Expressions of Interest open for Archibull Prize 2012

The Archibull Prize for 2012 is up and away. If your school would like to participate Expression of Interest forms can be found here

This year the students will investigate the theme “What does it take to sustainably feed and clothe my community for a day”  and the industries they will study are Cattle and Sheep, Wool, Dairy and Cotton

We have been lucky enough to enlist the expertise of Sophie Davidson from Cotton Australia Education Coordinator to help us tweak  the 2012 curriculum and what a little treasure she is.

Here is a bit of background on the gorgeous Sophie ……..    

Combining a love of teaching with her love of the land, Sophie says ramping up the education activities of the cotton industry – an industry which is overwhelmingly innovative, technologically advanced and driven from within to be sustainable is an opportunity to combine her skills and interests to achieve something genuinely worthwhile and important.


Sophie with Cotton Young Farming Champions Tamsin Quirk and Katie Broughton

Sophie says after working in the Media and Communications a field which is all about taking charge of how an organisation or industry is represented, she moved into primary school teaching from there following her dream to do something more altruistic.

She says coming from a family farming background, has given her an awareness of  sustainable farming practices.

“I guess I have always been in agriculture without classifying it as such. My family have farmed for over four generations and it is a bit of a pilgrimage going back to the ancestral property in Scotland.”

“Growing up we had a small sheep property on the Lachlan River which we farmed with my extended family. We would also occasionally head up to my Grandfather’s property in Narrabri. When he bought it, it was partly grazing country but he gradually set it up for cropping, moving more into irrigated cotton as time went by.”

“My parents now own a grazing property near Woodstock and are keen on natural sequence farming.”

Sophie says since joining Cotton Australia her favourite experience has been the willingness of people to share their knowledge, experience and ideas and work collaboratively to get results.

“Broadly my role is to engage teachers, students and learning institutions in cotton and agriculture and promote a positive the positive story about agriculture to the next generation.”

“I’m looking forward to helping create more school-industry partnerships that improve teacher and student perceptions of the industry and encourage more students into agribusiness.  I also excited about developing curriculum resources that are credible, objective and well used by teachers that raise students awareness of sustainable cotton production.”

Yes and ditto to that and we are very much enjoying working with Sophie

This blog post is an excerpt from a COTTON AUSTRALIA STAFF PROFILE on SOPHIE DAVIDSON Wednesday, 25th July 2012

A Very Wicked Problem

Today’s guest blog 1 is by Gerry Andersen who is the Chief Executive Officer of Foodbank NSW.


Gerry has also been involved with the RAS of NSW for the past 25 years and is currently a RAS Councillor and Chair of the Sydney Royal Dairy Produce Committee. I had the pleasure of working with Gerry and the superb team from the Sydney Royal Dairy Produce Show in February this year when I had the honour of stewarding in the ice cream judging section. See the post I wrote about my day here

Gerry’s work with Foodbank has perfect synergies with the ethos of the Archibull Prizewhere we ask participating students to reflect on sustainable food production and also their role in sustainable food consumption. I am confident like me you will be astounded by the amount of food that is wasted in this country and as a farmer producing some of this food that ends up in landfill it breaks my heart. It will also break your heart to read about the other end of the spectrum that Gerry shares with us in this post. It just beggars belief that this can happen.

Each year two million Australians will rely on food relief and around half of them will be children who often go to school without breakfast or to bed without dinner.

Are the lucky ones so self absorbed and we live in our own little worlds and forget what really matters?. I just don’t know. What do you think?

I do know that as a farmer I am very proud of my fellow farmers participating in the Waste Not Want Not program.

This is what Gerry has to say………………..

Waste not; want not

Food waste is a complex social, economic and environmental problem that is having an increasingly negative impact on our world.


There’s no doubt that when it comes to food production, Australia truly is the lucky country. We live in a plentiful country, with some of the world’s most abundant fresh produce and skilful, efficient farmers. Each year, Australia produces enough fresh food to feed 60 million people – that’s nearly enough to feed the nation 3 times over.1
However, recent figures suggest that 4 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in Australia.


Of this, 1.38 million tonnes is business food waste and 2.6 million tonnes is household food waste. 2


This surplus food could feed millions of Australians every day. Food gets wasted because we buy more than we need; we cook more than we need; and due to demanding quality standards a lot of produce is discarded because of appearance, despite the nutritional quality still being very good. These food waste facts are startling alone, but when coupled with the fact that 1.2 million Australians do not have access to a safe and nutritious food supply, the situation is staggering.

Many of us eat well and enjoy a varied diet, so it seems strange to be discussing food shortages for Australians; however, for many, access to food is a critical problem. Each year two million Australians will rely on food relief and around half of them will be children who often go to school without breakfast or to bed without dinner. This is where Foodbank, the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia, comes into the equation. Foodbank is a not-for-profit, nondenominational organisation that seeks and distributes food and grocery industry donations to welfare agencies to feed the hungry around the country. The food goes to hostels, shelters, drop-in centres, school breakfast programs, home hampers and emergency relief packages for people in need. Last year alone it redistributed enough food for 28 million meals.

I became involved with Foodbank in 2009 taking up the role of CEO, following retirement from the food manufacturing industry three years earlier. I enjoyed entering the workforce again, and in particular working in the charity sector. Foodbank was initially formed to redistribute wasted food products from Australian food manufacturing and retailing sectors. However, recently the focus has moved to the farming industry.

Foodbank’s Waste Not Want Not program is a unique project that delivers otherwise wasted produce from the Riverina farming community to the tables of hungry families throughout NSW and the ACT. Since the program began in 2011, over 400 tonnes of produce from the Riverina district has been donated. There are plans to roll out the program in many more areas in NSW by 2013. Farmers, including small producers, can donate their fresh fruit and vegetables products that are in excess to demand or not quite up to quality standards, as they are still nutritious and very desirable to feed needy people. Our most common donations from farmers include oranges, pumpkins, onions, potatoes and grain.

There is still a long way to go to achieve an Australia without hunger, but we, as an agricultural community, can play a part to reduce the waste and hunger that exists.


Waste Food Hierarchy

This is a very wicked problem that each and everyone of us has an opportunity to make a difference

For more information on Foodbank and how you can become involved, visit

1 This article first appeared in RAS Times July 2012.

2 Australia and Food Security in a Changing World. Report of the Prime
Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC)
Expert Working Group, 2010.

Walk a mile in my Jeans

Today’s guest post is by Angela Bradburn. Angela is a Policy Officer at Cotton Australiaand recently visited Art4agriculture headquarters at Jamberoo where she go up close and personal with some of the cows.

The colourful ones


and the more traditional variety


and the Archies at Sydney Show

At Sydney Royal with the Archies

Cotton Australia is the peak industry body for Australia’s cotton growing industry and a proud supporting partner of two of Art4agriculture’s signature programs The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions program

Angela is one of a growing cohort of young people from non farming backgrounds going places fast in agriculture

In her role at Cotton Australia, Angela contributes to policy formulation and advocacy as well as acting as a reference point for industry organisations, government and other stakeholder groups on key policy and research issues. Key policy issues she is working on include climate change and carbon faming policies, education, labour and workforce issues. She also works with representative grower panels to provide research and development direction to cotton industry.

Here is Angela’s story ………


I didn’t grow up on a farm, and have mostly lived in metropolitan areas all my life, but I am very proud to be working in agriculture, and currently for the cotton industry which is providing me with so many opportunities to grow and achieve.

I hope by sharing my story and my career path and experiences I can help to convey that there are exciting careers in agriculture aplenty.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at University of Sydney in 2004, and have worked for the last seven years in agriculture and natural resource management policy and programs, across government, in private consulting and now industry. I have  had many great opportunities, colleagues and mentors and challenging and interesting work environments along the way.

I’ve been based on Sydney and Canberra for most of my career, but thankfully with very strong grass roots ties. I’ve spent lots of time in contrasting environments – on the farm and in rural and regional Australia as well as in the board room and corridors of Parliament House.

The thing is my career could have gone many different ways, and there was no lack of choice – once I got into the right networks.

Angela and Scott 3

Angela with husband Scott enjoy the view at Art4agriculture HQ

People are often curious about why I chose to do agriculture. At school I liked science, plants and animals and was also interested in human health. Looking back, agriculture is perfect for this as it touches on all of these things. The interconnectedness of environment, agriculture, food and health is what farming systems are all about!

I spent some time living on a hobby farm in Kangaroo Valley – this definitely sparked an interest. I also ended up doing agriculture as an elective at school and our school had a farm, which was a lot of fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed studying agriculture at the University of Sydney, and was very glad I fell into it. The degree had a strong theoretical science base but involved practical experience on-farm and in agricultural businesses across many industries – an important mix from my perspective. We were a tight knit group that went through, and many of us are still friends and keep in touch. Even just looking at my class of 2004 paints a fascinating and impressive picture of the array of career opportunities in agriculture.

During my time at university I had great opportunities provided to me by the cotton industry. I managed to secure an undergraduate scholarship provided by the Cotton CRC, to support me through my last two years, and in addition I undertook a Summer Scholarship– also an initiative run by the Cotton CRC where you work on a small research project with industry researchers.


I had a great time working on this based in Narrabri at the Australian Cotton Research Institute. This time in a rural community and working in the industry and its research community definitely built my appreciation and an affinity for the industry. The Summer Scholarship program is a highly successful model and I think it’s very important to provide these sorts of pathways for young people to help them in making career choices (it’s great to see other initiatives out there such as the Horizon Scholarship ). It’s wonderful be back in the industry that gave me so many opportunities during my studies and to be interacting with a lot of the same people that I did during my uni years.

After graduating I was lucky enough to secure a position within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Graduate Program. Looking back, this was a really big foot in the door and a good place to start a career. This is a structured program where we rotated through areas of government and received training, leadership and capacity building opportunities. I worked in policy and technical roles across Biosecurity Australia (BA), Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the Rural Policy and Innovation Division.

Picture 061

From here I worked for four years as a consultant, for a company called Hassall & Associates (now GHD). Our team provided advice to government and industry to help improve the management of natural resources; effectiveness of industry and government programs; and sustainability and competitiveness of rural and regional Australia.

Now, working at Cotton Australia I continue to be excited by agriculture’s bright future, and the passionate, bright and resilient people that make up the industry.

Sophie Davidson & Angela Bradburn

Angela with Sophie Davidson ( Education Officer for Cotton Australia)

One of the things I enjoy about my current role is that working for an industry body, you have a unique opportunity to work with the other representative groups to present a unified voice for agriculture more broadly. Cotton Australia is a member of other larger groups (such as the National Farmer Federation), and its rewarding working side by side with our colleagues, sharing our experiences and striving for positive change. Piarn Masterclass 2

The cotton industry itself is comprised of very inspiring people – lots of young industry leaders, women and generally innovative and passionate business people.

“Did you know that the average of farmer in the cotton industry is 39 and it is estimated that in Australia 40% of the farms have women as partners in family farms?. If you didn’t know that I bet you know Australia produces the best cotton in the world and we clothe 500 million people.” 

One of the highlights  of my role this year was undertaking a PIARN Master Class*.

Piarn Masterclass

The Inaugural PIARN Master Class with Professor Snow Barlow

The ‘Master Class’ program has been developed and is funded by the Primary Industries Adaptation Research Network (PIARN), out of the University of Melbourne.  Run as a short, intensive program, the initiative aims to connect future research, policy makers and industry leaders with on-farm activity so that primary industries research and development can be more relevant and effective, particularly in managing key climate challenges.

I joined a group of 20 from across different agricultural industries, to take part in three modules held in different locations across rural and regional Australia over late 2011/early 2012.  The program involved farm and site visits, interactive workshops and open forums with producers, leading researchers, policy makers and key industry figures.

The Master Class program provided an opportunity to enhance and build valuable knowledge and networks with policy makers, other industries and researchers.

As well as providing a chance to observe in the field how different farming groups are successfully applying knowledge, the interactive nature of the program means that I will also get to contribute a ‘cotton industry perspective’.

I enjoy remaining connected to both my industry and across agriculture at all levels – policy makers, industry and farmers. Social media is excellent for that and I invite you to follow me on twitter @angelajbradburn

I also value being active in professional associations. In Sydney there is actually a very vibrant network of people who work in agriculture and agribusiness. A lot of us come together as part of the group Farm Writers,which holds events, brings us key speakers and provide a collective forum.  Agribuzz for example is a smart-casual event  that facilitates professional networking and provides professional development opportunities. Over drinks and canapés, our members and friends exchange business intelligence and views, enjoy brief presentations from key note speakers and take the chance to meet agribusiness’s leaders and leaders-in–the-making.

A career in agriculture – give it serious thought.  I did and I have never look back

By the way check this out if you want to know what it takes to Grow a pair of jeans

*Presentations made by a number of invited experts to the PIARN Master class are available at

Conversations of Change

Today my post is going to feature an amazing young woman who is doing agriculture #soproud (excuse the hash tag its a tribute to twitter which has introduced me to whole new cohort of great thinkers that surround and support agriculture right across the nation).

Hello world meet Stephanie Tarlinton

Steph and her parents

Stephanie with her #soproud parents at the recent Dairy Research Foundation Symposium where the audience voted her their favourite speaker.

Today I will be sharing that speech with you but you had to be in the room to understand how powerful it was and wow it was a powerful performance.

Art4agriculuture is also #soproud of Stephanie Tarlinton. She is a graduate from our Young Farming Champions program in 2011 and now a Young Farming Champions’ Ambassador

I first saw Stephanie in a photo and I saw something special and the search began to find out who that girl was.

A little bit of background. In 2004 I was given the task by the RAS of NSW Cattle Council to come up with some ideas to reinvigorate the dairy cattle events at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and if I was going to pull that off successfully I needed to do some serious sponsorship seeking. The obvious first choice here was Semex who are a major sponsor of dairy cattle shows right across the world. So I arranged a meeting with Jim Conroy who heads up Semex Australia. Now Jim is a pretty special man himself and is very committed to investing in youth in the dairy industry.

Jim was on board but it came with one condition and oh boy did that turn out to be an Everest. Jim wanted the Dairy Youth Challenge event to be reinstated onto the dairy cattle calendar at the Sydney Royal Easter show. At the time I had no idea why this event was no longer running but when I told my husband Michael he said “only a mad person would take on that task”. As it turned out adult egos and personalities and politics had shut this event down and it was the Holstein Association of NSW I had to take on and nobody in their right mind did that in those days. Pleased to say those days are well and truly in the past.

So I went back to Jim with my problem and he said Lynne “this time round young people are going to run this event” and he gave me the name of a young woman who equally believes in her peers and she attacked it with gusto with me dodging the slings and arrows.  Anyway we pulled it off. Young people run it today and wow what an event they have turned it into.

6 Youth Challenge Winners NSW Semex team with Dr Neil Moss of Cows r US

This is a picture of the winners of the re-invented event in 2005 and that is Stephanie Tarlinton in the front row. BTW The young man beside Steph in the front row is Mr Cheese from MKR 2014

As it turned out it was to be six years before I met Stephanie at an RAS of NSW Council dinner when she was runner up in the 2011 RAS of NSW Royal Easter Show Showgirl Competition and I asked some-one to introduce us. I was fascinated by everything about her. It was quite obvious that this was a superstar waiting to happen. I invited her to join the inaugural 2011 Young Farming Champions program and was thrilled when she accepted.

So enough about the background this is what she  had to say last week


Today I’d like to have a conversation with you,

But firstly so you know who you’re talking to, I’ll tell you a little about myself

I am

  • Firstly a proud dairy farmers daughter
  • The 2011 Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Runner Up
  • An Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion
  • A National Junior Dairy Judging Final winner
  • A Woolworths Agricultural Business Scholar
  • A Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Rural Achiever
  • A NSW Holstein Youth Exchange Awardee

And a young women who has a degree in Agricultural Business Management, loves to travel and feels just as comfortable in a pair of high heels as I do in my gumboots

My story started growing up on my family’s dairy farm which is located on the far south coast of NSW just outside of the township, Cobargo. My family has a long association with the region and in particular the dairy industry.

I have the deepest respect for the humble dairy cow which has provided for my family and wider community over the last 148 years we have been dairying.

So you ask with five generations of dairy farmers behind me what is it exactly that I am going to talk to you about.

No it’s not the quickest way to move a strip graze fence nor is it the best way to dry out the inside of your gumboot when you misjudge the depth of the creek (however Mum’s good hair dryer can perform this task if she isn’t home)


In fact the reason I am here today is to share my experiences of having conversations of change;

Conversations that inspire & engage.

Conversations which have the ability to empower another individual by sharing knowledge and experience.

Such conversations we all have the capacity to have as a way of connecting with those in the community who have not experienced a business/way of life, which is common to us all in room, dairying.

I’m referring to what is more commonly known as a way to help bridge the rural – urban divide.

The Bridge has been built however we need to open the pathway for consumers on either side to be able to connect with those involved in producing our food and fibre products.

With a considerable amount of Australia’s population living in urban centres, those classified as rural including the country’s farmers have an important role to play in reducing the separation between communities.

Engaging in a conversation with someone who has little knowledge of how their food moves from the farm gate to their plate has the potential to give them insights into the real story of modern agriculture.

Connecting with consumers on shared values increases the possibility of forming trust in farming and those whom participate in agricultural business.

Sharing personal stories allows consumers to gain insight and confidence in farming systems, ultimately building connections and breaking down barriers in society which further decreases the divide.

Members from either side of the divide consume food in order to survive and this is a fundamental feature of unity and mutual dependency. A simple discussion on the origin of a food product has the potential for rural person A to connect with urban person B to produce an outcome of greater understanding C.

A + B = C highlights the impact a single conversation can have if society will allow itself the simple pleasure to connect and challenge perceptions.

To quote Ghandi, “be the change you want to see in the world” reinforces the challenge that in order to create ways in which to build relations between the two sectors of society one must accept their role and be prepared to create opportunities for conversation.

For the agricultural sector to develop positive images and perceptions of farming practices and lifestyle, individuals who align themselves with this segment must be prepared to participate in the dialogue.

This is something that after hearing on numerous occasions the comment “oh you don’t look like a farm girl” I regularly seek out opportunities to participate in the dialogue others may see as a waste of time. As the quote behind me states I am the being the change I would like to see and that is having a greater number of consumers with an understanding of just who is putting the milk in their latte and the process it took to get it from the cow to the city cafe.


One opportunity I recently had which allowed me to participate in conversations with next generation of consumers was through the Art4Agriculture Archibull Prize program as a Young Farming Champion. In September last year I made my way to a primary and then to a secondary school in Sydney which saw me become their face of farming.

A face which they were not expecting which was clearly indicated to me “oh so YOUR the farmer” with an intrigued look up and down at my business suit and heels, with a laptop and mobile phone in hand.

I see dairy farmers as business people who work in the food supply sector and although we spend time in gumboots they are what I call “tools of the trade” much like my heels I guess!

I took this role on as it allowed me to challenge the stereotype of farmers which is so often poorly portrayed in the media, and provided me with an opportunity to share my experience of growing up on the dairy with children who do not have such a luxury and to share the great story that is dairy.

I would now like to share with you one tool I used which has allowed me to engage in conversations;

This is a conversation I have not only shared with you here today and at my schools last year but it has also been shared with the rest of the world via YouTube, In fact my video has been viewed by over 1500 hundred people, an audience I would have not been able to reach with my messages if it had not been for my desire to connect with others in the community who have been labelled on the urban side of the divide.

I believe that challenging stereotypes through highlighting our connections has the ability to show that as people we both have a mutual dependency on food and therefore on one another as a producer and a consumer

I am proud to come from a dairy farm, to be a small town girl, a rural consumer and I see this as one of my greatest assets, I have firsthand knowledge and experiences of food production and therefore I have something to share through conversation with those whom are classed as being from the bright lights of the city.


One girl who calls the bright lights of Sydney home is Year 7 student Sophia, standing second from the left in this photograph. I would now like to take a moment to read you an email I received from this young girl after being to her school

Dear Stephanie,

My name is Sophia and I met you when you visited our school. I am writing to you to tell you how inspiring and amazing your visit was.

My sister Olivia and I both attended your visit and it truly was a life changing experience. As we both live in a very suburban area we don’t get to see a lot of Australian Farmers. What was so incredible about your visit was that you taught our school that farmers are real people too. Your visit and video showed us just how important Australian Farmers are and just how much farmers are like us.

So I am writing to say Thank you. My family and I are originally from NZ however we moved here 5 years ago. I feel like I now understand that the foundation of Australia is made up of Farmers. You have really changed the way I think about farmers and I will now make it my mission to help spread the word, “Farmers are real people too” oh and that “farm girls love their shoes”

Regards Sophia

After reading this email I was touched at how my simple video which showed nothing more than my life on the farm, our girls aka the cows, a few pairs of shoes and some creative dance moves had the ability to inspire a young woman. I was touched at the response I received as for me I was just having a conversation about the everyday things that form life on our farm however for this particular girl my ordinary wasn’t so ordinary.


I chose to share Sophia’s story with you as I believe it is an example of how it only takes a small conversation or connection to create big outcomes. For me knowing I had planted a seed in one person’s mind regarding the way she thought about farmers provided me with the greatest sense of satisfaction and determination to then tell others about my story and encourage them to tell theirs.

In my dealings with people in the agriculture sector I have often found farmers to be very humble people, my parents are a great example of this, however I challenge you all to be inspired by the words of William James –

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does”

I believe as dairy farmers we make a difference, everyday. Everyday there is fresh, safe healthy dairy products available to consumers which have all originated from the only true white gold, milk. It does make a difference to people’s lives that is because the nation’s dairy farmers got out of bed this morning that have food on their table, jobs to go to, communities to live in, someone to call a neighbour, a friend.

I am confident there are many other ways which you all make a positive difference to someone’s life simply due to your actions as a dairy Farmer.

As farmers if we would like others in the community to acknowledge this difference we make to their lives we must be prepared to share with them, to build trust by finding common values and to firstly acknowledge and be proud of the role we play.

I see no easier way to do this then by having a chat with someone. Whether its a taxi driver, the person next to you on the plane, the person at the supermarket checkout, your hairdresser, or your child’s teacher. Share with them your story, challenge the stereotype, leave them with notion that today they met someone who is PROUD to be a dairy farmer or working in the dairy industry.

Conversations provide a key to reducing the disconnect between the farmers who grow the food and the people who buy and consume it. By acquiring education from individuals like ourselves who have firsthand knowledge in agricultural fields, it will enable those divided by urban boundaries to have informed opinions and increased understandings of what it is exactly that you do.

Actively participating in the conversations is essential for progress to be made in reducing the disparity of knowledge because if we don’t take the initiative to stand up and tell our own story someone else will. And I personally know I’d rather tell my side of the story then have someone with extreme views or uninformed opinions reaching the consumer of a product I’m proud to say I produce.


So I would now like to ask those in the audience who are proud to dairy to raise your hand…

Congratulations! I too, am proud to dairy, proud to be a part of a great industry and proud to have such a long family history associated with dairying.

I would now like to ask you all to have a conversation of change, to share your experience and wisdom

And remember every individual has the power to share knowledge regardless of which side of the classroom divide, they take a seat during story telling.

So I challenge you all to be the change we need to see to bridge the divide,

To seek opportunity to engage and educate,

Act as if what you do makes a difference as it does to the consumers of Australia

And finally

Be proud to Dairy, Always.

So in 140 characters “Stephanie stepped out in her black business shoes and her pink lipstick and wowed them with her #proud2dairy message” and she bought many in the audience to tears including me.

Farm Girls Wear Shoes too

Those shoes

This wont be the last time you will hear from Stephanie Tarlinton.

However shortly she is leaving our shores to spend some time with her good friend Leona Dargis in Canada and wont that be a daunting partnership. We hope to share some of this journey with you over the next two years

leona dargis-3