Never underestimate the impact of a teacher who challenges and stretches students

From discussions on Afghanistan to painting the ‘Archies’’ cow while talking about saving our seas, there’s no subject that’s off limits for today’s students led by their champion teachers. Here we meet one of them.  


At multicultural Riverstone High School in northwest Sydney, Sana Said, an Australian-born support classroom teacher with a Syrian and Lebanese background, doesn’t walk into the classroom and announce that students will discuss “human rights, slavery and genocide in unknown parts of the world”.


“It’s usually organic rather than prepared but that’s better as students are eager to learn about what interests them rather than be forced into something that doesn’t.

Current issues they have discussed include war, immigration, racism, unjust laws and bullying.” says Sana referring to some of the school’s unique initiatives, like their PRIDE Projects. 


It’s the same approach that the 33-year-old takes to The Archibull Prize with her students, who opted to investigate Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” – for this year’s entry.


“We’ll have discussions on issues – things that aren’t necessarily part of the core curriculum but will come up,” says Sana,

Adding that she is thankful to Action4Agriculture for providing online resources and regular newsletters to provide the kids some structure with the program.


“If you want students to absorb what they are learning, it’s important to give them ownership and immerse them in the experience, and this is what The Archibull Prize offers students. Starting with what the students value and giving them access to real people who are living the issues everyday, it’s giving both parties an opportunity to work on solutions together.”


Through the ‘Archies’, students have a platform to take away real knowledge of what is happening around them.


“It becomes infectious – when you tell one person something, they’ll tell somebody else and then all of a sudden it’s viral because it’s quite contagious information,” she says.


A teacher of 11 years, Sana was born to Muslim parents and grew up in Castle Hill in northwest Sydney. 


“Only a few of us had parents who were migrants and I remember all the comments that I got about how I didn’t fit the mould. 

I didn’t run away from people and hide, it just made me realise that I have to push myself a little bit more and make them see me for who I am rather than what I am.” ” says Sana.


When she started kindergarten she spoke only Arabic. At five she learnt English and still remembers “the anxiety that she suffered and the difficulty that she had with pronunciation and phonics.


“But kids are resilient.”


It was an assessment-driven place, where there were textbooks and computer labs but no laptops.


Sana was the first in her family to attend university. 


“I’ve never stopped wanting to be a teacher since I started, but I didn’t grow up wanting to become one.   

In my background your ‘career’ is being a housewife and it wasn’t until I went to uni that I was like ‘oh I want to be a teacher, I didn’t realise how good at it I am’ and how important it is for me to achieve my career aspirations.” she says. 


She moved around schools in NSW after graduating.


In Tamworth in the state’s northeast, Sana taught in two different schools with a high population of Indigenous students.


“It is less multicultural up there than other parts of Australia. I was the only Arab there and easily spotted among the crowds.” she says.


In her first year of teaching at Riverstone, a co-educational school that “takes pride in their appearance” and puts students’ tables in a circle rather than in lines, it’s a different cultural mix to Tamworth. 


“We’ve got Polynesian and Samoan families and we’re slowly getting Indian and some others from Asian backgrounds,” says Sana. 


Having been in grade eight during the September 11 attacks, when people “just assumed that all Arabs are terrorists”, she doesn’t shy away from confronting issues like the situation in Afghanistan with her students. 


“I’m very grateful that because my father was a lieutenant in the Syrian army, I understand war, and what it’s like for families to migrate to Australia and feel like an outsider.  

I have a lot of students wearing hijabs and kids going ‘why do you wear that, it’s stupid?’ But it’s not stupid to a student and it’s inappropriate that you even think that you can come up to her and tell her that because you obviously don’t have the full picture of the reason why.” ” says Sana.


Sana considers it a privilege to teach young people so they will challenge concepts and ideas in the world.


“They get to vote when they finish high school,” she says.


Riverstone has a number of progressive school initiatives, including their PRIDE Projects, where a teacher creates a topic that they would like to explore, writing out a proposal with a timeline of what they’d like to achieve each week over ten weeks. The scheme involves showcasing a product that you can donate to, for instance a program helping the housing or a clothing or food drive, to raise awareness of social and health issues. Launched in 2019, the projects aim to fuel creativity and wellbeing. They include those in which the students aim to donate secondhand clothes to organisations like The Salvation Army and Vinnies, plant their own vegetables to give to Hawkesbury Community Kitchens, and learn about different Polynesian cultures which they then showcase through performances and food sharing days. 


“It’s pushing the boundaries further so that we can educate kids why it’s important to donate, to give blood or save the environment especially in these weird times,” says Sana.


 As someone who considers herself being constantly open to challenge, Sana is conscious of seeking out new responsibilities at work.


“Times are changing and teachers are having to adapt because students are changing and we’re having to change with them by keeping up to date with new policies, new skills and technologies.  

I’m fortunate enough to work at a school where I have a head teacher who’s very supportive, who’s always saying ‘yes’ to my ideas.” she says.


COVID has of course presented its own challenges, with teaching in NSW currently completely online.


“It’s really full on, especially when you’re having to see your students through a computer screen and have phone calls with those who need one-on-one attention. It’s a very different learning environment to ensure that no-one is left behind,” says Sana.


She adds that during the pandemic teachers have been watching more students be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).   


“But programs like The Archibull Prize are helping keep students motivated. These sorts of programs are teaching students about sustainability and natural resources. It’s very vital information, because sometimes students are only seeing what’s on the news and it’s sometimes not accurate or blown out of proportion so they really need to hear it through primary sources, first-hand information, other than just what they’re hearing.”  says Sana, who remembers learning about agriculture in geography at school.


Having started teaching special education in 2016, in the future she would like to start a podcast highlighting children with disabilities.


Sana aspires to become a leader in education, whether this is through taking on a deputy principal role or another position.


“I’d love to be a head teacher because you get a mix of leadership and are still in the classroom connected with kids, building that rapport with kids which is the reason why I got into teaching in the first place.”




Australian Wool Innovation is seeking the next crop of Wool Young Farming Champions

Australian Wool Innovation is seeking the next crop of Wool Young Farming Champions

Australian Wool Innovation is pleased to continue its longstanding partnership with Action for Agriculture (A4A) that identifies and trains emerging young leaders within the wool industry to be confident communicators and trusted voices in the community.

The 2021 scholarship will allow for a young person with their heart in the wool industry to participate in the prestigious two year Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program, and for a Young Farming Champion to mentor them.

“AWI is proud to have supported the Young Farming Champions program for eight years and we believe the program is an important way to develop the next generation of our industry’s leaders.” CEO Stuart McCullough said

Young people, aged between 20 and 30 (inclusive), who are undertaking post graduate studies or working in the wool industry are invited to apply for the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. Successful applicants will receive an incredible two-year package of support including media training, networking and mentorship opportunities to help them share why their heart is in the Wool industry.

In the second year of the program these young leaders will have the opportunity to hone their advocacy skills by engaging with primary and secondary students with A4A’s in-school programs The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas.

Graduates of the program join the Young Farming Champions alumni – a national network of globally connected young thought leaders thriving in business and in life, who are inspiring community pride in Australian agriculture.

The Young Farming Champions alumni include 2021 NSW RAS Rural Achiever and Lambition finalist veterinarian Dione Howard, 2021 Australian Young Farmer of the Year Emma Ayliffe, 2019 Australian Woolbroker of the Year Samantha Wan, 2018 Innovation Farmer of the Year Dan Fox and winner of the Leadership category of the 2018 Victorian Young Achiever Awards, Dr Jo Newton OAM.

Expressions of Interest to be submitted by 5pm 30th September 2021

The EOI brochure can be found here

Please find the Expression of Interest form here

Young Farming Champions Muster July 2021

Welcome to the Young Farming Champions July Muster. Our headline act this week celebrates the latest milestone for the team.

One of the great strengths of the program is our YFC alumni network who are paying it forward and providing a peer-to-peer buddy system for new entrants.

In 2021 those relationships have led to some of our alumni pairing with their YFC buddies and stepping up to facilitate workshops using a ‘train-the -trainer’ model in which new YFCs co-host targeted workshops

Headline Act

On August 1st, 2021, YFC alumni Anika Molesworth and YFC co-host Dylan Male delivered a ‘Develop your Personal Brand for the Greater Good’ workshop

“A brand doesn’t just deliver a product or service – it can transform the way people think and act

By developing your brand, you will be better equipped to communicate in a way that resonates and motivates your audience to action.

Whether you advocate for a world of zero hunger, for climate action, for gender equality, or want to ensure vibrant rural economies – having a strong brand will underpin what you do.’ ,’ says Anika.

The workshop looked at how you can turn ideas into emotional connections with audiences.

As some of our participants shared the workshop provided our emerging YFC leaders with the tools, knowledge, and techniques to create personal brands for truly inspiring and impactful leadership.

Earlier in the week YFC alumni Dr Jo Newton OAM was joined by YFC co-hosts Steph Tabone and Olivia Borden to provide an opportunity for YFC to practice their lessons learnt from Roxi Beck’s Engage Workshop.

‘I found Roxi’s workshop on empowering effective communications with consumers to be incredibly valuable.

It reminded us that everyone who produces food is also a consumer and we are talking to consumers every day.

Roxi highlighted the importance of active listening and asking to truly understand what is behind another person’s beliefs and values. These skills are like muscles and require time and practice to grow’ says Jo


A snippet from Steph, Olivia and Jo’s workshop for their fellow YFC


Both Steph Tabone and Olivia Borden have taken lessons from Roxi’s workshop to their workplaces

‘The lessons from Roxi’s workshop are relevant to many people across the industry, including my colleagues.

In discussion with my supervisor, I mentioned how great it would be to share some of Roxi’s key points with our team.

My supervisor supported this concept. We got together on 19 July and talked through Roxi’s slides.

‘It was a good opportunity to learn together, to discuss experiences we’ve shared and it also helped me cement my knowledge.’ says Steph.

Olivia is applying the principles of ‘ask; listen; ask; listen; ask; listen’ with the objective of understanding, taking off her agronomy hat and approaching tricky conversations with ethical values at the forefront of her  mind and the scientific data in her back pocket.

“Sometimes agronomy is solving puzzles. The tricky thing is these puzzles are like the mountain Roxi referred to and at times everyone’s looking at it from a different angle, You also run into many iceberg conversations where you only see what’s on top and have to dive down to see what’s really underneath in order to solve it.’ says Olivia.

In the Field

Marlee Langfield is using her photography skills and honing her videography skills to share the journey of her farm’s wheat crops from planting to harvest as part of the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre Crop Updates

“I’ll be filming monthly videos until harvest in November/December that will be shared with our international customers and translated into five languages! You can follow along on the AEGIC Facebook page” says Marlee

Bryan Van Wyk has had a busy few weeks preparing the 11 Austral Fisheries trawlers he manages to go tiger prawning in northern Australia.

“We have a talented, passionate and dedicated core group of people that we all call family.

‘These men and women are about to embark on a four-month journey across northern Australia packing premium Aussie prawns. They have my utmost respect. They leave their families and friends behind; they work long and hard; and they are stewards of our oceans.

‘They collect important scientific data for conservation, they remove illegal ghost nets, they are world leaders in bycatch reduction, and I am honoured to be part of their family.

Here’s to a safe and enjoyable season. May your seas be calm, your bags full of red gold and your crews happy.’ said Bryan on Instagram

This video was created by Michael Pride to show what happens on board once the prawns are caught by the Austral Fisheries Team

From “Robin Hood” in Milbrulong Riverina NSW to the Elders National Wool Selling Centre show floor in Melbourne, Wool YFC’s Dione Howard and Sam Wan discovered the world is a very small place when Sam found Dione’s family farm’s wool clip in her auctioneering catalogue

Unfortunately, with the volatility of the market — the Merino fleece wool was withdrawn from sale so Sam has no auction footage to round out the little video she created for Dione.


Sam was able to share some insights from the Selling Centre floor with Dione

Follow the footage:.
1. Internal catalogue cover – to show Dione when she could tune into the live video feed to watch her wool sell by open-cry auction in Melbourne. Dione’s wool was in the Wagga section.
2. Catalogue listing for Robin Hood wool – this is the hard copy of the finalised internal catalogue that I use to overview the wool sale, follow queries. It lists all the objective test results. A digital and hard copy version is available to wool buyers.
3. Copy of the classer’s specs – this is the paperwork that follows the farm bales to the wool store and tells the technical staff what number the bales are, what is in them and which bales go together. It also includes the wool classer details and the National Wool Declaration (NWD). Dione’s dad classed the wool clip, the paperwork was very tidy and properly completed!
4. Elders National Wool Selling Centre show floor, Melbourne – where samples of the bales are set up for buyers to inspect and value prior to the auction. In this week, Elders Melbourne was offering 5270 bales.
5. Wagga section, Dione’s wool started at Lot 1310. Zoom to a floor sheet which accompanies each sample – this shows Lot 1310 was made up of 10 bales and is a line of AAAM – Merino Fleece.
6. Walk past the other merino fleece lines offered for sale.

Wool YFC Dione Howard and her partner Joe Fitzgerald were featured in a full page story in the Daily Telegraph.

Fingers crossed for another bumper season ahead, and that it’s business as usual for regional NSW farmers, were the key messages of the Telegraph story. Joe farms at Cootamundra where the crops are in and there’s been plenty of rain, setting the scene for another excellent harvest. All that’s needed is some sunshine and to keep those little mice away!

Corteva supported YFC and graduate agronomist Emily May was looking forward to sharing her career journey with students at AgVision

When COVID lockdown saw it postponed, always ready to make the most of every opportunity Emily took over Elders Instagram stories to share a Day in the Life of a Graduate Agronomist with their followers.

Out in the field

YFC Dylan Male made the most of his trip to the Northern Territory and took time out to meet fellow YFC Olivia Borden

“During my recent travels to the Northern Territory, I was fortunate enough to meet fellow YFC Olivia Borden in Katherine. As we got to know each other better, we quickly discovered that we had many shared interests and passions, most notably for all things agronomy. We both told stories about our pathway into agriculture and shared our excitement about embarking on the YFC journey. We left the catch-up feeling a greater sense of connectedness and look forward to staying in touch’.

COVID lockdowns also mean our YFC won’t have the opportunity to visit schools in person, so our agile team is connecting with facilitator Josh Farr and the Paddock Pen Pals team led by Sam Wan to get some tips and tricks on how facilitate highly engaging zoom workshops with school students

Participating in the 2021 Archibull Prize Riverstone High School is first out of the blocks to investigate SDG 14 Life in the Oceans making the most of Bryan Van Wyk’s expertise as manager of the Austral Fisheries Northern Fishing Trawlers

Students will be quizzing Bryan about:
• plastic in the ocean,
• overfishing,
• what the future looks like for our oceans and animals,
• sustainable fishing

Representing Riverina Local Land Services YFC Dione Howard and Megan Sinclair zoomed into Barellan Public School Year 4-6 class who are participating in Kreative Koalas on Wednesday 21July.

Dr Calum Watt has found himself in demand with schools students. After reading about Calum, Principal Kris Beazley from the Centre of Excellent in Agricultural Education sprang into action

 “The students will be touching on CRISPR 9 next week as part of their initial work and then taking a deeper dive in a couple of weeks, so we would love to hear about your passion and knowledge in this area and how it is being used in Australian agriculture.” says Kris in her email to Calum


Calum presented CRISPR 9 technologies to her students on 28th July.

“Calum was fantastic. He covered CRISPR science, genetics, career opportunities plus the skills and knowledge required to do a PhD. A session that was originally planned for 40 mins stretched to 90 mins with the students highly engaged for the entire time”  says Kris

Kris and her teachers are building on the success of the workshop with Calum and making the most of COVID lockdowns by initiating ” Wow Wednesdays” – a 60 minute masterclass with an industry expert. The students are super excited to have Wool YFC Dr Danila Marini zooming in this week and Australian Young Farmer of the Year YFC Emma Ayliffe the following week.

Prime Cuts

YFC and Chair of our Youth Leadership Team Dione Howard was a very worthy finalist in the Lambition Awards. Check out her inspiring story here 

The ever multi talented Dr Anika Molesworth is the voice of latest Case tractor add. See the back story here 

“We need no thanks, rewards or dues, we love this land, it’s what we do. There’s not a day that the landscape doesn’t captivate me with its vast wonder, there’s not a day that I don’t feel honoured to work alongside farmers who produce food and fibre for our country, and beyond. Each day we rise to our challenges, are grateful for our opportunities, and strive to make tomorrow the best it possibly can be. I hold such deep admiration for the farming community. With all its highs and lows, the triumphs and turmoil – and recently I was invited to read a poem about this incredible community.” says Anika Molesworth – farmer, scientist and now voice of CASE IH Australia/New Zealand’s new advertising campaign.

YFC Meg Rice has recently completed the Graduate Program with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Throughout the program Meg worked on Murray-Darling Basin policy, trade and market access, live animal exports and the Future Drought Fund. Meg is excited to invited to take up a permanent role as a Senior Policy Officer within the Live Animal Export branch of the department.

Meg Rice pictured with the department Secretary, Andrew Metcalfe OAM.

A huge congratulations to friend of the YFC Hannah Wandel who was awarded an OAM in the Queen’s Birthday honours list. Great story in HerCanberra here

July has been a huge month for the YFC and we will have more of their July adventures to share with you in our August Muster

Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Dr Anika Molesworth book Our Sunburnt Country here 

And none of this could happen without our supporting partners investing in our YFC

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices