Impact Reports – An opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary people you work with doing extraordinary things

At Action4Agriculture we work with some truly wonderful people. One of those is our journalist Mandy McKeesick. She is such a pleasure to brief and the outcomes always bring great joy.Mandy is the author of our Impact Reports and yesterday we made our 2021 report live. 

We celebrated the students and teachers we work with who are changing the world.

We celebrated the young people in agriculture we work with who are changing the world.

We celebrated our funding partners and our supporting partners who enable them to create a world we are all proud to be part of.

Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future

The research shows they are the demographic who are aware and active. They also have the capacity to bring the rest of us along with them.

Extraordinary things are happening in our schools –

Just a couple of examples – read our Impact Report to celebrate the many others

Watch this extract from an international presentation given by our founder Lynne Strong and teacher Kristen Jones

Banksia Awards finalists Hamilton Public School’s entry for the 2021 Kreative Koalas Competition


Visit their website here    

And the magnificent team at Penrith Valley Learning Centre – so looking forward to celebrating their win in person

2022 is the year the team at Action4Agriculture get the opportunity to deliver best practice.

And we welcome funding and supporting partners who, like us, know success requires investing in a marathon not a sprint

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 Morgan Bell our first international Young Farming Champion supporting farmers to have economically and environmentally sound business models

Exciting news. Action4Agriculture has our first international Young Farming Champion. Today we share with you Morgan Bell’s story. Morgan works for Corteva Agriscience in their New Zealand team where she is their Western North Island Territory Manager.


I grew up with little knowledge about the agricultural industry. I grew up in town with my mum working as a travel agent and my dad as a builder. My first introduction into agriculture wasn’t until year 9 at high school, where I started going hunting with a friend. The farm where we hunted on, we would have to help work on during the day. This is when I really fell in love with farming and started to learn more about the industry.

I decided to join our Teen Ag club at school and changed art to gateway where I would get to spend every Monday out working on a farm learning new skills. Our class was really small with only 5 students in it. Mondays were the day I looked forward to the most, I couldn’t get enough of spending time outside and around the animals. I attended an all girls school and by the time I got to year 11 there weren’t enough students interested in taking agriculture to keep the class going, so I did it extramurally.

Every weekend and school holidays I began working on a dairy farm as work experience. I decided to go to Massey University to complete my Bachelor in Agriculture Science. My time at university was easily the best years of my life so far. Getting to meet so many amazing and driven individuals and hear their stories of why they are wanting to go into agriculture and the challenges that they face. Every day we got to learn new things and be given so many opportunities.


University semester breaks I worked on dairy farms, sheep and beef farms and a deer farm. I wanted to experience as many different farming systems as I could. Following university, I started my current role with Corteva Agriscience as a territory sales manager for Western North Island of New Zealand. Three years in and I have learnt so much and had the opportunity to work with so many amazing and inspiration people. Every day there are new opportunities and challenges to keep me on my toes.


One thing I would love to change is for young people to have access to see all the amazing opportunities out there in the primary industries. Especially coming from an urban background, it would be great to be able to showcase the variety of pathways and jobs in our industry. I think it’s important for people to realize they don’t have to be born into agriculture to help make a difference in the future.

Sustainable agriculture and farming are important to New Zealand. I find it very rewarding to be able to support farmers to understand the regulations for chemicals, fertilisers, and product requirements used in agriculture. New Zealanders are very proud to have a world wide reputation for being committed to a economically and environmentally sound business model that allows farmers to work closer with nature.

Interesting fact

Here is a picture of Morgan with some ginormous thistles

Did you know – Weeds aren’t all bad news – they can tell you a lot about your soil too.

For example

Capeweed and Stinging Nettles are signs of nutrient-rich, cultivated soil. If the growth is stunted or leaves are yellow, it would show the soil is lacking in nitrogen.

Thistles, chickweed and purslane also indicate fertility. Source 

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether

Meet Ani Dilanchian – A city kid choosing agriculture as a career and advocating for others to follow her lead advocating for agriculture 

Action4Agriculture has selected 10 passionate agriculturists (including our first international contingent) to join our  2022 Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program

Today we are sharing Ani Dilanchian’s story. Ani adds to the diversity of young Australians not from a farming background choosing agriculture as a career who are committed to life long learning, building their networks and advocating for agriculture

Ag camp at Barker College 

Growing up in Sydney I had very little exposure to the agriculture industry. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was offered as an elective at schools. My first introduction to agriculture came when I made the move to Barker College in year 10 and was able to study it as an elective in my final years of school. With an equestrian background, I travelled throughout NSW to compete in shows from a young age and felt my passion for riding helped foster an interest in studying agriculture, and I quickly went on to develop a strong interest in the industry.

After finishing school, I went on to study a Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness at the University of Sydney, where I was exposed to many different areas of the industry from both a business and science perspective. During my degree I attended several field trips, practical sessions and an industry internship, including travelling to Indonesia to research the sustainability of the palm oil industry.

Palm Oil Plantation in Indonesia 

This trip changed my view of the industry and its importance both locally and internationally, and I became increasingly aware of how my initial perception as a consumer was heavily influenced by how it was portrayed in the media. This realization cemented the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships between the industry and community. This is something that I believe is very relevant in the Australian agriculture industry and one I feel my generation can positively contribute towards.


After graduating from university, I spent a year working in the fresh produce industry at a time when the labour shortages were extremely prevalent. The severity and impact of these shortages on growers was evident, with roll-on effects to the consumers. However, I noticed a sense of disconnect and unawareness from consumers concerning the challenges within the industry. There is an opportunity for my generation to contribute towards improving awareness of the complexities and challenges from paddock to plate, and fostering meaningful communication between the industry and community to work towards strengthening the sustainability and resilience of the agriculture sector.

 Graduating with a Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness 

Having a passion and interest in sustainability within the agriculture industry, my current role with Corteva Agriscience is allowing me to gain knowledge and exposure across different areas in addition to being a part of a company committed to advancing the sustainability of the industry.

As someone who grew up in the city and wasn’t exposed to the agriculture industry until late into my schooling, I feel it’s important to encourage other young people to consider a career in the industry regardless of whether they have a background in farming. This industry offers a diverse range of career opportunities with many located in urban areas, a point that was very influential in my decision to pursue a career in agriculture, and hopefully leads others to consider joining the agriculture industry as well.

Catch Ani and some of her fellow Barker alumni being interviewed by the winner of the Prime Minster’s Prize for Secondary Science teaching Scott Graham

We are looking forward to going on Ani’s journey with her

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices #CreatingaBetterWorldTogether


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

Riverina Local Land Services and River of Life Scholarship winners announced

Riverina Local Land Services congratulates Sam O’Rafferty, Kate Webster and Katharine Charles who have been announced as scholarship recipients to participate in the esteemed Action4Agriculture (A4A) leadership program: Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders.


The Cultivate program equips participants with the skills to become highly visible public role models for agriculture. Training revolves around three pillars – leadership development, confident communicators and trusted voices – and is delivered by national and international experts through A4A’s Ecosystem of Expertise.

“The quality and talent within our three new Cultivate participants is extraordinary with each from different backgrounds and at different stages of their journey. We are looking forward to working with all three of them to further develop their skills and assist them to achieve their dreams.” Riverina LLS general manager Ray Willis said. “

Katharine, Kate and Sam work and study in the Riverina and have a passion for the area.

“I love the Riverina where agriculture is such an integral part of its identity. The people in the area have gone above and beyond to help me in my agricultural endeavours. The Riverina LLS Scholarship is life changing. It will allow me to have the confidence to share my voice and advocate for positive change in the industry and I am hoping that this program will allow me to grow into a young leader that the Riverina would be proud of,” Katharine said.


The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is supporting the Riverina LLS winners, in particular Sam, who has been awarded the River of Life scholarship to complete the program.

“We’re so pleased to support Sam to grow and share his knowledge of the values and challenges in the Murray–Darling Basin.

The Basin is home to 2.3 million Australians, internationally significant wetlands, over 40 First Nations, and 40% of Australia’s farms. Scholarships like this mean the importance of the Basin can be better understood by communities, and the management of future challenges better supported.” acting chief executive, Andrew Reynolds said.

Sam appreciates the support of both organisations and welcomes the chance to promote his region.

“Through the Cultivate program I hope to advocate for the Riverina as an attractive place to live and work and share the diversity of rewarding career opportunities in the agriculture sector. I would like to thank the Riverina LLS and the MDBA for the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic program and giving me the opportunity to partner with them to promote our agricultural region.” Sam said


Graduates of the Cultivate program become Young Farming Champions (YFC) who actively engage with school students to spread the good-news stories of agriculture.

“The agricultural industry is more extensive than people realise and through this scholarship I hope to make new connections and friendships and grow my networks to inspire the next generation to think outside the box and pursue careers they might not typically consider,” Kate said.

Young Farming Champions alumni also assist in the selection process for Cultivate participants and Ray Willis was impressed with their professionalism in the awarding of the Riverina LLS scholarships.

“The two key alumni YFC on the interview panel were amazing and demonstrate the value of the YFC program in developing young talent in confidence, eloquence and professionalism that is bespoke in a program like this. This is very rewarding for us as a program sponsor.” Ray Willis said

Read Sam’s journey here   

Read Kate’s journey here 

Read Katharine’s journey here 

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 Katharine Charles who is stepping up to solve the world’s wicked problems

We recently launched the Riverina Local Land Services scholarships to find 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 Katharine Charles who sees working in agriculture as an opportunity to work with others to solve the world’s wicked problems.

I want to prove to the world that you don’t need to have a farming background to make a mark in the agricultural industry; just a strong passion and a hunger to leave this world a better place than you found it. Katharine Charles


This is Katharine’s story …….

When I was introduced to the school farm on my first day of high school, I had no idea how much it was going to change my life. Growing up on the Central Coast, my exposure to the agricultural industry had been very limited, and I barely even knew what the word ‘agriculture’ meant. But as I was given a tour of the school, I stopped to watch the older students parading cattle around the school farm. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I remember thinking, “I really want to be a part of that”. That moment marked the beginning of my deep dive into the agricultural world.

“Showing cattle at the Sydney Royal Easter Show”

From my first agriculture lesson in Year 7, to my last day of schooling in Year 12, I dedicated every spare moment to the school farm. All my school lunch breaks, holidays and weekends were spent either feeding animals, working with the cattle, or doing other farm tasks. The highlight of my school years was attending agricultural shows with the school cattle team. I enjoyed preparing the cattle for showing, competing in judging and parading events, and mentoring the younger students.

 “Showing cattle with the school cattle team at Gosford Show, 2013”

Since leaving high school, I have pursued every opportunity to increase my knowledge and practical experience in the agricultural industry. I spent my gap year working and travelling, in which I volunteered on a dairy farm in Ireland. I then moved to Wagga Wagga to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University (CSU). My willingness to learn pushed me to apply for a student internship position, and I spent my spare time assisting CSU lecturers with their research projects.

During university, I was exposed to what are called ‘wicked issues’. These are complex challenges in which there is little or no agreement on the definition, cause, or solution to a problem. Some examples include climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and feeding our rapidly growing population. As a young person coming into the agricultural industry, these challenges felt insurmountable at first; but I have now realised that the learning journey I have been on means I am perfectly placed to work with others to play a role in addressing these issues, and I am excited to make some real, positive change.

I believe that the new generation of young leaders in the agricultural industry will play an integral role in promoting a more sustainable, robust, and resilient agricultural industry. I want to help empower and encourage other young people in agriculture to share their voice and take action to create a better world. With small, sustained steps even the most complex of agricultural issues can be addressed.

I want to utilise my strong passion for agriculture to drive change and to encourage more young people into the industry. I want to prove to the world that you don’t need to have a farming background to make a mark in the agricultural industry; just a strong passion and a hunger to leave this world a better place than you found it.



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

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.”