Are you an aspiring industry leader

Last year Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts had the exciting opportunity to be the guest speaker at the Marcus Oldham College Leadership Program Gala Dinner.

She wrote this truly inspiring post to share her experience 

Bronwyn Roberts

Bronwyn Roberts had a big year in 2013. Not only was she the guest speaker at the Marcus Oldham Leadership Dinner she won the prestigious 2013 Red Meat Industry Emerging Leader Award 

Bron was overwhelmed by the combined talent of the young people she met who were participating in the 2013 Leadership program and she has asked me to promote the 2014 MARCUS OLDHAM RURAL LEADERSHIP PROGRAM far and wide.

This program is a once a year opportunity to participate on an intense five-day workshop conducted on the College campus at Geelong, commencing on the last Sunday in June each year.

To seek to develop the skills and knowledge of participants to enable them:

  • To undertake a leadership role in their industry or community
  • To competently represent their industry or community in decision making forums
  • To understand and address the issues facing rural industries and rural communities


  • To develop the leadership, communication and planning skills of individuals in the Program, through their participation in a process of self-discovery, skills training, knowledge building and team development
  • To provide opportunities for participants to network with keynote speakers from industry and the community

You can visit here to read more about the program

and download the nomination brochure here

Bron is now on the board of the Australian Beef Industry Foundation and they are offering  together with the Future Farmers Network (FFN)  two opportunities for commercial cattle producers, aged between 25 and 40 to attend the one-week Rural Leadership Program at the Marcus Oldham College in Geelong, Victoria in June this year.

For more details visit the website here or check out the ABIF Facebook page here

Can your big idea win you $100,000 to help tackle the wicked problems

One of the things I love about the Young Farming Champions program is it attracts young people with a strong social conscience. Young people who want to work together to leave a lasting legacy for agriculture and their communities and communities everywhere. 

They go into schools as part of the Archibull Prize, a program that is tailored to give every child and adult it reaches the tools to make a difference today and tomorrow

We agree with the words of Richard Branson

It is our responsibility to inspire and empower future leaders with the knowledge and passion needed to tackle the most critical issues facing the world. By encouraging them to be problem solvers and innovators, we are helping to protect and promote their futures

Each year we invite the schools and student participating to write a blog entitled ‘Sustainable Living – What you can do to change the way you live’. This year the students may just come up with a big idea that they could submit to the Zayed Energy Prize that offers the winner $100,000 to bring their idea to fruition .

The Global High Schools category aims to inspire future generations across the globe, by instilling an ethos of sustainability from an early age.

Schools are asked to submit a detailed proposal for a project that encourages measurable initiatives that promote renewable energy and sustainability in schools.

Grant money will be awarded to one school in each of the five dedicated regions: The Americas, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. The prizes are very generous. Each regional winner will be allocated up to $100,000 to turn their project into a reality.


The Zayed Energy Prize rewarding innovators

This year we have partnered with Ian McConnel from World Wildlife Fund to help support the students efforts.

I will shortly be joining Ian and 50 other Australians including James Walker at a retreat that aims  

To bring together community leaders from across Australia who care about the future and who are ready to take the next step on climate action. 

What will we be doing?:

We’ll be fostering new networks and relationships, discussing solutions and learning practical skills in community organising, campaigning, communications and networking.


Ben Egan showing its all in the genes

Meet 2013 Cotton Young Farming Champion Ben Egan


Ben has spent the last 12 months with the support of his family and friends and the amazing technology that is the GoPro camera collecting photographs and footage  to create a video to share with the schools he will visit as part of the Archibull Prize (and the world) that espouses his love for farming, for cotton and a career in agriculture

I loaded Ben’s Young Farming Champion’s video yesterday and its already had 400 hits on YouTube – its a masterpiece. Click the photo or this link to see this video that is sure to go viral


Ben Egan showing its all in the genes


Check out Cotton Australia’s great e-education kits for schools here

Travelling the highway of plenty to raise $10000 for Aussie Farmers

It gives me great pleasure to re-introduce you to 2013 Cotton Young Farming Champion Martin Murray

Martin Murray and Macca

Martin (left) and Macca

Martin and his friend James Macca  Mackenzie are planning to raise money for Aussie Helpers and rural families by riding their Postie Bikes from Moree in Northern NSW to Broome on the stunning Western Australian Coast.

Martin and Macca route-map

Wow just looking at the route exhausts me

Twenty-year-old Martin says he and James hope to complete the trip in just seven days. “We’ll be travelling via the Plenty Highway and Tanami track, covering a total of 4279km… and a lot of that’s dirt,” he says.
“We wanted to raise money for a good cause and take our ‘Posties’ on an adventure – they add to the challenge. It wouldn’t be so much of a challenge if we took James’ Patrol,” Martin jokes.
Aussie Helpers, a volunteer group started in 2002 to help support rural families in the outback, was the obvious choice of charity for Martin and James. “We’ve always been fans of their work,” Martin says. “Raising $10,000 seems like an ambitious starting point but I believe we can make it.”

Maccas Bike

Macca’s bike is starting to look pretty impressive

Martin and Macca plan to leave on the 16th of June and aim to raise $10 000 for Aussie Helpers. You can read all about it and follow their journey here

You can cheer them

On twitter here @PostieRide

On Facebook here

Please feel free to donate to the East West Postie Ride for Farmers cause via their  Everyday Hero page.

Thanks Martin and Macca you have inspired me to keep fighting the good fight. I salute you and I truly hope you find the highway of generosity and surpass the $10K target

Shout out to fellow Young Farming Champion the gorgeous Bessie at Burragan who is also supporting the boys with great press releases

Getting up close and personal with the big Panda

The 2014 Archibull Prize is off to a flying start with a new look program and lots of new, exciting and diverse young people for our young farming champions and school students to work along side

As this great article reminds us

Feeding the world today does not depend on the total food produced. At the global aggregate scale we currently have enough food to feed everyone. It depends on where this food is produced and at what price. Hunger today is a problem of insufficient access to nutritious food and not of insufficient food availability

And to quote the team at the Youth Food Movement

‘4 million tonnes of food is wasted in Australia each year. As someone who eats, buys and loves food, we all have the power to help stop this waste. It’s simply a matter of making our food choices count.’

There is no denying food is an emotional topic. Everyone cares about what they eat. Food often has a strong cultural, religious or even political meaning attached to it. The issues farmers face in this country are issues many farmers across the world face. Complex problems often have simple solutions if we can bring the can-do organisations  and the can-do people to the table. If we are going to find those organisations and those people we have to be willing to seek out other perspectives, have conversations and open dialogue

The Archibull Prize offers the opportunity for young people in the agriculture sector to have these conversations with students. This year we are excited to announce that we have engaged with a number of other organisations ( international and local) who are promoting wise food choices and the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption who the students will also have direct access to.

Today’s guest blog comes from Ian McConnel who is  WWF Australia’s Project Coordinator for Sustainable Beef. Students will be able to contact Ian  as part of their Archibull Prize journey

This is Ian’s story

Ian McConnel WWF Sustainable Beef IMG_9870

I am a beef producer who works for WWF (The Panda, not the wrestlers). I joined WWF in 2012 to support their work in promoting and supporting farming practices that are good for farmers and good for the environment. WWF has a goal that people live in harmony with nature – a goal I whole-heartedly agree with. It recognises the importance of people, their livelihoods, their communities and their future while also striving to ensure a healthy and resilient environment.

It’s often repeated that we will need to feed 9 billion people by 2050 and those people will consume more than double what our current population consumes. It is true! By 2050, there will be more than 7 billion people living in urban areas alone1 – that’s the same as everyone on the planet right now. They will need to be fed and clothed by farmers operating on no more land than we have currently. This is not a long-term problem, it is one that will be faced by this generation. I was born in 1981 and by the time I am able to retire it will be 2047 – the solution must be found by my generation, by our generation.

I am a staunch advocate for Aussie farming but I’m not sure the wider community understands the breadth of the role that farmers play. They are first and foremost food and fibre producers, literally putting food on your table and clothes on your back – but not just yours. Australia is a net exporter of agricultural produce with nearly two thirds of our product being exported. Our farmers are also the largest managers of our natural environment. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) states that 53% of the Australian landmass is managed by agricultural businesses2. As some of the largest land managers in Australia, farmers have an important responsibility to manage biodiversity as well as ensure efficient productive and sustainable agricultural systems. Balancing these two necessary roles to ensure positive outcomes is crucial and is the intent of almost every farmer I know.

It is true, however, that transforming the land to agriculture has generated some problems. Over 80% of the land within the catchments that drain into the Great Barrier Reef is now used for agriculture. This change has seen a massive increase in sediment and nutrient loads entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. These pollutants are a major reason for the 50% decline in coral cover we’ve seen over the last few decades3. Luckily, we now know what is happening and many farmers are leading the charge to find ways to produce food without having a detrimental impact on the environment.

This, I believe, is one of the true environmental success stories. The fact that many farmers are taking a stand and want to save the reef. It is true in the past that farmers have often been blamed for the impacts of agriculture but generally, farmers want to improve what they are doing and to reduce any impacts that may be caused by out-dated practices. It was farmers who dutifully carved agriculture out of the Australian bush and have continued to adapt and improve their practices over time. It is this same ability to adapt and change that is needed now, more than ever, in the face of a changing climate and the declining resilience of our natural systems.

While the impacts are real, so too are the solutions. Grazing practices that maximise productive pasture growth both hold sediments on farm and maximise beef production. Optimising nitrogen applications on cane farms reduces waste and unnecessary cost to farmers while reducing nutrient run-off into waterways. In these and many other ways, Australian farmers are finding innovative ways to produce food and fibre while ensuring we have a future where we can truly live in harmony with nature.

Listen to Ian speak at the Facets Conference here

Ian McConnel

As part of the Archibull Prize journey students are asked to write a blog post titled ‘Sustainable Living – What you can do to change the way you live’

We will be asking them to blog about how and why food wastage occurs and to suggest sustainable strategies and motivational tools to reduce wastage.

Students will be able to get knowledge and inspiration from the work of Foodbank, use the World Wildlife Fund website to investigate ways individuals can reduce their footprint and investigate the success of the Youth Food Movement model of ways that young Australians are working together to help give ‘all young Australians the capacity and motivation to make food choices that demand and support a healthy and secure food system”.

Not only will the students be able to read about the work these organisations are doing they will have the opportunity to talk directly with people inside these organisations.

I see some very interesting and insightful blog posts from the students coming your way in 2014