Special thanks to Young Farming Champion Marlee Langfield for this fabulous photo
Young people have the most to gain and the most to lose from deccisions made by older generations. Too often their voices are not heard
Amplifying the voices of youth is something very close to the heart of the Picture You in Agriculture team. The Chair of our youth leaderrship team Dr Jo Newton has made it her mission to seek out and showcase young people views on leadership models and you can read her regular opinion pieices in the Stock and Land here and here
As part of our lessons learnt series we will be showcasing organisations who are giving young people a place at the decision making table and support them on their jounrey
The first in the series will showcase Western Local Land Services 21 year old board member Kate McBride, the Chair of the Board Ben Barlow and Erlina Compton the General Manager
Picture source The Australian. Photographer David Geraghty
This is Kate’s story penned by our journalist Mandy McKeesick
Sometimes we all get caught with our blinkers on, looking inward rather than outward. We could write all our Lessons Learnt series on our Young Farming Champions but Lynne Strong is driven by a desire to acknowledge, celebrate and learn from young agricultural leaders, no matter their background or affiliation. Such was the case when Lynne tuned into a recent episode of the ABC’s Australian Story and was impressed with the communication skills and the presence of a 21-year-old from Tolarno Station on the Darling River.
Kate McBride grew up on the banks of the Darling River. It is close to her heart and the current dire straits it is now in has spurred her to advocate for the river. As she said in the program: “We need to fix this and I’m going to do that in any way I possibly can.”
But as a young person in regional New South Wales Kate initially found herself lacking the skills to communicate her message. Then she found the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“ACF were running the River Fellowship Program and bringing together people from across the Murray Darling Basin to do workshops and training,” Kate says. “My step-mum was involved and when she couldn’t attend one of the programs I stepped in and then Beth Koch suggested I do the entire eight month course.”
The ACF training initially involved gaining knowledge about the Murray Darling Basin and then extended into people and communication skills. The training took Kate from someone who could not string two sentences together in front of a camera to the eloquent young woman on Australian story.
“ACF gave me the confidence to stand up and get my message across, especially to politicians. It taught me politicians are just normal people; they are accessible and you can go and speak to them and get your point across.”
With this new confidence Kate put her hand up for the board of the Western Local Land Services and was duly elected. Like the ACF Local Land Services has given Kate a broad appreciation of agriculture beyond her front paddock; and also training to assist her leadership journey with a three-day Australian Institute of Company Directors course.
As Beth Koch became her mentor with ACF Kate credits Ben Barlow, Chair of Western Local Land Services, as being another great teacher.
“I was pretty nervous when I joined the board but from Day One Ben was incredibly supportive. He is interested in making sure people are growing and have the ability to go out and serve the community. He is an incredible mentor.”
At 21 Kate has a long and potentially influential career in front of her so what advice does she have for other young people interested in the advocacy and political space?
“The most important thing I have ever done is when opportunities have arisen I’ve put my name forward. You’ve got nothing to lose. I’m also constantly learning and working out how to better do things. Rome wasn’t built overnight and I know I’ve got a long way to go.”