Young Farming Champions Muster April 2021

Headline Act

We all know those quiet achievers; the ones who we rely on to get the good job done; the ones who we count on but perhaps who we don’t always openly acknowledge. Well the Young Farming Champions has a quiet achiever …… and finally the spotlight is falling upon Dione Howard.

Dione is the 2021 RAS Rural Achiever, crowned at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and we couldn’t be more proud. A YFC since 2015, Dione has never said no to a challenge, and in her work as a veterinarian with Riverina Local Land Services continues to promote the wool industry, agriculture in general and the role of young people in the future of food and fibre production. We can’t think of a better winner of this award. She even used the YFC phrase “Young people may be only 20% of the population but we are 100% of the future”. That’s our girl!

Congratulations Dione and best wishes for the year ahead and the national finals to be held at Sydney Royal in 2022. The world is beginning to realise what we have known for a long time – you are brilliant.

 Dione and Graham Howard 

In The Field

Success in agriculture rarely happens overnight. It requires commitment and patience and this is exemplified by Peta Bradley and her family, whose New Armatree homestead near Armatree in Central West NSW, recently celebrate 100-years.

“The New Armatree homestead, where our farm is, was built in 1921 from Cyprus pine that was cut and milled on the property. It has been in the Bradley family since 1953,” Peta says.

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At the other end of the agricultural spectrum we have two YFCs starting out on their “100-year” journey – Emily May and Jess Fearnley. Emily is making her first forays into an agricultural career with Elders:

“the start of April marked a pretty exciting, nerve racking and pivotal progression stage in my journey as an agronomist, being given my wings and the freedom to go out on my first ever solo property inspection covering just over 500ha (1200 acres). Here’s to many more adventures through muddy paddocks, identifying weeds and helping those who produce all our food.”

Jess is establishing a grazing venture with her father:

“During the 2019 drought my Mum and Dad had to sell off their small Angus cattle business. For the last couple of years Dad and I have been missing the cattle and really looking for opportunities to get back into the business. A few months ago Dad approached me to become his business partner for another small cattle business, where we would have self-replacing heifers. Although a bad time to be getting into cattle, with the prices at all-time highs, we are looking at alternative breeds and ways to get into the industry without a huge outlay. I am excited for the opportunity to set up our business and learn the ins and outs of what a business needs. Hopefully my dad and I can agree on things!”

Twelve months ago Chloe Dutschke was writing about the effects of COVID-19 on her shearing season. In 2021 she is having a ripper year – Chloe and her team took the fleece from 15,500 sheep in 13 days! And with good fleece weights. Way to go Chloe!

Another having a ripper season is Sharna Holman who is welcoming in the first of the cotton harvest in Queensland and NSW.

“Picking is about to get underway from those who have been busy spending the past 5 months growing next season’s socks, undies, jeans and cotton seed oil.”

Proving that you really can’t stop our YFC, even amongst the mess that was COVID last year, it has been nearly twelve months since Emma Ayliffe launched her communication app Yacker. In 2021 she is also having a ripper year and has participated in the Farmers2Founders Bootcamp Accelerator for producer-led startups and SMEs.

Emma and the Summit Agriculture team are also looking forward to supporting their farmers during the picking of the Riverina cotton crop

Meanwhile Emma Turner recently featured on the ABC Victorian Country Hour talking about her move to Mildura as a Wool District Manager for Elders, and her love for all things wool in general. “You can’t beat being based in the area you love, doing a job you love, in an industry you love,” she said.


With the introduction of our first fisheries YFC Bryan Van Wyk we can now add ‘in the water’ to ‘in the field’. Bryan has been bust getting the banana prawn season underway out of Karumba in far north QLD, where crews can catch, pack and snap freeze between 5,000 and 10,000kgs of prawns per day. Learn more about this exciting adventure here.

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Out of the Field

Out of the field and there was only one place to be this month – the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The highlight was, of course, Dione and the Rural Achiever Award, but the Royal offers many opportunities for YFC to be involved, catch up with each other and celebrate Australian agriculture. Dee George was stewarding in the Angus and Shorthorn ring in the cattle section, supported by her sister Bec. Tim Eyes was also stewarding cattle (and working for MLA) while Jo Newton was a steward in the sheep ring. Other YFC faces spotted at the show were Steph Fowler, Jasmine Green (and baby Arthur) and Erika Heffer.

Dee and Becca George

Also at the show was friend of the YFC Aimee Snowden who filed this feel-good report:

“At the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show, we (PYiA) presented Hamish Maclure with the Middle School National Ag Day Careers Competition Award (from 2018) when he was 14. Fast forward to the 2021 Show, and Hamish and brother Ed have established their own Limousin Stud and at their first royal outing (for their stud) took out Supreme Champion interbreed heifer and a cheque for $8,000! Hamish also competed in the Meat Breed Sheep Junior Judging.”

Well done Hamish – it’s fabulous to watch your agricultural journey.

Dragging ourselves away from the show and we were excited to see the third series of Leadership is Language launched with Jo Newton holding an enlightening conversation with Josh Farr, who also delivered some insider-secrets on how best to use LinkedIn. This third series is sub-titled Conversations with Thought Leaders and we look forward to seeing who else will pop up with our YFC.

The interview with Josh and Jo was the perfect precursor to our first workshop for the year where our Young Farming Champions Alumni joined our 2021 new program entrants for a six hour goal setting workshop with Josh on April 17th. Everyone left the workshop with a personal development plan. Next month they will be working with Dr Jenni Metcalfe to hone their communication skills and reconnecting with Josh and their accountability buddies

In Melbourne this month the Australian Volunteers Program hosted the ‘Connecting RAVN and the Global Alumni’ networking event bringing Australian Volunteers alumni, current Australia Awards Awardees and New Colombo Plan alumni. New YFC Dylan Male was invited to speak about his own NCP experience in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. What a way to hit the ground running as a YFC!

Dylan is sponsored to participate in the Cultivate- Growing Young Leaders program by Riverina Local Land Services. This week he spent two days with the Riverina Local Land Services board who gave him the opportunity to do a presentation and share his journey with them. Riverina LLS then hosted Dylan on a tour of regional farms

Dylan centre with Ray Wills GM of Riverina LLS and the Riverina LLS board

Great to see one of our inaugural YFC Alison Hamilton is now a board member of Riverina Local Land Services. Speaking of Young Farming Champions stepping up to board leadership roles, congratulations to Wool YFC Samantha Wan who has joined the board of the Michael Manion Wool Industry Foundation supporting rural families in need. Sam has also stepped up to manage Picture You in Agriculture Paddock Pen Pals program in 2021. She is currently working with fellow wool YFC to beam into Carlingford West Public School in May 2021

Prime Cuts

We are even more excited to announce the 2021 participants in the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program as they begin their YFC journeys. Joining Bryan Van Wyk (who we met in the March Muster) are NTCA scholarship winner Shannon Chatfield from Newcastle Waters Station in the Northern Territory, Connie Mort and Steph Tabone from Corteva Agriscience, Corteva scholarship winner Veronika Vicic, Riverina Local Land Services scholarship winner Dylan Male, NT Farmers are sponsoring agronomist Oliva Borden and our inaugural SDG 5 Gender Equality Ambassador Francesca Earp.

Welcome to the family everyone.

Lifetime Achievements

With COVID restrictions eased weddings are once again happening and this month we send HUGE congratulations to Anika Molesworth who married Corey Stenhouse and to Rebecca Thistlethwaite who married Kieran Shepherd. Wishing you all health, wealth and a life-time of happiness.

Sam Wan and Tom Boucher recently celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary. Here’s a snap of their happy day taken, most appropriately, in a shearing shed!

#YFCMuster #YouthinAg #YouthVoices

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