Young Farming Champions Muster May 2022

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It was a big month for Young Farming Champions with the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April, highlighted by Dione Howard winning the 2022 National Rural Ambassador finals.

Dione Howard 2022 National Rural Ambassador with Karl Milde the 2021 National Rural Ambassador 

Listen to Dione share her story on Humans of Agriculture here

Winning the NSW title in 2021 was a long-held dream for Dione and her success inspired YFC Jessica Fearnley and Lucy Collingridge to put up their hands and be named as RAS Rural Achievers this year. We are thrilled to announce that Jess was the winner.

YFC alumni Lucy Collingridge had a very exciting April she segued from her RAS Rural Achiever experience to the podium at  the Department of Regional NSW 2022 Awards where she was runner up in the Jennifer Bates Memorial Award, which recognises the contributions made by young women (<35yo) in the department, not only towards their work but towards our industries and rural communities in NSW. Well done Lucy

“I’m lucky to work with the best team doing some pretty cool things for our ag industry and native wildlife. I’m also lucky to have worked with some awesome people along the way who I am grateful to now call friends.”
YFC Dione Howard, Lucy Collingridge and Jess Fearnley with Hon Dugald Saunders MP


Not to be left out of the action, Samantha Wan was recognised by her peers, the Youth Group of RAS, for her dedication and support of the wool industry.

“The RAS Youth Group launched the RAS Youth Medal to recognise young people under 35yrs for their contribution to the RAS of NSW, a section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show or industry. Nominations were received from each committee of the RAS and the RAS Youth Group determined each nominee’s suitability. “

Accolades such as these on the national stage highlight the success of our Young Farming Champions program.

“There’s no doubt that YFC training has been pivotal to my success, from being equipped to answer tough questions, to holding my own in front of the camera. It’s also given me the confidence to know where I am on my leadership journey to apply for awards such as this,” Dione says.

Congratulations to all YFC for your participation, wins, promotion of our team and for being genuine and passionate advocates for Australian agriculture.

Read Dione and Jess’ plans for their award year journey here 

The Team

Congratulations also to our 2022 YFC Leadership Team committee members appointed at recent AGM: Francesca Earp takes on the role of convenor and is joined by Jessica Fearnley, Chloe Dutschke, Emily May, Katherine Bain and Dione Howard. A huge thank you to Jo Newton and Lynne Strong for their work on the executive on 2021 and to outgoing YFC Marlee Langfield, Meg Rice, Calum Watt, Tayla Field and Samantha Wan.

We welcome to the YFC team a new cohort who will participate in Cultivate this year. Hunter Local Land Services scholarship winners are Lachlan White and Danielle Fordham who both come from non-farming backgrounds (and you know how excited we get when we get “townies” joining the team – we love “townies”). Florance McGufficke is the AWI scholarship winner.

We have also initiated two interns in Katie Barnett and Reynolds Tang-Smith to bring their wisdom to the diversity of voices.

Of course our team is backed by some of the best minds in the business. Our Kreative Koalas and Archibull Prize art judge Wendy Taylor and Craig Taylor designed the entire District Exhibit display at the 200th Sydney Royal Easter Show and gave Princess Anne a guided tour. Don’t we work with amazing people?

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Craig and Wendy even got a gig on the Royal Family Instagram page 

Wendy and Craig weren’t the only ones who met Princess Anne

YFC Leadership Team member and the 2022 National Rural Ambassador Dione Howard was one of 8 people who dined with Princess Anne on Saturday 9th April and our YFC Rural Achievers Jess Fearnley and Lucy Collingridge also met the Princess

And wrapping up the team work for April was Lynne Strong who shared the Action4Agriculture programs with the Ducks on the Pond podcast. Have a listen here.


In the Field

The congratulations continued in the field with Connie Mort who has been recognised be her employer with a place in the Global Sales Champion Network.

“This a new initiative by Corteva Agriscience to recognise the top team members across the company who strive to put customers first and grow their success. I was awarded a place in the 2022 Class, which will allow me to work with more than 20 other Corteva team members from all over the world and share our experiences and learn from one another about how to best deliver for growers.”


Chloe Dutschke is thriving in her new job as a training and new career officer with National Farmers Federation and attended the NFF “Sustaining the Nation” conference on April 5 and 6.

“The conference was well attended and covered a huge array of topics including, climate change, carbon farming, community growth and workforce shortages and had a varied line up of speakers including both the Hon Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and Shadow Minister Hon Julie Collins. I had some wonderful conversations with attendees about the incredible Ag gap year program AgCAREERSTART I represent and it was also great to catch-up with some YFC and previous workshop speakers such as Sally Murfet. Most of all it was such a buzz to be at a conference again and feel the power of face to face connection and future learning.”

Chloe and AgCAREERSTART team at the National Farmers Federation Conference ( in the centre of the pix is team leader Kayla Evans ) 


Jessica Fearnley, a development officer with NSW DPI in Bathurst has gone nuts (and not just with her Rural Achiever win).

“We are currently finishing off a five year hazelnut project and we are in the middle of harvest. As hazelnuts are not mechanically harvested we needed to get down on our hands and knees and sweep up the nuts!” Getting dirty all in the name of science, Jess.

Hazelnuts are an emerging industry in Australia

How is this for an office? Dylan Male sends us this image of working on his PhD in inner-city Melbourne.

“I wanted to include this picture in the Muster to highlight to readers that a career in agriculture doesn’t always involve being on the farm. With over 80 % of today’s jobs in the agriculture being beyond the farm gate, I think it’s as important as ever to bring awareness to this. You can be fully involved in agriculture, and yet be living and working in an urban environment. Key message: Young people from urban environments should never think that they are not ‘farmy enough’ to get involved in agriculture!”

Dylan also got to up his Young Farming Champions journey with the board of his scholarship provider Riverina Local Land Services


Wondering where your career in agriculture can take you? Geoff Birchnell, one of earliest Young Farming Champions has popped up on The Financial Bloke podcast recently. A Tamworth boy, Geoff started his career in agribusiness as a chartered accountant before transitioning to full-time farmer, co-founding 3R Livestock in 2018. Check out the 3R website to learn more about this agricultural entrepreneur.

Young Farming Champion Bryan Van Wyk day job certainly opens our eyes to the world of wild catching fishing.

Bryan recently shared his prawn spotting experience on LinkedIn

” I’ve done some pretty epic things in my career  my career so far but my first go at prawn spotting has been one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. There have been many respected spotters before me and there are also some experienced legends still flying. Having the opportunity to join this unique class of fishers has been a privilege.

During the start of the fishing season, banana prawns aggregate in schools that can vary between 1 to 100+ tonnes in mass. These dense schools stir up muddy sediment on the sea floor creating “mud boils” that can be seen anywhere from vessels, planes and even satellites. Scientists aren’t 100% sure why this rare prawn phenomenon occurs but it’s believed to be for a combination of spawning, feeding and predator avoidance behaviour.

It’s not always as simple as finding mud and it’s an art that can take years to perfect. I’ve already learnt a lot from the pros. Factors used to distinguish which mud boils are worth fishing include shape, colour, density, head and tail characteristics and also tides/winds. There are at times 100’s of mud patches out there that are created by certain types of fish, hard bottom, tides and fishing vessels. Finding the prawns in all this can be challenging!

With 7 planes flying around at different altitudes and 52 prawn trawlers all competing for the same resource, you can’t help but feel the pressure up there. When you can’t find anything, or worse, make the wrong call, the feeling of non-performance is sobering. I can say though, that when you get it right and you get confirmation on the radio that the boil you just guided a boat to is loaded with pure prawn, then it is one of the best feelings in the world. Nothing but adrenaline, excitement, satisfaction and high 5’s with the pilot.”


Out of the Field

Coinciding with her National Rural Ambassador win Dione Howard has appeared on the popular Humans of Agriculture podcast, talking about, among other things, the joy and benefits of working with young people in The Archibull Prize.

One of our newest YFC, Danielle Fordham, has hit the ground running and is already sharing her “Out of the Field” experiences with us:

“On 31st March I got the opportunity to celebrate and support Tocal Agricultural College student, Kaitlyn Simpson, as she received the Women’s Network Hunter NSW 2021 Breaking Barriers scholarship award. The Breaking the Barriers Scholarship supports women in male-dominated fields, such as agriculture. Because of programs and opportunities like this, there is a growing demographic shift where women in non-traditional trades are being recognised and encouraged. Notably, as a result, there are a growing number of female students at Tocal and currently, female enrolments outnumber males by 70 percent in Tocal’s full-time ag courses. This is an amazing achievement for Katie and I cannot wait to see what other barriers she overcomes during her career.

“The night was also a great opportunity for me to reconnect with the Women’s Network Hunter and fill them in on my journey and recent achievement of becoming a Young Farming Champion since receiving their scholarship in 2017. It was deeply heart-warming to tell them what their scholarship has enabled me to do and the barriers I’m taking on now.” Thanks for sharing Danielle.

Danielle was also busy promoting Tocal College at their recent Field Day

Teasing us this month are Samantha Wan and Katherine Bain who provide this photo below with a cryptic message from Sam: “”Behind the scene shots, Sunday 27th March at Katherine’s property – St Enochs (Stockyard Hill, Victoria) for a photoshoot for a Winter edition publication. Stay tuned!” Now you’ve got us all curious girls – can’t wait to learn more!

Prime Cuts

Jo Newton has been elected president of the Victorian and Tasmanian Branch Committee of the Australian Association of Animal Sciences.

“The Australian Association of Animal Sciences (AAAS) plays an important role in fostering collaborations across institutions and disciplines and in nurturing the next generation of animal scientists and I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the AAAS Victoria & Tasmania Branch. I look forward to working with this branch and wider AAAS members over the next 12 months.”

For the past 65 years AAAS, and its predecessor the Australian Society of Animal Production (ASAP) has brought together animal scientists, consultants, extension specialists, producers and students to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, foster collaborative research and provide applied solutions for Australia’s animal based industries. AAAS based its activities around the core values of professional integrity, evidence based science, ethical sustainable animal enterprises and lifetime support. Congratulations Jo.

Partners in the Food Farm YFC Tim Eyes and Hannah Greenshields shared the stage at the recent National Farmers Federation conference with some luminaries in the world of food including Chef Matt Moran and NFF president Fiona Simson. Tim and Hannah are renowned experts in how to break down prejudices and
open minds to alternatives through values based conversations between people of diverse values and worldviews.

Tim described the opportunity as a farming journey highlight

“Meeting passionate, stereotype-busting leaders and innovators can spark enthusiasm and defeat pessimism. Its is so important to communicate using voices who are real and trusted by the audience. People want to hear the unfiltered, passionate voices of real people.”

Mega thx to Stacey Davidson at NFF for these wonderful pix 

Lifetime Highlights

Sometimes our greatest lifetime highlights are the little moments. Or as Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Thanks to Marlee Langfield for reminding us of this with her beautiful sunset shot. “Just a moment in time I captured one March afternoon but possibly the most romantic sunset you will ever see. You can see the change of seasons in this photo as the days start to cool down and we welcome autumn with burnt paddocks and shorter days.”

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