Look out Hillary Clinton, Jordan Kerr might just be joining you on the list of 100 most influential people

The Mudgee district is well known for its fine wine. Its also the home of a quite remarkable young man. Our guest blogger today is Jordan Kerr one of the major prize winners in the Art4agriculture Cream of the Crop Competition. Jordan attends Hurlstone Agriculture High School at Glenfield and is now in his final year. He is hoping his HSC mark will allow him to do a degree in Social Inquiry and International Studies at UTS with a view to a career in international politics and diplomacy.

Jordan is certainly off to a great start. He represented Australia at the Global Young Leaders Conference 2011, where he had a speaking gig at the United Nations 2011 in New York.

Jordan also played a very active role in the fight to save his school from being the victim of urban sprawl in 2009. Jordan featured in a Daily Telegraph story where he was quoted as saying “ the Government is trying to turn the school into a hobby farm with one cow and one sheep. I am asking, as a student, to please help save my school and the future of Australia,” he said. “We are a fully functioning farm that is running with a profit. It is the future and the State Government needs to learn to keep its hands off.”


Jordan and his dog as they appeared in the Daily Telegraph in 2009 with a passionate plea to save Hurlstone Agricultural School from the auctioneers hammer 

Buoyed by vocal students like Jordan, the lobby group SHEAP and strong community support the school managed to escape the auctioneers hammer. Read the incredible full story How people power saved Hurlstone’s green space here

Jordan’s extra curricula activities which include being Chair of the school’s environmental committee and overseeing the installation of a $10,000 Eco gardenat the school has seen him win the NSW Premiers Diamond Award for volunteering 2010.

Jordan also played a key role in Hurlstone Agricultural High School’s Archibull Prize entry for 2011. The cow they called iMoo is made out of stiffened cotton and covered with 10 iPads. IMG_0466

Jordan sought and obtained interviews with a number of NSW government ministers  including Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson and the Premier Barry O’Farrell which he then loaded onto the the iPads to make their cow highly interactive and quite unique indeed . See Jordan talk about the interviews here and read our popular blog post on iMoo here


Jordan pictured with Hon Katrina Hodgkinson MP at the Archibull Prize Awards ceremony

I have never quite met anyone like Jordan before. He is one of the most focused young people I have seen and I have gut feeling Mudgee will famous for a lot more than its wine when Jordan enters the world of international politics.

Here is Jordan story …….

After growing up in Mudgee and attending Mudgee Public school I followed my sister to Sydney to attend Hurlstone Agricultural High School. There were a number reasons I was keen to attend Hurlstone including the fact that it is one of the top schools in NSW and I also wanted to experience the excitement of going to a boarding school. While this was all well and good I soon found out that boarding school was not easy. Living away from home as a 12 year old, was a bit lonely. But I soon settled in and the support from the students and the staff was fantastic. Attending Hurlstone has also allowed me to explore my extracurricular and leadership potential. In 2011 I represented Australia at the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York.


At this conference I spoke to fellow international youth delegates at the United Nations as well as speaking to a conference room full of students about the importance of Agriculture to our future.This conference was a great opportunity for me as I met lots of passionate and committed people interested in the same things that I am.


Jordan speaks at the UN in 2011

When I saw a poster advertising the Cream of the Crop competition I thought to myself what a fantastic idea. I knew coming from a regional area and going to Hurlstone I had the inside story on agriculture that I could share to help educate others. Living in the city I was well aware most people believed that milk came from the supermarket and meat came from the butchers. Speaking at the Global Young leaders Conference in 2011, I knew the importance of agriculture for our survival and international stability. Understanding the role of agriculture in feeding 3rd world countries is also of paramount importance.

At the conclusion of the conference on feeding the growing global population I spoke with fellow speakers about what issues they thought currently faced our sustainability. The main concern was population growth and its ramifications on food security and the environment and political stability.  Population and urban expansion became the theme for my Cream of the Crop Competition 2011 entry. The idea was to help show the impact unchecked population growth will have on not only Australia, but the entire world.

After creating my PowerPointI thought about the logistics to feed such vast areas of population and what does it take to feed massive cities such as Sydney?

I knew that opinions would vary so decided to conduct a variety of video interviews on the issue from the public to the NSW Premier. I then compiled the interviews into a video titled ‘Feeding Sydney’to help people come to terms with the huge amount of food that it takes to feed Sydney each day.

Cream of the Crop Competition, April 201246

Team Kerr at the Cream of the Crop Competition Awards and Presentation Day

I believe education in particular kids teaching kids is a great way to tell the real story of agriculture. In this way we can generate respect for food and the people and industries involved in its production as well as the farmers that grow it and all the people who support them such as the scientists who do the research and development.  Lets not forget the resources of land, water and human skills that produce it. Wow when you think of it that way its must be the greatest story ever told.

Thank you Jordan.  This is indeed a special young man don’t you agree?

Are you the one?

Todays guest blogger is Amber O’Neill the young superstar who was the overall winner of the Cream of the crop Competition. I have asked Lisa Claessen one of our guest judges to preface Amber’s blog with her thoughts on the winning entry by Amber “Are You the One”

Cream of the Crop Competition, April 201243

Amber O’Neill is congratulated by Sonia Muir NSW DPI Manager Community Engagement

Lisa said “Amber’s winning entry for the 2011 “Cream of the Crop” awards stole my heart. As a teacher, how could I not be impressed by “Are You the One”, a clever tribute to her teachers at Cranebrook High School, and how education enhances an awareness of the contribution of Agriculture to us all.

I love Amber’s ability to see Agriculture with “ big picture” thinking, an industry of many facets, offering opportunities for many.

Amber typifies what I see as an emerging trend; of urban living students, inspired by an experience, perhaps at school, or by an encounter with Agriculture through visiting a farm for work experience or pleasure etc. I find it in quite a few of my kids and am thrilled to see their thirst for knowledge grow, and how some of them are realising their dream to pursue further education within the industry.

I am sure this is not the last we will hear from Amber, and I hope we see her name in Agricultural circles of the future. Passion is an incredible driver Amber; May you find your heart’s desire!”


The Amber O’Neill Story …….

I am a city girl, but my heart lies in the paddocks of country Australia where school is an hour away, where my next door neighbour is unseen and it takes half an hour to drive to the closest road. At night I see street lights and houses, but I imagine the clear, starry nights over the wide open plains.


Living in an urban area, going to school five minutes down the road and having access to all the facilities I need, no one could ever tell that I am a country girl at heart. My neighbour’s house is no more than two metres away on either side and the road is only a few steps from my drive way

My name is Amber and I live in the suburb of Cranebrook, and I am in Year 11 at Cranebrook High School. I love my school and I would never trade it for anything. They have given me the best education I could have asked for and have even managed to satisfy my country passion and thirst for agriculture.


Amber (centre) with fellow students have fun with their 2010 Archibull Prize entries

Our school has a very strong agriculture department with highly supportive teachers and this has enabled me to be accelerated and I now do year 12 agriculture whilst still in year 11 for all my other subjects. People always ask “isn’t it too hard?” or “why would you do more than you need to?” but I just say that it isn’t more work when you’re so interested and nothing is ever too hard if you put your mind to it. I’m not just interested in agriculture though, I also love science and am studying biology, chemistry and physics and love pushing myself which includes studying extension maths and English.


Mr Murray and Mrs Saxon are my agriculture teachers. They are two in a million. They make school and learning so much fun. They encourage, inspire and motivate us and we now share their passion and dedication to the school farm and our animals. They deserve a huge thanks

Whilst I would love to just move to the country side with hectares and hectares of land in the middle of nowhere and own a million animals and grow my own food, I believe that a good education will open many doors and enable me to better understand the land when I finally escape the city.

With four other siblings, younger than me, and two phenomenal parents our family is tight and loving. We all have different passions, whether its sport or agriculture, acting or socialising, we all are all success stories in our family’s eyes. We all attend public schools (primary – Henry Fulton and secondary – Cranebrook High) and wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else. My parents have always supported us, no matter what the circumstance or situation; they have that unconditional love that makes us all proud to say that they are our parents.

Cream of the Crop Competition, April 201247

Amber and her family celebrate her Cream of the Crop Competition big win

I was born in Perth, before moving to Sydney when I was about 2 and half years old. We drove all the way from Perth to Sydney, from one side of the country to the other. Since our move to this side of the country, I have moved house at least ten times, moving from  Cranebrook to Dubbo to Londonderry and back to Cranebrook (living in many houses along the way). I loved moving, the thrill of living in a new house and the first night where we wouldn’t have beds to sleep in was a “routine” (although I am sure mum and dad absolutely loved packing, not).

Through primary school, I wanted to be a journalist when ‘I grew up’. After that I wanted to be a famous horse barrel racer. And now, I want to be an equine/camelid vet (whilst owning a farm) and simply make a difference.

My love for agriculture really sparked when I was in year eight..  All students study agriculture in year eight and I simply fell in love. At that point in time we had a steer, chickens, sheep and alpacas. Alpacas are my favourites. Their huge, deep eyes and beautiful eye lashes, their unusual behaviours and uniqueness just grabbed me and pulled me in.


At the end of year nine, I was invited to Warralinga Alpaca Stud (professional alpaca breeder) to see all their alpacas, during the school holidays. It was the most amazing experience and at the end they offered me the opportunity to help every weekend. I could never say no, and never have. Since that day, I have worked with alpacas every week, training crias (baby alpacas) for the show, cleaning paddocks and feeding all seventy mouths. I have attended all the regional shows and even attended national shows. I have been able to show top quality alpacas, winning champions and reserves, many first places and having the best time ever. At the Hawkesbury Show and the Australian National Show I won first place for alpaca junior judging (where I judge alpacas on their fleece and conformation). These were the best experiences, learning so much about the alpaca industry and its future. I have also participated in handling, showmanship and performance competitions, where I am judged on my ability to handle alpacas, winning first and second place at several shows.

Amber and Dani Saxon

Fellow Cranebrook student Michaela with Amber ( centre) their agriculture teacher Dani Saxon

My love for alpacas has now grown beyond school . Last year I started my own alpaca stud, called Alkira. I bought a white female and have agisted her at Warralinga. I showed her at Castle Hill Show and she received a Reserve Champion, and a very happy owner. I love her to pieces, and she has proven to me that agriculture is definitely the industry I want to spend my life working in.

I am a city girl, but I have taken every opportunity possible to become involved in agriculture and to prove to others that a city girl can  get muddy and a fall in love with farming. Opportunities such as the Cream of the Crop Competition have enabled me to share my love for all things agriculture and hopefully give inspiration to others to get involved in agriculture and make a difference.

Although my background is not in agriculture; school and alpacas and my involvement in agricultural shows has shown me that farming is the most important profession in the world.

Farmers and their support networks feed the world.  Not a single person can live without some kind of agriculture, and I would love to one day, leave an impact on this amazing industry.


We are very confident you will Amber

Cream of the Crop 2011 Winners Announced

Cranebrook High School Student Amber O’Neill has won the Cream of the Crop Competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year.

Tarryn and Amber O'Neilll Cream of the Crop Competition, April 201238

Tarryn Whitfield from Landcare Australia presents Amber with the Woolworths Award of Excellence for Best Video

The Cream of the Crop Competition is an Art4Agriculture initiative which invites students in NSW schools to create a PowerPoint or a video promoting the importance of agriculture to their peers to encourage a better understanding of agriculture as well as promote agricultural careers and rural life.

Amber prepared four entries for the competition this year but it was her video about agricultural careers “Are you the One?” that took out the overall prize.

Amber O’Neill Winner of 2011 Cream of the Crop Competition


Amber highlighted a chef, a scientist, a mechanic and a designer as careers linked to agriculture and interviewed eight of her teachers at Cranebrook High School to discover which subject is most strongly linked to agriculture’s sustainability.

“What the judges loved about Amber’s winning video, was her understanding of the diverse careers in Australian agriculture,” says Art4Agriculrue National Program Director Lynne Strong.  “As an industry, we are keen to point out that not all jobs in agriculture involve mud and flies!”

Her four-minute video features 30 agricultural careers that derive from school subjects such as mathematics, geography, food science and industrial design. “Importantly too, Amber’s video pays tribute to the unsung heroes of Australian agriculture, the teachers who instil knowledge and passion in their students who become our sector’s next generation of leaders and innovators,” says Lynne.

When asked what inspired her to enter multiple entries, Amber, who is in Year 10 at Cranebrook High School “I love it, there are so many interesting topics.” This was Amber’s first attempt at making a video and while it took a while to master the program, she was excited by the result. Read Amber’s guest blog here

Fellow winner, Neil Jain of Hurlstone Agricultural High School agrees that you learn something new every time you enter. “Not just about the subject, but the technology,” says Neil whose video  “Genetic Modification – Is it Safe?” won the Best Middle School category.

Neil Jain Winner of Middle School Section Cream of the Crop 2011


Neil’s entry explored the science of genetic modification as well as some of the issues surrounding the arguments for and against the science. “It’s an important topic for feeding the world”, said Neil. “Genetic modification may not always be 100% safe, but if it is a solution to the global food crisis, it should be a field to look into.”

Also of Hurlstone Agricultural High School is Jordan Kerr who won the best Senior School entry for his video “Feeding Sydney” which explores how much food Sydney needs and the sustainability of the city’s food supply.

Jordan Kerr Winner 2011 Senior Section Cream of the Crop Competition


Jordan filmed vox pops with commuters in Sydney asking how many tonnes of food they thought Sydney consumes every day then captures their reactions when they learn the figure is 5,500 tonnes; 1,000 times more than one guess.

Jordan’s video also features interviews with the Premier of NSW, Barry O’Farrell, Leader of the National Party Andrew Stoner and the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson.

“This year the Cream of the Crop Competition finalists covered topics as diverse as keeping chickens, sustainable agriculture, the global food crisis and the sheep and cotton industries, which again, demonstrates the diversity of our sector,” says Lynne.  “All finalist presentations are now on the Web for sharing with the world and with around 100,000 web hits since 2009, they are certainly making an impression,” says Lynne.

The event featured Stephanie Coombes, creator of Careers in Australian Agriculture website & proud Agvocate for Australia Agriculture as MC. See Steph’s blog on her day here

Isobel Moore winner of the Dubbo Speech Spectacular was guest speaker

Hear guest presenter Catherine Marriott RIRDC Rural Women’s Award WA talk about the Cream of the Crop on Show Radio and watch the finalists receive their awards here

Cream of the Crop 2011 finalists receive their awards


A special thank you to the Cream of the Crop competition’s sponsors

Woolworths Ltd

Dairy Research Foundation

Managing Climate Variability Program


Country Valley Milk

Medenis Vet Clinic

Landcare Illawarra

Cream of the Crop 2011 Finalists Announced

Art4Agriculture has once again identified the superstars of the future being nurtured in NSW High Schools

The following Crème de la crème are our finalists for the 2011 Cream of the Crop Competition

Other finalist presentations to be loaded shortly

Jacinta Kelly – CSU

Well done all of you as you can see you are part of a very talented group of young people. We look forward to showcasing your work at Sydney Royal Easter Show 2012

Click on the picture to view the entry

My Teeny Tiny Farm 1. Amber O’Neill

from Cranebrook High School




Sustainability 2. Cherie Chen, Sophie Song and Lisa Shi 

from James Ruse Agricultural High School




Slide 1

3. Brandon and Dustin Gaddes

from Schofields




Population Trouble

4. Jordan Kerr

from Hurlstone Agricultural High School





Archibull Prize 2011

5. Amber O’Neill

from Cranebrook High School





PowerPoint Presentation

6. Katy Donovan

from Bede Polding College





Slide 1

7. Ashleigh Lane and Stephanie Murphy

from Model Farms High School





The Moobiks cube

8. Caitlin Vella

from Caroline Chisholm College





Revegetation of farmland

9. Ayla Webster

from Camden Haven High Distance Education





My Teeny Tiny Farm

10. Amber O’Neill

from Cranebrook High School





Dorothy Wong Julia Liang and Patricia Yam James Ruse Agricultural High School
Jordan Kerr – Hurlstone Agricultural High School
Sophie Wu Victoria Deng and Yive Yang – James Ruse Agricultural High School
Amber O’Neill – Cranebrook High School
Jack Newham Josh Turner Jonah Stivicic – McCarthy Catholic College




Jesse Brown Colo High School







Neil Jain Hurlstone Agricultural High School







Emma Rice Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Cream of the Crop Competition 2011 Open for entries

The Cream of the Crop Competition invites students in NSW secondary and tertiary education institutions to create a PowerPoint or a video which can be published on the web and win $500.
The competition invites NSW secondary and tertiary students to promote the importance of agriculture to their peers, to encourage a better understanding of agriculture as well as promote agricultural careers and rural life.

This year students have two categories they can enter
1.      The PowerPoint Category asks students to create a PowerPoint presentation about an aspect of agriculture, whether it’s their studies, their farm, a policy issue, their region’s industries or the career of someone they respect in agriculture.  Previous finalists have covered topics such as the importance of buying Australian produce, sustainable farming, agriculture and technology, climate change, regional towns, the Locavore Movement and most agricultural commodities.
2.    The Video Category is new this year. It asks students to make a short film about an occupation that links to a career in agriculture. This can be as diverse as an agronomist, an accountant, a veterinarian, an auctioneer, a stock agent, or an IT expert – the possibilities are endless, and that’s the important point to remember about agricultural careers, it’s not all mud and flies!

The finalists’ presentations are placed on the LandLearn NSW website. The winners are announced and cash prizes are presented at a function in their honour at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2012.

You don’t have to be studying agriculture to enter the Cream of the Crop competition. We encourage all NSW students to consider the importance of agriculture to their daily life and share their ideas and knowledge.

Our social media resources have had 70,000 hits in two years, so it’s a great way for young people to be heard.

Entries close on 1st December 2011 and entry details, as well as copies of last year’s finalists, can be found below.

The Cream of the Crop competition is sponsored by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, LandLearn NSW and Woolworths.

PowerPoint Presentation

Prizes on offer include:

Secondary School

•  Junior  School (Year 7 & 8) $500 Best Presentation
•  Middle  School (Year 9 &10) $500 Best Presentation
•  Senior  School (Year 11 & 12) $500 Best Presentation
Tertiary Studies
•  Undergraduate and TAFE $500 Best Presentation
•  Postgraduate $500 Best Presentation

Video Competition

Prizes on offer include:


•   Junior School (Years 7 & 8) $500 Best Video
•   Middle School Video ( Years 9 & 10) $500 Best Video
•   Senior School (Years 11 & 12) $500 Best Video

Note: Video competition is only open to students studying in NSW Secondary School

Video examples can be found here


Closing Date:

The competition closes at 5pm (EST) on 1st December 2011.

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