A career in agriculture can take you everywhere
A career in agriculture can take you around the world and as borders reopen post-COVID our YFC are making the most of opportunities. PhD student Dylan Male is a perfect example.
Dylan was invited to attend the 2022 Eurasian Grassland Conference in Tolosa, Spain in September and to present on his PhD research.
“As one of the most threatened ecosystems on our planet, grasslands face important conservation challenges caused by land-use and climate change and their conservation is crucial if we are to protect biodiversity and global health. I was grateful for the opportunity to present a poster presentation on my PhD research and how it is helping support the vision of Djaara to return the culturally significant grass species Themeda triandra to the landscape in Australia. I would like to acknowledge and thank all involved in organising the conference, and also to the AW Howard Memorial Trust for supporting this experience.”
Dylan’s Spanish sojourn allowed him to network with peers across Europe and to visit “Basque Country’s beautiful Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, where we trekked across rocky subalpine grasslands and learnt about the role of livestock grazing in these fragile ecosystems.”
As part of the Action4Youth initiative the YFC have been participating in workshops to equip themselves with 21st century skills. Josh Farr facilitated a workshop on mentoring and Annie Simpson led two sessions – one on values at work and the second on challenging conversations.
In the Field
In the field Australian agriculture is thriving, despite the constant climatic challenges presented, which this year comes in the form of over-abundant rain (how many times do we get to say that in this country!).
Sam O’Rafferty, who works alongside Emma Ayliffe at Summit Ag, reports that planting of summer crops is well underway in southern NSW:
“cotton, corn and rice have all been going in the ground for the past 20 days. Consecutive rain events has made planting challenging and will likely reduce the area planted to summer crop this season. Hopefully we will have green rows in some fields in the coming days.”
Staying in the plant world, horticultural researcher at Applied Horticultural Research, Steph Tabone found herself in Manjimup, WA in late September.
“I organised an event that was funded and delivered as part of the Hort Innovation projects ‘Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection’ project and the ‘PotatoLink’ project. The event was focused on cover cropping, strip-tillage and biofumigation and how growers can incorporate the practices into their farming operations to improve soil and crop health.”
60 people attended Steph’s event – a combination of growers, researchers, suppliers, advisors and other industry members.
Moving on to livestock, Katie Barnett, who works as an assistant manager at “Taylors Run” at Kentucky, NSW, is enjoying busy spring days.
“We have almost finished lambing and calving and we will begin marking soon. We are also in the middle of a 50ha radiata pine harvest. I am lucky enough to be sharing feeding two poddy lambs and one poddy calf!”
Meanwhile Katherine Charles is finishing up life at university and exploring options for her career in agriculture.
“I recently completed an 8-week work placement with SheepMetriX, a sheep genetic consulting business based in Young, NSW. At first, I was hesitant to attend placement with a sheep company because most of my experience has been working with cattle, an industry that I am very passionate about. However, I kept an open mind and went into my placement with minimal knowledge about sheep, but a keen willingness to learn. I enjoyed attending seminars, assisting with fleece weighing and lamb DNA sampling, as well as a range of other activities. Working with Sally Martin and her team was a great experience and one that I am very grateful for. I am glad that I took the opportunity to expand my horizons and learn from an innovative leader in the Australian wool industry. This placement has strengthened my love for livestock, and I will definitely consider a career in the wool industry in the future.”
Still on sheep, Wollongong University student and friend of the YFC Hannah Brien has been back on her family Bella Lana Poll Merino Stud at Dripstone, NSW, which has been part of the Merino Lifetime Productivity project.
“Our stud was among 25 and was involved with the extensive data collection and analysis of the progeny of merino stud sires from across Australia. MerinoLink hosted a field day and dinner to celebrate the closing of this project, which investigated genetic linkages between the performance averages of merino ewes across their lifetime and has facilitated the formation of a new index which represents the methane output of each ewe.”
Hannah’s university colleague Thomas Allman is following in Dylan’s footsteps as he enjoys an agricultural career located in Kyoto, Japan as a 2022 New Colombo Plan scholar.
“The Kamogawa River is a beautiful place and symbolises a bit of peace at the end of often busy Japanese working days. This slice of nature offers views of local wildlife and reminds people to enjoy life off their phones and living simply.”
Out of the Field
Out of the field, agricultural shows are dominating the spring headlines.
Lucy Collingridge sat down with Neil Butler from the Regional 250 podcast recently to discuss all things Armidale NSW and volunteering. Lucy is, perhaps, our biggest agricultural show advocate and has been particularly busy as events ramp up after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. After attending the Narromine show in September Lucy travelled to the Condobolin Show (where she got her first taste of agriculture over 15 years ago) and then to Adelaide Royal.
“Adelaide was a fantastic opportunity to see how youth events are run in other states and to hear how they are continuing to engage youth and show excellence in agriculture through the show movement.”
Congratulations Lucy – your tremendous support of agricultural shows across the years does not go unnoticed.
Earlier this year Katie Barnett was named the 2022 Kempsey Show Young Woman of the Year.
“While in this role I wanted to do something meaningful that would lead to positive change and further education. I decided that I would hold a few fundraisers to support Ability Agriculture, a charity started by local Kempsey woman Josie Clarke. Ability Agriculture is an online platform and community group that shares the stories of those with disabilities in agriculture. Supporting Ability Agriculture means a lot to me as I had an Aunt who lived on farm with a disability and I now have a younger cousin who is wheelchair bound after an accident in 2021.”
Read more about Katie and Josie in this blog.
Also getting into the show spirit were Kate Webster, Jo Newton, Jaz Green (nee Nixon) and Emily May. Kate coordinated the Wagga Wagga Show Young Woman of the Year Competition.
“I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful and incredibly passionate young women and to learn what parts of agriculture drive them to get involved in the industry.”
Jo caught up with Jaz (and son Arthur) at the Melbourne Show where Jaz and husband Hayden’s Summit Livestock Limousin Stud was very successful, taking out Supreme Exhibit and Senior Champion Bull (Summit Patriot R53), Senior Champion Female (Summit Cauliflower R56), Reserve Junior Bull (Summit Big Star S46) and Breeders Group and Pair of Junior Bulls.
“One of their cows, Summit Krystal L35 also set a new Australian Limousin female record price of $55,000 at auction, at the Spring Selection Sale IV this week,” Jo reports.
At Griffith Emily saw the lighter side of an agricultural show.
“I’ve seen many interesting segments showcased at agricultural shows but this by far was one of the strangest – a display of weeds in bloom was a winning entry, clearly an entry selection set for a laugh. This may be the only time an agronomist can get away with propagating weeds.”
Moving away from shows and onto life-long learning and Sam Wan has recently completed 6 weeks of TEKLAB VIC, a Farmers2Founders “Hatch” initiative supported by Agriculture Victoria and LaunchVIC. The program, for aspiring entrepreneurs and founders, explores agtech solutions for farm and industry.
Florance McGufficke embarked on a road trip through Victoria during October with 20 Australian and Chinese university students as part of the NFF’s Paddock to Port Australia-China Agricultural Youth tour.
“We got to see firsthand the operation, performance and passion of various growers and agriculturalists in a practical way that was informative and engaging and the biggest opportunity was to network with each other and the producers, researchers and industry leaders we met along the tour.”
Finally, our YFC are often called upon to share their experiences with others as exampled by Dione Howard who was invited to speak at an event hosted by ANZ Bank in Young, NSW to celebrate International Day of Rural Women.
“I spoke about my career journey, the rural women who inspire me and what it means to me to be a rural woman.”
Jessica Fearnley’s impact on agriculture continues to ripple through a diverse audience, which will only increase with her latest gig:
“I have been given an exciting opportunity to write opinion pieces for The Land each month. I am looking forward to using this to talk about opportunities and the exciting things that happen in day-to-day agriculture.”
Well done Jess – we look forward to reading.
Congratulations to YFC Alumni Bessie Thomas and husband Shannon who welcomed Phoebe Clara to the world on 19.9.22. Weighing 3.6kg and measuring 51cm in length, Phoebe is a sister to Airlie and Lachie.
Also enjoying family time this month was Danielle Fordham who returned to her family’s West Wyalong property.
“It was wonderful to reunite with the family and be reconnected with the land again after spending two years in the “big smoke” around Newcastle. It was great to help out on the farm by assisting with lamb marking and it was adorable to see the little lambs and unleash my farming skills that I rarely get to use anymore – I was proud that I still had it in me! In the upcoming university holidays, I hope to spend more time out in the countryside and capture more of these heartfelt moments, and appreciate the little things.”
When Steph Tabone takes time out from her work as a horticultural researcher you can find her on the netball court.
“After a great season, finishing as minor premiers, my team made it to the grand final. In the end, we lost by one point in 40 seconds of extra time! A huge congratulations to our competitors who played a fantastic game and to my teammates for their efforts.”
Ending the October Muster is Sam Wan showing us her egg-scellent sense of humour:
“Jo Newton and I were outside our usual agri-industry hen-semble when we flocked to the Kyneton and District Poultry Club Auction during October. It was an egg-ceptional experience but we did have to wing it learning how to bid as we went. It was no peck-nic with buyers milling the aisles busily. Two hens are now chicken out their new home!”