The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
“I was able to open up ideas, I looked through the lens of my teammates, and by putting our brains together we have come up with an idea that may be difficult but possible to do. Overall, we are thinking big and are exhilarated for the weeks to come.” Student feedback
The Young Environmental Champions program is officially off and running with launch events held in February across the Hunter and Hawkesbury regions.
At the Hunter launch event we were joined by representatives from the University of Newcastle, local councils, Office of Regional Youth and Local Land Services. Special guests were teacher Kristen Jones, who spoke passionately about challenges that face schools in the modern era
And Zane Osborn from Hamilton Public School who spoke about students teaching their peers, using Hamilton’s Blue Gate Garden TV as a wonderful example.
At the Hawkesbury event we were joined by representatives from RDA (Regional Development Australia) Sydney and the Greater Sydney Landcare Network.
As part of the launch events 50 students from primary and secondary schools representing ten Local Government Areas attended Josh’s initial workshops where he introduced team building and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which will underpin projects designed by students over the ten-week program.
Students relished the chance to network with like minded young people and to make connections with those in the workplace such as representatives from local councils and Josh’s discussion on the structure of teams particularly resonated with students:
“I found the four styles of teamwork – planner, connector, dreamer, do’er – and how they contribute, extremely interesting and expect it to be useful.”
Students commented that they learnt more about the value of brainstorming ideas, planning, asking questions and to look at a problem from another’s point of view, and showed great interest in learning more about the SDGs and how they can be applied to their own challenges and visions.
Future workshops, both online and in-person, will strengthen the skills and ideas ignited in the first workshop and will look at design thinking and project planning, including presentations from special guests.
A final pitch event will be held on May 12 where students will showcase their visions for a sustainable tomorrow.
Teachers will be supported to, in turn, support their students through a workshops, held in early March, with Les Robinson
Both teachers and students will be invited to a special workshop delivered by Headspace on self-care for volunteers.
We, at Action4Agriculture, are excited to see the launch of Young Environmental Champions and can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s leaders create today to show us their vision of a better world. And we are thrilled to see our enthusiasm mirrored in the participating students:
In the first school term of 2023 ACTION4YOUTH’s EXPLORE-CONNECT-SUPPORT program will roll out in ten schools across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven that have identified a percentage of disadvantaged youth in their school population.
In addition, ACTION4YOUTH will be working with the youth-employment-focused Shoalhaven Community Investment Committee, led by Mission Australia and supported by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, to reach NEET (not in education, employment or training) youth and give them the same opportunities as those in mainstream education.
The EXPLORE phase of the program will introduce young people to the wool, dairy and fishing industries, connect them to Young Farming Champions (early-career professionals working in the agriculture sector), give them access to the Become Education app and facilitate personalised sessions with careers counsellors.
Those showing an interest in working on-farm/on-boat will progress to the CONNECT phase, which will connect them with businesses from wool, dairy and fishing for structured discussions on careers and career pathways in these industries.
The final phase – SUPPORT – will provide training and work experience over a six month period and give youth access to the Dale Carnegie Next Generation course, designed specifically to build and strengthen soft and life skills in order to give them the highest chance of career success.
Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP believes the ACTION4YOUTH program has the potential to make a real difference in the local community
“I am thrilled to support the ACTION4YOUTH program, which will provide young people in our community with valuable opportunities to explore the dairy, fishing and wool industries, connect with early-career professionals, and receive personalised career guidance. With the support of Become Education and key industry partners, I have no doubt that this program will make a real difference in the lives of our youth and help them achieve their full potential in dynamic and diverse careers right here on the NSW South Coast.” Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP
L-R Liv Pennie (CEO of Become Education ) Bronwyn Hilaire Bomaderry High School, Fiona Phillips MP, Holly Pastor Bomaderry High School, Danii Fordham Tocal College Alumni Officer
ACTION4YOUTH has partnered with Become Education to deliver 21st century careers advise and pathway creation, and to fill the void where schools do not have careers advisors.
“Research shows that young people have a narrow idea of the world of work. They can hold simplistic or outdated ideas of careers. Agriculture is a prime example of a dynamic, changing and diverse field that is open to students of all backgrounds and interests. Agriculture can offer engaging careers for those with specialty knowledge from engineering to agribusiness, plant and animal systems, logistics, ecology, production processes and technology – to name only a few,” Liv Pennie, CEO and Founder of Become Education says.
Even before its commencement ACTION4YOUTH has gained the attention of international stakeholders, including Chris Webb, careers consultant for England’s University of Huddersfield and host of the #WeAreCareers Show, who writes:
“For me, this is a brilliant way to empower young people with career management skills and support them and their parents/carers to navigate an increasingly chaotic world, as well as mitigate the sense of ‘information overload’ that we so often hear as careers professionals.”
Action4Youth’s key business connections are Australian Wool Innovation, Dairy Australia and Austral Fisheries.
Traditionally agriculture has not conducted longitudinal studies following the journey of participants in its agricultural awareness programs. We look forward to that changing.
Today’s story is very rewarding for our organisation. Our journalist the wonderful Mandy McKeesick interviewed Danielle Fordham who we first met over 12 years ago when she participated in The Archibull Prize during secondary school
Young Farming Champion Danielle Fordham (centre front row ) inspiring the next generation of agriculturalists to follow in her footsteps
Action4Agriculture offers a holistic suite of programs designed to inspire and empower agricultural advocates and leaders. We realise this is not a sprint but a marathon that requires long-term commitment from ourselves, our partners and, most of all, the young people we want to inspire and cultivate.
I was part of The Archibull Prize in 2011 and 2012 and the experience was incredible. It connected my learnings in the classroom to the real world. As a cohort, my friends and I loved participating, bonding and getting to meet like-minded people our own age who shared the same passions.
I enjoyed researching issues such as how to feed a growing population, learning more about cow by-products (did you know cow parts are used in cosmetics and medicine?) and showcasing the trophy-worthy dairy and red-meat industries. It was great to come up with creative ideas to communicate these issues and showcase agriculture in a new light to the wider public.
The experience opened my eyes to the endless opportunities in agriculture and it cemented my interest and career ambitions in the agricultural field. Most importantly The Archibull Prize connected me with the brilliant organisation that is Action4Agriculture (previously Art4Agriculture) and the opportunities it has provided me.
Since high school you’ve become a poster girl for the diversity of Australian agriculture, undertaking a business traineeship, attending Tocal Agricultural College (Double Dux!!), working in agribusiness, studying an environmental university degree and working as the Alumni Officer at Tocal. How did it feel to add Young Farming Champion (YFC) to your resume in 2022?
It was deeply empowering to be selected as a Young Farming Champion. I was struggling to find my connection back to the agricultural industry as I had moved into the environmental science sector and the YFC program provided the best opportunity to combine the two.
The experiences and workshops provided by Action4Agriculutre as a YFC have strengthened my confidence and ability to a stand as a clear, trusted voice in agriculture. I want to make a positive impact on agriculture and support the community, and YFC has enabled me to do this and more. YFC has broadened my horizons and I feel I can go further with my career than I ever imagined.
And, specifically, what skills has the YFC program given you?
The YFC program has taught me essential skills such as how to be an effective communicator, how to be an inspirational speaker and presenter and how to efficiently manage my time. The program has given me a network of peers and industry and community contacts.
Through YFC I have converted my passion for agriculture into a vehicle to empower other young people, such as my students at Tocal Agricultural College.
In 2023 we are launching Action4Youth, which aims to introduce disadvantaged young people to career pathways in agriculture. You participated in a pilot program at Lake Illawarra High School last year. What was that like?
It felt incredibly rewarding to be able to connect with students who were like me: interested in agriculture but who didn’t grow up on a farm or have the money to study agriculture straight out of school.
I was able to share my story and empower the students to think outside the square. I could assure them there are plenty of opportunities out there after school and, as a living example, that you are not limited by your HSC or ATAR results. If you are passionate about a career or lifestyle, there is nothing stopping you. You have just got to keep looking for your next step and embrace the skills and lessons you learn along the way.
Additionally, I was equally inspired by the Lake Illawarra students and their tenacity and enthusiasm. It was great to learn from each other and feel connected to the future of agriculture and our communities.
Young Farming Champions Lachie White and Danii Fordham were a big hit with students and teachers at Lake Illawarra High School
Overall, how do you feel the Action4Agriculture programs align with your aspirations for your own career?
The Action4Agriculture programs align with my aspirations of being a clear, trusted and influential leader in the sustainable agriculture field in two particular arenas: marrying agriculture and science, and promoting women.
The environmental world is in turmoil with global issues of climate change, 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 and rehabilitation integration. The opportunities for agriculture to be part of the solution are endless.
To create these solutions it is vital to strengthen the connection and relationship between agriculture and science and I plan to do this by promoting sustainable agriculture.
Championing women in agriculture and science is also a passion of mine and in 2022 I organised an event to recognise 50 years of female students at Tocal College. By telling my own story and connecting with like-minded women we can overcome social challenges and promote equality.
Action4Agriculture’s ethos and opportunities to connect directly with the next generation and particularly the training and networking received as a Young Farming Champion enables me to effectively communicate these challenges and find the solutions we all need.