Who can you BECOME – Why some of the coolest jobs exist near the wickedest problems.

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.

Become Education CEO and co-founder Liv Pennie Picture Credit Troy Snook

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.

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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.

Further food for thought

Why talking to your kids about their futures should start earlier than you think

Young Women Choosing Careers – Who decides 

Supporting disadvantaged youth to successfully transition into the workplace – with BackTrack

 

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.

Agriculture – supporting A Great Place to Work culture

In their recent paper The employer of choice or a sector without a workforce? Pratley et al listed 27 barriers and challenges agriculture needs to address including:  

Many employers over a long period of time, both on-farm and off-farm, have had an expectation that it is the government’s role to provide appropriately trained labour to their industries free of charge. That is flawed thinking: other sectors seem to engage at all levels of education.

They recommend greater industry investment in education.

At Action4Agriculture we have a secret weapon – our Young Farming Champions. Everyone who meets them wants to work in agriculture

As impressive as our Young Farming Champions are at raising AWARENESS in careers in agriculture, as  McDonald, N et al. (2022), point out in their paper Career development and agriculture: we don’t need a marketing campaign the challenge is to translate AWARENESS into

… initiatives that influence people‘s career explorations, decision-making, choices and actions. Generating public awareness and knowledge about agriculture is one thing but affecting individuals career decisions is an entirely different matter. To design effective interventions to attract and retain staff requires a thorough understanding of how individuals build their careers and the different factors that influence people‘s careers decisions, choices and actions and their job satisfaction and intentions to remain in a job or industry. We need to move beyond simply campaigning for a greater public awareness of an appreciation for the types of work in agriculture.

The Action4Agriculture team are super excited to be given the opportunity through National Careers Institute funding to see what steps are required to turn AWARENESS into ATTRACTION. Visit our website here 

And we all know ATTRACTION in one thing RETENTION is another.

This is where our SUPPORT package comes in for EVERYONE involved including careers advisors, students, mentors and employers

Supporting the students ( NextGen Employees ) and careers advisors will be Liv Pennie and team from Become Education 

Our Young Farming Champions will play a pivotal role in every phase and this week we are supporting them with a workshop with Annie Simpson from Modern People 

In this workshop Annie will explore

● The power of Values & what matters most

● Exploring leading Values frameworks in positive psychology

● Understanding your own Values, and connecting them to your work and life

● Values at work, and finding the role, industry and culture for YOU

● Australia’s topic values, and values through the COVID pandemic

● 7 Traits of Change Readiness & how they show up

● How to embrace change, and grow for the better

We look forward to sharing with you the package we have put together for employers.

#CreatingABetterWorldTogether

Agriculture workforce attraction is a marathon not a sprint

As Pratley et al highlight in their excellent paper in 2022 Winter Australian Farm Journal

Australian agriculture is at the crossroads. It is charging
ahead towards its goal of $100 billion gross value
of production (GVP) by 2030 but is compromised in
that endeavour by its limited ability to find a suitable
workforce.

Our Young Farming Champions know its important to engage the next generation in conversations about careers in agriculture as soon as possible

Today Wool Young Farming Champion Katherine Bain had those conversations with 110 Kindergarten students at  Sydney Primary School as part of our Paddock Pen Pals program

Armed with a list of questions provided to teachers by the students, Katherine settled in to share her story of her farm in Victoria

Students wanted to know

  • How big was Katherine’s farm which she explained in comparison to football fields and netball courts
  • How many paddocks and what do all the colours mean. Katherine explained the difference between improved, perennial and native pastures

  • what sort of sheep do you have on your farm? Katherine explained that her farm was very rocky as it was on the site of a former volcano so they had two types of sheep on their farm
    1. Coopworth Sheep from NZ which are bred for their meat and highly suited to rocky terrain
    2. Merino Sheep highly valued for their wool quality

  • the students asked her what she did every day and she talked about how no two days were the same and the variety of jobs on farm. She talked about how she loved working with and learning from her dad. And how she loved being able to take her dogs to work

Meet Lenny, Zip and Carly 

There were lots and lots of questions about Zip

  • The students wanted to know about the difference between human hair and wool

Katherine is very proud that her family has dedicated an area of their farm to protecting endangered native grasslands

“On my farm specifically we do a lot of work in conserving the native grasslands that remain on the property. These grasslands are part of the 1% of the volcanic grasslands that once stretched from Melbourne to near the SA border. We are very lucky to have these grasslands remaining – so we work with botanists and biologists to work out the best ways of preserving and improving these grasslands”

And the questions and answers continued

It was fascinating to be a fly on the wall watching 50 students queue up to ask Katherine questions

  • How do sheep sleep?
  • Is it muddy at your farm?
  • How long does wool grow?
  • Why does wool keep you both cool and warm?
  • Do sheep often get lost?
  • How many steps do sheep walk in one day?
  • How much water do sheep drink in one day?
  • How much grass do sheep eat in one day?
  • Are some sheep naughty?
  • Does wool grow as fast as hair?
  • How heavy do rams get?

Over the past two months our Young Farming Champions have spoken at science conferences across the world, they have presented to students across the Asia Pacific and over the next two weeks they will be talking to kindergarten students.

To have the confidence and capacity to reach such diverse audiences they have had a minimum of two years of intensive training. As Katherine found out its equally rewarding talking to six year olds as it it sharing scientific research.

As the below graphic and statistics show having role models like Katherine engaging with the next generation are pivotal to raising awareness that there is a career for them in agriculture.

As Pratley et al highlight employment offerings on-farm show no signs of declining or levelling off. (See above graphic) Rather, they have intensified. On-farm over the period of 2015 to 2021 inclusive, the demand for management personnel, based on internet advertisements, increased by over 160%
and for non-management staff by around 77%.

The increase for on-farm staff overall increased by 53% in 2021 over that for 2020. In agribusiness, i.e. off-farm professional employment, the demand increased by 44% over the six-year period and by 70% in 2021
over 2020.

These increases seem extraordinary.

The question we ask is are we leveraging all the opportunities we have at our disposal to engage with the next generation from K to 12 and beyond?

Are we ready to see it as a marathon not a sprint?

Are we ready for best practice?

You can read Katherine’s story in Graziher magazine here 

 

Introducing our 2022 Young Farming Champions

Action4Agriculture is pleased to introduce 10 passionate agriculturists (including our first international contingent) who have joined the 2022 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program and kicked off their learning with a Goal Setting and Time Management Workshop delivered by Josh Farr.

Our 2022 cohort are:

Katharine Charles from Boorooma, NSW, supported by Riverina Local Land Services

Sam O’Rafferty from Coleambally, NSW, supported by Riverina Local Land Services and Murray Darling Basin Authority

Kate Webster from Gundagai, NSW, supported by Riverina Local Land Services

Lachlan White from Aberdeen, NSW, sponsored by Hunter Local Land Services

Danielle Fordham from Shortland, NSW, sponsored by Hunter Local Land Services

Florance McGufficke from Cooma, NSW, supported by AWI

Ani Dilanchian from Sydney, NSW, sponsored by Corteva

Morgan Bell from New Zealand, sponsored by Corteva

Katie Barnett from Kentucky, NSW, as an Action4Agriculture intern

Reynolds Tang-Smith from Perth, WA, as an Action4Agriculture intern

 

The 2022 cohort will each be partnered with a Young Farming Champion alumni buddy and a workplace mentor as they participate in workshops held by our Ecosystem of Expertise; workshops supported by the three pillars of leadership development, confident communicators and trusted voices.

The new cohort and established YFC recently completed a “Wants, Needs and Motivations” survey to identify areas of concern to be addressed in the workshops. Rated as very important by survey participants was the desire to increase professional self-confidence, to reduce stress, fear, worry and fear, and to set and realise personal and professional goals. As an organisation that prides itself on providing what our young people need, future workshops can be adapted to accommodate the survey results.

We are happy for the continued support of our valued partners.

Robert Kaan, MD Corteva Agriscience  Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea, explains why continued involvement with the YFC program is important:

“Corteva is supportive of the work done by the Action4Agriculture team, which is unique and highly aligned to the values of Corteva Agriscience (CTVA) in three very meaningful ways: young female leadership development, agricultural education and the development of workforce pipelines.

“The YFC are a strong and effective young leader’s network that develops key capabilities such as communication, presentation, and positive messaging around agriculture.  Our young female Australian and New Zealand CTVA employees have derived real benefit from the participation and from the support they receive in this program. In addition the YFC program supports agricultural education by creating awareness in grades K to 12 and progresses to support educators and industry to build a workforce pipeline by creating greater access to agricultural opportunities for students at post-secondary level and in both rural and urban areas.”

Meet Sam O’Rafferty who is using his skills and knowledge to support our farmers to use water wisely

We recently launched the Riverina Local Land Services scholarships to find the 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 Sam O’Rafferty who along with Katharine Charles and Kate Webster have been awarded Riverina Local Land Services Scholarship to participate in the two year Cultivate Growing Young Leaders program

Sam has also been awarded the prestigious Murray-Darling Basin Authority River of Life scholarship

This is Sam’s story ….

I grew up on a small mixed farm in the heart of the Riverina on the southern side of Temora. My two brothers and I would spend our weekends working on the farm with Dad, sowing grazing oats, picking up sticks and rocks, building fences and planting trees. From a very young age I was immersed in agriculture and exposed to the highs and lows that the lifestyle has to offer.

I grew up with the Millennium Drought and at its height we carted water for 18 months from town to the farm to replenish the tanks that supplied the house. The value of water was imprinted on me and has stuck with me through the course of my life.

After finishing school in Temora, I started my tertiary education at Charles Sturt University in Wagga. This was a fantastic opportunity to develop an understanding of the science behind agriculture and meet like-minded people entering the industry.

Water continued to play a large role in my life when I worked as an irrigation overseer during my university holidays. During the summer we experienced extreme heat and above average temperatures for the whole season. This dramatically increased the water demand on the crop and tightened the frequency of irrigations. This was an extremely valuable experience as I saw first-hand how challenging it can be to manage seasonality in an irrigated cropping system and how quickly a season can turn against you.

Irrigating during my summer university holidays. Despite what the beautiful sunset mighty depict, we faced many challenges supplying water to the crop in the hottest summer ever recorded in the district.

For the past two years I have been working as an irrigation agronomist in the Murrumbidgee valley where the boom-and-bust nature of agricultural is further amplified. When water is allocated we have the capacity to produce extremely profitable crops; during dry times we have a forced fallow period. Now, the drought had broken and water allocation reached 100% mid-way through the last season. This allowed growers to increase their production and produce some of the highest yielding winter crops on record in the area.

Irrigated Durum crop at Coleambally, in the 2021 harvest many growers achieved yields in excess of 10T/ha but faces extreme challenges in managing harvest logistics due to labour shortages.

During my short career I have seen how important water security and water use efficiency are to irrigation farmers and I see the biggest challenge for my generation is to manage an increasingly variable climate while increasing efficiencies and production to feed a growing global population. My aim is to continually improve water use efficiency and productivity on farm and help producers adapt to the variability in the climate. This will come through a variety of improvements to on farm water delivery systems, plant genetics and improved soil management practices.

Alongside the challenges of climate change, we are currently experiencing some of the worst labour shortages the industry has ever seen, with demand for workers exceeding boots on the ground.

It has been particularly challenging over the past two seasons where we have had two of the best winter cropping seasons, but we haven’t been able to capitalise on the season due to labour short falls.

                                        Cotton Crop ready to be picked.

I am passionate about solving this issue.

Being a Young Farming Champion will build my ability to grow my networks and talk to people everywhere I go to promote the agricultural industry to attract skilled and unskilled labour to fill these gaps in the industry. Agriculture is an extremely rewarding industry to be a part of and I look forward to communicating this message far and wide to attract the best and brightest people; people who will help solve the big challenges in front of us.

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

Meet Kate Webster who is inspiring the next generation with paddock to plate stories

We recently launched the Riverina Local Land Services scholarships to find the 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 Kate Webster who is also writing stories for next gen

                                                                            Kathleen Webster

Sometimes our passions and careers take a direction we never expected. Growing up on a small property outside of Orange NSW, I always had a passion for animals. As a child I would take any opportunity I could to help on the farm and it was during this time that I made the decision I wanted a career with livestock, emphasis on the “live”.

But I never imagined ending up where I have, beyond the farm gate, in the meat processing world.

In 2016 I headed off to university, I was eager for knowledge and gave everything a shot that university threw at me. In my second year of university, I decided to join the Charles Sturt University’s Meat Judging Team. Why? Because it sounded like fun! And little did I know that this carefree decision would change the course of not only the rest of my degree, but my life. The ICMJ competition opened my eyes to a completely different side of Agriculture. I rapidly discovered that production doesn’t end at the farm gate and that there are so many additional processes involved in getting the product from paddock to plate. It was at this time I fell in love with everything meat!


Kate and her meat judging team in 2017

The next few years passed by in a whirlwind as life often does, I went from competing in the CSU meat judging team, to coaching it and then onto coaching the Paskistani national team. I was selected to complete my certificate III and IV in meat safety inspection which led to my first industry job, on the knives in a beef export plant as a meat inspector. I chose any electives I could that were meat related and then I travelled to Texas Tech University for an internship in their meat science department where I completed my honours. But then it stopped! Everything stopped, I handed in my honours dissertation and a week later the nation went into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was on the knives still working my typical 9 to 5, or more correctly my 6 to 3, and in a rut.

I knew I wanted more in my career but given the state of the nation, drastic career changes weren’t really an option, especially as an inexperienced new grad. So, I realised I had to make an opportunity for myself, and it was at this time I began to write my first children’s book, titled “What is Meat?”.

 Kate and her first children’s book “What is Meat”

I have always had a passion for working with children and in particular children’s education. When I first moved to Wagga Wagga I joined the local show society, in my second year on the committee I proposed the addition of a children’s agricultural education section to the Wagga Wagga show. The section was a success, we developed a farmyard out of ply board where kids could collect plastic eggs, dig for potatoes, and milk a fake cow. We ran cardboard box tractor races and had an extensive, interactive farm tool and equipment display. But it was here that I discovered the disconnect between children and where their food comes from. I started to do some research and the more I looked into it the scarier it got; children genuinely had no idea where their was food coming from! This triggered the initial idea behind my soon to be book series of four, which will follow the production of meat, milk, eggs, and wool from producer to consumer and all the steps in between.

 Kate in her current job, with MINTRAC, at a student career expo

Three years on and my first book is now a reality, I am working with teachers to create activity packs for use in the classroom and my second book is on the way. I also made the career shift I was searching for, into the National Meat Industry Training and Advisory Council. My job now encapsulates two of the things I love most meat production and education with people of all ages.

It is up to us as the new generation to paint agriculture in a positive light and spark the interest we have all found on our own paths into the wider community and in particular drive the generations coming up behind us to seek out their own passions in agriculture.

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

Meet Reynolds Tang-Smith our intern who sees agriculture as the big puzzle piece was missing from modern healthcare.

Our Chief Visionary Officer Lynne Strong is a committed life long learner and recently participated is a series of opportunities provided by McKinsey for CEO’s of charities and met McKinsey Business Analyst Reynolds Tang-Smith as part of her journey. As you can see from Reynold’s goals at the bottom of this post he see the interconnectedness of our wellbeing with our ability to nurture our soil and grow nutritious, safe, affordable food and he wants to be part of the grass roots movement creating a better world together.

To start this process Reynolds is joining our team in 2022 as our intern and in todays blog he shares with you his hopes and dreams……….

Reynolds and his partner (Jo) holding an oyster mushroom they grew!

Australia is beautiful.

In fact, the entire world is and we should keep it that way.

For ourselves, our children and future generations that we will never know.

The realisation that we are so blessed to experience human consciousness and life on this planet is one that I try to remind myself of every day.

I hope this blog post revives that feeling of wonder and awe for the world in you!

This is a picture of Karijini National Park (Pilbara, WA), a place dear to my heart and a quote from one of my favourite stoic philosophers, Seneca.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing.” – Seneca

Awesome quote hey?

Who am I?

My story begins in Perth, Western Australia; an isolated yet amazing city.

Many of my values originate from my Mum who immigrated from Beijing about 30 years ago. She had a tough childhood as did many others in China in the 1960s with famine and sociopolitical turmoil.

From an early age, she ingrained in my brothers and I the principle of not taking things for granted.

We ate what we were given and did not waste food. Anything leftover was given to the hens or buried in our compost bin by our backyard veggie patch.

My Mum was also a teacher and ran a Kumon tutoring centre which I helped manage. From this I understood deeply how powerful education is to empower future generations!

I studied Economics and Physiology (pre-med) at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and like any aspiring doctor, sat the GAMSAT and happily volunteered at hospitals, charities and research centers.

My dream for a long time had been to study medicine (and I still might later in life) but I realised that I could make scalable impact in healthcare by leveraging entrepreneurship and technology.

Three important experiences helped me understand the above:

  • My exchange program in the USA at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana) where I worked on a hospital optimisation case competiton and a ‘value-based care’ health insurance project (2019).
  • Worked as a Cardiac Physiologist where I gained insight into heart disease, the world’s biggest killer. There, I realised how little our healthcare system focused on wholistic and preventative care as ‘poor nutrition and lifestyle’ were neglected, and patients were given mainly bandaid solutions (2020).
  • Interned at Perx Health, a digital healthcare tech startup in Sydney which gamifies healthcare with personalised behavioural science and rewards chronic patients with gift cards for forming healthy habits (2020-21).

How Not to Die email

I often emailed or printed off the first 42 pages of this book for my patients, which included the 1st Chapter – How Not To Die from Heart Disease. After coming across this book, I realised food and by extension agriculture was the big puzzle piece that was missing from modern healthcare.

Why Action4Agriculture?

When I mention healthcare, I also extend the definition to the ‘health of the planet’, which includes our plant, soil, water, fungi, animal, family, community, mental, financial, and spiritual health.

Therefore, my aim is to become a wholistic doctor where I can help myself and people live more sustainably with the Earth. A huge and underrated part of this are our agricultural food systems.

Presently, I work at management consulting Firm, McKinsey as Business Analyst where we help create positive enduring change in the world by solving problems for large companies, governments and NGOs.

I helped facilitate the Mission Delivery CEO workshop in March 2022, where I was grateful to meet Lynne Strong along with 200+ other amazing CEOs from NFPs across the country.

I have a few goals for my future with this lovely organisation and beyond:

  • Maximise the good on Earth by helping people find their ‘ikigai’ philosophy
  • Accelerate agritech (AI, microbial, blockchain, zero-carbon) uptake and education
  • Learn best practices in regenerative agriculture and reduce reliance on fertilisers
  • Help restore the soil in Australia to increase food nutrition and decrease CO2 in the atmosphere
  • Establish mushroom microfarms (e.g., lions mane, reishi) in the cities to reduce disease burden (Alzheimer’s, depression, immune disorders)
  • Incentivise Australians to change our unhealthy consumer eating habits (processed foods) and support local farmers
  • Build a sustainable high-tech farm for my future family one day

This is a great philosophy that everyone can relate to; let’s all help each other find our ikigai!

The Veggie patch

Meet Danielle Fordham who is proud to be creating a better world through her career in agriculture

It gives up great pleasure to introduce you to our second Hunter Local Land Services Scholarship winner Danielle Fordham. We invited Danielle to share her story with our readers.

We first met Danielle in 2011 when she was part of the team that won The Archibull Prize in 2011.(see footnote). Here she is with the Caroline Chisholm College team at Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2012 telling the stories of agriculture to visitors to the Food Farm 

McLeod’s Daughters, trips to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, High School Agriculture classrooms and  programs and a weeklong country exchange is all it took to give this girl passion for the country. Growing up in Western Sydney was a challenge as I felt more at home covered in mud, surrounded by animals, and watching the sunset over the endless dusty plains; this was the life I dreamed of.

After high school, I wasn’t keen on university, instead, I aimed to go to Ag College, but I had to take a working gap year to afford it, so I did a business traineeship in Parramatta. I knew this skill set would be invaluable in any profession. In 2016, my dream came true, I went to Tocal Agricultural College, located in the Hunter. My two years at the College were life-changing. The extraordinary experience further rooted my passion for agriculture and enabled me to thrive mentally and academically. I got to experience working in sheep, cattle, horse, poultry, cropping, and dairying, as well as learning all the essential tools to the trade.

Giving shearing a go at Tocal

This incredible experience nurtured my self-confidence, and as a result, I achieved the rare accolade of ‘Double Dux’ in the College’s two Ag courses. This paved the foundation for future university studies, but with so many options in Ag to study, I couldn’t choose. So, I spent the following three years working in the agribusiness industry, catering for a range of agribusiness services all over NSW.

This experience connected me to a vast network of industry experts. It provided me with the scope of how things work, and how things are alarmingly not working. It moved a part of me, and I felt my true calling. At Tocal, I was passionate in all agricultural areas, but it wasn’t until my experience in the agribusiness world I realised the need for industry environmental revolution.

 

There is a significant lack of environmental knowledge and respect. It was common to see reliance on outdated practices, chemical abuse, and exploitation of natural resources. I knew I had to learn more, to broaden my perspective, and jump in to be part of the solution. So, in 2021 I started a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management at the University of Newcastle.

In the Earth Science lab analysing the geological processes

On my first day I felt the instant disconnect when I told people I have an Ag background, I received a lot of questionable looks which emphasised the significant misconceptions people have about agriculture. The environmental world is in turmoil with global issues of climate change, global warming, 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, rehabilitation integration. The opportunities for agriculture to be part of the solution are endless. To foster these technologies and solutions it is vital to strengthen the connection and relationship between agriculture and science. Having this strong relationship between the two enhances the resilience and vitality of our communities and gives us the invaluable tools to overcome these challenges together. I plan to bridge the gap and promote sustainable agriculture by facilitating awareness, training, and working with practical solutions.

Conversation with a local farmer about invasive weeds and control

 

 I have felt my calling, we hold our future in our hands, and I am ready to grab it by the horns and steer us into a better world for all.

 

Footnote

Danielle was part of the Caroline Chisholm College team that won The Archibull Prize in 2011 with the extraordinary Moobix –

Caroline Chisholm College – The Red Meat industry

Caroline Chisholm College

“Moobix Cube” was designed and created by five different classes (around 100 students) from Caroline Chisholm College. Using the easily recognisable form of a “rubik’s cube” as the base, they create an effective way to showcase the many differing facets of the red meat industry. Whilst a traditional rubik’s cube rotates, this one is composed of a series of smaller cubes on either side of the main cube, which can be pulled out, turned around to a new side and then slotted back into position. Once all of the smaller cubes have been turned around to a new side and replaced, a new picture is then formed.

A total of eleven components of the beef industry as well as “how we can feed Sydney for a day” are represented on this interactive cube. Each section of the cube tells a different side of the beef and food story – from the genetics and selective breeding of cattle and sheep, to byproducts including their medical uses, to the environment (touching on both water security and ideal conditions), to facts and figures, as well as the differing personal experiences that the school has had with the red meat. All combined onto the one cow.

 

 

Meet Lachlan White who came in the back to door to a career in agriculture

It gives up great pleasure to introduce you to our first Hunter Local Land Services Scholarship winner Lachlan White. We invited Lachlan to share his story with our readers

 

When being asked to describe my journey, I was excited as it provides an opportunity to prove that to be a farmer you don’t have to be born into it. Growing up in town with a Mum as a primary school teacher and Dad as an Electrician, I never thought I would become a farmer. As I went through my schooling, a passion grew within me as I was mesmerized by the science behind growing food and fibres by managing plant and animal systems.

I jumped at any opportunity to learn practical skills on farm during my schooling by undertaking work experience on as many farms as possible. I spent my holidays on beef, cotton, sheep and dairy farms trying to find my true passion within the industry.

When I finished school, I had a gap year. I worked full time on a beef breeding farm which ignited a true passion for cattle husbandry and pasture production.

After my Gap year I left to go and study a science and agriculture degree at The University of Sydney. The sudden onslaught of COVID provided me an opportunity to go back to working on farms whilst still studying. This opportunity saw a sudden change from beef farming into Dairy farming, milking 680 cows twice a day whilst studying in between milkings.

I have now taken the next step in my career, I have ventured into managing a beef property. I am grateful for the diversity within different farming industries but have also learnt many transferable skills along the way which has helped me out immensely.

As I reflect on the opportunities I have been provided, one thing that really stands out for me is the willingness for all the farmers whom I have learnt from to pass on their knowledge.

 

I am sharing my story to show farming is a career that welcomes people from all walks of life, not just kids whose parents were farmers.

And Lachlan has already shown us how committed he is in this recent workshop with Cynthia Mahoney

 

#CareerswithPurpose #YouthinAg #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether