma also had a chance to share her story face to face when she visited Windsor Public School as part of their Archibull Prize journey. Emma was very excited to find Windsor Public School was right into the flavour of food experience when she arrived She was met by a teacher dressed as a strawberry and when she signed in she was informed that it was “mufti day” and all the students and teachers were dressed as a fruit or vegetable. Some were dressed as bananas, apples, oranges, and one boy was covered in green paint as he was a dragon fruit.

Firstly she was invited to the staffroom for morning tea and to meet all the teachers. One teacher said that the students kept asking when “he was coming” referring to the farmer that was going to visit the school. When she told them that the farmer was actually a female, the kids couldn’t believe it.

When the bell rang she went the classroom and she found forty year one & year two’s all dressed as fruit and vegetables. So cute. She found all the students very focused on what she had to say. She told them the story of the calves on her farm and their life journey. The students really enjoyed her video and asked LOTS of questions which she really enjoyed listening to. The students asked questions like ‘How many cows do you have, how many cows do you milk, how much milk do our cows make, how long have I worked on the farm, how big do cows get, and how do the cows get their names?’

After answering questions the teacher then put on a video for the students. Some of the students follow the KT’s Farmlife blog online about a little girl who lives on a beef property. Some of the class had watched a video of a calf being pulled out and were very keen to show all their fellow school friends. Some students covered their eyes and ears when watching it, but most of the students were fascinated.

Emma said “I really enjoyed my school visit. The kids were really interested in what I had to say, loved my video and pictures and now all want to be farmers”.

Emma’s Windsor Public School PowerPoint can be found here

Check out some more great Heywire stories from young rural people here

Women redefining what farming and leadership is

Lynne Strong runner up National Rabobank Industry Leader of the Year and some of her support team L to R Kirsty John Art4Agriculture Event Manager Philip Bruem AO Chairman of the Board Australian Year of the Famer and Ken Moore from RIRDC

Lynne Strong is this year’s runner up in the National Rabobank Farm Industry Leader
of the Year. 

Lynne shares her journey to overcome the microphone shy hurdle see “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “ See here

Lynne says

“Firstly we all need to acknowledge men and women are different in many ways and recognise that’s a good thing

Secondly we need to redefine what a farmer is and farmers are many things

In the first instance they are members of the noblest profession.  They feed and clothe the world. Today farmers feed 5x as many people as they did in 1950 which allows consumers today to spend only 10% of their income to stay alive compared to 50% in the 1900’s.  

But farmers produce so much more than food.  Australian farmers protect and enhance over 60% of the Australian landscape. On top of this our farmers produce experiences
and values that are often overlooked like our farming culture and heritage and
generations of handing down of skills and knowledge,

But sadly it’s not just urban communities who forget this. Farmers and industry, too
often fail to acknowledge that women farmers are champions not only behind the
farmgate they contribute at an unparalleled level beyond the farmgate.

Its undeniably true there are amazing women out there who can hold their own and
stand side by side with men driving headers, handling bank managers, drenching
cattle, artificially inseminating cattle, birthing calves and the list goes on. Yet they are not acknowledged as “real farmers” because of their sex. This is a travesty and many women are justifiably lobbying hard to change this mindset

There are also many farming women who are doing equally amazing things beyond the farmgate who are celebrated by the community, but go unrecognised by industry.

Why is this?  That is the question I pose

Surely it’s as obvious as the nose on your face that it is pivotal for agriculture to build
relationships with consumers and decision and policymakers.
To help address this and create a culture of change, I have focused on advocacy and telling the positive farming stories in preference to taking on agri-political roles.

I am the first to admit it is petrifying being interviewed. Radio was bad enough the idea of TV bought on a panic attack.   

When I first put my hand up to do this I planned, rewrote and practiced what I was going
to say over and over. I began to grow more confident as new and different speaking
opportunities arose   

Then one day I spoke in front of 40 people at a Slow Food brunch and froze. It
should have been easy. I wrote my speech, practiced it and decided I could do it
without notes. But instead of just telling my story I had over thought the talk
and the content to my peril

Whilst I just wanted to hide, I was even more determined to never make the same
mistake again

So I found myself a vocal coach. Her name is Annie Burbrook and she is very special
and now supports our Art4Agriculture young farming champions,

Annie is so many things. She is a former ballerina with the Australian Ballet company
plus a NIDA graduate actor and director. Her CV includes roles in Blue Heelers
and being the voice of WIN TV and Estee Lauder. Annie is also vegetarian and a very
proud greenie and I have learnt so much more from her. She shares her
professional knowledge and skills with me as well as her insights into her life
choices and her social responsibility passion. I have listened and learnt and found
the confidence to proudly shout from the rooftops that I am a farmer and I don’t
have to milk cows to prove it.

I know I can talk on the radio (and TV) because I have done it. Our Art4Agriculture young farming champions are doing it and all farming women can do it. All we need is some professional development and capacity building and support networks. I have found in my case it has been a much faster journey by looking beyond industry for some of these skills and networks.  

Female farmers have so many untapped skills. The benchmark for too long has been measuring how many farming women sit on boards.

We need to define our own futures, step into the spaces and fill the gaps that we are good at and who better to inspire us than ourselves.  

I would also like to acknowledge the spirit and resilience of the farming men in my life. My husband Michael and son Nick. Our journey hasnt always been easy but its been worth it 

Farmers are hunks - When I was at uni my girlfriends called Michael "HT" which stood for Heart Throb. Even 35 years later you can see why

My son Nick who runs our two farms

Its all about team work. Our people and our passionate dedication to our cows and our landscape



and we have women on our farm team who stand side by side with the men milking our cows who produce milk for over 50,000 Australians each year 

Emma and the next generation who adore her

   Emma also spends lots of voluntary hours beyond the farmgate promoting careers in Agriculture




Girls are Farmers too

Girls are Farmers too

Another post in our call to arms to address this question recently posted by the ABC story “Women are farmers too, so why don’t we hear them more? “Found here

The Art4Agriculture network was formed with a key objective to reverse this trend

In fact our vision is an Australia wide network of enthusiastic, inspirational young farming professionals who can confidently

  • Share their stories and have two way conversations with urban communities to help bridge the gap between city and rural communities by increasing knowledge, generating trust and understanding of modern farming practices.
  • Promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative,
    rewarding and vibrant industry and a great career choice.

Whilst it was certainly not our intention our network is currently all female and
believe us we are working hard to rectify this   Com’on guys give us a ring we will welcome you with open arms.

Back to question posed by the ABC story we are very proud to say Art4Agriculture team of young farming champions is NOT microphone shy. Pivotally they are committed to building momentum and creating the necessary critical mass to reverse this trend by inspiring other farming women to join their ranks. But as I said guys can be agriculture advocates too and we look equally forward to convincing them they can do it just as well
as us.

As a testimonial to the power of AGvocacy Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion “Farmer Steph” has now visited all her Archibull Prize schools and found the experience exhilarating.

Here are some highlights in her own words from her school visits.

 “At the primary school I was talking to 85 Yr 5/6 students. The children asked
so so so many questions with hardly a topic not explored! A teacher had even
prepped a boy to ask if I was looking for a husband but the student was away, thankfully!

I had questions that were easy to answer and some not so easy

Such as “what happens to a calf if it is born with a disability”, “how do cows have babies”,  “what if that hurts coming out”, “do cows fart” haha

The children were really interested in asking questions but also telling me about their farm experiences.

I was also told that “your too pretty to be a farmer”, “me and my friends like your shoes” and not just by the students but I was also invited to the staff room for recess
and told by many teachers “oh you’re not what I was expecting a farmer too
look like” and “oh not all farmers are men”. The hour and twenty minutes I had with them flew past and was not long enough to answer all the questions so they would like me to visit again!

The high school I visited doesn’t offer Ag as a subject so I was talking to creative
arts students from all years. The students were similar to the primary school
in that they asked lots of questions although some a little more serious around
topics of how much farmers earn, price we are paid for milk, is university
essential for farmers, and received lots of comments about how the media
portrays a really different image to what I represented. They all told me I
wasn’t what they were expecting when they were told a farmer was coming to talk
to them and one girl told me she had never known farmers could be girls!

P.S They also loved my shoes! haha

Visiting the schools has proved to be a real highlight of my farming journey and I am confident all the Young Farming Champions will enjoy their Archibull Prize school visits just as much as I did ! “

 See the video “Farmer Steph” created for the school visits here

and her Powerpoint Presentation can be found here



Farmer Steph says Farm Girls Love Shoes Too

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Stephanie Tarlinton began her the Archibull Prize journey this week.

Firstly “Farmer Steph” joined students and teachers from Schofield Primary and Rouse Hill Anglican College for a photo at the Archibull Prize official launch at Woolworths @ Bella Vista on Monday

Young Farming Champion for 'Dairy' Stephanie Tarlinton (left) with teacher and students from Rouse Hill Anglican College

Then on Thursday she visited both schools to share her farming stories and her passion for cows and shoes

Young Farming Champion for 'Dairy' Stephanie Tarlinton (left) with teacher and students from Schofield Primary School


Want to be inspired?

See Farmer Steph’s video here