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

How our partnerships enable cross-sectoral exposure for farmers and fishers .. and find us the best prawns for Christmas

When people think of agriculture thoughts normally run to paddocks of golden wheat, huge mobs of cattle or vibrant rows of lettuce; rarely do thoughts turn to fishing. Yet fishing is one of the major industries that feeds our world. It is why Action4Agriculture has formed a strong partnership with Austral Fisheries. Austral was the first seafood business in the world to be certified as Carbon Neutral and sponsor fleet operations manager Bryan van Wyk to participate in the Young Farming Champions program.

Austral CEO David Carter believes in our partnership.

“Fishing is not traditionally thought of as agriculture but we’re all in this together as food producers and by working with Action4Agriculture we have gained cross-sectoral exposure.  Breaking down those traditional barriers has been very valuable to us.”

“In a broader sense, Austral believes in nurturing our youngsters and fostering their talent. Action4Agriculture gives us opportunities for our young people to grow and we are happy to invest in these people because they give back in spades. One of the great joys of being older is that of supporting smart young folks to find their place in the world and then to find their voice.” he says.

Bryan has been a valuable member and contributor to the Young Farming Champions cohort in the past two years, and his passion for his industry has meant traditional agriculturists have had their experiences broadened. With a degree in marine biology he speaks from the heart and the head and writes eloquently of issues facing fishing, such as by-catch, and has strong admiration for those who work alongside him.

“We recently finished the 2021 northern prawn season where our fleet of 11 trawlers travelled from Northern Territory to northern QLD. All crew have returned home safely and the vessels are now tied up in Cairns ready for routine summer maintenance. The men and women that operate these vessels are some of the hardest working, mentally tough and dedicated individuals in the country. They leave their family, friends and homes behind, work through rough weather without any nights off all while being confined to their 20 odd meter floating home for four months with their colleagues. It isn’t all that bad though – they get to experience parts of the world that most would only dream of, they get to see a range of beautiful marine wildlife (often collecting data for scientists), experience the best sunsets and sunrises the world has to offer, build friendships that last a life time, live away from the day-to-day chaos and stress associated with land life and make enough money to take six months holiday per year,” he says.

https://youtu.be/3KZwqsdA2aA

Now, as Christmas approaches, Bryan’s passion can help us all to source the world’s best prawns and understand the ethical approach taken to their catch.

Let’s hear Bryan elaborate on our favourite Christmas indulgence:

“Australia has some of the best fisheries management in the world and produces sustainable, quality seafood however we import almost 70% of the seafood we consume. One of the main culprits for seafood imports is in fact prawns. You will often find imported frozen pre-cooked prawns in the freezer isles of supermarkets. Many of these products are cheap, low quality and lack certification.

“Christmas is a special time for Australians. We want to end the year on a good note and wish to celebrate the event with our close family and friends. In my opinion there is no place for low quality imported prawns on the Christmas table. My message to Australians selecting their Christmas seafood is to check for marine stewardship council (MSC) certification and country of origin labelling (both of which will be clearly displayed on the packaging). By selecting MSC products you ensure sustainability and support healthy marine environments, If operators have gone to great lengths to ensure their seafood is sustainably recognised, then they will also take pride in ensuring their products are high quality.

“When it comes to eating our Christmas prawns there are a lot of delicious alternatives beyond the commonly purchased “cooked prawn”. I always purchase raw prawns because it gives me plenty of options for Christmas (garlic, panko crumbed, chilli, bbq, skewers etc) and at the end of the day, if I want to boil them I can. In fact, not many people know this but you actually get a much fresher flavour when you boil raw prawns in saltwater at home, rather than thawing out precooked prawns. It’s simple as well. Just get a pot of saltwater boiling, add your thawed raw prawns and when all prawns are floating they’re ready for a saltwater ice bath!

“My last tip as a seafood lover and bargain hunter would be that the best bang-for-your-buck will be found in the seafood deli section in our supermarkets or fish markets – just keep a look out for MSC label.”

Cross-sectoral exposure, a Young Farming Champion dedicated to his craft and fresh, sustainably-caught Australia prawns for Christmas – does it get any better than this?

Bryan in his happy place 

#marinestewardship #sustainablefishing #youthinag

Meet Miranda McGufficke who sees powerful potential in young people in wool

There are a few things I love in this world; my family, my ambitions, and sheep without a doubt I love my sheep. After returning home from a shortened gap year in England, I shed a tear when I came home and saw a sheep. I have so much passion and admiration for these animals and their capacity to grow nature’s most environmentally sustainable fibre.

 

I know I have my Dad, my role model, to owe for this immense passion and strong interest. Particularly in breeding and comparing genetics and in learning how to operate a successful profitable business. I remember growing up we were always asked ‘Would we like to come and help?’ not ‘You are coming to help!’. I believe this choice helped determine my passion as it was my decision, and I did it because I wanted to be there not because I had to.

 

My gap year in 2020 saw me work alongside my Dad. I involved myself into every aspect of our business from rousabouting to genetic data collection and analysis. The things I was able to learn from my Dad and other progressive industry leaders is irreplaceable. I want everyone to have this opportunity as well.

I was fortunate to continue my gap year at home helping my family’s commercially owned and operated merino seedstock business. I spent every day working alongside my dad who is a  driven and progressive producer. I took initiative into immersing myself more into our family business in the form of marketing and promotion. I initiated the creation of social media pages, collating the ram sale catalogues and introducing the Greendale newsletter- I saw an opportunity, and I took it and that’s what I want others to be inspired to do – to take an opportunity, educate themselves and believe they have the potential to have influence and impact.

Working alongside my parents has been the biggest reward for my blossoming interest and career aspirations. Pictured here is my Mum, Michelle and my Dad, Alan.The importance of being family owned and operated is paramount to our progression.

 

Dad has taught me most of what I know today, not only about farming, sheep production and business and also about life. He has given me the to create opportunities and to look holistically at everythingI have just started my tertiary studies and I believe the values and lessons my father has taught me has already benefited my studies. I have clear career aspirations which allowed me to direct my focus onto things that will benefit my progression. Yet I have found the education system and the industry to not be equipped in educating youth in areas such as genetic evaluation and comparison for profitable and sustainable economic performance.

 

This is why I believe education is crucial. More needs to be done in enhancing people’s understanding and knowledge about the benefit of data analysis and ASBV’s as well as how to use these genetic tools and systems. The potential of genetic selection in allowing more profitable and sustainable breeding decisions is unparalleled in comparison to relying on subjective opinion.

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work in your life” – Confucius 

 

In order to be fully understood, direct focus and applicable demonstrations need to be conducted and continually revisited – genetics always vary and progression and change should be the goal.

Ideas of initiating mentorship programs with interested youth and progressive, data focused producers or creating ongoing education programs that teach the whole industry should be the focus of the industry.

There is an apprehension to change. Changes in normality, changes in the process and unpredictability of the outcome. Change is inevitable and the issue I aim to address is the lack of adoption towards these changes. As an industry the key to success is progression. I have ambition to initiate change and promote the importance of adopting new systems into businesses – I want to focus on the youth that will help bring and incorporate this development and boost the productivity and profitability of our industry.

 

‘We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power towards good ends’

-Mary McLeod Bethune.

#womeninwool #youthinag #YouthVoicesinAction

 

 

 

Meet Savannah Boutsikakis who is looking forward to inspiring others to join her in a career in agriculture

Containing our showcase of the stories of the Australian Wool Innovation Cultivate Growing Young Leaders Scholarship finalists

Meet Savannah Boutsikakis………

I am from a 4th generation sheep property in Southern NSW. Throughout high school university was never on the cards for me, until my eyes where opened to early entry by my Year 12 Primary Industries class teacher

Without discussing it with anyone I went off on my own and before I knew it I had applied to University of New England (UNE) in northern NSW. One afternoon I got the unexpected email regarding my early entry offer I had gotten in to UNE, and rest of the week saw another two offers come in.

So having made it this far, I made the decision, I thought why not give the uni degree ago, its Agriculture after all how hard can it be. The stumbling block was I didn’t want to move to the other end of the state. My mum had previously seen an ad in the local paper about the Country University Centre opening in Goulburn with a phone call and a week later I was then the first registered student at the CUC. The CUC is established as a study hub to help and support rural and regional students through their university degree.

As 2018 began so did the chapter of university, studying full time online whilst working two bar jobs saw organisation and motivation in full swing. The intensive schools came, friendships that last a life time were instilled. Everything was going well until the dreaded email came I was failing first year chemistry, in tears I rang the CUC and by the time I was home I had not one but three chemistry tutors.

The CUC became more than just fast internet, it became my uni, support and back stop. Flash forward 3 year and I have just graduated a Bachelor of Agriculture the most challenging but exciting and biggest learning curve I ever did embark on. It’s an honour to be the first registered student to start and finish their degree with the support of the CUC Goulburn.

Since this I was then offered a job in the Moree region sowing the winter crops, not really knowing what I was in for and having no experience with cropping I grabbed the opportunity to go.

 

The week before I left I was with my family talking about the new exciting experience of going to sow the winter crops. My cousin then commented ‘So you just walk along and put the seeds in the ground’ now I knew I didn’t really know what I was in for exactly  but knew it was big tractor with a big planter, so I explained the process to them. This comment really hit home for me, I knew there was a knowledge gap of modern farming practices but I didn’t realise how close to home it really was. My cousin has completed uni, lived and studied overseas, absolutely kicking goals, and yet her comment showed there were people in my family that knew very little about farming today

Agriculture today is an exciting web of careers that feed and clothe and provide people with renewable energy. I am excited to be part of it and I am looking forward to inspiring others to join me

Meet Kate McBride finding her passion and mentors in agriculture

Containing our showcase of the stories of the Australian Wool Innovation Cultivate Growing Young Leaders Scholarship finalists

Meet Kate McBride ——-

As a fifth-generation wool grower I suppose there’s no surprise I’ve ended up in the agriculture industry and I am thrilled to be debunking the stereotypical farmer image.

Kate McBride – Healthy River Ambassador 

I am a farmer, I am female and I am under 30. I am also a board member, a healthy river ambassador, a university student working towards a masters and a researcher at The Australia Institute, one of the country’s leading think tanks.  I’m also regularly speak at events and schools and a perk of my career is the work I get to do in the world of politics, working with politicians from all backgrounds on issues that matter to rural Australians.

Appearance on Q&A in 2019, alongside David Littleproud the Federal Minister for Agriculture   

It wasn’t long ago I was a shy girl that couldn’t string two sentences together in front of a camera, let alone on National TV. So, what’s changed and how can others do it? For me it came down to two things;

  1. Finding my passion and
  2. Learning from mentors.

I found my passion and my call to action happened when I witnessed the complete collapse of the Darling-Baaka river, a place I’d grown up along side and loved. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure why or how I could help. Initially my upskilling involved a lot of learning about the river system, networking with experts and training in skills like media.

Standing in the dry Darling-Baaka river- My call to action

 

The second important element for me was the mentors I sought out and learnt from. I have benefitted from incredible mentors over the years that have helped shape me into someone that not only has a voice, but helps other find their own. For me, having one mentor that I could go to for everything didn’t fit, instead I have an army of people I go to for both personal and professional advice. One thing that has been installed in me is the fact that having a voice and platform is a privilege, and with that comes a responsibility. Not just a responsibility to work on a variety of issues, but a responsibility to help young people whose position I was in not too long ago. To me leadership isn’t about being heard, its about supporting others to grow with you and drawing out the best in them.

Sitting in the Senate Chamber at Parliament House

 

The variety in work our industry offers is unrivalled in my opinion. From sheep yards to think tanks, board rooms to parliament house, Agriculture offers it all.

Not only are we seeing more women enter the industry but equally as importantly, we’re witnessing generational change. Our industry has significant challenges and opportunities ahead and we need to be working together, people young and old, experienced and newbies to not just survive but thrive into the future.

I am looking forward to inspiring other young people, supporting them to find their voice and seeing just how far a career in agriculture can take them !

#WomeninWool #YouthinAg #YouthVoicesinAction #GrowingYoungLeaders