Young Farming Champions Muster November 2022




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“If you believe in your heart that you need to do something, and you know in your heart its right… and especially when you’re in a position to make the change, you can’t back away from it.” Alison Mirams 

This is one of the favourite quotes of Action4Agriculture director Lynne Strong who has spent decades championing young people and watching as they shine and make a difference to the world around them. This belief was mirrored recently at the 2022 NSW Sustainability Awards (also known as the Banksia Awards), announced in October, where both Young Farming Champions and students from our school programs were celebrated. Take a look at some of the winners:

Minister’s Young Climate Champion: Winner – Kreative Koalas participant St Brigid’s Primary School; finalist – Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize participant Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education.

NSW Communications for Impact Award: Finalist – Action4Agriculture/Kreative Koalas

NSW Youth as Our Changemakers Award: Joint Winners – Young Farming Champions Anika Molesworth and Josh Gilbert.

What a night! Read more about Lynne’s thoughts on the awards and young people as changemakers here.


The Team

The NSW Sustainability Awards prove our YFC and our school programs have impact and 2023 will bring more opportunities to fly the agricultural flag with the launch of two new programs: Action4Youth and Young Environmental Champions. Both programs will allow YFC to engage the next generation in agricultural conversations and agricultural career pathways. Stay tuned!


In the Field

From paddocks (and oceans) in Australia and across the world, to wool-selling centres and city-based jobs providing help for the hungry, our Young Farming Champions prove there is plethora of career opportunities beyond (and behind) the farm gate.

One YFC making the most of his agricultural pathway is Sam O’Rafferty who works with Summit Ag in southern NSW, where rain and flooding have impacted the production area and planting season for cotton. Despite the challenges Sam reports that cotton seedlings are established and the crop is powering along. Thanks for the update, Sam.

Francesca Earp’s agricultural field is in Laos, where she recently returned after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. “I was in Laos for three weeks meeting with organisations working on female empowerment, and planning fieldwork for next year’s PhD data collection. I also attended the wedding of one of my colleagues Bouakeo and his wife Koung.”

Providing food is not just a land-based activity as Bryan Van Wyk, our fishing YFC and operations manager for Austral Fisheries, reports from northern waters:

“We have just finished our 2022 tiger prawn season in the Northern Prawn Fishery. 52 vessels fished waters west of Darwin (NT) through to Weipa (QLD) for the past three months catching a variety of different prawn species. At the top of the list sits tiger prawns which are one of the largest and most sought after wild caught prawns in the world. It has not been an easy year for fishers. We have faced many challenges in tough economic climates, which you can listen more about here in an interview with the ABC (6 mins in).”

As part of her successful career as a wool broker Samantha Wan attended AWI’s Wool Broker Forum held in Sydney recently.

“It was highly informative with insightful guest speakers covering global business intelligence, consumer research, education and more, and also an excellent opportunity to network with others in the same area of the supply chain and have open dialogue on current issues.”

A shout-out to George Lehmann from AWI who has been supporting Sam and other Wool YFC by providing access to a range of guest speakers including Bridget Peachey (sheep health and welfare), Miles Barritt (traceability), Mark Scott (Woolmark certification) and Geoff Linden (genetics and animal welfare.) AWI also runs a wool podcast called The Yarn, which recently featured YFC Katherine Bain. Listen here.

Congratulations to Tayla Field who has started a new job with Foodbank Australia as a national program manager for agriculture.

“Foodbank is a non-for-profit business that sources a range of products including food and non-food items such as personal hygiene products for charities. In my new role I will be looking after the agricultural programs that source fresh food at Foodbank including working with growers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. The role will cover fresh products including meat, dairy, eggs and fresh produce, while also touching on logistics/transport and packaging. I am looking forward to building on my current skills and developing a new network within a range of agricultural industries.”


Out of the Field

Congratulations are in order for Katherine Bain who has channelled her love of sheep and agricultural shows to be named the runner-up in the Victorian Rural Ambassador Awards. As part of the competition Katherine spent three days at the Royal Melbourne Show in September where she not only participated in competition interviews, but gained behind-the-scenes insights into how a royal show is orchestrated. Highlights included the commentator’s box (“very impressive”), presenting ribbons to the finest Burmese Mountain Dogs (“a new but very enjoyable experience”), the show’s ‘Big Brother’ room (“where they keep an eye on everything!”) and participating in the Young Farmer Challenge. Well done, Katherine. I think you have inspired us all to have a shot at the Rural Ambassador Awards!

Staying with shows and Lucy Collingridge was recognised for her commitment to the agricultural show movement when she was awarded life membership of the Cootamundra Show Society at their 2022 Show. Lucy began her agricultural journey on a farm in Condobolin, however it was the Cootamundra Show that expanded her love and education about all things ag; from running the ute competition before she could legally drive herself, to competing in the junior judging events to now overseeing the fleece junior judging Group 9 final, and managing the website and social media for the show society from nine hours away. Lucy has been hands on wherever the Cootamundra Show Society has needed her for many years.

Lucy is pictured with her Mum, Sharon, and the Cootamundra Show President Geoff Larsen.

How can we re-imagine solutions to food security, and support SDG 2: Zero Hunger? This was the question Dylan Male took to high school students across Australia and Indonesia as a guest speaker at Asialink’s ‘Asia Education Foundation’ in early November.

“Eradicating hunger and malnutrition is one of the great challenges shared by our global community. Climate change, an increasing population, increasing farm input costs, land degradation, biodiversity loss and conflict are just some of the key colliding challenges adding pressure to our food systems. Positively, agricultural scientists are working with farmers around the world to optimise food production and support a world of #ZeroHunger,” Dylan says. “It was great to be a part of a program that is supporting young people to develop their own solutions and action orientated ideas, which will help contribute towards a world of Zero Hunger into the future.”


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Congratulations to Anika Molesworth, who not only was joint winner of the NSW Youth as Our Changemakers Award, but has been named as Australian Geographic’s Conservationist of the Year.

Want to hear Anika talk about electric cars in the Outback? Check out this Central Station podcast.



Personal Highlights

Jess Fearnley had a lovely surprise during her holidays. Her partner Christopher Pattison proposed to her on the shores of Lake Macquarie and she said yes! Congratulations Jess; we wish you both a lifetime of happiness.

#creatingabetterworldtogether #YouthVoices #YoungFarmingChampions #Action4Agriculture

Young Farming Champions Muster October 2022

A career in agriculture can take you everywhere 

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A career in agriculture can take you around the world and as borders reopen post-COVID our YFC are making the most of opportunities. PhD student Dylan Male is a perfect example.

Dylan was invited to attend the 2022 Eurasian Grassland Conference in Tolosa, Spain in September and to present on his PhD research.

“As one of the most threatened ecosystems on our planet, grasslands face important conservation challenges caused by land-use and climate change and their conservation is crucial if we are to protect biodiversity and global health. I was grateful for the opportunity to present a poster presentation on my PhD research and how it is helping support the vision of Djaara to return the culturally significant grass species Themeda triandra to the landscape in Australia. I would like to acknowledge and thank all involved in organising the conference, and also to the AW Howard Memorial Trust for supporting this experience.”

Dylan’s Spanish sojourn allowed him to network with peers across Europe and to visit “Basque Country’s beautiful Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, where we trekked across rocky subalpine grasslands and learnt about the role of livestock grazing in these fragile ecosystems.”

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The Team

As part of the Action4Youth initiative the YFC have been participating in workshops to equip themselves with 21st century skills. Josh Farr facilitated a workshop on mentoring and Annie Simpson led two sessions – one on values at work and the second on challenging conversations.

In the Field

In the field Australian agriculture is thriving, despite the constant climatic challenges presented, which this year comes in the form of over-abundant rain (how many times do we get to say that in this country!).

Sam O’Rafferty, who works alongside Emma Ayliffe at Summit Ag, reports that planting of summer crops is well underway in southern NSW:

“cotton, corn and rice have all been going in the ground for the past 20 days. Consecutive rain events has made planting challenging and will likely reduce the area planted to summer crop this season. Hopefully we will have green rows in some fields in the coming days.”


Staying in the plant world, horticultural researcher at Applied Horticultural Research, Steph Tabone found herself in Manjimup, WA in late September.

“I organised an event that was funded and delivered as part of the Hort Innovation projects ‘Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection’ project and the ‘PotatoLink’ project. The event was focused on cover cropping, strip-tillage and biofumigation and how growers can incorporate the practices into their farming operations to improve soil and crop health.”

60 people attended Steph’s event – a combination of growers, researchers, suppliers, advisors and other industry members.

Moving on to livestock, Katie Barnett, who works as an assistant manager at “Taylors Run” at Kentucky, NSW, is enjoying busy spring days.

“We have almost finished lambing and calving and we will begin marking soon. We are also in the middle of a 50ha radiata pine harvest. I am lucky enough to be sharing feeding two poddy lambs and one poddy calf!”

Meanwhile Katherine Charles is finishing up life at university and exploring options for her career in agriculture.

“I recently completed an 8-week work placement with SheepMetriX, a sheep genetic consulting business based in Young, NSW. At first, I was hesitant to attend placement with a sheep company because most of my experience has been working with cattle, an industry that I am very passionate about. However, I kept an open mind and went into my placement with minimal knowledge about sheep, but a keen willingness to learn. I enjoyed attending seminars, assisting with fleece weighing and lamb DNA sampling, as well as a range of other activities. Working with Sally Martin and her team was a great experience and one that I am very grateful for. I am glad that I took the opportunity to expand my horizons and learn from an innovative leader in the Australian wool industry. This placement has strengthened my love for livestock, and I will definitely consider a career in the wool industry in the future.”

Still on sheep, Wollongong University student and friend of the YFC Hannah Brien has been back on her family Bella Lana Poll Merino Stud at Dripstone, NSW, which has been part of the Merino Lifetime Productivity project.

“Our stud was among 25 and was involved with the extensive data collection and analysis of the progeny of merino stud sires from across Australia. MerinoLink hosted a field day and dinner to celebrate the closing of this project, which investigated genetic linkages between the performance averages of merino ewes across their lifetime and has facilitated the formation of a new index which represents the methane output of each ewe.”

Hannah’s university colleague Thomas Allman is following in Dylan’s footsteps as he enjoys an agricultural career located in Kyoto, Japan as a 2022 New Colombo Plan scholar.

“The Kamogawa River is a beautiful place and symbolises a bit of peace at the end of often busy Japanese working days. This slice of nature offers views of local wildlife and reminds people to enjoy life off their phones and living simply.”


Out of the Field

Out of the field, agricultural shows are dominating the spring headlines.

Lucy Collingridge sat down with Neil Butler from the Regional 250 podcast  recently to discuss all things Armidale NSW and volunteering. Lucy is, perhaps, our biggest agricultural show advocate and has been particularly busy as events ramp up after a two-year hiatus due to COVID.  After attending the Narromine show in September Lucy travelled to the Condobolin Show (where she got her first taste of agriculture over 15 years ago) and then to Adelaide Royal.

“Adelaide was a fantastic opportunity to see how youth events are run in other states and to hear how they are continuing to engage youth and show excellence in agriculture through the show movement.”

Congratulations Lucy – your tremendous support of agricultural shows across the years does not go unnoticed.

Earlier this year Katie Barnett was named the 2022 Kempsey Show Young Woman of the Year.

“While in this role I wanted to do something meaningful that would lead to positive change and further education. I decided that I would hold a few fundraisers to support Ability Agriculture, a charity started by local Kempsey woman Josie Clarke. Ability Agriculture is an online platform and community group that shares the stories of those with disabilities in agriculture. Supporting Ability Agriculture means a lot to me as I had an Aunt who lived on farm with a disability and I now have a younger cousin who is wheelchair bound after an accident in 2021.”

Read more about Katie and Josie in this blog.

Also getting into the show spirit were Kate Webster, Jo Newton, Jaz Green (nee Nixon) and Emily May. Kate coordinated the Wagga Wagga Show Young Woman of the Year Competition.

“I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful and incredibly passionate young women and to learn what parts of agriculture drive them to get involved in the industry.”

Jo caught up with Jaz (and son Arthur) at the Melbourne Show where Jaz and husband Hayden’s Summit Livestock Limousin Stud was very successful, taking out Supreme Exhibit and Senior Champion Bull (Summit Patriot R53), Senior Champion Female (Summit Cauliflower R56), Reserve Junior Bull (Summit Big Star S46) and Breeders Group and Pair of Junior Bulls.

“One of their cows, Summit Krystal L35 also set a new Australian Limousin female record price of $55,000 at auction, at the Spring Selection Sale IV this week,” Jo reports.

Congratulations Jaz.

At Griffith Emily saw the lighter side of an agricultural show.

I’ve seen many interesting segments showcased at agricultural shows but this by far was one of the strangest – a display of weeds in bloom was a winning entry, clearly an entry selection set for a laugh. This may be the only time an agronomist can get away with propagating weeds.”

Moving away from shows and onto life-long learning and Sam Wan has recently completed 6 weeks of TEKLAB VIC, a Farmers2Founders “Hatch” initiative supported by Agriculture Victoria and LaunchVIC. The program, for aspiring entrepreneurs and founders, explores agtech solutions for farm and industry.

Florance McGufficke embarked on a road trip through Victoria during October with 20 Australian and Chinese university students as part of the NFF’s Paddock to Port Australia-China Agricultural Youth tour.

“We got to see firsthand the operation, performance and passion of various growers and agriculturalists in a practical way that was informative and engaging and the biggest opportunity was to network with each other and the producers, researchers and industry leaders we met along the tour.”

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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.”


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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.

Personal Highlights

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!”






Young Farming Champions Muster September 2022

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What better way to headline the September Muster (when many of us are still shivering through the tail of winter) than to check in with Bryan Van Wyk as he sends his prawn fleet into warm northern waters. Bryan is a wonderful example of respecting and showcasing those we work with in fishing and agriculture.

“We currently have our fleet of 11 prawn trawlers dispersed across northern Australia over productive “prawn paddocks” ready to deploy their nets for the 2022 tiger prawn season. An incredible amount of behind-the-scenes work goes into getting a fleet like this to sea. I’m talking about a huge collaborative effort from a range of highly skilled contractors, engineers, surveyors, fleet and engineering managers, various suppliers and of course, our crews. We have 60 of the most extraordinary, dedicated, and strongest men and women from all around the world working together to produce some of the highest quality seafood Australia has to offer.

This is the tiger prawn season. Three months at sea catching what many consider to be one of the largest, most premium, and delicious wild caught prawns in the world. At the top of that list sits Skull Island prawns. Skull Island tiger prawns are renowned for their beautiful glossy red colours, versatility in high end dining rooms and sustainability. Primarily sold to Japan, it can fetch a hefty price of up to $100 per kilo retail, but Skull Island prawns are also making their presence felt in Australian domestic markets with many of the country’s best chefs instantly falling in love with the product after cooking with them. Today we raise a glass, salute the people at sea and wish them all a safe and productive 2022 Skull Island season.”

Check out this video starring Bryan talking about the career he loves.

The Team

Despite COVID complications still impacting The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas, our YFC are doing their part to bring agriculture into the classrooms. Emily May made her live radio debut with ABC Illawarra talking about the successful Paddock Pen Pals program.

“I am really passionate about this program, which connects school students in urban areas with upcoming young rural leaders, allowing them to learn about the wonderful world of agriculture.” Well done, Emily.

In the Field

Also on the ABC was Danielle Fordham, alumni officer at Tocal College, speaking with Bridget Murphy from ABC Newcastle in the lead up to the celebration of 50 years of female students at the college.

“Representing the Tocal College Alumni is deep passion of mine, as an ex-student and now staff member. I have been given the tremendous opportunity to connect and promote our fantastic community. This significant milestone is not just a special occasion for the College, but most importantly a significant milestone for ‘Women in Ag’. As a proud woman in ag, I am continually inspired by the legacies of the women who have pathed the way before me and I hope to continue their ambition in breaking barriers and promoting diversity in our community.”

Literally in the field is Lachlan White who is on the tractor preparing summer feed paddocks for his beef cattle in the Hunter. Having learnt best practice pasture management from dairy farmer Butch Smith, Lachlan, who is now a farm manager with a large pastoral company, has all the skills and resources to prepare and sow 500ha of summer millet/brassica. His steers will enjoy the summer feed, alongside paddocks of existing kikuyu.

Last week Young Farming Champion and agronomist Sam O’Rafferty hosted a group of growers and fellow work colleagues to Tasmania for a cropping tour. They visited several farms in the Midlands and North West Coast regions.

It was fantastic to see many different agricultural production systems and see some of the amazing crop yields that are being achieved.

Out of the Field

Out of the field it is show season with many of our YFC involved.

NSW Rural Achiever state finalist, Lucy Collingridge attended the 2022 Narromine Young Woman competition in July. Lucy joined NSW Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Western NSW Dugald Saunders, and 2022 The Land Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman winner Molly Wright in judging the 2022 competition. Lucy was impressed with the passion and dedication the entrants demonstrated for agriculture and their rural communities:

“all of the entrants are outstanding young women and should be so proud of their contribution to their rural communities and ag industries. It’s opportunities like the Young Woman (formally Showgirl) competition that will continue to develop women across rural NSW who are our future leaders and role models for the next generation”

Katherine Bain, representing Beaufort Show, is one of 11 finalists in the Victorian Rural Ambassador awards for 2022.  Katherine is representing young people in wool. The winner will be announced at the end of September.

Continuing her duties as the 2022 National Rural Ambassador, Dione Howard, attended the Brisbane EKKA in August.

“It was an honour to judge the Qld Rural Ambassador Award and meet ten incredible young people promoting shows, agriculture and rural life. The night show at the EKKA, a tour through Qld Parliament House and an agricultural tour coordinated by AgForce Qld were highlights of a jam-packed few days.”

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Conferences are always a good place for our YFC to meet up and often present to industry.

Katherine Bain teamed up with Katie Barnett in September when they attended the SALRC Livestock 2022 conference.

“It was an exciting two days as we listened to a range of speakers talk about the potential future of livestock from a social and technological standpoint,” Katherine says. “We also got to put our thinking hats on and work through a future scenario about what farms could look like in 15 years. My table was looking at the potential of using robotics on farm, and what the opportunities and restraints of this might be. We got to meet a wide range of people in the livestock industry, from producers to researchers. I would like to thank AWI for sponsoring me to go to this wonderful event.”

Emily May was attended the 2022 Cotton Conference on the Gold Coast in August and was particularly impressed with the session on reversing the rural brain, which included insights on how to attract city kids to agriculture from friend of the YFC Scott Graham. Presenting at the conference were YFCs Liz Lobsey (discussing raingrown cotton) and Connie Mort (discussing new herbicides) while Emma Ayliffe was presented with the ADAMA Chris Lehmann Trust ‘Young Cotton Achiever of the Year’.

Out of the field our YFC are also stepping up to take on industry and media roles.

Florance McGufficke is revelling in her new role with the Vincent Fairfax Foundation as part of the inaugural VFFF Youth Advisory Group.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity and honoured to have been selected to be a member of this amazing group and work with such an influential and passionate organisation. ‘Backing young people’ is where it needs to start and I believe this initiative is going to create numerous opportunities. I am excited to see where this journey will take me and what I can give back to the experience. Thanks to Lynne for sharing and helping me to ‘go for it’.”


Young Farming Champion and NSW Rural Ambassador Jess Fearnley has also been busy. As part of her position on the Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID) she co-hosted a scholars day before the Annual Crawford Conference.

It was rewarding to put my presentation skills and facilitation skills to the test that I learnt with YFC.

As part of the Rural Achiever program we also had the opportunity to head to visit the Royal Adelaide Show on an exchange program to see the behind the scenes of the show!


Following in the footsteps of YFC Dione Howard and Sam Wan before her, Emma Turner has been announced as the 2022 WoolProducers Youth Ambassador. As part of the “Raising the Bar” program Emma will gain insights into policy development and board operations at WoolProducers, the national advocacy body for Australian wool growers. Emma currently works as the District Wool Manager for Elders in Mildura.

Jo Newton has been invited to contribute a regular column for Australian Community Media.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to be a regular contributor for Australian Community Media’s publications. It’s important the voices and images we see in media reflect the diversity of people working across the agricultural sector. Not only is it important to have different perspectives represented in media, but also to help young people identify role models and be able to visualise themselves working in food and fibre production.”

Catch Jo’s new column on FarmOnline.

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The FarmOnline column is a continuation of Jo’s advocacy work. In her role as a research geneticist she travelled to Rotterdam in The Netherlands to attend the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production in July where she co-chaired a session on “Young Scientist Career Development” alongside Dr Marta Godia, Dr Hugo Toledo and Dr Biaty Raymond.

“It was an honour to co-chair the first Young Scientists Session, a valuable and much needed addition to the conference agenda. Our panellists all spoke incredibly honestly and openly about their career journeys including tackling tough topics like mental health and imposter syndrome, which was very inspiring for all in attendance.”

Photo credit European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders/Farm Animal Breeding and Reproduction Technology Platform


Lifetime Highlights

Marlee Langfield became Marlee Gallagher in late August when she and Andrew married at The Rustic Maze and Country Garden near Cowra. Check out this beautiful shot starring their beloved dog, Ellie. Congratulations to you both Marlee and Andrew.

Photo credit to Anne Cooper Photography 




Young Farming Champions Muster July 2022

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The Muster showcases the careers, advocacy and lifetime highlights of our Young Farming Champions and it is usually peppered with stories from our YFC alumni. However, in this Muster it is the newbies – those undertaking Cultivate and still learning the ropes – who shine; taking on leadership positions, talking to the next generation, excelling in their studies and revelling in their agricultural careers. Read on to see how Danielle, Lachlan, Florance and Sam are taking the lead to be confident and trusted change-makers – alongside their YFC alumni mentors and friends.


The Team

With The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas ramping up in schools across the country our YFC have been busy connecting with students. Lake Illawarra High School (The Archibull Prize) recently held an Urban2AG careers day and new YFC Danielle Fordham and Lachlan White shared their agricultural career journeys and joined students in a one-on-one ‘speed dating’ session to answer students’ in-depth questions.

Paddock Pen Pals has kicked off in primary schools participating in Kreative Koalas with Chatswood Primary School and Carlingford West Primary School leading the charge. Paddock Pen Pals gives students the opportunity to engage with YFC across a diverse range of agricultural industries including agronomy, sheep production and fisheries. Thanks to Emily May, Dione Howard, Katherine Bain, Sam Wan, Bryan Van Wyk, Lucy Collingridge, Dylan Male and YFC friend Kate McBride for stepping up to speak with our next generation.

In the Field

New YFC Sam O’Rafferty, who works with Emma Ayliffe at Summit Ag, is enjoying his agricultural career as an irrigation agronomist, helping growers produce crops such as cotton, corn, sunflowers, wheat and canola. Here is Sam in a cotton paddock that is ready to harvest, on a farm at Coleambally in Southern NSW.

Also enjoying his career is our fishing YFC Bryan Van Wyk, who is helping introduce new technology to the prawn industry. “One of the exciting projects we are working on is a new prawn processing invention which makes the most of limited available deck space on board fishing vessels. This never-seen-before multi-layered sorting belt and dip tank configuration will allow more prawns to be processed faster, improve product quality and reduce crew fatigue. It will also fit the longer dip requirements for odourless sulphite-free preservatives, which will improve working environments for crews at sea, remove sulphite allergens for consumers and open new overseas markets. Innovation is something I really enjoy. It’s all about finding better ways to do things and improving your industry and business for the future”

Bryan with chief draftsman Gavin Stone adding final touches to the new technology.

Meg Rice works as a senior policy officer at Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in the rural location of Goondiwindi (QLD) and appreciates how a career in agriculture can take her out of the city environ. “How lucky am I that this is the view from my office window”.

A crop of wheat emerging after recent rain in south western Queensland.

Danila Marini’s day job as a livestock researcher involves disseminating new research about her virtual fencing projects and this month she was happy to speak at her first face-to-face conference in two years at The Australian Association of Animal Sciences 34th biannual conference in Cairns.

“As part of the Animal Production Science Journals special issue for the conference I was invited to prepare a full paper on ‘Comparison of virtually fencing and electrically fencing sheep for pasture management’ as well as give a 10 minute oral presentation on the research at the conference itself. It’s always important to share your research at these types of events and it is a great way to make new connections. I had a great time and it’s always interesting to see the other research that is being undertaken in the agricultural industry.”

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Young Farming Champions Veronika Vicic, Danila Marini, Steph Fowler and Dione Howard all presented at the conference 


Out of the Field

The Australian Association of Animal Sciences conference also saw Dione Howard and Jo Newton band together with Lynne Strong, Larraine Larri and Nicole McDonald to prepare an abstract and presentation on how Action4Agriculture’s school-based programs are helping improve agriculture’s social license.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to present A4A’s research to the scientific community and take questions from a curious audience,” Dione says.

It has been a huge month for conferences and presentations with many YFC in action.

Dylan Male was invited by the Asia Education Foundation (AEF) to be a guest speaker at the ‘Global Goals: Environmental Sustainability Forum’, which was delivered online to primary schools across QLD.

“I spoke to students about the important role that farmers and agricultural scientists have in ensuring we live in a world of zero hunger and overcoming the challenges of climate change. I was able to share my experiences of working in PNG and Solomon Islands to demonstrate the importance of food security in our regional neighbourhood. What I liked most about this experience was seeing just how engaged the students were on these topics, and how willing they are to listen, learn and take action.”

Florance McGufficke attended the 2022 MerinoLink conference in Wagga Wagga.

“We had a range of speakers from industry body representatives, researchers, CEOs, young early- career starters and producers; all experts in their field, educating us about research projects, ewe reproduction, retail and the need for positive promotion of agriculture. There are a large number of passionate and enthusiastic people in agriculture and with the right people in the right places I believe great things will be achieved.”

Franny Earp is currently in the UK for a film summer school held by the UCL anthropology department but before she left she was as busy as ever.

Franny coordinated the Development Studies Association of Australia (DSAA) Conference and invited Dylan Male to participate. He did an excellent job sharing his stories about this PhD journey so far.

Dylan spoke on the topic ‘Survive and Thrive: Stories from Students’.

“During the discussion, we shared stories of our PhD experiences and tried to make light of the challenges we have faced by sharing a story of our ‘funny failures from the field’. This discussion made me feel like I wasn’t alone in my PhD journey, and I would like to thank and congratulate Fran for running such valuable session,” Dylan says.


Emma Ayliffe and Tim Eyes were panellists at a Grain Growers Innovation Generation event talking about farm ownership.

“It was a privilege to be asked to be part of this and my role was to share some alternative lights on how to be a farmer without owning dirt,” Emma says.

Listen to Tim talk about his experience on Generation Ag here

Lucy Collingridge attended the 2022 Robb College Agrimixer earlier this month.

“I spoke to the students about my roles as a Biosecurity Officer and Technical Officer Vertebrate Pests, and the career opportunities within our agricultural industries.”

Away from conference events our YFC spread the good agricultural word in other forums with Lucy catching up with Mate Helping Mate founder John Harper to discuss how she maintains her mental health and keeps an eye out for mates. Listen to the MHM podcast episode, titled ‘Pat a Dog Day’, here.

Sam Wan featured in Landline’s ‘Magic Merinos’ segment as part of the ABC’s 90th Birthday Celebrations ‘Things that Made Australia’.” Read more about Sam and wool here and see the Landline episode here.

Our YFC were also learning with Dione Howard and Katherine Bain attending the acclaimed AWI Breeding Leadership course in Clare, SA, with both ladies raving about the experience:

“I think most leadership courses can get lost in the aspirational ideas and you leave without gaining any real skills but over the week at Breeding Leadership we had lots of discussions around issues like farm succession, communication and governance that, for me, led to some great ideas to bring home to the farm. I left feeling excited for the future of wool both on and off farm,” Katherine says.

“A group of 19 young wool industry members came together to learn about ourselves and how we can best work within and build the farming businesses we’re involved in. The course was facilitated by Pinion Advisory and we were treated to talks and stud tours, from those out there in the industry with learnings and wisdom to share. The future of the industry is bright and I left feeling inspired for what’s to come,” Dione says.

And when not sharing their stories or learning new skills our YFC give back to communities who have supported them.

Lucy Collingridge and Jessica Fearnley continued their long-running commitment to agricultural shows and have been welcomed as the 2022 Rural Achiever representative and Group 11 Delegate, respectively, to the ASC of NSW Next Generation committee, the junior arm of AgShows NSW.

“This is an opportunity for us to give back to rural Australia and develop the future of agriculture. Agricultural shows are not only a great opportunity for our communities to come together but they also provide a platform for youth development through competitions such as Young Judges and Paraders, and they link key industry professionals with youth who want to jump in to our industry,” Lucy says.

James Cleaver 2019 NSW Rural Achiever, Dione Howard 2020 NSW Rural Achiever and 2022 National Ambassador, Minister Dugald Saunders (Agriculture/Western NSW), Lucy Collingridge 2022 NSW Rural Achiever finalist and Jessica Fearnley 2022 NSW Rural Achiever winner

Jess also attended the bicentennial celebration for the RAS, which turned 200 this year, catching up with RAS Council members, youth group members, young women and Rural Achievers.

Prime Cuts

With funding recently received from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation to enable our new program, Young Environmental Champions, we are pleased to announce that new YFC Florance McGufficke has been appointed to the inaugural VFFF Youth Advisory Group – a forum of youth voices that guide and inform VFFF grant-making. Congratulations Florance.

Another new YFC making an early impact is Danielle Fordham who recently received the University of Newcastle Beryl Nashar Prize in Level 1000 Earth Sciences and the Howard Bridgman Prize for First Year Environmental Science. Both awards were in recognition of her 2021 academic performance.

“I was deeply honoured to receive these awards and it encourages me to keep on striving and putting in the work for a better and brighter future for our community and environment. Personally, these academic awards were an unexpected surprise that came from me just giving university a go after many years of thinking I wasn’t good enough. This recognition is not just for me but for my parents and supporters who get me through the challenges and wins. Thank you so much. My motto through life is when in doubt, just give it a go!”


Lifetime Highlights

One of our lifetime highlights comes this month from Lucy Collingridge who is gifting lifetime highlights to others through the donation of blood, something she does as often as she can.

“At first I was nervous as I wasn’t sure what the whole process was like but I jumped in this time last year to give it a go. It’s really rewarding knowing I can spend an hour donating plasma which will be turned in to one of 18 lifesaving products for our most vulnerable. It could be us, or our family and friends that need an infusion one day so it’s definitely a rewarding way to spend an hour of your day. Given that agriculture is one of the most dangerous careers, I see it as another way to support Australian agriculture and our rural communities.”

You are an inspiration, Lucy!

Equally inspirational is another Wool YFC Emma Turner – how could you not be inspired to give blood with  these wonderful young women as role models


And saving our best snippet of Muster news for last, huge congratulations to Dione Howard who announced her engagement last week to a lucky bloke named Joe Fitzgerald. The whole team wishes you both all the best for a healthy and happy life together.

Young Farming Champions Muster June 2022

Headline Act

One of the foundational aims of Young Farming Champions is to tell the positive stories of Australian agriculture; to share experiences and truths beyond industry; to engage and connect with those in the wider community. In the last few months our Young Farming Champions have excelled.

Leading from the front was Emma Ayliffe who is profiled in the current edition of RM Williams Outback magazine (and spruiked on the front cover). Read an excerpt of Em’s story here. In the same edition (143) Jess Fearnley featured as the winner of the RM Williams RAS Rural Achiever Award.

Every two years RM Williams publishes a special edition known as Great Australians that profiles quiet Australians doing amazing work in the bush. The 2022 edition, in newsagents now, features none other than our own Anika Molesworth. See the story here 

Not to be outdone are Sam Wan and Katherine Bain who share their love for all things wool in the popular Graziher magazine. See some of the photos accompanying the story (out now!) here.

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The Team

We welcome to the YFC team a new cohort who will participate in the Cultivate -Growing Young Leaders program this year. Sponsored by Riverina Local Land Services please make welcome Katharine Charles, Kate Webster and Sam O’Rafferty who is co-sponsored by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

In the Field

Biosecurity warrior and Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge loves her job at the forefront of protecting our economy, environment and community from pests, weeds and diseases.


In the literal field this winter has been agronomist Olivia Borden who is working with Northern Territory cotton crops. Olivia recently hosted a team of Australian cotton industry scientists as they explored whether the knowledge from a cotton production course designed for the south could be applied to the north. Scientists from the field trip concluded:

“Supporting the staff and farmers who are establishing cotton in the region is definitely worthy of our time and assistance. There is a hunger to see cotton succeed in the NT, a promise to undertake trials and to become more open in sharing their learnings. All of this is likely to result in a great future for cotton in the NT.”

Olivia is on the forefront of cotton production in the north and we look forward to future updates.

Staying with plants, and its congratulations to Steph Tabone who has started a new job as a horticultural researcher with Applied Horticultural Research.

“My role at AHR involves leading and contributing to key industry projects including the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection project and the Potato Industry and Communication Extension project. The diversity of the role could see me organising farmer workshops and demonstrations in the field, reviewing global literature for new and relevant research, writing factsheets, facilitating a webinar with technical experts, and completing trials in a field and lab environment.

Steph also attended the ‘Hort Connections’ annual conference in Brisbane in June with AHR.

“It presented a great opportunity to meet new people, and of course reconnect with old friends in industry, and I attended a field tour, where we visited a high-tech greenhouse snacking tomato operation.”

“My career goal is to support farmers to sustainably produce high quality and safe food for our population. In this role I can work closely with farmers, which gives me greater clarity of their pain points, further enabling me to provide content that is of value to them. This is exciting because we have the potential to deliver innovative solutions that addresses some of our industry’s major challenges.”


Veronika Vicic, who is a PhD candidate at Charles Sturt University, needs your help.

“I am in the final wrap up of my PhD and we are searching for consumers far and wide to help complete my study and eat some beef! If you are a club or association we can donate $300 for 20 participants or $1000 for 60 participants to attend a consumer tasting session. We are located in Wagga but can travel to outer regions if large groups are able to attend a session.”

For more details (or to book a long YFC lunch) see the flyer here .

Another PhD candidate, Franny Earp, is about to wing her way to London in July to take part in a film summer school held by UCL anthropology department.

“The school will focus on the practical, critical and theoretical skills required in making documentary and visual ethnography films and how to tell other peoples’ stories via visual resources. I am hoping to use visual ethnography as a data collection method for my PhD on female farmer empowerment in agricultural development programming and so the course will help expand and enhance my skills in the area.”

Encouraged by fellow YFC and shearer Tom Squires, who she mentored in the Cultivate -Growing Young Leaders program, Sam Wan extended her sheep and wool expertise by learning to shear with the Shearer Contractors Association of Australia’s (SCAA).

“I loved it. I loved that it was 5 days so parallel to my work in wool broking yet was still separate, that it challenged limits and ways of thinking and doing. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from highly experienced teachers, all shearers themselves, sharing the translated version of their learning into a system of steps to pinpoint a flow, reduce body strain and work with the sheep. It was great to understand how much pride they had in their work and care taken with the sheep, their gear and their clients. Alongside a mixed cohort that were clearly focused on being present, I got to set up combs and cutters, manoeuvre self and sheep angles and adjust grips to shear the full length of the fibre. The practical component of having access to equipment and sheep to shear was invaluable.”

As part of her job with AgCAREERSTART with the National Farmers’ Federation, Chloe Dutschke attended FarmFest in Toowoomba.

“It was so great to be in QLD to showcase AgCAREERSTART, made even better when friendly faces such as YFC Meg Rice came by my stall.”

Applications for 2023 AgCAREERSTART host farmers are open now and participants open July 12.


Out of the Field

The NSW Showgirl has been renamed to The Land Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman of the Year  and Katie Barnett has been the recipient of the rebranded award for the Kempsey Show Society. Katie is looking forward to representing Kempsey and rural NSW in the year ahead and as an active member of her show society, welcomes the return of the agricultural show after a couple of tumultuous years.

“As a Kempsey Show Society Director and the Chief Cattle Steward it was great to be able to run a show and have our community come together after 2 years of cancellations due to Covid and floods. Despite the wet weather and mud (plus a few bogged vehicles) we had an awesome turnout and a large number of youth involved. Aren’t small towns the best!”


Speaking of agricultural shows here is a video made when Dione Howard (National Rural Ambassador) and Jess Fearnley (RM Williams RAS Rural Achiever) added some star power to the Orange Show:

“One of the highlights of my month was the attending the Orange (and Bathurst) shows. I love the local shows in my area so when I was able to volunteer for the Bathurst show and help steward in the horse ring and take over the social media account for the Orange show with the help of Dione it was great to get more involved,” Jess says.

Dione also caught up with another YFC when she and Lucy Collingridge (RM Williams RAS Rural Achiever finalist) attended the Global Food Forum 2022 in Melbourne on June 1, an opportunity provided by RAS of NSW.

“It was a very informative day with trends and insights from across food production, processing and sales. A major theme consistent across all areas of the supply chain was the labour shortage. Other key takeaways included how businesses have adapted/diversified following the pandemic, and how important it is to be taking ownership of telling our story using a values-based approach. Time to go over our YFC workshop notes with CFI!,” Dione says.


Dylan Male was invited by the ABC to attend the live audience of ‘Q+A’ to present his question “What are the strengths that Australia should leverage more to ensure we are the partner of choice for pacific nations? Where are we going wrong, and what can we do right?” to panellists including Monique Ryan Independent Member for Kooyong; Andrew Bragg Senator for NSW; Mehreen Faruqi Senator for NSW; Alexander Downer Former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister and Amanda Rishworth Federal Minister for Social Services.

Having previously lived in PNG and Solomon Islands, this was a topic close to Dylan’s heart.

“I felt thankful to the ABC for providing a platform for young Australians like me to have a voice and ask questions to our most senior politicians.”

Catch the episode on iView here.

Prime Cuts

After years of knocking on the door, Emma Ayliffe has been recognised with one of Cotton Australia’s most prestigious awards when she was named the ADAMA Chris Lehmann Trust ‘Young Cotton Achiever of the Year’ in June. Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said that he was impressed with her new ideas and work ethic:

“Emma is showing how fresh ideas and hard work can benefit all the growers in her region and other regions. I am particularly impressed with Emma’s commitment to improving the social licence of cotton and that will have benefits for the country as more people hear how our cotton is among the world’s best in quality and sustainability.”


To Emma, the award is proof she is making a difference in the cotton industry.

“To make the final three is an achievement in itself so win it is amazing. Having the Chris Lehmann Trust and ADAMA support the ‘up and coming’ in such a way illustrates the vibrancy of the cotton industry. I can’t wait for cotton conference in August to be presented with my actual award and catch up with so many wonderful people.”

Congratulations to YFC alumni James Kanaley who was also a ADAMA Chris Lehmann Trust ‘Young Cotton Achiever of the Year’ finalist

Lifetime Highlights

With many Covid restrictions lifted our YFC are scratching itchy feet with renewed overseas travel. Taking a trip to Canada to visit family and friends was Katherine Bain.

“The highlight was whale watching in Georgia Strait – we saw lots of seals and sea lions and two orcas!”

We’re jealous Katherine!


#YouthinAg #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

Young Farming Champions Muster May 2022

Headline Act

It was a big month for Young Farming Champions with the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April, highlighted by Dione Howard winning the 2022 National Rural Ambassador finals.

Dione Howard 2022 National Rural Ambassador with Karl Milde the 2021 National Rural Ambassador 

Listen to Dione share her story on Humans of Agriculture here

Winning the NSW title in 2021 was a long-held dream for Dione and her success inspired YFC Jessica Fearnley and Lucy Collingridge to put up their hands and be named as RAS Rural Achievers this year. We are thrilled to announce that Jess was the winner.

YFC alumni Lucy Collingridge had a very exciting April she segued from her RAS Rural Achiever experience to the podium at  the Department of Regional NSW 2022 Awards where she was runner up in the Jennifer Bates Memorial Award, which recognises the contributions made by young women (<35yo) in the department, not only towards their work but towards our industries and rural communities in NSW. Well done Lucy

“I’m lucky to work with the best team doing some pretty cool things for our ag industry and native wildlife. I’m also lucky to have worked with some awesome people along the way who I am grateful to now call friends.”
YFC Dione Howard, Lucy Collingridge and Jess Fearnley with Hon Dugald Saunders MP


Not to be left out of the action, Samantha Wan was recognised by her peers, the Youth Group of RAS, for her dedication and support of the wool industry.

“The RAS Youth Group launched the RAS Youth Medal to recognise young people under 35yrs for their contribution to the RAS of NSW, a section of the Sydney Royal Easter Show or industry. Nominations were received from each committee of the RAS and the RAS Youth Group determined each nominee’s suitability. “

Accolades such as these on the national stage highlight the success of our Young Farming Champions program.

“There’s no doubt that YFC training has been pivotal to my success, from being equipped to answer tough questions, to holding my own in front of the camera. It’s also given me the confidence to know where I am on my leadership journey to apply for awards such as this,” Dione says.

Congratulations to all YFC for your participation, wins, promotion of our team and for being genuine and passionate advocates for Australian agriculture.

Read Dione and Jess’ plans for their award year journey here 

The Team

Congratulations also to our 2022 YFC Leadership Team committee members appointed at recent AGM: Francesca Earp takes on the role of convenor and is joined by Jessica Fearnley, Chloe Dutschke, Emily May, Katherine Bain and Dione Howard. A huge thank you to Jo Newton and Lynne Strong for their work on the executive on 2021 and to outgoing YFC Marlee Langfield, Meg Rice, Calum Watt, Tayla Field and Samantha Wan.

We welcome to the YFC team a new cohort who will participate in Cultivate this year. Hunter Local Land Services scholarship winners are Lachlan White and Danielle Fordham who both come from non-farming backgrounds (and you know how excited we get when we get “townies” joining the team – we love “townies”). Florance McGufficke is the AWI scholarship winner.

We have also initiated two interns in Katie Barnett and Reynolds Tang-Smith to bring their wisdom to the diversity of voices.

Of course our team is backed by some of the best minds in the business. Our Kreative Koalas and Archibull Prize art judge Wendy Taylor and Craig Taylor designed the entire District Exhibit display at the 200th Sydney Royal Easter Show and gave Princess Anne a guided tour. Don’t we work with amazing people?

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Craig and Wendy even got a gig on the Royal Family Instagram page 

Wendy and Craig weren’t the only ones who met Princess Anne

YFC Leadership Team member and the 2022 National Rural Ambassador Dione Howard was one of 8 people who dined with Princess Anne on Saturday 9th April and our YFC Rural Achievers Jess Fearnley and Lucy Collingridge also met the Princess

And wrapping up the team work for April was Lynne Strong who shared the Action4Agriculture programs with the Ducks on the Pond podcast. Have a listen here.


In the Field

The congratulations continued in the field with Connie Mort who has been recognised be her employer with a place in the Global Sales Champion Network.

“This a new initiative by Corteva Agriscience to recognise the top team members across the company who strive to put customers first and grow their success. I was awarded a place in the 2022 Class, which will allow me to work with more than 20 other Corteva team members from all over the world and share our experiences and learn from one another about how to best deliver for growers.”


Chloe Dutschke is thriving in her new job as a training and new career officer with National Farmers Federation and attended the NFF “Sustaining the Nation” conference on April 5 and 6.

“The conference was well attended and covered a huge array of topics including, climate change, carbon farming, community growth and workforce shortages and had a varied line up of speakers including both the Hon Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and Shadow Minister Hon Julie Collins. I had some wonderful conversations with attendees about the incredible Ag gap year program AgCAREERSTART I represent and it was also great to catch-up with some YFC and previous workshop speakers such as Sally Murfet. Most of all it was such a buzz to be at a conference again and feel the power of face to face connection and future learning.”

Chloe and AgCAREERSTART team at the National Farmers Federation Conference ( in the centre of the pix is team leader Kayla Evans ) 


Jessica Fearnley, a development officer with NSW DPI in Bathurst has gone nuts (and not just with her Rural Achiever win).

“We are currently finishing off a five year hazelnut project and we are in the middle of harvest. As hazelnuts are not mechanically harvested we needed to get down on our hands and knees and sweep up the nuts!” Getting dirty all in the name of science, Jess.

Hazelnuts are an emerging industry in Australia

How is this for an office? Dylan Male sends us this image of working on his PhD in inner-city Melbourne.

“I wanted to include this picture in the Muster to highlight to readers that a career in agriculture doesn’t always involve being on the farm. With over 80 % of today’s jobs in the agriculture being beyond the farm gate, I think it’s as important as ever to bring awareness to this. You can be fully involved in agriculture, and yet be living and working in an urban environment. Key message: Young people from urban environments should never think that they are not ‘farmy enough’ to get involved in agriculture!”

Dylan also got to up his Young Farming Champions journey with the board of his scholarship provider Riverina Local Land Services


Wondering where your career in agriculture can take you? Geoff Birchnell, one of earliest Young Farming Champions has popped up on The Financial Bloke podcast recently. A Tamworth boy, Geoff started his career in agribusiness as a chartered accountant before transitioning to full-time farmer, co-founding 3R Livestock in 2018. Check out the 3R website to learn more about this agricultural entrepreneur.

Young Farming Champion Bryan Van Wyk day job certainly opens our eyes to the world of wild catching fishing.

Bryan recently shared his prawn spotting experience on LinkedIn

” I’ve done some pretty epic things in my career  my career so far but my first go at prawn spotting has been one of the coolest experiences I’ve had. There have been many respected spotters before me and there are also some experienced legends still flying. Having the opportunity to join this unique class of fishers has been a privilege.

During the start of the fishing season, banana prawns aggregate in schools that can vary between 1 to 100+ tonnes in mass. These dense schools stir up muddy sediment on the sea floor creating “mud boils” that can be seen anywhere from vessels, planes and even satellites. Scientists aren’t 100% sure why this rare prawn phenomenon occurs but it’s believed to be for a combination of spawning, feeding and predator avoidance behaviour.

It’s not always as simple as finding mud and it’s an art that can take years to perfect. I’ve already learnt a lot from the pros. Factors used to distinguish which mud boils are worth fishing include shape, colour, density, head and tail characteristics and also tides/winds. There are at times 100’s of mud patches out there that are created by certain types of fish, hard bottom, tides and fishing vessels. Finding the prawns in all this can be challenging!

With 7 planes flying around at different altitudes and 52 prawn trawlers all competing for the same resource, you can’t help but feel the pressure up there. When you can’t find anything, or worse, make the wrong call, the feeling of non-performance is sobering. I can say though, that when you get it right and you get confirmation on the radio that the boil you just guided a boat to is loaded with pure prawn, then it is one of the best feelings in the world. Nothing but adrenaline, excitement, satisfaction and high 5’s with the pilot.”


Out of the Field

Coinciding with her National Rural Ambassador win Dione Howard has appeared on the popular Humans of Agriculture podcast, talking about, among other things, the joy and benefits of working with young people in The Archibull Prize.

One of our newest YFC, Danielle Fordham, has hit the ground running and is already sharing her “Out of the Field” experiences with us:

“On 31st March I got the opportunity to celebrate and support Tocal Agricultural College student, Kaitlyn Simpson, as she received the Women’s Network Hunter NSW 2021 Breaking Barriers scholarship award. The Breaking the Barriers Scholarship supports women in male-dominated fields, such as agriculture. Because of programs and opportunities like this, there is a growing demographic shift where women in non-traditional trades are being recognised and encouraged. Notably, as a result, there are a growing number of female students at Tocal and currently, female enrolments outnumber males by 70 percent in Tocal’s full-time ag courses. This is an amazing achievement for Katie and I cannot wait to see what other barriers she overcomes during her career.

“The night was also a great opportunity for me to reconnect with the Women’s Network Hunter and fill them in on my journey and recent achievement of becoming a Young Farming Champion since receiving their scholarship in 2017. It was deeply heart-warming to tell them what their scholarship has enabled me to do and the barriers I’m taking on now.” Thanks for sharing Danielle.

Danielle was also busy promoting Tocal College at their recent Field Day

Teasing us this month are Samantha Wan and Katherine Bain who provide this photo below with a cryptic message from Sam: “”Behind the scene shots, Sunday 27th March at Katherine’s property – St Enochs (Stockyard Hill, Victoria) for a photoshoot for a Winter edition publication. Stay tuned!” Now you’ve got us all curious girls – can’t wait to learn more!

Prime Cuts

Jo Newton has been elected president of the Victorian and Tasmanian Branch Committee of the Australian Association of Animal Sciences.

“The Australian Association of Animal Sciences (AAAS) plays an important role in fostering collaborations across institutions and disciplines and in nurturing the next generation of animal scientists and I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead the AAAS Victoria & Tasmania Branch. I look forward to working with this branch and wider AAAS members over the next 12 months.”

For the past 65 years AAAS, and its predecessor the Australian Society of Animal Production (ASAP) has brought together animal scientists, consultants, extension specialists, producers and students to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, foster collaborative research and provide applied solutions for Australia’s animal based industries. AAAS based its activities around the core values of professional integrity, evidence based science, ethical sustainable animal enterprises and lifetime support. Congratulations Jo.

Partners in the Food Farm YFC Tim Eyes and Hannah Greenshields shared the stage at the recent National Farmers Federation conference with some luminaries in the world of food including Chef Matt Moran and NFF president Fiona Simson. Tim and Hannah are renowned experts in how to break down prejudices and
open minds to alternatives through values based conversations between people of diverse values and worldviews.

Tim described the opportunity as a farming journey highlight

“Meeting passionate, stereotype-busting leaders and innovators can spark enthusiasm and defeat pessimism. Its is so important to communicate using voices who are real and trusted by the audience. People want to hear the unfiltered, passionate voices of real people.”

Mega thx to Stacey Davidson at NFF for these wonderful pix 

Lifetime Highlights

Sometimes our greatest lifetime highlights are the little moments. Or as Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” Thanks to Marlee Langfield for reminding us of this with her beautiful sunset shot. “Just a moment in time I captured one March afternoon but possibly the most romantic sunset you will ever see. You can see the change of seasons in this photo as the days start to cool down and we welcome autumn with burnt paddocks and shorter days.”

Young Farming Champions Muster March 2022


Headline Act

Young Farming Champions is a group of dedicated young professionals in Australian agriculture who  advocate strongly for their industry and inspire and encourage others to follow in their career footsteps.

Exemplifying this ethos is Chloe Dutschke, a driven wool champion, who has now found her career moving in a different direction.

“I have started a new role with National Farmers Federation as the Training and Career Development Officer for the Government funded program AgCAREERSTART, a gap year program developed for young people to kick start their career in farming. I now work remotely from home and in an area where my passion lies, helping young people develop their career in agriculture.”

Congratulations Chloe and we look forward to following your journey.

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In the Field

In the Field means watermelon season in northern Australia and Olivia Borden is in the thick of it in the Northern Territory. “Growing up, eating watermelon was my family’s summer treat; juice running down cheeks, huge smiles; we would run around the sprinklers on the lawn and be in childhood heaven. However, I never gave a thought to how melons were grown and if you had of told me I would become a watermelon agronomist I wouldn’t have believed you for a moment.”

“Growing watermelons is truly an art form; one I am far from mastering, but it has me hooked. Our warm days and cool nights make the melons shrink and swell, which can cause cracks. Too much water and you have a slushy. Too little water and you have a poor vine that can’t carry the nutrients. Too much nitrogen and the vine will spit off its fruit. Not enough potassium and you have a tasteless melon. To understand the plant’s nutritional requirements requires us to be on our toes. I have worked with melons for two years and still learn more every day.”

From watermelons to wine grapes and Emily May has been part of the harvest of Vintage 2022 in the Riverina.

“After a tough season thanks to the wetter than usual weather conditions, wine-grape growers across the district have commenced their harvest. I took this photo while standing on top of one of my client’s grape harvesters while they were picking some Semillon. With that the end of my first ever season working in the viticulture industry is coming to its end.”

You may think grain growers in eastern Australia were relaxing after the rain-induced late harvest but that is not the case as they now prepare to sow again in mid-late Autumn. Marlee Langfield is one of these grain growers.

“We have been carrying out controlled burns across our wheat stubble paddocks as a method of clearing the paddock so we can assess the 789,528 bog holes that scatter the landscape from the exceptionally wet harvest. These bog holes need to be repaired and smoothed out ahead of sowing (April/May) so that machinery can pass over the landscape safety with no surprises!”

Good luck Marlee.

Another industry ramping up during Autumn is the banana prawn season and Bryan Van Wyk has been busy overseeing a major refit of prawn trawlers with Austral Fisheries. Works include standard maintenance of engines, refrigeration systems, pumps and processing gear but also includes things like blasting/painting, out of water vessel surveys, fishing technology upgrades, refrigeration upgrades and traceability technology installations.

“As an operations manager, I have the unique privilege to be able to oversee most of these works. No day is the same and the opportunities for learnings are endless. My main background is marine science, and not many in my field get such high levels of exposure to these aspects of the fishing industry, so for that I am grateful.”

The season start date is set for April 1st and a large portion of domestically consumed prawns will be caught throughout northern Australia over the next two months.


Out of the Field

When not filling in bog holes Marlee is busy Out of the Field, sharing her leadership experiences with participants of the GrainGrowers, Grains Social Leadership program, of which she was a Round 3 participant.

“At the beginning of March, I spoke with Round 5 participants, sharing my past experiences and my journey since graduating from the program, which made for great peer to peer learning. It’s awesome to see this program continue to grow from strength to strength and see grain growers who are so passionate about the industry flex their leadership muscles.”

Also going from strength to strength is Danila Marini. Read their CSIRO blog to learn how pink hair, rollar-skating and a love of sheep combine to produce an exciting research career and see how Danila has thrived, despite challenges along the way.

As a district veterinarian for Riverina Local Land Services Dione Howard takes a keen interest in all things Archibull and Kreative Koalas, so she was thrilled to hear Barellan Central School spruiking their Koala Kenny on ABC radio recently.

“Barellan is sponsored by Riverina Local Land Services and they have set Kenny up in a shack in front of the school to share school-grown fruit and vegetables with the local community.”

What a wonderful example of our in-school programs working to change their world on a local level.

Dione has also been busy spruiking YFC and A4A.

“On 1st March I spoke on behalf at the Murrumbidgee Landcare event Catchment Keepers, at Big Springs (near Wagga). I met women living and working in the region with a passion for community and caring for the land. I spoke about my experiences as a Young Farming Champion, A4A’s school programs and my life as a LLS District Vet.”

Congratulations to Shannon Chatfield who has been accepted as a mentee into the 6-month Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program run by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.

“I had my first group session last week and we had a wonderful session with Warren Davies ‘the unbreakable farmer’ where he shared his story and some tools and strategies that helped him to overcome his mental health challenges. I have been asked to identify some of my goals, what I would like to focus on in these sessions, the areas in which I would like to develop and the potential obstacles I could encounter in taking steps towards these goals.”


Prime Cuts

A couple more congratulations to two YFC reaching learning milestones:

Congratulations to Francesca Earp who graduated from a Masters of Global Development at James Cook University on 15th of March.

“I started the Masters in response to the effects of COVID and having to return from the field early. I have loved the course and am very excited to celebrate my graduation.”

Congratulations also to Sam Wan who was admitted to the Australian Institute of Company Directors in November last year, after being selected for the course under the WoolProducers Australia Raising the Baa program.

“The course involved virtual classrooms every Friday for five weeks, a final assessment (I have been too long away from formal study!) and a nerve-racking wait for results.”

YFC Meg Rice is sending a shoutout to fellow YFC  Lucy Collingridge and Jessica Fearnley as they head to the Sydney Royal East Show as part of the RAS Rural Achiever Program! The RAS Rural Achiever program celebrates young people in rural communities who are doing outstanding things, much like the Young Farming Champion program.