It gives up great pleasure to introduce you to our second Hunter Local Land Services Scholarship winner Danielle Fordham. We invited Danielle to share her story with our readers.
We first met Danielle in 2011 when she was part of the team that won The Archibull Prize in 2011.(see footnote). Here she is with the Caroline Chisholm College team at Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2012 telling the stories of agriculture to visitors to the Food Farm
McLeod’s Daughters, trips to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, High School Agriculture classrooms and programs and a weeklong country exchange is all it took to give this girl passion for the country. Growing up in Western Sydney was a challenge as I felt more at home covered in mud, surrounded by animals, and watching the sunset over the endless dusty plains; this was the life I dreamed of.
After high school, I wasn’t keen on university, instead, I aimed to go to Ag College, but I had to take a working gap year to afford it, so I did a business traineeship in Parramatta. I knew this skill set would be invaluable in any profession. In 2016, my dream came true, I went to Tocal Agricultural College, located in the Hunter. My two years at the College were life-changing. The extraordinary experience further rooted my passion for agriculture and enabled me to thrive mentally and academically. I got to experience working in sheep, cattle, horse, poultry, cropping, and dairying, as well as learning all the essential tools to the trade.
Giving shearing a go at Tocal
This incredible experience nurtured my self-confidence, and as a result, I achieved the rare accolade of ‘Double Dux’ in the College’s two Ag courses. This paved the foundation for future university studies, but with so many options in Ag to study, I couldn’t choose. So, I spent the following three years working in the agribusiness industry, catering for a range of agribusiness services all over NSW.
This experience connected me to a vast network of industry experts. It provided me with the scope of how things work, and how things are alarmingly not working. It moved a part of me, and I felt my true calling. At Tocal, I was passionate in all agricultural areas, but it wasn’t until my experience in the agribusiness world I realised the need for industry environmental revolution.
There is a significant lack of environmental knowledge and respect. It was common to see reliance on outdated practices, chemical abuse, and exploitation of natural resources. I knew I had to learn more, to broaden my perspective, and jump in to be part of the solution. So, in 2021 I started a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management at the University of Newcastle.
In the Earth Science lab analysing the geological processes
On my first day I felt the instant disconnect when I told people I have an Ag background, I received a lot of questionable looks which emphasised the significant misconceptions people have about agriculture. The environmental world is in turmoil with global issues of climate change, global warming, ocean acidification, food and resource insecurity, habitat destruction, and contamination. These issues threaten all our livelihoods and existence; and this make creating a future we all want to be part of a shared responsibility. Agriculture is a key industry in combating and controlling these issues with opportunities in technological innovation, sustainable and regenerative practices, environment restoration, carbon capture, rehabilitation integration. The opportunities for agriculture to be part of the solution are endless. To foster these technologies and solutions it is vital to strengthen the connection and relationship between agriculture and science. Having this strong relationship between the two enhances the resilience and vitality of our communities and gives us the invaluable tools to overcome these challenges together. I plan to bridge the gap and promote sustainable agriculture by facilitating awareness, training, and working with practical solutions.
Conversation with a local farmer about invasive weeds and control
I have felt my calling, we hold our future in our hands, and I am ready to grab it by the horns and steer us into a better world for all.
Danielle was part of the Caroline Chisholm College team that won The Archibull Prize in 2011 with the extraordinary Moobix –
Caroline Chisholm College – The Red Meat industry
“Moobix Cube” was designed and created by five different classes (around 100 students) from Caroline Chisholm College. Using the easily recognisable form of a “rubik’s cube” as the base, they create an effective way to showcase the many differing facets of the red meat industry. Whilst a traditional rubik’s cube rotates, this one is composed of a series of smaller cubes on either side of the main cube, which can be pulled out, turned around to a new side and then slotted back into position. Once all of the smaller cubes have been turned around to a new side and replaced, a new picture is then formed.
A total of eleven components of the beef industry as well as “how we can feed Sydney for a day” are represented on this interactive cube. Each section of the cube tells a different side of the beef and food story – from the genetics and selective breeding of cattle and sheep, to byproducts including their medical uses, to the environment (touching on both water security and ideal conditions), to facts and figures, as well as the differing personal experiences that the school has had with the red meat. All combined onto the one cow.