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.
Posts by Action4Agriculture
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.
A new primary and secondary school program offered by Action4Agriculture (A4A) in 2023 will support young Australians to be agents of change to embed sustainability thinking and actions in our way of life. The Empowering Young Environmental Champions Challenge will be delivered in Greater Sydney and the Hunter in Term One and in Riverina Murray and South East/ Tablelands in Term Two – and now is the time for teachers and students to get on board.
The 10-week, curriculum-aligned program is open to young people in NSW primary schools in Stage 3 and secondary schools in Stage 4& 5 who strive to be advocates for environmental and social issues important to them, their schools and their communities. See regions where program has been funded in 2023 here
Participants in the program will:
Attend a design-thinking workshop to brainstorm project ideas and action plans
Learn skills to improve their wellbeing, resilience and mental health
Be trained and mentored on the value of diversity, proactive listening/hearing skills and applied empathy
Network with experts and mentors
Visit relevant local community projects
Share their own community project
A broad range of regionally based experts, including young role models from the agricultural sector, known as Young Farming Champions (YFC), will ensure the program is youth led, co-designed and actively incorporates the voices of young people from design to delivery. Professional learning opportunities will be provided for teachers.
The program will culminate with a day of celebration where students will have the chance to pitch their projects, workshop their next steps as capacity builders and develop leadership pathways.
Thousands of young people and their schools have benefitted from Action4Agriculture programs, as was evidenced in the recent NSW Sustainability Awards. St Brigid’s Primary School, Raymond Terrace (Kreative Koalas participant) was the Young Climate Champion Winner with the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education (Kreative Koalas, The Archibull Prize) a finalist. YFC alumni Anika Molesworth and Josh Gilbert were joint winners of the Youth as Our Changemakers Award, and Action4 Agriculture, itself, was a finalist in the Communications for Impact Award.
Action4Agriculture director Lynne Strong believes the new program has the capacity to have a similar impact.
“All of the NSW Sustainability Awards for people under 35 were taken out by young people associated with our programs and we are very excited to support as many young people as we can through the Young Environmental Champions program. This is an opportunity to find the next Josh and Anika or for schools to be the next St Brigid’s.
“If you want to challenge the status quo and drive positive social and environmental change, then this is the program for you.” Lynne says
“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.”
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.”
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 SamWan 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.
“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!”
The students of Tarrawanna Public School tackled SDG 2: Zero Hunger as they created Mr T B Kind, a koala that brought together the whole school across multiple Key Learning Areas, with the theme of feeding the community.
Mr T B Kind is a mosaic koala inspired by the school environment using broken tiles, which were found as garden beds were prepared, to represent native animals such as cockatoos, bees and dragonflies. Mr T B Kind has a realistic mottled grey body and will be a striking and welcoming mascot to open classroom exhibitions.
“Our Koala created connections between our students, community and collaborators. The biggest and most exciting outcome was not only did the Kreative Koala initiative inspire Zero Hunger for community, but it has triggered special interest projects on sustainability across K-6 which we will be showcasing to community members.”
At Turvey Public School, near Wagga Wagga, students took a look at SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production as they created Billy Barrandhang, a vibrant and detailed koala. Involving all classes across art, science and geography, Billy aimed to show:
“we all belong to one earth and we are all responsible for protecting its beauty”
Billy was created using ideas the students derived from Australia’s magnificent landscapes and natural features and is a celebration of a place to call home.
“Billy discretely embeds our entire school community and culture through the symbols painted on the koala. The flags in the ears of the koala represent each student and staff member to show our whole school approach towards sustainability and equality. The koala has our school core values written on the feet; resilience, responsibility and respect all which are integral to growing a healthy world. The crow wings are holding up the heart shape Earth on our koala making it unique because it symbolises our school totem and how the world’s future is in our hands.”
Warrawee Public School took Kreative Koalas literally and launched a campaign to Save The Koalas, naming their creation “Eila”.
“Children chose to call our art koala Eila after one of our sponsored koalas. Elia is a heroic koala who survived the Mambo wetlands fire in Port Stephens in December 2018 with a baby on her back and pregnant with another. The children see her as resilient and a hero for being able to escape the fires and then survive the treatment in Port Stephens hospital as she had badly burnt paws from climbing a burning tree.”
Students realised bushfires effect flora as well as fauna and as a result Eila is adorned with gum leaves, waratahs, kangaroo paw and wattle alongside native animals fleeing the smoke of the fire, which curls across Eila’s back. Indigenous designs illustrate a connection to Country and green represents renewal.
“The green of the gum represents the regeneration of the Australian bush and though it takes time the children felt this was important as life starts again and gives us hope for the plight of the koalas.”
Congratulations to all schools and students participating in the 2022 Kreative Koalas. Collectively students have explored a total of nine Sustainable Development Goals:
Agility Agriculture founder Josie Clarke (pictured with father Glen) and Katie Barnett are working together to raise funds for the causes they care about
Many of our Young Farming Champions develop their love of agriculture through the show rings and continue the association throughout their careers. YFC Katie Barnett, who works as a farm manager on “Taylors Run” at Kentucky in NSW, is one such young person and earlier this year she was named the 2022 Kempsey Show Young Woman of the Year.
2022 Kempsey Show Young Woman of the Year Competition Winners L to R Senior: Katie Barnett, Junior: Lilly Rosten, Teen: India Dowling
The Young Woman of the Year competition is held at agricultural shows across NSW and aims to find a young female ambassador to represent rural areas and the show movement. The program is designed to develop regional young women, their local show societies and their communities. During the competition participants are given the opportunity to be interviewed, public speak, present and network. Local winners, like Katie, will compete in a zone final and if successful go on to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where they vie to be named The Land Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman of the Year.
“Whilst in this role I really wanted to do something meaningful that would lead to positive change and further education. I decided that I would like to hold fundraisers to support Ability Agriculture, a project started by local Kempsey woman and 2022 NSW Rural Woman of the Year Josie Clarke,” Katie says.
Ability Agriculture is an online platform and community group that shares the stories of those with disabilities working within agriculture; raising awareness and dispelling the myth that agriculture is only a career for the able-bodied.
“I started Agility Agriculture in 2021 as a bit of a passion project. When I was 5 my Dad had a truck accident and is now is a wheelchair and I am therefore aware of things like accessibility issues for him. I wanted to share stories of people with disabilities in agriculture to challenge traditional views, raise awareness, create opportunity and provide a supportive community,” Josie says.
“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.”
A portion of the money raised by Katie will assist Agility Agriculture establish a not-for-profit charity, which will include a job site, scholarships to university, leadership courses and funding for families. Katie has kicked off her fundraising with a Bake Sale at the Kempsey Saleyards, which raised over $700. A raffle and a 100s club are currently running and a trivia night is to be held in late October.
“Katie’s funds will directly help me with a scholarship to send two people to an agricultural conference in Adelaide next year,” Josie says.
Thanks to Katie for bringing Agility Agriculture to our attention and thank you to Josie for making positive changes to show people with a disability can find meaningful careers in agriculture.
As part of our NCI funding ACTION4YOUTH provides 21st century skills training to our Young Farming Champion (YFC) mentors, careers advisors, students (the next generation employees) and our prospective employers.
Following her successful workshop on Values at Work, Annie Simpson has delivered another masterclass teaching our ACTION4YOUTH stakeholders how to have challenging conversations in the workplace.
“Challenging conversations are a part of business, and it is in the best interest of employees to empower their people with impactful tools and frameworks to promote more positive outcomes,” Annie says.
$4.45 billion is the cost of recruiting for the people who resign every year because of challenging conversations going wrong so this workshop was an important step in rectifying this problem.
The workshop began by introducing the concept of mattering, which is the belief that we are all a significant part of the world around us and that we are noticed, affirmed and needed right now.
It then taught participants to recognise what form a challenging conversation could take before giving tools and frameworks to best address these issues.
“Challenging conversations come in many shapes and forms, including giving and receiving feedback, discussing ‘failures’, sharing personal challenges, and calling out the elephant in the room,” Annie says.
The difference between ego-based (defensive, armoured, fear-based, fixed, transactional) and heart-based (authentic, open, others focused, situational and adaptive, personal/human) conversations was also explored, as was using emotionally intelligent practices to realise objectives while being considerate of the person at the other end of the conversation.
“Recognising your own bias or ‘monkey brain’ helps you approach the situation with emotional intelligence and great self-awareness, but when we cannot control the behaviours and attitudes of others, how can we set ourselves up for success during these often uncomfortable moments?” Annie asked the participants before giving them time to reflect on or prepare for their own challenging conversations.
The Challenging Conversations workshop proved popular with YFC
“Annie Simpson’s workshop on Challenging Conversations was an excellent opportunity to reflect on how we communicate and engage with others in our professional and personal lives. Annie asked us to consider times when we have had to express difficult or sometimes conflicting emotions, the ways we succeeded, and the places we could improve. In particular, I found the conversation on the difference between ego and heart a welcome reminder to reflect on the intentions behind our actions and how we ensure they lead us towards positive behaviours. I was grateful to participate in the workshop breakout sessions with Dylan Male, a fellow YFC peer and PhD candidate. I enjoyed reflecting on times in my PhD candidature journey when I had to have challenging conversations and was inspired by Dylan’s positivity and thoughtfulness in his own reflections.” says Francesca Earp
Despite the challenges posed by a global pandemic, which meant the closing of schools and home learning for students, participants in the 2022 Kreative Koalas have risen to the occasion and come up with some fabulous Koala artworks. Let’s have a look at four schools who chose to focus on their own backyards as they cared for their local community and environment.
Ladysmith Public School, near Wagga Wagga, took a look at the presence and impact of salinity along their local Kyeamba Creek as they created the aptly named “Saltbush” while studying SDG 15: Life on Land.
“On our walking tour of some neighbouring farming land, we observed many trees that appeared to have died. These trees were on land that had previously been identified as a discharge site, where salinity had been a problem. One beautiful [dead] tree, became the focus of our artwork and we used this as the major design element on the back of the koala.”
Saltbush represents a personal journey for the students and community of Ladysmith, highlighting an environmental problem but also celebrating the beauty of their home. In bold colours Saltbush depicts the dead tree and Kyeamba Creek alongside the bright yellow of wattle and the blue/grey of the saltbush plant. White dots across the koala represent rising salt and how it infiltrates the soil.
Also inspired by SDG 15: Life on Land is “Warada” (the Darug name for Waratah), which symbolises resilience and renewal. Warada is the Kreative Koala creation from a group of Hawkesbury schools under the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education banner, which includes Kurmond, Bilpin, Windsor Park, Kurrajong, Kurrajong North, Kurrajong East, Wilberforce, Richmond North and Comleroy Road schools.
This wonderful collaborative effort has produced a koala that represents the benefits and beauty of local native flora, depicted on Warada as intricate black and white botanical designs with a stripe of blue representing the Hawkesbury River across his back and a brown seedling of renewal on his chest.
“[Warada is] a botanical journey following Bells Line of Road from Bilpin, through the Kurrajong area, across the Hawkesbury River down to the Castlereagh, Agnes Banks, and Windsor Downs nature reserves.”
Lake Albert Public School (near Wagga Wagga) had only to look out their school windows to derive inspiration from Lake Albert itself and they named their creation Barrandhang, which means koala in the local Wiradjuri language.
Barrandhang is a blue koala reflecting the connection between the students and the lake, with two limbs painted brown to express how the lake would look like with uncontrolled pollution. Striking orange/pink ears represent the sunsets the lake gifts to the students each day and across the body of the koala are detailed footprints representing local wildlife including duck, platypus, honeyant, goanna, frog, turtle,
, fish and possum. Coloured icons represent the school’s goals to recycle, reuse and reduce food waste.
“We are fortunate at Lake Albert Public School to be situated next to the lake and to be able to enjoy its beauty and wildlife every day. We couldn’t aim for a sustainable school environment without including our passion for a healthy and sustainable water environment.”
Also looking at their local waterways was Scots All Saints College from Bathurst who championed the plight of platypus that suffered a local extinction event during the last drought. The students chose SDG 13: Climate Change and used Biladurang (or Bill for short) to express this environmental problem in Winburndale River.
One side of Biladurang represents a robust and healthy ecosystem, the other side is fiery and dark to show the consequences of too little water being released from the dam to the river. A giant platypus rides on his back and across his body are casuarina leaves, platypus and rakali (native water rat) habitat and insects. Bill is a thoughtful reflection of the local environment and the passion the students have to manage it (and platypus populations) in a sustainable way.
“We want to let people know that climate change is changing our planet, which forced local government to make a decision about the platypus [when] the council stopped releasing water from Winburndale Dam [during the drought]; so the rivulet dried up and we had a local extinction.”
Congratulations to these four schools who have found passion and appreciation in their local environment and used Kreative Koalas as a vehicle to express their connection and to share their concerns with their communities.
Looking at SDG 15 and 13 to investigate the effects of fire were students from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School who named their koala “Alinta”. Alinta illustrates the effects of both unmanaged bushfires and controlled cultural burns.
To show these contrasting fire regimes Alinta became a split-personality koala. Bright colours on Alinta’s back represent the destruction of out-of-control bushfires, while cooler colours represent regrowth after managed cultural burns. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from Years 1-6 assisted in creating traditional art for inclusion on Alinta and the local Aboriginal community taught all the students about managing the land with fire.
“Our entire school community was positively impacted by our involvement in the Kreative Koala program. All students were educated about the negative impacts of out-of-control bush fires on our climate, communities and wildlife. Students are now armed with the knowledge of how we can take on Aboriginal ways of healing the land through fire and feel hopeful about the difference we can make.”
Looking at SDG 3 and 5 were students from St Joseph’s Primary School who designed a koala named, appropriately, Joseph (or Joey for short!). Involving Year 4 and 5 students across PDHPE, Mathematics, Science and English, Joseph represents sports and physical activities the students can participate in to remain healthy.
Joseph is resplendent in green and gold, Australia’s national sporting colours, and adorned with both the Australian and Aboriginal flags. Hand-drawn pictures across the koala represent the activities the students enjoy and the inclusion of the Olympic rings alludes to aspirations for the future.
“We used our love of different sports to create this original design and we showed the statue the same respect that we would for a living creature.”
Students from St Paul’s Primary School chose SDG 7 and created Kristie, the sustainability warrior,
“to promote energy saving tips, to demonstrate the most efficient forms of clean renewable energy and promote the work of climate activists Greta Thunberg and Pope Francis in our school and community”.
Kristie is a smart-looking environmental activist koala. She wears a hat featuring solar-powered fans and a shirt showcasing clean energy sources such as hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal. Images of traditional bush tucker remind us to take only what we need and Baiame, the creator, represents the knowledge we can learn from Aboriginal nations.
“We have given Kristie a shirt advertising climate action. We believe clothing is a great way to advertise and promote how to save energy. Greta [Thunberg] is currently going after fast fashion as a new initiative … [and we wanted] to support climate activists like Greta to keep governments accountable for their role in saving the environment.”
Congratulations to all schools in our Newcastle cluster for showcasing the diversity of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Three schools in our 2022 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future challenge chose to use their fibreglass koalas to explore the benefits of bees in our world, and to highlight the challenges bees face. Interestingly , the study of bees incorporated multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13: Climate Change, SDG 14: Life Below Water and SDG 15: Life on Land.
Let’s take a look at their bee-utiful creations.
Collaborating under the banner of the Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education were students from three primary schools – Bilpin, Kurrajong East and Blue Mountains Steiner – who put their vivid imaginations together to produce a koala named “Ngalaya”.
“Ngalaya” is Darug for ally or friend in battle – fitting in our Koala who will assist us in educating students across NSW in how they protect the future for our pollinators.”
The honey-coloured Ngalaya features local native bees as alternatives to European honeybees and illustrates their habitat and honey production with 2D and 3D creations ranging from life-sized to macro. There is even a Fibonacci Sequence (mathematical sequence) that is so often replicated in nature.
“Our koala is unique because it is a means of demonstrating how native pollinators are essentially entwined with current and emerging sustainable agricultural practices in order to work towards guaranteeing future food security for Australia, and potentially the human race as a whole.”
Also on the bee-wagon were students from Hamilton Public School who created a bold yellow and black koala named “Clancy” to demonstrate the importance of bees to the ecosystem and food security.
“If we can put in place practices that protect bees in our own back yard, then the impact can permeate through the community and positively contribute toward achieving SDG 15, 2, 11 and 13.”
With motifs depicting beehives, antennas on his head and a pink rose in his mouth, Clancy is one smart-looking koala. Clancy will proudly stand in the school’s Blue Gate Garden, an established project that has been incorporated into previous Kreative Koala competitions, where he will be a symbol of sustainability and the pursuit of a better future.
The final school taking a deep-dive into the world of bees was St Brigid’s Primary School who designed “Girrga” (meaning native bee in the Gathang language). Girrga gives voice to the problems soft plastics present in the environment, the plight of local butterflies and bees and the challenges faced by bees by the current Varroa mite infestation.
As a result, Girrga is a vibrant koala with a bee for a nose, a giant butterfly across her back, and plastics on her limbs, surrounded by multi-coloured flower designs across her body.
“We really wanted to portray the bright and vibrant colours of country. The bees are on our koala’s toes to represent how they are currently missing in our environment due to the Varroa mite disaster. We believe our koala is unique because not only does she represent the concern we have for the environment and local habitats due to wasteful packaging, but she also spotlights a current issue of the plight of bees in our local area.”
Thank you to all students who have shown us the value of bees in our communities and environment and their contribution to our future food security.
Using an Explore-Connect-Support model Action4Youth has a vision to help young people thrive in a career in agriculture. This includes working with primary and secondary schools to increase awareness of the diversity of agricultural careers and showcase various pathways that can create and shape a dream working life.
As part of the Explore phase, students and teachers have access to BECOME. This teacher-led program encourages students from upper primary onwards to explore, design and navigate their future, while building independence and agency over that future.
Beginning in primary school is critical. Research by the OECD, Monash University and BECOME Education each independently found that about half of all students intend to work on just ten career areas out of the many thousands of careers available. Even more alarmingly, research from Monash University showed that 55% of the female students they focused on, chose careers to please someone else, not their own strengths and interests.
About the BECOME program:
Purpose built for years 5 – 12, it fuses technology with research
Ready-to-go lessons inspire confidence and help students develop the skills to shape their own future
Flexible Year or Stage scope and sequence plans integrate and align with Learning Areas across the Australian Curriculum, General Capabilities and the Australian Blueprint for Career Development (ABCD) skills framework
The dynamic student web app actively engages students and opens their minds to the broader possibilities of career areas, rather than narrowing them down to a decision
Incorporates facilitated, professional development for educators, including non-careers specialist teachers
Insights dashboard enables a personalised and proactive approach to student career conversations and gives teachers real insight into students’ emerging aspirations.
Holly Paster is the Careers and Transition Adviser at Bomaderry High School who have chosen the BECOME program, including the app and lessons. We spoke to Holly about her experience:
“The app was appealing to us for a number of reasons. Firstly, the platform works well with our iPad-centred school – our students use them in class and at home. Secondly the program is evidence-based, which we, as a school collective, value. Thirdly, we can embed activities that support the transition to high school, which allows us to increase our engagement in career planning and career development from an early age, and then maintain that consistency throughout the high school years. And fourthly, it provides professional development and trains staff how to use it effectively in their classes.”
BECOME allows students to design careers from the inside out and to practice 21st century skills through the implementation of experiments to explore, test and refine their career aspirations. As research from the Institute for the Future (IFTF) shows, 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. In the changing world of work, it’s much more effective to have students create their own unique career direction for the future rather than picking a job. As they engage with the program and learn more about themselves, what motivates and inspires them, BECOME data shows that 50% of students change their career aspirations, as they refine and become more educated about the type of work, workplaces and careers that best suit what they now know about themselves.
Having parents involved in careers education is another feature of BECOME that excites Holly. She says,
“I think parents want to support their children and they’re looking for information to do that, which is really quite difficult because there’s just so much out there. It’s the opposite of how it used to be, where they couldn’t get the information; now there’s just so much that it’s overwhelming. Having one central area [such as BECOME] where they can access quality advice and evidence-based careers education, is what we think is critical. Opening both student and parent eyes to different career pathways is a goal of ours.”
Using Awareness (of your unique self and of the world of work), Aspiration (articulating directions and researching pathways) and Agency (taking charge of their own lives) the BECOME program, and Action4Youth will help students answer questions beyond the scope of traditional careers education. For example:
How agriculture provides us with clues about the future of work and the world’s “To Do List”.
Why some of the coolest jobs exist near the wickedest problems.
The pressure to ‘follow your passion’, and why that can be complicated.
Purpose and fulfilment – why does it matter?
Who defines success in your community? What is your own personal definition of success?
Creating awareness, aspiration and agency around agricultural careers is a powerful and affirming way to help our young people thrive.
Imagine you’ve grown up in a world of intergenerational unemployment; where no-one in your family has ever held a job. Imagine a world where family life is marred by domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse. Imagine then how hard it would be to stay at school with no support, and then how much harder again it must be to find and retain a job. Can a career in agriculture be a way forward?
Action4Agriculture’s newest program Action4Youth supports young people from all backgrounds and experiences to thrive in a career in agriculture and those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds face challenges well beyond the technical aspects of a career. Today we speak with Marcus Watson from BackTrack to understand the challenges involved and learn how wraparound support is required if vulnerable young people are to successfully transition into the workplace.
BackTrack is a youth organisation with three jobs: keeping kids alive, out of jail and chasing their hopes and dreams. It achieves this through a unique combination of educational, training and diversionary activities, supported employment, residential accommodation and wraparound youth work.
Marcus believes one of the foundational roles of third-party organisations such as BackTrack is to transition young people to traineeships and jobs by teaching basic employability skills, those unwritten rules of the workplace that most employers assume people will know.
“For example, I grew up with the unwritten rule that if you turned up at 8 for an 8am start, then you were already late. On time means 7.45am. But these expectations aren’t something our young people are familiar with because they haven’t experienced a real-life workplace before and often come from families experiencing intergenerational unemployment.” Marcus says.
This means that a huge focus for BackTrack is developing a young person’s 21st century skills through immersing them in practical, hands-on training opportunities that give them a real insight into the workforce but also ensure that they are well-supported as they learn.
“Employability skills is a really big ball of string to untangle but it is one of those things that can de-rail an opportunity very quickly if it’s not done right. An employer will often let someone go based on the soft skills rather than the technical skills. We make sure that our young people can roll up their sleeves on genuine work projects, out in the paddock or the fabrication shed, and benefit from intensive coaching and support as they do it. This is how we tackle challenges that arise in real time and gradually build their confidence and awareness of employer expectations.”
As with any relationship, the one between employee and employer often revolves around conversation and communication and, again, BackTrack provides its young people with training.
“We help young people with conflict resolution, self-advocacy and negotiation, and if an employer still has concerns they should be able to reach out to a third-party (such as BackTrack) for the extra support and insight needed to continue the conversation with them. We are skilled and funded to facilitate this.”
Giving young people the frames of reference to understand and conquer 21st century skills in the workplace is a cornerstone of BackTrack’s work and ultimately means that their participants can transition into meaningful external employment when the time is right for them. With a unique understanding of the challenges faced by vulnerable young people, BackTrack can offer employees and employers alike the support they need to make these transitions as successful and sustainable as possible.