The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
“Hunter Local Land Services is excited to provide support for young Hunter farmers to participate in the Young Farming Champions program,” Hunter LLS general manager Brett Miners said. “We are continually inspired by the passion and talent of our local young farmers and this program will provide them with opportunities to build new skills and leadership capabilities. Helping to develop the next generation of emerging leaders in agriculture will assist our local communities and industries to be more resilient and adaptable for the future. We value the opportunity to engage with the next generation of farmers, partners and potential future employees.”
Hunter LLS believes this scholarship will:
Identify and develop the next generation of emerging leaders in agriculture
Future proof our farming systems and build natural disaster resilience in our young people
Provide opportunities to engage with next generation and managers,consumers and future employees
Bring together and support the diversity of agricultural enterprises in the Hunter including oysters, grains, beef and sheep
Young people, aged between 18 and 35, who are following an agricultural career pathway 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 Hunter and in agriculture.
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.
Hunter LLS has been a long supporter of the in-school programs, particularly Kreative Koalas.
“One of the reasons Kreative Koalas has been so successful in the Hunter is the fact that it’s brought so many organisations together to support the schools in delivering their projects,” School Engagement Officer Jane Lloyd Jones says. “Organisations are providing students with a broad range of educational opportunities that complement one another, enhance student’s learning and assist them to see the ‘bigger picture’. Benefits of this are reflected in the amazing community projects designed and delivered by the students, our future land managers.”
Opportunities, such as working with Kreative Koalas, are one of the many benefits of the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program. Graduates then join Young Farming Champions – a national network of globally connected young thought leaders thriving in business and in life, who are inspiring community pride in Australian agriculture. Young Farming Champions include among their ranks Local Land Services veterinarian Dione Howard, Australian Young Farmer of the Year Emma Ayliffe and The Food Farm founder Tim Eyes
Meet Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes
Expressions of interest brochure for the 2021 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program can be here and Expression of Interest can be submitted here
For more information contact Action4Agriculture National Director
Austral CEO David Carter believes in our partnership.
“Fishing is not traditionally thought of as agriculture but we’re all in this together as food producers and by working with Action4Agriculture we have gained cross-sectoral exposure. Breaking down those traditional barriers has been very valuable to us.”
“In a broader sense, Austral believes in nurturing our youngsters and fostering their talent. Action4Agriculture gives us opportunities for our young people to grow and we are happy to invest in these people because they give back in spades. One of the great joys of being older is that of supporting smart young folks to find their place in the world and then to find their voice.” he says.
Bryan has been a valuable member and contributor to the Young Farming Champions cohort in the past two years, and his passion for his industry has meant traditional agriculturists have had their experiences broadened. With a degree in marine biology he speaks from the heart and the head and writes eloquently of issues facing fishing, such as by-catch, and has strong admiration for those who work alongside him.
“We recently finished the 2021 northern prawn season where our fleet of 11 trawlers travelled from Northern Territory to northern QLD. All crew have returned home safely and the vessels are now tied up in Cairns ready for routine summer maintenance. The men and women that operate these vessels are some of the hardest working, mentally tough and dedicated individuals in the country. They leave their family, friends and homes behind, work through rough weather without any nights off all while being confined to their 20 odd meter floating home for four months with their colleagues. It isn’t all that bad though – they get to experience parts of the world that most would only dream of, they get to see a range of beautiful marine wildlife (often collecting data for scientists), experience the best sunsets and sunrises the world has to offer, build friendships that last a life time, live away from the day-to-day chaos and stress associated with land life and make enough money to take six months holiday per year,” he says.
Now, as Christmas approaches, Bryan’s passion can help us all to source the world’s best prawns and understand the ethical approach taken to their catch.
Let’s hear Bryan elaborate on our favourite Christmas indulgence:
“Australia has some of the best fisheries management in the world and produces sustainable, quality seafood however we import almost 70% of the seafood we consume. One of the main culprits for seafood imports is in fact prawns. You will often find imported frozen pre-cooked prawns in the freezer isles of supermarkets. Many of these products are cheap, low quality and lack certification.
“Christmas is a special time for Australians. We want to end the year on a good note and wish to celebrate the event with our close family and friends. In my opinion there is no place for low quality imported prawns on the Christmas table. My message to Australians selecting their Christmas seafood is to check for marine stewardship council (MSC) certification and country of origin labelling (both of which will be clearly displayed on the packaging). By selecting MSC products you ensure sustainability and support healthy marine environments, If operators have gone to great lengths to ensure their seafood is sustainably recognised, then they will also take pride in ensuring their products are high quality.
“When it comes to eating our Christmas prawns there are a lot of delicious alternatives beyond the commonly purchased “cooked prawn”. I always purchase raw prawns because it gives me plenty of options for Christmas (garlic, panko crumbed, chilli, bbq, skewers etc) and at the end of the day, if I want to boil them I can. In fact, not many people know this but you actually get a much fresher flavour when you boil raw prawns in saltwater at home, rather than thawing out precooked prawns. It’s simple as well. Just get a pot of saltwater boiling, add your thawed raw prawns and when all prawns are floating they’re ready for a saltwater ice bath!
“My last tip as a seafood lover and bargain hunter would be that the best bang-for-your-buck will be found in the seafood deli section in our supermarkets or fish markets – just keep a look out for MSC label.”
Cross-sectoral exposure, a Young Farming Champion dedicated to his craft and fresh, sustainably-caught Australia prawns for Christmas – does it get any better than this?
Its harvest time and our Young Farming Champions are reaping the rewards. We mean this both literally and figuratively.
Across eastern Australia the headers are rolling, the chaser bins are chasing and trucks are moving along regional roads, brimming with the best grain in the world. Widespread rain has added challenges to the harvest (see this video from Marlee Langfield’s sister-in-law) but in return the country is receiving a long Christmas drink. And if you thought harvest was only commercial crops, we’ve got news for you – find out more below In The Field.
It is also harvest figuratively. 2021 has been another year of challenges and opportunities for the YFC and they have applied themselves to polishing skills such as negotiation, presentation and strategising. This hard work and dedication to their crafts will harvest rewards throughout their long careers. Over the festive period we, too, will sit down with a long Christmas drink and reflect on these learnings. We look forward to sharing them with you in our January Muster.
In the meantime, enjoy the harvest, enjoy the rain and sit down with a cuppa to see how the YFC are finishing their year.
In The Field
In a drier year wheat and canola harvests are usually wrapped up by Christmas but as the video above shows the extended rain period this year is causing plenty of interruptions, some downgrades in grain and plenty of bogged machinery. On the upside there are record crops coming off the paddocks. This is how three of our grain growers are coping:
Marlee Langfield (Cowra):
“an empty 15t header on top of sodden soils and double digit bog holes in a day have become the norm, but we now have recovery down to a fine art! We are currently harvesting canola and finding a mix of quality and an abundance of yield.”
Check out Marlee’s final AEGIC (Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre) report here for a more detailed harvest wrap.
James Kanaley (Griffith):
“Canola harvest has been exceptional at home. Yields have been twice the long term average and easily a record for our farm. We broke our canola record in 2020 also. Quality hasn’t been too bad but marketing canola has been more difficult as there is only one export quality grade of canola. Client’s harvests out west have been very strong, above average yields, but poor wheat qualities.”
Emma Ayliffe (Griffith):
“We are finally getting a roll on out here after a lot of stop/start with rain and we’re still managing to bog the odd truck or chaser bin. The rain has caused downgrades but the upside is that the yields have been amazing, well above average. At this stage we have all of the canola done, we hope to be finished all our wheat by Christmas and then will have oats and lupins to do after Christmas. To put in perspective we usually harvest mid-October to the 3rd or 4th week in November (typically about 5 weeks). We are going into week 8…with probably still 3 weeks to go at the current rate.”
It’s not only traditional grains being harvested at this time of year. December/January is the harvest time for kangaroo grass. “It’s a busy time in the field with lots of research and seed collection taking place across Dja Dja Wurrung country in Victoria,” says Dylan Male who is completing the first year of his PhD studies investigating the development of kangaroo grass into a modern day crop. We look forward to learning more Dylan.
Also harvesting is our fishing YFC Bryan van Wyk, providing us with exceptional Australian prawns for the Christmas table:
“We have recently finished the 2021 tiger prawn season. Our fleet of 11 prawn trawlers worked their way between western Northern Territory all the way to northern QLD. All crew have returned home safely and the vessels are now tied up in Cairns ready for routine summer maintenance. Tiger prawns are considered a premium, high quality seafood and like most Australian premium seafoods, our tiger prawns are on their way to Asian markets (Japan). We also have a magnificent supply of MSC certified golden banana prawns on display in Coles and Woolworths ready for Australia to indulge in this Christmas.”
Harvest may be grabbing the headlines at the moment but our graziers are not to be out done. On December 8 Melissa Henry appeared on ABC news talking about the rise of black and coloured sheep. Look for Melissa from the 25 minute mark in this video.
And Adele Smith is being called the Wool Wizard after promoting her work with wool for the Chicks Who Ag blog.
Out of the Field
Once they’ve got out of their respective bogs and other harvest commitments our YFC are busy doing what they do best – sharing the good stories of Australian agriculture and leading by example. This was brightly illustrated during Ag Week from November 15. Three of our YFC – Danila Marini, Jo Newton and Emily May – presented at the Centre of Excellence Virtual Ag Week conference. Danila spoke to school students about research and technology for animal welfare, Jo spoke about the future of dairy farming and Emily gave insights into peri-urban agriculture. Friend of the YFC, Kate McBride, also presented about farming in the Murray-Darling river system.
Still on Ag Week and Tim Eyes did things his way when he zoomed into classrooms around the country. Joining Tim on his zoom was one of his cows, peering in the window as he spoke.
Jo had been selected for the Australian Rural Leadership Program earlier this year but Covid restrictions meant the Kimberley adventure was postponed. The program continued online with the development of four hybrid hubs in Canberra, Bendigo, Hobart and Toowoomba and recently Jo got to meet some of her fellow cohort in real life in Bendigo.
“To continue discussions started in workshops over breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee breaks added additional value to sessions that left you with much to think about. I found these chats amongst the Vic Hub insightful for illuminating how we could apply the frameworks that we learnt into our day-to-day lives.”
Continuing on their leadership journey are Katherine Bain and Dione Howard who have been selected for the AWI Breeding Leadership course. They will join 25 participants from across Australia in a week long course at Clare in South Australia in 2022 where they will develop skills and knowledge in personal leadership as well as strategic planning and team leadership.
As well as working on his PhD Dylan has been busy cementing his leadership skills. In November he gathered virtually with 99 delegates from 44 countries for the 2021 Bayer #YouthAgSummit.
“This summit was incredible, with two days spent exploring how youth-driven innovation and collaboration will be key to driving the transformational change needed to end the fight against global hunger. But the biggest personal highlight of the summit for me was realising just how passionate, committed and innovative other young people involved in agriculture around the world truly are.”
Dylan also appears on the Bayer website promoting STEM careers where he is billed as the Food System Builder.
In December he was off to Sydney to attend a Dale Carnegie ‘How to win friends and influence people’ course. The course will help Dylan to become an influential communicator, problem solver and focused leader.
A highlight of 2021 for many YFC has been the opportunity to imagine and then develop ideas and initiatives under the tutelage of Josh Farr as part of the YVLT Innovation Hub. Dylan is one of these. He has been working on an idea to increase Muster content (you have been warned!). Also taking advantage of Josh’s insightful workshops has been Emily May (learning to take her school presentations to a new level), Franny Earp (working on a school outreach program focusing on gender diversity) and a partnership between Steph Tabone and Tayla Field (who will develop a platform for people with experience in agriculture to share their key learnings with young people).
Being part of The Innovation Hub allows YFC to take the next step in their leadership journeys.
“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,” Josh says.
Hill Top Public School, in the NSW Southern Highlands, has found participation in the Kreative Koalas program to be the catalyst towards a revolution in how education is reported to parents of students; and in doing so is normalising the topic of sustainability in homes and communities.
The Australian Curriculum currently incorporates three cross-curriculum priorities to support relevant, contemporary and engaging education for students. These priorities are:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture
Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia
Education for Sustainability
“Education for sustainability develops the knowledge, skills, values and world-views necessary for people to act in ways that contribute to more sustainable patterns of living. It enables individuals and communities to reflect on ways of interpreting and engaging with the world. Sustainability education is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action. Actions that support more sustainable patterns of living require consideration of environmental, social, cultural and economic systems and their interdependence.” Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
While the priorities are designed to complement standard curriculum such as Maths and English, they are not stand-alone learning areas, and as such are not required to be reported on. Hill Top Public School is about to change that. Principal Mark Gardiner explains why:
“We are committed to sustainability education as all humans have a vested interest in sustainability. So much of what we want to do with sustainability crosses all curriculum areas and we’re trying to change the way we do business by reporting that to parents. It’s a pretty simple thing to do and it also embeds sustainability in the minds of the parents and in the community. My conversations with our parents tell me that most parents do understand environmental issues and sustainability are important; and this puts it in the forefront of their mind. It’s a bit of a bold new venture that we’re undertaking, and Kreative Koalas has been the seed that’s started this idea.”
Fifteen students from Years 5 and 6 are directly involved with the school’s Kreative Koala project, which has been generously supported by the St Vincent de Paul Society, with a focus on Sustainable Development Goals 7 (affordable and clean energy) and 13 (climate action). Lead teachers for the project are Suzanne Capps and Sharon Doust.
Together students and teachers have connected with a range of community and business initiatives to enhance their Kreative Koala experience. They have learned about carbon sequestration and its impact on sustainability from Climate Friendly, formed a relationship with the local Indigenous community to develop an understanding of ancient fire-practice habits and native food gardens, engaged with the arts and science departments at Bowral High School, and are involved with a sustainability project with Wingecarribee Council, which Suzanne sees as a critical component.
“Project Sustainable Us is a storytelling collaborative from Wingecarribee Shire Council and Artiste Films . They’re making a series of short documentaries based on sustainability in the community, and we have four student leaders working on individual movies. Xavier is doing a presentation on climate change in our community, Oliver is doing the science of climate change, Amelia is looking at what climate change means for her generation and Mikayla is looking at the politics of climate change,” Suzanne says.
Sharon is the dedicated sustainability teacher at Hill Top and is helping students develop and execute three action plans for:
sustainable practices for the school and the garden
The sustainability team is enlisting the local Indigenous community and theHill Top Community Association to develop the kitchen garden, the school’s P&C and Cecilia Kemp from Wingecarribee Shire Council to discuss energy action, and the school’s literacy program will build up knowledge of communications to promote climate change through appropriate channels.
“We see this action plan as a long-term project and the Koala has been our springboard to diversify learning in meaningful ways,” says Suzanne Capps, Assistant Principal
While all schools involved in Kreative Koalas experience similar learning and engagement with the project it is Hill Top Public School’s commitment to report on their sustainability findings that gives them a point of difference and illustrates the power of Kreative Koalas to make real-world change.
“Prioritising sustainability is recognition that as teachers, parents and a community we all work to ensure our children and students have bright futures. Our students live in an era of many challenges to the complex environmental systems that provide support for all life on our planet. Reporting on sustainability gives teachers the opportunity to embed sustainable practices in their everyday teaching. What becomes the norm at school, becomes the norm at home and becomes the norm for students throughout their lifetime.”
In 2019 the school and community of Hill Top were impacted by devastating bushfires. With support from St Vincent de Paul, and their renewed focus on the school garden, energy issues and climate action, students will heal and re-grow and take the community along with them on their sustainability journey whilst helping to create informed global citizens.
Case-study 3: Meet Ray Howells, Geography Teacher at Pymble Ladies’ College, who has integrated ‘Ecosystem of Expertise’ into the Stage 5 Geography Program
Geography is increasingly being used in The Archibull Prize to teach agriculture by surrounding the school with an Ecosystem of Expertise through:
Building long term partnerships with best practice farms the students investigate and report on
Working with our Young Farming Champions to get an understanding of how our food travels from paddock to plate and the diversity of people and roles that feed and clothe us, supply us with ecosystem services and renewable energy
Today we visit Pymble Ladies’ College (PLC) to see how they make the Ecosystem of Expertise work in practice.
Geography teacher Ray Howells grew up “with the smell of cow manure” in an English country village. He went onto teach and lead the geography department in an inner-city London school where some students had never visited a farm. But today at Pymble Ladies’ College, many of his pupils, although predominantly from Sydney, have rural connections.
“The sense of community at the College is really strong, one day a student was talking about her parent’s farm,” says Ray. “I thought it would be nice to foster this interest in agriculture in class, so I sent an email out to all of the past boarding families and friends who I thought might be supportive of this.”
In response to Ray’s call-out to the wider Pymble community, a flourishing relationship has developed with Blantyre Farms in Young, southwest NSW, and family business Montrose Dairy in southern VIC. The students involved decided to explore how to address hunger and food insecurity through ‘the Archies’. Through Covid-19, the use of technology and digital resources has made learning accessible and enabled the Archibull program to continue.
Blantyre Farms is a mixed farming operation including sheep, cattle, cropping and pigs.
“I am fortunate to be a Pymble girl and my daughter is also a boarder at Pymble so when Ray put out the call for parents [in agriculture] to be involved I eagerly answered,” says Edwina Beveridge from Blantyre Farms. “Feeding the world is a noble profession and I hope a visit to our farms will challenge the student’s perceptions of sustainability and agriculture. Our farm is not what you would expect.”
Indeed, Blantyre can show students examples of cutting-edge technology. With 2000 sows on the farms this means they have about 20,000 pigs on hand at any time, but in an innovative solution the farm captures methane from the pig manure and turns it into electricity.
“This massively reduces our carbon footprint and allows us to generate carbon credits. We were the second project registered under the CFI [Carbon Farming Initiative] and the first farm. I like to say we are the first carbon farm in Australia and I am yet to be challenged on this!
“I grew up on a farm but showed no particular interest until I was 24. I hope this might show the students it doesn’t matter if you grew up on a farm or whether your enthusiasm started later, ag is a cracking career,” says Edwina.
Another ex-PLC student to answer Ray’s call was Gillian Hayman from Montrose Dairy.
“As a student I was always eager to understand how what I was learning related to the real world and I am sure there are many students who learn in this way. The opportunity to learn the theory in the classroom with Ray and then back up the learning with Montrose and Blantyre Farms is a positive step and will no doubt lead to many other linkages for students. I hope it will open their minds and perhaps break down some long-held perceptions about who a farmer is and how they go about their business in these modern times,” says Gillian.
“Unless young people are introduced to rural areas and farming through family connections or through their schooling they will not discover the possibilities open to them and there are so many exciting career opportunities across all aspects of agriculture. There are jobs from the research in labs and in the field to hands-on farming; from technology, greenhouse gas emissions, soil, plant and animal management, environment and biodiversity to nutrition, community development and economics. Even if people do not choose a career in ag, it’s so important to understand food production and land management as a consumer.”
Ray echoes Gillian’s sentiments.
“We really want to make Year Nine and Ten Geography interesting and relatable. If the girls decide not to continue the subject in Stage 6 that’s fine, there are so many avenues and opportunities available to choose from. I’m confident we’ve given them a comprehensive snapshot of the big issues we face in Australia and the world, which is my objective.”
Helping students to make those decisions is Tayla Field and her network of fellow Young Farming Champions. Tayla, who works in horticulture, is assigned to PLC through The Archibull Prize.
“The students were able to provide a list of questions which was a great starting point, however I noticed a lot of these were in areas beyond horticulture so I reached out to the YFC asking for support. Marlee Langfield provided insights into agricultural yield from crops, Anika Molesworth gave her thoughts on the future of farming in Australia and Emma Ayliffe commented on the role of water in Australia’s dry climate. Other members of the YFC team came back with videos and we were able to create a range of online resources specifically for the PLC students,” says Tayla.
Screenshots of the PLC Virtual Classroom created to support the students during COVID lockdown
Having access to the Young Farming Champions network through Tayla and having access to two operating farms means PLC is using the Ecosystem of Expertise to its highest degree, and the subject of geography has made the pathway clearer.
Tayla has a long history as a YFC of inspiring students to consider careers in agriculture. See case study here
Ray sees this of enormous benefit to both his students and to agriculture.
“We have this very stereotypical image in the media of what agriculture is, like what you might see on ‘Farmer Wants a Wife. Opportunities like The Archibull Prize,Kreative Koalas, and other initiatives outside the classroom can help broaden this and show agriculture as a cutting-edge industry that is undergoing a new wave of technological revolution. With this paradigm shift, there are exciting opportunities to encourage, educate and upskill the next generation to work in innovative and wide-range fields of 21st Century agriculture.”
This concludes our 3 Part Series that showcases the opportunities for work integrated learning and how to embed the world of agriculture into the wider school curriculum
We talk to the Lorraine Chaffer from the Geography teachers association here
We talk to Amy Gill from Youth of the Streets here
The Young Farming Champions program is well known for creating confident agricultural advocates and equipping them with the skills to expand and continue their leadership journeys
Recognizing people are our greatest resource and leadership is a key component of business and industry success, as well as achieving sustainable development in regional communities we are excited to announce Young Farming Champions Dione Howard and Katherine Bain have been selected for the AWI Breeding Leadership course.
The week-long course, to be held in South Australia’s Clare Valley from Feb 20-25, is designed to empower young people in the wool industry. AWI acting CEO John Roberts says this is all about fostering the next generation of leaders.
“The Australian wool industry has a bright future and we need to continue to attract smart and enthusiastic young people to it. I am impressed by the high quality of participants representing all facets of the wool industry and AWI is looking forward to boosting their industry involvement via this valuable program.”
Twenty five participants have been selected from across Australia and through the course will develop skills and knowledge in personal leadership as well as strategic planning and team leadership.
AWI sponsored Dione through her initial YFC training and she feels ready to take the next step in the wool industry.
“I believe that for me the time is right to focus on developing the strategic, interpersonal and business skills that are offered by the intensive week-long program. I am also looking forward to expanding my industry networks and (as a bonus) visiting the beautiful Clare Valley.”
Former business analyst with Paraway Pastoral Company, Katherine Bain has now returned to her sixth generation family sheep station in western Victoria and is looking forward to applying knowledge derived from the course to her own operation.
“I am excited to join the Breeding Leadership course to improve my communication and leadership skills for my own business to ensure I can run it to the best of my ability. I am excited to meet people from the wider wool industry who are passionate and excited about its future. During this course I look forward to discussions about potential changes to the industry in the future and how we can best adapt to these changes on farm. I hope to come home with a better idea of how to implement strategies successfully to build a better farm.”
Dione and Katherine will be joined by Tom Steele, Nicole Davies, Alex Lewis, Ellie Bigwood, Bridgitte Brooks, Luke Button, Bridget Pullella, Alex Brinkworth, Shannon Donoghue, Declan Harvey, Genevieve Kelly, Monica Ley, Kara Murphy, Duane Simon, Tom Taheny, Jesse Moody, Alec Merriman, Matthew Martin, Bea Litchfield, Nick Kershaw, Sally Crozier, Jackie Chapman and Jock Cartwright.
Congratulations everyone, people are our greatest resource
Keeping pace with this rapidly changing environment requires us to have a stronger capacity to analyse, innovate and respond. If we want to transform our agri-food systems to be more productive, sustainable, inclusive and equitable, we need to invest in the people behind them.
One of the keys to being a successful changemaker is the capacity to identify the best role models for your audience. Who will be the most effective messenger?
Part of the Action4Agriculture experience for teachers participating in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas – design a bright future competition is access to experts who share with our teachers the psychology of change management. Our Changeologist Les Robinson reminds schools about the importance of choosing the right messenger in his brilliant 60 minute workshops on The Art of Change. Our experience also tells us schools who support each other make things happen faster
Zane Osborn is the assistant principal at Hamilton Public School in Newcastle where UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) have informed learning for the past three years. With a school garden already a community focal point for SDGs Zane approached Kris Beazley at the Centre of Excellence and joined their No Bees No Future project. Kris in turn suggested Hamilton Public School participate in Action4Agriculture’s Kreative Koalas, which it commenced in 2021.
As part of the Kreative Koalas project Hamilton Public conducted surveys with students and families and came to three conclusions:
Most people in the community would like to contribute to positive climate action,
Very few people knew about the SDGs,
People want simple ideas they can action right now in their home and community to help the environment
“We talked about how the simple things we do in our garden (that have a positive impact on the climate) can be an example to other people in the community and can inspire them to do the same; things such as preserving biodiversity, eliminating chemicals, encouraging and preserving pollinators. We wanted to do some peer to peer teaching and educate our community of families and other nearby schools.” Zane says.
This peer-to-peer messaging took the form of a series of impressive videos broadcasted on YouTube.
“With a Sustainable School Grant and lots of passionate students and teachers we were able to drive the creation of Blue Gate Garden TV. Students created episodes all based around “lessons” on how people can make a positive impact on the climate,” Zane says.
Students and staff at Hamilton Public School have successfully taken complex eco-literacy concepts and created a common language for all.
Not to be outdone Kris Beazley was also working on eco-literacy with her Year 7 AgSTEM students at the Centre of Excellence, by creating resources for primary students.
“Our Year 7 AgSTEM student team consists of nine students who are undertaking a unique learning model. In their curriculum they focus all their learning through four lenses – Sustainability, Agriculture, STEM and Aboriginal Knowledges. This year our student team have engaged in a number of projects aimed at educating themselves and others about issues related to the environment and climate action. In this capacity they have worked with primary school aged children, teenagers and adults from varying generations. This translational approach has been a theme throughout their work this year,” Kris says.
Tapping into the school’s wealth of agricultural connectors the students were able to commence their research with a Hackathon with Cotton Australia and Australian Wool Innovation, which influenced their project for The Archibull Prize.
“As part of their Archie the students developed teaching resources for primary school students about sustainable fibre production in Australia and end of life options for Australian cotton and wool. In completing their project they have written educational books, learning resources and games for primary aged students. They also presented a workshop for primary students across NSW as part of an Ag Week conference, promoting sustainable end of life options for cotton,” Kris says.
Working with agricultural connectors and participating in programs such as Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize has enabled students across primary and secondary schools to engage peer-to-peer messaging. The result has been an increase in eco-literacy within communities, celebrated by Blue Gate Garden TV and a suite of new shared educational resources. And in a spectacular polish to these achievements both Hamilton Public School and the Centre of Excellence have been recognised as finalists in the NSW Banksia Awards Minister’s Young Climate Champion category
“The Minister’s Young Climate Champion Award recognises young innovators aged under 18 years who bring bold ideas for a safe and thriving climate future that align with any of the UN SDGs. Young and passionate minds who have taken outstanding actions that benefit the sustainability of their communities and help address climate change will be showcased in this award, which is a celebration of young people with drive, commitment and a passion for sustainability and the environment.”
Geography is increasingly being used in The Archibull Prize to teach agriculture through the 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
Today we chat to teacher Amy Gill from Youth Off the Streets to see how she makes the Ecosystem of Expertise work in practice.
Action4Agriculture first met Amy in 2018 when she was working at the newly opened Youth Off The Streets (YOTS) school The Lakes College (TLC). The independent school and its disadvantaged students participated in The Archibull Prize with Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes, visiting Tim’s The Food Farm as they learnt about the Australian beef industry.
For Tim, who has entertained children both in mainstream schools and at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, hosting the TLC students was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience.
“It was really refreshing having unfiltered, blunt questions – they were just very honest kids. They had real questions about red meat and feeding people under the poverty line so we spoke about exploring the secondary cuts such as mince, which is accessible, diverse, and quick and easy to use,” says Tim.
Read about the students highly inspiring journey here
Amy also took her Archies cohort to Grace Springs Farm in Kulnura, on the NSW central coast, and this was the beginning of an “amazing partnership”.
“In the end we formed such a strong relationship [with Grace Farms] that Youth Off The Streets decided to run a learning unit called Bee the Cure, centred around whether the decrease in bee populations can be remediated on a community level,” says Amy.
“Once that was finished, we continued to go out there every week and once I left that campus my colleagues continued the program, which is amazing.”
Originally, Amy took the pupils to the property to learn about sustainable farming.
“It was during the drought and we wanted to teach them the ways we could farm to make the most of the ecosystem and environment that we live in.”
“Last year, I reached out to Grace Springs with a plan for another project-based learning unit where one group would learn about beekeeping and another would go into the farm and do all the chores like picking up eggs, cleaning out the milking machine, transferring the birds around the paddock, and feeding pigs.
“It’s a hands-on experience and a breath of fresh air for the students. We can hug a cow or hold a chicken and it’s not going to judge you. That animal therapy is absolutely beautiful.”
Watch the very moving tribute to farmers the YOTS students created in 2018
Despite most of Youth Off The Streets students not coming from agricultural backgrounds, some are now considering careers in the industry and as Amy has moved to other campuses she continues to encourage those interested.
“One girl in my current class has found a real interest in farming through our ‘Archie’ discussions and is currently doing a personal interest project on livestock and beef. She’s considering being a cattle farmer. Until such options are put in front of them, they don’t know they exist because they live in a very isolated world with little opportunity.”
Amy, originally a drama teacher who now teaches across curriculum, says that projects like Bee the Cure demonstrate a link between geography and agriculture.
“They fit into geography and also a science module ‘Living World.’
Listen to Amy speak about her new program SOLAR (Schooling via Off-campus Learning for At-Risk students) and continued passion for her students here
Read more about the wonderful work Amy is doing at YOTS here
The Archibull Prize is an example of project based learning. Listen to Amy talk about project based learning here