Earlier in the year I had an email from Simone Neville who is the Agriculture/Primary Industries Teacher at Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College – Berkeley Vale Campus. TLSC were runners up in the 2012 Archibull Prize and Simone is very dedicated to nurturing next Gen Food and Food.
Simone’s email was to introduce me to two exciting young people she had met through TLSC involvement in the poultry section at the Morisset & Lake Macquarie District Show.
This is just some of what Simone had to say about Georgia Clark
Poultry have not been shown there for many, many years. In fact it would not have been introduced again if not for the tenacity of a young lady called Georgia Clark who not only competed for the Showgirl award but almost single-handedly organised the poultry section. Georgia is 19 and has just the type of enthusiasm and “get up and go” that I think you are looking for in your fantastic future Young Farming Champions.
She is doing a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience degree at Sydney Uni and is in her second year there. She is very passionate about Agriculture.
As yet we don’t have sponsor for a Poultry Young Farming Champion nor a sponsor from the Chicken and Egg Industry. So I asked Georgia to share her story and maybe just maybe the industry will see the wisdom of investing in this wonderful young lady who is doing an awesome job of sharing their story
The Georgia Clark story ………………….
Agriculture and animals have been in my heart and my life from a very early age.
My first pair of work boots
First drive of the tractor
I now live on a small farm in Lake Macquarie where I breed purebred poultry and Huacaya Alpacas. In the last few years, I started my own poultry stud Rocklilly Downs Poultry with a focus on rare dual purpose breeds.
I am also developing and maintaining genetics of bantam breeds. With a strong focus on sustainability, I am always looking at new and innovative ways to further our genetic developments to ensure our rare breed birds continue to thrive.
This year I won Champion Japanese Male at the Sydney Royal Easter Show
and Champion Pekin Blue
I am currently moving my production methods to a more organic approach. Through my research and studies at university, I have been able to see the results of both traditional and new, organic methods and I have found that a complementary approach is achieving the best results.
My family has also expanded into breeding Huacaya alpacas with a focus on coloured genetics.
I also making plans to expand into beef cattle, and return to my family’s roots of beef farming.
I am very heavily involved in my local show society and currently the chief steward of the poultry section in the Morisset Lake Macquarie Show Society. This year I was successful in returning poultry to our schedule. The sounds and sights of chickens on show have not been heard at the Morisset Lake Macquarie District Show Society for the last 30 years, so as the chief steward, having over 100 birds being exhibited was a huge achievement and huge draw card for show patrons. I also assisted with the running of the cattle showing, which also made a big comeback after many years. I also competed for and was runner up in the showgirl competition.
At the Show Ball
As a showgirl, I was able to promote agriculture as a career for young people and encourage them to share their passion for the rural community. My passion for my local show stems from both my love of competing and agriculture and combines these perfectly. Horse riding, poultry, cattle and alpaca exhibition are just some of the things that have tied me to our local show.
This year I was also the runner up in the Show girl competition.
I am also in the process of starting the Lake Macquarie Poultry club and I look forward to seeing how the local community will respond.I work with my local primary school, developing a heritage breed poultry unit to be implemented in the coming year.
First chicken to hatch at Blacksmiths Primary School
Sadly I have found many students are very unaware of how the food they eat and the fibre for their clothes is being grown. At my sessions, I ask students many questions about where they think many everyday food and fibre items come from. The children would not believe me when I explained that the cotton in their clothes and in cotton balls was in fact the same thing, and it grew on a plant !
Another class in the poultry section had many questions, and most had never seen a chicken in the flesh before. When the year 6 class was practicing handling the hens, I began to watch a girl who was searching furiously through the chooks feathers and tipping it upside down. In the end she stormed up and said, “This one is missing its udder!” She then went on to explain that the hen’s chicks would not survive as there was no way for them to get any milk!
Dairy also seemed to stump the children. When asked about where yoghurt comes from a little boy bravely answered with ‘from a cow’s belly’. Unfortunately, the rest of the class began to laugh, and one young boy stood up and stated with no uncertainty, that “you just get it from the shop, like bread and cakes.” Trying to help children understand the whole process that gets food from the farm to the supermarket, especially when they have developed their own ideas, is sometimes no easy task!
My love of the land and livestock has now turned into an agriculture career pathway ambition. I am currently studying Animal and Veterinary Bioscience with a focus on agriculture at the University of Sydney
I hope to work with an agri-science or primary industries company, researching animal production systems and working one on one with farmers in the field to them identify and implement actions to remove production constraints and improve productivity and profitability, whilst ensuring sustainability with our production industries.
I also hope to continue working with children and schools. I feel it is vital that young people are encouraged to become involved in agriculture and ensure communities are continuing to play an active part in developing rural NSW. It is this ongoing interaction with school children has opened my eyes and highlights the need to embed agriculture across the curriculum.
I believe it is critical that agriculture is introduced into education from an early age, particularly to reach young people who would otherwise have no contact with these ideas. This is why programs such as the Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions are so important as they give agricultural industries access to schools in innovative and fun ways to reach students that the more traditional approaches have failed to deliver If I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a Young Farming Champion it would allow me to share my knowledge and raise awareness with the students, whilst developing their understanding of environmental sustainability issues and the role of rural Australia and how they can be involved.
This awareness raising has the potential to spread to students’ families and the wider community, ensuring the sustainability of our rural environment. I will also be able to offer a more scientific insight, opening up different career paths for students, rather than just the traditional “farmer” ideas most would associate with agriculture. I believe that the mix of both my science degree and higher education study path along with traditional agriculture, working with my own stud will provide a new approach.
I am a strong believer in the use of relationship building as a communications tool. Relationships with the community are a perfect opportunity to promote agriculture as a career for people both young and old, and to connect and encourage young minds to the important opportunities and challenges of food and fibre production. By reaching out to all communities, both rural and regional, we will help bridge the divide between city and country and ensure our message of the importance of agriculture and sustainable living is being heard.
Well said Georgia