Meet Rebecca Thistlewaite who says Young people join me we are the exciting future of Agriculture!

Todays guest blog comes from Rebecca Thistlethwaite a girl from The Shire who found here way into agriculture when her parents bought a small farm. Rebecca is now a PhD student and an agronomist with a particular interest in plant breeding and genetics

This is Rebecca’s story ……………………….

My name is Rebecca Thistlethwaite and I grew up in the Sutherland Shire south of Sydney and completed my schooling at Kirrawee High School. Growing up I was a typical ‘Shire’ girl with a love of the surf, sun and sand


North Cronulla Beach

When I was 13 years old my parents bought a small property in the Southern Highlands of NSW. This was the beginning of a whole new world of exciting experiences for me!


The family farm then became my second home. I couldn’t wait to spend all of my holidays and weekends in a place that made me feel so free. It became the place I felt most comfortable and as time went on I was able to introduce the land to my friends.

My parents ran a small cattle herd as we weren’t able to live there full time so on weekends there was a lot of work to be done. Working in the cattle yards teaching a group of teenage city girls like me was always very rewarding for mum and dad. They they knew like me that every young person has the potential to make change and are only limited by knowledge that they attain. So we would go about explaining every aspect of what was involved in the running a commercial cattle farm.


Grazing Angus cattle on family farm

As well as farm work I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to learn how to exhibit cattle with the help of some very generous local Angus breeders.


Angus Youth Round-Up, Glenn Innes 2010

From here it was clear which direction my career path would take me. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney. Unlike a lot of my school friends my path through uni was slightly different but extremely exciting. The decision to develop a career in the Agricultural Industry was discussed my decision at length with my parents and every conversation would lead back to my future in the agricultural industry. I believe young person should have a career that is rewarding and fun gives back to society in the best way possible.

At university I became an agriculture ambassador travelling around to schools all over Sydney carrying out workshops related to agriculture and that gave me a unique insight into how primary school kids saw where their food and fibre comes from. I was so inspired by the program and how much it did for these kids that I started to go to the schools around my home doing a similar thing.

I wholeheartedly believe that the future of agriculture depends on attracting young talented people and helping them realise what a modern, exciting and challenging career it is and this is what drives me in both my working and home life to do as much as I can to promote positive images of the industry.

I graduated in 2011 with honours and although Uni was hard at times it was well worth it in the end.


Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Hons) from the University of Sydney, 2011

My first job as a graduate was for a pasture seed company as a Research Agronomist

A research agronomist may work with companies or government agencies on plant hybridization and soil conservation as well as the areas mentioned above. Agronomists who specialize in research might work to figure out which plants can be used as fuel, such as the discovery that corn can be used to fuel vehicles, or which plants might make effective pharmaceuticals For more information click here

My new job meant relocating to Armidale in Northern NSW and I loved it . The people are so friendly and not only this I was able to experience different ways of farming across a broad range of fields.


Sheep farming


Alpaca farming



Tomato farming in glasshouse


Pasture cropping for silage (winter feed)

My job kept me incredibly busy. I travelled 75,000kms by car in my first year across NSW and QLD, flew interstate countless times and I was lucky enough to travel to 2 different countries as well.

One of the best parts about the Agricultural Industry is that new opportunities arise every day, especially for young people! I have a passion for research in the areas of climate change and heat tolerance in plants.

Did you know that wheat is the staple food of almost half the world’s population and approximately 30,000 farmers grow wheat in Australia? Its no wonder I saw this as a  fast-moving field I wanted to get involved in as soon as I could.


Wheat production, Narrabri

In 2013, I was lucky enough to receive a Grains Research and Development Postgraduate Scholarship to study plant breeding and genetics at the University of Sydney. I jumped at the opportunity to study something I love and haven’t looked back! I now live in Narrabri in Northern NSW and all my field work is based at the I.A. Watson Grains Research Centre there.


I.A. Watson Grains Research Centre, Narrabri


The team at the I. A. Watson Grains Research Centre outside their newly built facility

As a city kid  who now loves the bush I strongly encourage all young people, who haven’t done so already, to go and experience what it is like to spend a day on a farm.

If you have already had the pleasure then you know exactly what I mean when I say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences that you could have.

Now all you have to do is take next step and follow me into an agricultural career and share your story

I chose agriculture and I have never looked back

Through our series of guest blogs written by young people who have chosen career pathways that will help feed and clothe the world Art4agriculture is helping tell the real story of food production in the 21st century

Consumers today typically have minimal knowledge of the origin and pathway that their food supply and all agriculture travels to reach a final destination of nourishment on a physical, emotional and/or psychological plane.

Today most of affluent society is blissfully unaware of the multitude of products purchased to sustain and improve our lives are all agricultural products. We need to be informed consumers and to do this it is more important than ever to fill the educational void so non farmers not only know and understand the system that sustains them but actively support their farmers to do this profitably and ethically. In this age of technology and rapid information flow, its is important farmers can counter the misinformation or we will find ourselves farming in a future we no longer enjoy.

This is overlying message as blog after blog comes in from these incredible young people sharing their stories with you.  They want to farm. They want consumers to support responsible agriculture production and they want responsible food consumption.

They want people to understand and appreciate where their food comes from and be comfortable with how our production techniques must change to meet the world’s need for food. Thanks for taking the time to read their stories and doing your bit to work with them to make this happen

This is the Madeleine Hamilton story…….

I grew up on a sheep farm 28kms outside of Mudgee, rural New South Wales. My parents still live on the farm, while my two other siblings have both moved to Sydney to pursue higher education. Looking back, our childhood revolved around the farm. We never ran out of things to do, and the vast amount of room we had to move in meant our imaginations ran wild with building cubby houses, rafts, camping, horse-riding and adventures to ‘out-the-back’.

young work

My love for agriculture began here. Though I must admit choosing a career in agriculture did not appeal to me until I started to realise that agriculture was so much more than farming  So from the start  I was determined to become anything other than a farmer!

At age 15, I embarked on a Student Exchange year in the French speaking Quebec, Canada. I chose Canada because of my love for snow skiing. I am a Director of Geebung Ski Club, formed St Matthews Central School’s (Mudgee) first and only Ski Team and  nationally represented Hurlstone Agricultural High School. I love my time in Canada, it was an invaluable experience, I would recommend it to everyone.

When I returned from Canada I boarded at Hurlstone Agricultural High School (HAHS) at Glenfield, NSW for my final years of secondary schooling. Much to my dismay, I was told I would have to take Agriculture as a compulsory subject. I was not happy about that!! Everyone around me said that Agriculture didn’t ‘rank’ well in the HSC and talked the subject down. Much to my surprise in Year 12, Agriculture had become a subject I was doing extremely well in and ended up setting me up for a very welcoming UAI mark.

At that time, I don’t remember having my Careers Advisor explain to me the opportunities that could be had if I were to follow a career in Agriculture. I wish she had. Instead I filled my time thinking about how I would get the required marks to get into economics at Sydney Uni.

It was by complete luck that I put down a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics (BAgEc) at the University of Sydney as a preference for university (from memory I put it down as either 4th or 5th). Then something very exciting happened  I had a very welcoming letter from the University inviting me to put BAgEc as my first preference and provided I gained a certain UAI they would supply me with a scholarship for the duration of the degree. It was very enticing, even though I wasn’t sure I would get a high enough UAI to meet the cut, I changed BAgEc to my first preference.

I’ve never looked back.

That decision changed my life. I didn’t get the scholarship, but I did study Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney. This degree has been invaluable in setting me up for life. During my degree I applied and received an Australian Council of Agricultural Societies Coca-Cola Regional Scholarship.


Throughout my degree I have had outstanding lecturers, friendly colleagues and priceless experiences. I was fortunate enough to travel overseas to Laos as part of a subject and learn about agriculture in developing countries.

laos kids

During my time at University, I was very honoured  to be named Miss Mudgee Showgirl 2010. This very rewarding experience allowed me to travel and meet like minded young women from rural NSW. The Showgirl movement is something I am passionate about and have been actively promoting.


I was lucky enough to gain a graduate position with Grain Growers Limited before I graduated with honours. The opportunities I was presented with during and straight after doing an Agricultural degree were first class. Most of my friends from University are working in agricultural jobs and getting paid handsomely, both in the city and rurally. I have found that being an agricultural graduate has made me highly employable. After my work at Grain Growers Limited, I moved to Young, NSW to try my hand at Agricultural Banking. I discovered that my heart wasn’t in banking so moved back to Sydney and started working in the red meat industry for the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) as the Executive Officer of Marketing, Membership Services, Events and Industry Liaison.

I am also heavily involved in my family’s business, Farmer George. Farmer George began in 2010 and our family farm, delivers fresh, high quality, free range lamb direct to your door!

Farmer George

Great value, great lamb, and of course buying straight from the farmer, you know you’re supporting a local family business. I am excited to see the business grow and watch it help educate our consumers along the way where their meal comes from and who provides it.

245 D5263 Lamb Chops and asparagus with tomatoes & feta

I am proud to be part of the highly innovative and invigorating red meat industry. For many urban Australians, knowledge of Australia’s meat industry is limited and I have found working for ALFA has even opened my eyes. Feedlots in particular have never truly been explained to the public, and this is why common misconceptions live on. So much technology, care, and science go into producing cattle in feedlots. One of my roles at ALFA, is to educate people on feedlot nutrition, care, animal welfare and environment. I would urge anyone opposed to cattle feedlots to visit one and see for your self first hand the first class treatment cattle are given.


My career thus far has truly been amazing and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings. I am positive consumer education is the key and the more young people that are exposed to the plethora of opportunities available in agriculture the more enticing agriculture will be as a career to the next generation.