Its Archie Action Time – Case-study 1: Meet Lorraine Chaffer who has a passion for geography and it’s ‘place’ in education

When Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley AM speaks people listen. Speaking recently in the media Jim was quoted as saying

“Agriculture as an industry doesn’t engage with the education system and it’s about time it did, otherwise we won’t have a workforce.

The dependence on itinerant workers and students participating in gaps years is a pretty shallow strategy. I can’t see that operating too long into the future. 

The organisations who are operating in the space must publish their results. If you don’t do it  you may as well not have done it because nobody knows about it.”

We are listening Jim and we look forward to sharing with the world the extraordinary impact our programs are having in Australian schools

For over a decade Action4Agriculture has connected school students to Australian agriculture through The Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions. In that time a multitude of learning areas including science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) have been employed to deliver the program. Increasingly geography teachers are is embedding aspects of agriculture in the curriculum, as a direct result of participating in our programs, as it provides place and context to learning.

Lorraine Chaffer is the Vice President and ‘immediate past president’, of the Geography Teachers Association of NSW & ACT and has a passion for her subject. She realised there was often a lack of understanding about agriculture and that the opportunities and challenges that it presents are an important component of the geography curriculum.

“It’s all about STEM [or STEAM] now and our argument is that Geography is the perfect STEM subject because we tie it all together. With geography you can link the science etc to what’s going on at a place. Geography marries science and agriculture – it makes the learning authentic and linked to the real world through ‘place’,” she says.

To increase her agricultural knowledge Lorraine began attended an agricultural conference where she heard Young Farming Champion Dr Anika Molesworth speak on climate action.

“I saw Anika present at the Brave New World Agriculture to 2030 Conference in Sydney in November 2018. Much of what she said had links to topics in the NSW Geography Syllabus. I was impressed by Anika’s positivity about the future and her message about taking action and later found a TED talk she had made the previous year. The link to geography was very strong so I approached Anika, via Twitter, with a request to present at the GTANSW & ACT Annual Conference in Sydney – using a mix of her Brave New World and TED talks. We were not disappointed. Anika’s got the practical, common sense of a farmer and the science knowledge from her academic studies, but also ideas about what needs to be done about climate change.”

Through her association with Anika, Lorraine was connected with Lynne Strong and Action4Agriculture and realised the strong messages delivered through programs such as The Archibull Prize were a perfect fit for geography. She promoted the program through the official association journal, the Geography Bulletin and made Action4Agriculture the official charity of GTANSW & ACT.

The NSW Geography syllabus for Stage 5 (Year 9 and 10) has a content area centred around food, fibre and industrial production using the earth’s biomes. Lorraine says that her focus has been promoting geography as an issues-based subject that integrates issues related to agriculture and the underlying science on which sustainable agriculture and food security depend. The skills developed through a study of geography marry well with the transferable employment skills developed through programs such as The Archibull Prize.

“It’s great that schools are doing things that are not out of the textbook, such as participating in ‘the Archies’ and taking students to visit farms. This is demonstrating real world solutions to problems. And the great thing with geography, especially in NSW, is that we have great flexibility in what we do. We have a broad curriculum that says ‘okay, you’re talking about food production and biomes’. It’s not saying that everybody has to study rice. If there’s an issue around in agriculture in a particular year that’s what you can focus on.

Something I’m always on the lookout for is new resources, new ideas, and new ways of teaching the old stuff, but in a bit more of an exciting way. And if you can engage the kids and make them think about agriculture as an option in their future careers, open their eyes a little bit, then even better!”

To support teachers and geographers like Lorraine to incorporate agriculture into the geography curriculum Action4Agriculture establishes a two-tiered Ecosystem of Expertise:

  • Building long term partnerships with best practice farms the students investigate and report on
  • Working with our Young Farming Champions to get a big picture understanding of the agriculture supply chain and the diversity of people and roles that feed and clothe us, supply us with ecosystem services and renewable energy

Further case-studies in our geography series will look at three schools – The Lakes College (YotS), Eden College(YotS) and Pymble Ladies’ College (PLC) – and how they put the Ecosystem of Expertise into practice.

Opportunities in agriculture are the worlds best kept secret no more


#agricultureinthecurriculum #partneredlearning #ecosystemofexpertise #ArchieAction



Got a big idea for the future of agriculture? What to take it from “Go to Whoa”

Graduates of the Action4Agriculture two year Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program join our Young Farming Champions alumni where they have two opportunities to practice what they learn in a safe environment

To practice their communication and trusted voices skills they become role models of who you can be in agriculture and the faces of our in-school programs

To put their leadership training into practice and lead teams they can join our iHub


The iHub is a Young Farming Champions (YFC) alumni community of practice for individuals and groups to build an innovation mindset, explore new ideas, collaborate, experiment and accelerate learning applied to a real-world project that nurtures a bright future for agriculture.

This year several YFC have imagined projects they see as beneficial to agriculture as a whole and to future YFC. Helping to realise these projects has been leadership coach Josh Farr from Campus Consultancy.

Josh initially gave the YFC a list of six options to explore and asked them to select the ones they felt would be most beneficial to their projects.

The six options were:

  1. Vision and Ideation
  2. Strategic planning
  3. Metrics of success – objectives and key results
  4. Marketing and promotion
  5. Personal branding
  6. Financial sustainability

Vision, strategic planning and marketing were popular elects.

“We are working with YFC on a range of ideas starting with the ideation stage, which is thinking what and why are we doing this, and how does this help everyone in agriculture from students in high schools all the way to established leaders in the field. From there we are going into a bit of depth about strategy and execution and how do we make sure really busy YFCs not only have clarity on what they are doing but also have a lot of fun bringing their big ideas alive.

The YFC see a need and a value to their idea and they want to know how to get that out in the world, and how to make something that cuts through the noise,” Josh says.

Developing their ideas with Josh at one-on-one workshops have been Dylan Male, Emily May, Francesca Earp, Steph Tabone and Tayla Field.

“My big idea is to encourage YFC to contribute to our monthly Muster content by starting up a monthly ‘YFC 5-minute Muster give and take’ initiative. Josh is providing strategy advice and support and I have already created a draft strategy document. I will continue to seek feedback on the initiative to help develop it before hopefully launching next year,” Dylan says.

Tayla and Steph are collaborating on an idea to create a platform for people with experience in agriculture to share their key learnings with young people.

“That could be anyone from university students to those in the workforce to those who might be interested in a career in agriculture. The platform, which might be a podcast or video series, is planned to be short, sharp and effective in communicating some key take outs and learnings from a leader in agriculture.

Josh has helped us a lot in just one session to think about the format of the platform and what will work best for our target market and also be achievable for Steph and me to maintain throughout busy work and personal lives. We are looking forward to the next session where we are going to refine our elevator pitch, our ‘why’ and have a look at a few different strategies to approach the project,” Tayla says.

Emily, who specialises in talking about peri-urban agriculture sought Josh’s help to prepare a school presentation.

“Josh supported me by first helping identify what the goals of the presentation were for both me, the students and their teachers while also going over some key ways to get students engaged. As my session was for an hour before lunch to upper high school students, there was potential for this to be a tough crowd. We then ran through ways to improve what I had already created and it proved to be highly successful ,” Emily says.

The workshop with Josh found immediate results for Emily who presented at the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education’s Ag Week virtual conference, facilitated by school principal Kris Beazley.

“Emily was excellent for the city kids, reinforcing you don’t have to be a country kid coming off a sheep station to have a role in agriculture. She also had some great interactive activities throughout her presentation and provided thought-provoking answers to student questions,” Kris says.

For Josh, one of the highlights of working with YFC as part of iHub is their willingness to share.

“The iHub identifies that YFC have a desire to go above and beyond, to share everything they are learning and to create projects that are sustainable beyond themselves. One of the things I’ve noticed about everyone who has got involved is that they’ve consulted lots of people – they’ve got their boss on board, they’ve had employers offer funding – they’re really good at bringing people together. I don’t see a single project here that is an individual glory project. These are things that the YFC are using their leadership skills to set up knowing there is going to be future generations of YFC eager to apply these skills. There is a beautiful synergy between their ideas and their insights, what agriculture needs right now, and setting up future YFCs for success,” he says.

So, with big ideas being generated and workshopped with Josh to go to the next stage what opportunities are there for others to get involved?

“These projects are like rockets on the ground about to take off and I would encourage others to get on board. If you are a young person in ag, get in contact with these YFC. If you can offer experience, financial resources or even emails of encouragement, contact these YFC. These are ideas are by young ag leaders for ag leaders,” Josh concludes.

#AGDayAU #YouthinAg #CentreofExcellence #YouthVoices #iHub


Young Farming Champions Muster November 2021

Headline Act

One of the founding aims of Action4Agriculture is to take agriculture to students who would not normally be exposed to it. This vision has been driven by our Young Farming Champions (YFC), our teachers and our partners – a collaboration of leaders with a common vision.

This collaboration was highlighted during October and November.

Corteva’s Elizabeth Hernandez showcased Dr Anika Molesworth and Francesca Earp on the global stage in conjunction with COP26 in Glasgow through  WOMAG and GrowHer activities.


Anika also represented youth in agriculture speaking on the panel at the Young Leaders in Climate forum. Presented by British High Commissioner to Australia HE Vicki Treadell and Italian Ambassador to Australia Francesca Tardioli, this was an opportunity for youth to inspire world-saving climate ambition. Panellists discussed the power of lived activism, the importance of youth and gender in the climate movement, and the future of diverse climate leadership.

Another YFC hitting the international stage was Tegan Nock, founding partner of carbon start-up Loam Bio, which this month attracted investment from Silicon Valley and Canadian billionaires to the tune of $40 million.

Also doing amazing work are our wonderful teachers such as Scott Graham who teaches agriculture at Sydney’s Barker College. On November 3 Scott won the prestigious 2021 Prime Minister’s Science Prize for Secondary Schools.

The leadership journey starts with small steps, none more important than the work our YFC do on a daily basis in the field.


In The Field

One of the most important aspects of being a YFC is the ability to communicate what we do in agriculture on an everyday basis and this month our YFC in the field have been doing just that.

Showing us how to do it is Cowra graingrower Marlee Langfield with her seasonal crop report for AEGIC. You can watch it here. Marlee and partner Andrew Gallagher were also featured in the Manildra Group’s industry magazine The Cultivator, in fields of gold.

Also proudly spruiking their careers in agriculture were Emma Ayliffe and Sharna Holman who featured in Cotton R&D’ Spotlight magazine, and Dylan Male whose work with Indigenous farming practices was highlighted in the Bendigo Times.

With cotton and grains covered, it was wool’s turn to shine when district wool manager Emma Turner co-coordinated a training program for industry on the lifetime management of ewes. The program will continue over another five field days in the following twelve months.


Out of the Field

Of course, promotion of agriculture does not finish with the day job and our YFC are active in spreading their good news stories further afield.

In conjunction with her book promotion Anika Molesworth has been seen in multiple media outlets this month. She created a Q&A column for The Australian, spoke with audiences in Copenhagen and Amsterdam (at 2am in the morning) in celebration of the release of the film A Positive Alternative (catch the four part series here)

and was a panelist at the Corteva Global Food Security & Sustainability Summit. There’s no slowing this girl down.

Anika also spoke to Tim Collings on his Better World Leaders podcast 

This is a conversation that in some ways I was not expecting, but in other ways I sense I have long been waiting for. I was spell-bound throughout the dialogue with Anika Molesworth, as she shows through her experience, knowledge and actions how we can all influence change, be courageous and do things differently to address climate change and preserve our food systems now and for the future.


Emma Ayliffe is using her title of Young Australian Farmer of the Year to promote agriculture and this month was featured on the UNE website, Sam Wan, the outgoing WoolProducer’s Youth Ambassador, welcomed the 2022 cohort and Dione Howard continued her Rural Achiever duties.

“I was super excited to participate in a local show event on the weekend of 23/24 October. Although the show was delayed due to recent restrictions, I had an awesome time at Ganmain interviewing their nominee for Showgirl, the state competition being known as Sydney Royal Ag Shows NSW Young Woman of the Year from 2022. It was great to represent the Rural Achievers from this year and celebrate young people doing exciting things in their community.”

Taking her agricultural message to the realm of education this month was Jo Newton who facilitated the final Engaging with Industry session for the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM (IMNIS) webinar series; with over 90 people attending online. One of her key takeaways was:

“Not much beats getting actual experience. Volunteering and internships while studying are a great way to build your networks and skills”.

Jo will be joined by YFC Danila Marini and Emily May in November to connect with school students as part of the COE Virtual Ag Conference in conjunction with National Ag Day.


Prime Cuts

As we mentioned in Headline Act all the work the YFC do in promotion of agriculture leads to leadership opportunities and this month we are thrilled to announce Meg Rice has been selected for the AgriFutures AICD Foundations of Directorship course, while YFC Rebecca George and Jasmine Green and AWI Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders Scholarship finalist Jamie Pepper have been selected as Angus Australia 2021 GenAngus Future Leaders Program recipients. Congratulations

And speaking of the Australian Wool Innovation Cultivate Growing Young Leaders scholarship finalists you can catch their stories here 


Alana Black continues to thrive in her new role in Scotland and has been selected as a trustee for the Royal Highland Education Trust which delivers world-leading learning opportunities for Scotland’s young people about, in and through the Scottish agricultural environment and the countryside, and, in particular, bringing young people out on farm.


Lifetime Achievements

Congratulations to Becca again this month for graduating with a Bachelor of Agriculture/ Bachelor of Business majoring in International Business. Well done.

And Dan Fox is doing his bit to ensure the future of agriculture by breeding his own team. Congratulations to Dan and Rachel on the birth of Hugh Anthony Fox on September 30.

#YouthinAg #YoungFarmingChampions #Muster #YouthVoices

Meet Miranda McGufficke who sees powerful potential in young people in wool

There are a few things I love in this world; my family, my ambitions, and sheep without a doubt I love my sheep. After returning home from a shortened gap year in England, I shed a tear when I came home and saw a sheep. I have so much passion and admiration for these animals and their capacity to grow nature’s most environmentally sustainable fibre.


I know I have my Dad, my role model, to owe for this immense passion and strong interest. Particularly in breeding and comparing genetics and in learning how to operate a successful profitable business. I remember growing up we were always asked ‘Would we like to come and help?’ not ‘You are coming to help!’. I believe this choice helped determine my passion as it was my decision, and I did it because I wanted to be there not because I had to.


My gap year in 2020 saw me work alongside my Dad. I involved myself into every aspect of our business from rousabouting to genetic data collection and analysis. The things I was able to learn from my Dad and other progressive industry leaders is irreplaceable. I want everyone to have this opportunity as well.

I was fortunate to continue my gap year at home helping my family’s commercially owned and operated merino seedstock business. I spent every day working alongside my dad who is a  driven and progressive producer. I took initiative into immersing myself more into our family business in the form of marketing and promotion. I initiated the creation of social media pages, collating the ram sale catalogues and introducing the Greendale newsletter- I saw an opportunity, and I took it and that’s what I want others to be inspired to do – to take an opportunity, educate themselves and believe they have the potential to have influence and impact.

Working alongside my parents has been the biggest reward for my blossoming interest and career aspirations. Pictured here is my Mum, Michelle and my Dad, Alan.The importance of being family owned and operated is paramount to our progression.


Dad has taught me most of what I know today, not only about farming, sheep production and business and also about life. He has given me the to create opportunities and to look holistically at everythingI have just started my tertiary studies and I believe the values and lessons my father has taught me has already benefited my studies. I have clear career aspirations which allowed me to direct my focus onto things that will benefit my progression. Yet I have found the education system and the industry to not be equipped in educating youth in areas such as genetic evaluation and comparison for profitable and sustainable economic performance.


This is why I believe education is crucial. More needs to be done in enhancing people’s understanding and knowledge about the benefit of data analysis and ASBV’s as well as how to use these genetic tools and systems. The potential of genetic selection in allowing more profitable and sustainable breeding decisions is unparalleled in comparison to relying on subjective opinion.

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work in your life” – Confucius 


In order to be fully understood, direct focus and applicable demonstrations need to be conducted and continually revisited – genetics always vary and progression and change should be the goal.

Ideas of initiating mentorship programs with interested youth and progressive, data focused producers or creating ongoing education programs that teach the whole industry should be the focus of the industry.

There is an apprehension to change. Changes in normality, changes in the process and unpredictability of the outcome. Change is inevitable and the issue I aim to address is the lack of adoption towards these changes. As an industry the key to success is progression. I have ambition to initiate change and promote the importance of adopting new systems into businesses – I want to focus on the youth that will help bring and incorporate this development and boost the productivity and profitability of our industry.


‘We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power towards good ends’

-Mary McLeod Bethune.

#womeninwool #youthinag #YouthVoicesinAction




Keeping agriculture front of mind – COE’s Virtual Ag-Week Conference


Everyone, everywhere will agree COVID has been tough on education. Working and learning from home has meant the curtailment of activities beyond the online world.

Principal Kris Beazley and the team from the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education have risen to the challenge ensuring that agriculture stays front of mind with a virtual conference to connect young people in schools with people working in the industry.

Timed to coincide with National Ag Day on November 19 the conference for both NSW primary and secondary students will run over five days from November 15, with 22 masterclasses from a range of industry experts from IT, on-farm, science and research, and media.

“We were holding a field day in conjunction with Tafe (Richmond) and Local Land Services during ag-week but because of Covid it was postponed but we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose that focus. We had been delivering WOW Wednesday to our full-time AgSTEM students during lockdown to connect them, via Zoom, to an industry expert and this has proved a good model for a virtual ag conference,” Kris says.

The CoE panel of agricultural experts includes our Young Farming Champions. Dr Danila Marini will speak about research and technology for animal welfare, Dr Jo Newton will speak about the future of dairy farming and Emily May will give insights into peri-urban agriculture. Friend of the YFC, Kate McBride, will also speak about farming in the Murray-Darling river system.

Visit the website here to book a place for your school

“We have connected the conference to curriculum and there is clear alignment to not just agriculture but science, geography, food and fibre production, sustainability and environmental sciences. We have also included the careers component so young people have exposure to people in the industry, and on top of that it is good PL (professional learning) for teachers. It is a chance for teachers to connect their young people to the world beyond their immediate world, when they have been in lockdown for so long,” Kris says.

Sessions for the conference are filling quickly and registration is required beforehand. Ensure places for your students by visiting the website

#YouthinAg #VirtualExcursions #WoWWednesdays

Meet Savannah Boutsikakis who is looking forward to inspiring others to join her in a career in agriculture

Containing our showcase of the stories of the Australian Wool Innovation Cultivate Growing Young Leaders Scholarship finalists

Meet Savannah Boutsikakis………

I am from a 4th generation sheep property in Southern NSW. Throughout high school university was never on the cards for me, until my eyes where opened to early entry by my Year 12 Primary Industries class teacher

Without discussing it with anyone I went off on my own and before I knew it I had applied to University of New England (UNE) in northern NSW. One afternoon I got the unexpected email regarding my early entry offer I had gotten in to UNE, and rest of the week saw another two offers come in.

So having made it this far, I made the decision, I thought why not give the uni degree ago, its Agriculture after all how hard can it be. The stumbling block was I didn’t want to move to the other end of the state. My mum had previously seen an ad in the local paper about the Country University Centre opening in Goulburn with a phone call and a week later I was then the first registered student at the CUC. The CUC is established as a study hub to help and support rural and regional students through their university degree.

As 2018 began so did the chapter of university, studying full time online whilst working two bar jobs saw organisation and motivation in full swing. The intensive schools came, friendships that last a life time were instilled. Everything was going well until the dreaded email came I was failing first year chemistry, in tears I rang the CUC and by the time I was home I had not one but three chemistry tutors.

The CUC became more than just fast internet, it became my uni, support and back stop. Flash forward 3 year and I have just graduated a Bachelor of Agriculture the most challenging but exciting and biggest learning curve I ever did embark on. It’s an honour to be the first registered student to start and finish their degree with the support of the CUC Goulburn.

Since this I was then offered a job in the Moree region sowing the winter crops, not really knowing what I was in for and having no experience with cropping I grabbed the opportunity to go.


The week before I left I was with my family talking about the new exciting experience of going to sow the winter crops. My cousin then commented ‘So you just walk along and put the seeds in the ground’ now I knew I didn’t really know what I was in for exactly  but knew it was big tractor with a big planter, so I explained the process to them. This comment really hit home for me, I knew there was a knowledge gap of modern farming practices but I didn’t realise how close to home it really was. My cousin has completed uni, lived and studied overseas, absolutely kicking goals, and yet her comment showed there were people in my family that knew very little about farming today

Agriculture today is an exciting web of careers that feed and clothe and provide people with renewable energy. I am excited to be part of it and I am looking forward to inspiring others to join me