Young Farming Champions Muster March 2022


Headline Act

Young Farming Champions is a group of dedicated young professionals in Australian agriculture who  advocate strongly for their industry and inspire and encourage others to follow in their career footsteps.

Exemplifying this ethos is Chloe Dutschke, a driven wool champion, who has now found her career moving in a different direction.

“I have started a new role with National Farmers Federation as the Training and Career Development Officer for the Government funded program AgCAREERSTART, a gap year program developed for young people to kick start their career in farming. I now work remotely from home and in an area where my passion lies, helping young people develop their career in agriculture.”

Congratulations Chloe and we look forward to following your journey.

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In the Field

In the Field means watermelon season in northern Australia and Olivia Borden is in the thick of it in the Northern Territory. “Growing up, eating watermelon was my family’s summer treat; juice running down cheeks, huge smiles; we would run around the sprinklers on the lawn and be in childhood heaven. However, I never gave a thought to how melons were grown and if you had of told me I would become a watermelon agronomist I wouldn’t have believed you for a moment.”

“Growing watermelons is truly an art form; one I am far from mastering, but it has me hooked. Our warm days and cool nights make the melons shrink and swell, which can cause cracks. Too much water and you have a slushy. Too little water and you have a poor vine that can’t carry the nutrients. Too much nitrogen and the vine will spit off its fruit. Not enough potassium and you have a tasteless melon. To understand the plant’s nutritional requirements requires us to be on our toes. I have worked with melons for two years and still learn more every day.”

From watermelons to wine grapes and Emily May has been part of the harvest of Vintage 2022 in the Riverina.

“After a tough season thanks to the wetter than usual weather conditions, wine-grape growers across the district have commenced their harvest. I took this photo while standing on top of one of my client’s grape harvesters while they were picking some Semillon. With that the end of my first ever season working in the viticulture industry is coming to its end.”

You may think grain growers in eastern Australia were relaxing after the rain-induced late harvest but that is not the case as they now prepare to sow again in mid-late Autumn. Marlee Langfield is one of these grain growers.

“We have been carrying out controlled burns across our wheat stubble paddocks as a method of clearing the paddock so we can assess the 789,528 bog holes that scatter the landscape from the exceptionally wet harvest. These bog holes need to be repaired and smoothed out ahead of sowing (April/May) so that machinery can pass over the landscape safety with no surprises!”

Good luck Marlee.

Another industry ramping up during Autumn is the banana prawn season and Bryan Van Wyk has been busy overseeing a major refit of prawn trawlers with Austral Fisheries. Works include standard maintenance of engines, refrigeration systems, pumps and processing gear but also includes things like blasting/painting, out of water vessel surveys, fishing technology upgrades, refrigeration upgrades and traceability technology installations.

“As an operations manager, I have the unique privilege to be able to oversee most of these works. No day is the same and the opportunities for learnings are endless. My main background is marine science, and not many in my field get such high levels of exposure to these aspects of the fishing industry, so for that I am grateful.”

The season start date is set for April 1st and a large portion of domestically consumed prawns will be caught throughout northern Australia over the next two months.


Out of the Field

When not filling in bog holes Marlee is busy Out of the Field, sharing her leadership experiences with participants of the GrainGrowers, Grains Social Leadership program, of which she was a Round 3 participant.

“At the beginning of March, I spoke with Round 5 participants, sharing my past experiences and my journey since graduating from the program, which made for great peer to peer learning. It’s awesome to see this program continue to grow from strength to strength and see grain growers who are so passionate about the industry flex their leadership muscles.”

Also going from strength to strength is Danila Marini. Read their CSIRO blog to learn how pink hair, rollar-skating and a love of sheep combine to produce an exciting research career and see how Danila has thrived, despite challenges along the way.

As a district veterinarian for Riverina Local Land Services Dione Howard takes a keen interest in all things Archibull and Kreative Koalas, so she was thrilled to hear Barellan Central School spruiking their Koala Kenny on ABC radio recently.

“Barellan is sponsored by Riverina Local Land Services and they have set Kenny up in a shack in front of the school to share school-grown fruit and vegetables with the local community.”

What a wonderful example of our in-school programs working to change their world on a local level.

Dione has also been busy spruiking YFC and A4A.

“On 1st March I spoke on behalf at the Murrumbidgee Landcare event Catchment Keepers, at Big Springs (near Wagga). I met women living and working in the region with a passion for community and caring for the land. I spoke about my experiences as a Young Farming Champion, A4A’s school programs and my life as a LLS District Vet.”

Congratulations to Shannon Chatfield who has been accepted as a mentee into the 6-month Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program run by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

“I had my first group session last week and we had a wonderful session with Warren Davies ‘the unbreakable farmer’ where he shared his story and some tools and strategies that helped him to overcome his mental health challenges. I have been asked to identify some of my goals, what I would like to focus on in these sessions, the areas in which I would like to develop and the potential obstacles I could encounter in taking steps towards these goals.”


Prime Cuts

A couple more congratulations to two YFC reaching learning milestones:

Congratulations to Francesca Earp who graduated from a Masters of Global Development at James Cook University on 15th of March.

“I started the Masters in response to the effects of COVID and having to return from the field early. I have loved the course and am very excited to celebrate my graduation.”

Congratulations also to Sam Wan who was admitted to the Australian Institute of Company Directors in November last year, after being selected for the course under the WoolProducers Australia Raising the Baa program.

“The course involved virtual classrooms every Friday for five weeks, a final assessment (I have been too long away from formal study!) and a nerve-racking wait for results.”

YFC Meg Rice is sending a shoutout to fellow YFC  Lucy Collingridge and Jessica Fearnley as they head to the Sydney Royal East Show as part of the RAS Rural Achiever Program! The RAS Rural Achiever program celebrates young people in rural communities who are doing outstanding things, much like the Young Farming Champion program.

From behind the scenes magic of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, to the lifelong friends and mentoring connections, the RAS Rural Achiever program really is the gift that keeps giving!

All the best Lucy and Jess – I know you’ll have the most fabulous time!

Pictured with Meg Rice is fellow 2018 RAS Rural Achievers, Hanna Darmody, Tim Green and YFC Erika

Lifetime Highlights

YFC and PhD Candidate Veronika Vicic has won the 2022 Tom Harvey Award. The award comprises a cash prize of $2,000, and was presented at the annual Commonwealth Day Luncheon held today at Parliament House, Sydney

The award is named after the late inaugural Chairman of the Australia Youth Trust and recognises the outstanding contribution of a young Australian citizen between the age of 15 and 30 years.

#careerswithpurpose #creatingabetterworldtogether #YoungFarmingChampions

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