Young Farming Champion Dr Jo Newton awarded OAM in Queens Birthday Honours

Dr Jo Newton OAM

At Picture You in Agriculture our greatest joy comes from watching others grow and develop. We are particularly proud of our Young Farming Champions; the dedication they show to agriculture, their willingness to share their stories and inspire the next generation, the heights they have achieved in their fledgling careers and the committment they show to ensuring other young people have the same opportunities to grow and learn and pay it forward

Today we are thrilled to share the news that Dr Jo Newton has been awarded one of the country’s top acknowledgments – a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her contribution to agriculture through her advocacy and support of young people, volunteering and contribution to dairy science.

The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement and the OAM is awarded for service worthy of particular recognition.

The OAM comes on top of a raft of awards for Jo in recent years including being named on the 2018 Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence List, winning the Dairy Research Foundation’s Emerging Scientists Award in 2017, winning the Leadership category of the 2018 Victorian Young Achiever Awards and the Royal Agriculture Society of Victoria’s Emerging Leaders in Victorian Agriculture Award.

We invited Jo to blog how she felt to have achieved so much in such a short time and how it felt to know so many people where supporting her shine

This is what she had to say…….

From today I can add the letters OAM after my name if I wish.

A fair bit of time has been spent in a speechless daze trying to sort through my thoughts on this unexpected and overwhelming honour. It still feels surreal. When PYiA approached me for a story I thought it was the ideal place to share some thoughts I’ve collected in the last few weeks.

Two months ago an OAM was something I viewed as an acknowledgement for people with many decades more experience than I – but granted I knew little about the award.

As a female who’s just turned 31, I don’t resemble many past OAM awardees which has led to a few moments of imposter syndrome. However, letting self-doubt takeover would be a disservice to those who deemed me worthy of nomination and invested their time in writing applications and referee reports. With awards like this I think there is a certain element of right place/right time to being nominated – there are worthy people whose names are never put forward. I am indebted to those who put forth and supported my nomination. I feel truly overwhelmed, humbled and honoured, to be an OAM recipient.

To me, leadership is a journey of lifelong learning and I will continue to strive to be worthy of the honour I have been granted. I am incredibly grateful to the agricultural sector who has invested in me through providing access to professional and personal development opportunities. I will pay it forward through continued advocacy and support of young people.

Every interaction I have with the volunteer team at Picture You in Agriculture reinforces the breadth and depth of talent, skills, and capacity for innovation young people can bring to the table. I will use the platform afforded to me to shine a light on innovative young people whose stories and ideas deserve to be heard.

“Hidden Treasures” like Bessie, Dione and Lucy who give enormously to their communities – many since they were teenagers.

Young women like Emma and Marlee who balance running agricultural businesses with community leadership roles.

Inspiring women like Sam, Anika and Casey who are being recognised within and outside of agricultural circles for the contributions they are making.

I hope my recognition on this years Queen’s Birthday Honours List encourages organisational leaders to seriously consider the impact that young people are having and think about meaningful ways to give young people a voice within their organisations, boardrooms and conferences. Those seeking inspiration may like to look at AgriFutures Ignite Advisory Council.

Congratulations to all the recipients on the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honour List.

To the coaches, mentors, champions, colleagues, family and friends that have helped shaped me into the person I am today thank-you.


Congratulations Jo. We are honoured to call you one of us. A young person in agriculture who is proud of what they do, sharing the great stories of agriculture far and wide, grateful for the opportunities, the support networks and the doors that have been opened for them and paying it forward in bucketloads.

and paraphrasing the words of Charlene Li

There may have been times when the way forward was illuminated by what felt like a penlight in the dark night. There may have been times  when you doubted the course you had chosen. And there were times when it might have felt like the entire world was aligned against you. You used these setbacks as opportunities to learn. Your vision of the future will provide you with the solace, inspiration, and strength to continue.

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