We recently launched the Riverina Local Land Services scholarships to find latest round of Young Farming Champions. As part of the application process we invite the finalists to share their story. Today we a delighted to introduce you to Katharine Charles who sees working in agriculture as an opportunity to work with others to solve the world’s wicked problems.
I want to prove to the world that you don’t need to have a farming background to make a mark in the agricultural industry; just a strong passion and a hunger to leave this world a better place than you found it. Katharine Charles
This is Katharine’s story …….
When I was introduced to the school farm on my first day of high school, I had no idea how much it was going to change my life. Growing up on the Central Coast, my exposure to the agricultural industry had been very limited, and I barely even knew what the word ‘agriculture’ meant. But as I was given a tour of the school, I stopped to watch the older students parading cattle around the school farm. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I remember thinking, “I really want to be a part of that”. That moment marked the beginning of my deep dive into the agricultural world.
“Showing cattle at the Sydney Royal Easter Show”
From my first agriculture lesson in Year 7, to my last day of schooling in Year 12, I dedicated every spare moment to the school farm. All my school lunch breaks, holidays and weekends were spent either feeding animals, working with the cattle, or doing other farm tasks. The highlight of my school years was attending agricultural shows with the school cattle team. I enjoyed preparing the cattle for showing, competing in judging and parading events, and mentoring the younger students.
“Showing cattle with the school cattle team at Gosford Show, 2013”
Since leaving high school, I have pursued every opportunity to increase my knowledge and practical experience in the agricultural industry. I spent my gap year working and travelling, in which I volunteered on a dairy farm in Ireland. I then moved to Wagga Wagga to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University (CSU). My willingness to learn pushed me to apply for a student internship position, and I spent my spare time assisting CSU lecturers with their research projects.
During university, I was exposed to what are called ‘wicked issues’. These are complex challenges in which there is little or no agreement on the definition, cause, or solution to a problem. Some examples include climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and feeding our rapidly growing population. As a young person coming into the agricultural industry, these challenges felt insurmountable at first; but I have now realised that the learning journey I have been on means I am perfectly placed to work with others to play a role in addressing these issues, and I am excited to make some real, positive change.
I believe that the new generation of young leaders in the agricultural industry will play an integral role in promoting a more sustainable, robust, and resilient agricultural industry. I want to help empower and encourage other young people in agriculture to share their voice and take action to create a better world. With small, sustained steps even the most complex of agricultural issues can be addressed.
I want to utilise my strong passion for agriculture to drive change and to encourage more young people into the industry. I want to prove to the world that you don’t need to have a farming background to make a mark in the agricultural industry; just a strong passion and a hunger to leave this world a better place than you found it.