Remembering what we’ve got before it becomes what we had

Last year Art4Agriculture through funding from Caring for our Country was able to train Young Eco Champions to go into schools with our Young Farming Champions as part of the Archibull Prize. The objective of the Young Eco Champions program at a grass roots level is to raise

  • awareness of, and a passion for landcare principles in young farmers
  • awareness and understanding amongst young landcarers of the challenges and constraints of modern sustainable agricultural systems

The program was a huge success both in building relationships between young people working in natural resource management and young farmers and leaving a lasting impact on the students they both visited in terms of raising awareness and showcasing the wonderful partnerships that have being built over the last 25 years between farmers and landcarers to nurture our natural environment.

Whilst the current federal government has chosen not to continue with Caring for our Country funding  I know our Young Eco Champions are committed to ensuring the program has a lasting legacy and what better example than this initiative conceived by Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt that saw Megan take a team of young city people to visit and work on the family farm of  2014 Wool Young Farming Champion Tom Tourle

The story ……..

Young environmentalists have been smashing agricultural stereotypes through a recent partnership between two New South Wales Landcare groups, 600 kilometres apart.

Six Illawarra Youth Landcare volunteers travelled to Dubbo last month, through connections with the Little River Landcare group, to work on the Tourle family’s sixth generation 4450 hectare sheep property ‘Oxley Downs’.

The volunteers, from areas around Wollongong, Sydney and the US, came from backgrounds including university students and workers in mining, conservation, and education sectors, and say they all took away something special from the experience.

IYL Volunteers sit on the verandah of an old log cabin on the property

Megan and her team on the veranda of one of the historic log cabins on the property

Illawarra Youth Landcare group coordinator Megan Rowlatt, who has been working and volunteering in Landcare for more than six years, says the volunteers had their own preconceived ideas of what the farm experience would be like, “but what we actually got to experience was so much more.”

“The Tourle family openly welcomed us onto their property, they shared their vision for the farm and the environment, their challenges, their trials and errors, and their home,” Megan says.

Jenna, a volunteer from Wollongong, says, “The Tourles created a beautiful, positive image of how people are changing their land management and farming techniques to be as positive and environmentally friendly as possible.”

Volunteers with Scott Tourle hearing about cell grazing

Scott Tourle sharing the finer points of cell grazing with the Illawarra Youth Landcare Group

Self-described city-slicker Dustin from California, USA, says, “It was a pleasure to learn how the Tourles have immense respect for the land they have been working for generations, and I was impressed by their knowledge of the finest details regarding the land.”

Chris, from Wollongong, says, “The entire weekend was far beyond what I could have expected, from the knowledge shared, the interest in our own experience, the hospitality and genuine wanting to have us to understand and share their vision for the future has given an extremely positive outlook for the future of agriculture.”

Sydney girl Nicole says, “We also learnt a lot about land management and how challenging it can be. I have developed a great respect for farmers and the hard work that is put in, day in and day out.”

Emily, from Wollongong, says, “I was relieved to discover there are farmers out there who understand the value of ecosystem management and protection and who are actively working towards the betterment of the environment.”

IYL volunteers fencing

Young city people learn how to fence

Megan says she organised the trip because people from cities and urban areas are becoming increasingly disconnected from the environment and rural Australia.

“Thankyou to Little River Landcare and Scott, Liz and Sam for opening their home and providing such a welcoming environment so we could break down the barriers, debunk the stereotypes, and have these conversations.”

Illawarra Youth Landcare is a network of young volunteers who carry out a variety of activities in the Illawarra, NSW and beyond. The group’s aim is to introduce young people to the diversity of environmental management issues faced in Australia.


  1. Hi Lynne,
    This is such a positive, supportive article and it makes us proud on so many fronts. The visit of Illawarra Youth Landcare Group was inspirational for us and we hope that we can all come together again in the very near future and encourage more young people to get involved. Thanks, Lynne. All the best to you, Liz and Scott


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