Champions in the Paddock and Champions on the Cutting Floor

Its been a very exciting week for our 2014 Grains Young Farming Champions  Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Daniel Fox, Diana George and Jessica Kirkpatrick with their “An Innovative Industry” video taking out the Royal Adelaide Show ‘Seed to Store Competition’ and  prize money of $1000.

The  Grains YFC  team plan to use their prize money to engage a professional animator to help create a video animation to showcase the industry they love 


L-R Dee George, Jessica Kirkpatrick, Rebecca Thistlethwaite and Daniel Fox

Channel Nine’s Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello, along with the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Kathleen Allan and South Australian Grains Industry Trust’s (SAGIT) David Shannon showcased the top five entries, and awarded the prestigious blue ribbon, on the Coke Stage.

“This is the first year the Royal Adelaide Show has run the Seed to Store contest as a competitive entry and we are thrilled at how the initiative has increased awareness of the role of food production in Australia,” Ms Allan said.

“The YouTube clip competition is a new competitive entry which involves developing a one-minute video clip promoting the grains sector. It is an exciting initiative which allows agriculture to be promoted through social media, which is fundamental in reaching the young generation of consumers.”

The competition, managed by AgCommunicators and supported by the GRDC and SAGIT, which worked collaboratively with the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Society to coincide the launch of the clips with the show’s 175th birthday.

SAGIT Trustee David Shannon believes it is important to remind people where their food comes from, and was excited that the YouTube clip gave entrants the opportunity to showcase modern, innovative and sustainable farming.

“The link between where food begins and the end product can be lost because of little knowledge of grains and how they fit into our food production systems,” he said.

“With 16,800 grains of wheat in a loaf of bread and around 1600 grains of barley in a can of beer the YouTube clips will help to reconnect people with the source of grains in their food.”

“The standard of the competition was extremely high, with entrants using great editing and communication skills to show the process of food production in Australia,” Mr Shannon said.

Top five entries  video can be accessed at these links

FIRST PRIZE: Art4Agriculture Grains Young Farming Champions – Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Daniel Fox, Diana George and Jessica Kirkpatrick.

SECOND PRIZE: ‘What does the plant say’ – Bethany Simpson, Meg Jarvis, Chelsea Arthur, Ayeisha Bishop, Eliza Bastian and Pieter Cillie, Booleroo Centre

THIRD PRIZE: ‘Seed to Store’, Marni Greenshields, University of South Australia

FOURTH PRIZE: Adele Justice and Ann Rowett, Xavier College

FIFTH PRIZE: Urrbrae Agricultural High School Team 5 – Kelsey Adams, Clare Edgecombe, Cody Faucett, Fletcher Wood and staff Nick Jackson and Tracey Ireland

Well done team YFC Grains

So many myths about food driven by emotion and not backed by science.

Everyday I am reminded through conversations I have with people in the community just how confused people are about food production systems and I can see why.

what it takes to be a farmer

They are continually bombarded with messages that tell them its wrong to eat animals.  Yet nobody talks about what the world would look like if we didn’t eat animals. Lets not be too naive here it is a conversation that we must have. Realistically if animals were free to roam and populate the world animals and humans will be competing for food  in a very short time.

Lets discuss some of the realities

  • We already have thousands of domestic dogs and cats who end up in animal shelters for various reasons. What happens to the majority of them?. Yes they are euthanized,
  • Less than 6% of Australia is suitable for growing crops. Can we seriously all become vegetarians and share the food we produce with all the animals that will rapidly populate this country if we let them all run free.
  • Australia is the driest continent on the earth. There are years and years where farmers struggle to access fodder to feed their sheep and cattle and the only the answer to that is the abattoirs.
  • A lot of these animals are carnivores. Who is going to reason with pigs and tell them they cant eat people.
  • We just cant feed people everyone from vegie gardens in back yards. Seriously how many people living in urban areas have the time or the desire to go back to their farming roots and hold down 9 to 5 jobs. This is put into perspective nicely here. Can Urban Agriculture Feed the World

Then there is this proliferation of boutique farmers who tell us their style of farming is the only one that is sustainable and big agriculture is bad for the planet . Well is that a myth?  Visit here to get an alternate view that is backed by real science.

Then there is the myth that organic farming is best farming method for the planet. Again this is driven by emotion and media and PR campaigns that promotes organic farming by deriding main stream family farmers and not backed by science. The ABC Checkout program covers this brilliantly here

Never before has it been more important for mainstream agriculture to connect and have conversations with consumers. Never before has it been so important that we give consumers the opportunity to get a balanced viewpoint so they can make food choices that are based on their values backed by real science. This is the ethos behind  Art4Agriculture and the Young Farming Champions program and out next post will share with you the positive impacts our programs are having in schools

Is your dream career veterinary science

If you are a rural student and your dream is to become a vet check out this great new scholarship


For a rural student who is interested in becoming a veterinarian

Value $24,000

The Faculty of Veterinary Science is pleased to announce The Swan Family Scholarship.

Starting in 2015, this Scholarship is for an outstanding student from a rural area to study our new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program with the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.

The Swan Family Scholarship will provide the successful candidate with $6,000 per year for each year of the DVM program, so $24,000 in total.

The student awarded The Swan Family Scholarship will be someone who is able to articulately voice rural concerns and contribute to constructive, contextual debate.

The criteria for selection are:

  • an Australian citizen or permanent resident;
  • a high-achieving, rural applicant who is eligible for enrolment in the DVM in the year of the award;
  • evidence of direct experience in the rural sector;
  • demonstration of an active interest in rural affairs and a desire to contribute to issues affecting the future of rural Australia; and
  • demonstration of how a Scholarship would assist in achieving their education and career goals.

Then, for continuation of the Scholarship:

  • demonstrating annually, exemplary academic progress.

The student must already have completed an undergraduate degree, and full details for admission to the new DVM program are on our website. The Faculty will be selecting from a group of students identified on the basis of exceptional academic achievement, proven leadership ability and personal character. We will be looking for their commitment to their community, and their willingness to help and inspire others.

If you are interested in applying for The Swan Family Scholarship, or if you would like more information, please contact:

Pro Dean, Associate Professor Paul Sheehy

(02) 9351 5983 (Sydney)

(02) 9351 1657 (Camden)

0434 181 718

Or look on The University of Sydney website under the Faculty of Veterinary Science

And more great news

Dr Bill Porges, tells us the University of Sydney has increased the funds available for the St Andrews College (SAC) Scholarships/Bursary to provide accommodation at the prestigious St Andrews College on the grounds of Sydney University with the intention to attract (and enable) exceptional women and men into SAC who  “… may otherwise not have the opportunity to experience life in SAC”.

Guess what St Andrews College just happens to be right nest door to the vet school at Sydney University

Dairy professional Sarah Saxton named Victorian Art4Ag ambassador

Art4Agriculture is thrilled to announce Victorian Dairy industry professional and food and fibre advocate Sarah Saxton has been named state ambassador of the national Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions (YFC) program.

Sarah Saxton

Sarah Saxton Victorian Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions Ambassador

An all-round passion for Australian agriculture – from her family farming background, education endeavours, and her current role with the Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (ADHIS) -make Sarah a perfect fit as Victorian ambassador, which will see her actively support and promote the Art4Agriculture YFC program throughout the year.

Art4Ag National Program Director Lynne Strong says, “Sarah epitomises what the YFC program is all about: showcasing exciting young people in diverse careers in agriculture, who are leading by example and forging a connected, cohesive and vibrant agricultural sector that the next generation see as the place they want to be.”

Now in its fourth successful year, the program provides training and development for young people involved in agriculture, positioning them as food and fibre industry advocates to actively engage with students in city based schools, using Art4Agriculture programs as a platform.

Sarah has strong ties with Victoria’s farming community, including her current role as Extension Officer with the ADHIS, which sees her deliver the latest science and technology in genetic improvement to Australian dairy farmers.

Married to a winemaker on the Mornington Peninsula and recently appointed a board member of the Mornington Peninsula Food Industry Advisory Body, Sarah loves sharing her unique insight into the “whole range of people, in country and city, who are involved in getting food on the table.”

Sarah believes in good food, good farming and strengthening the relationship between these two vital industries. 

For more information on the Art4Agriculture programs visit:

RAS FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS for 2015 academic year

A number of our Young Farming Champion have benefited from these wonderful scholarships that are now open for application


Since 2011, the RAS Foundation has provided over 180 students with $921,500 worth of financial support to fulfill their educational goals. The helping hand given to these students assists them to achieve their potential, and provide regional and rural NSW with a more vibrant and sustainable future.

Rural Scholarship are now open for 2015 – we ask that you please pass on this information to suitable students in your networks who require financial support, love to give back to their community and want to make rural and regional NSW more resilient and dynamic!

Rural Scholarships are targeted at a tertiary level – TAFE, VET courses and University.

For more information visit:

Rural Scholarships (NSW only) Up to 45 scholarships – $5000

JB Fairfax Award for Rural Journalism (National) 1 only – $10,000

Sydney Royal Wine Scholarship (National) 1 only –  $5000

Sydney Royal Dairy Produce Scholarship (NSW only) – 1 only -$5000

Applications close 30 September 2014

For further information please contact

Nicole Day

Program Manager –  Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation

working Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays

Royal Agricultural Society of NSW
1 Showground Road, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW 2127

t (02) 9704 1232 : f (02) 9704 1104 : e w:

Remembering what we’ve got before it becomes what we had

Last year Art4Agriculture through funding from Caring for our Country was able to train Young Eco Champions to go into schools with our Young Farming Champions as part of the Archibull Prize. The objective of the Young Eco Champions program at a grass roots level is to raise

  • awareness of, and a passion for landcare principles in young farmers
  • awareness and understanding amongst young landcarers of the challenges and constraints of modern sustainable agricultural systems

The program was a huge success both in building relationships between young people working in natural resource management and young farmers and leaving a lasting impact on the students they both visited in terms of raising awareness and showcasing the wonderful partnerships that have being built over the last 25 years between farmers and landcarers to nurture our natural environment.

Whilst the current federal government has chosen not to continue with Caring for our Country funding  I know our Young Eco Champions are committed to ensuring the program has a lasting legacy and what better example than this initiative conceived by Young Eco Champion Megan Rowlatt that saw Megan take a team of young city people to visit and work on the family farm of  2014 Wool Young Farming Champion Tom Tourle

The story ……..

Young environmentalists have been smashing agricultural stereotypes through a recent partnership between two New South Wales Landcare groups, 600 kilometres apart.

Six Illawarra Youth Landcare volunteers travelled to Dubbo last month, through connections with the Little River Landcare group, to work on the Tourle family’s sixth generation 4450 hectare sheep property ‘Oxley Downs’.

The volunteers, from areas around Wollongong, Sydney and the US, came from backgrounds including university students and workers in mining, conservation, and education sectors, and say they all took away something special from the experience.

IYL Volunteers sit on the verandah of an old log cabin on the property

Megan and her team on the veranda of one of the historic log cabins on the property

Illawarra Youth Landcare group coordinator Megan Rowlatt, who has been working and volunteering in Landcare for more than six years, says the volunteers had their own preconceived ideas of what the farm experience would be like, “but what we actually got to experience was so much more.”

“The Tourle family openly welcomed us onto their property, they shared their vision for the farm and the environment, their challenges, their trials and errors, and their home,” Megan says.

Jenna, a volunteer from Wollongong, says, “The Tourles created a beautiful, positive image of how people are changing their land management and farming techniques to be as positive and environmentally friendly as possible.”

Volunteers with Scott Tourle hearing about cell grazing

Scott Tourle sharing the finer points of cell grazing with the Illawarra Youth Landcare Group

Self-described city-slicker Dustin from California, USA, says, “It was a pleasure to learn how the Tourles have immense respect for the land they have been working for generations, and I was impressed by their knowledge of the finest details regarding the land.”

Chris, from Wollongong, says, “The entire weekend was far beyond what I could have expected, from the knowledge shared, the interest in our own experience, the hospitality and genuine wanting to have us to understand and share their vision for the future has given an extremely positive outlook for the future of agriculture.”

Sydney girl Nicole says, “We also learnt a lot about land management and how challenging it can be. I have developed a great respect for farmers and the hard work that is put in, day in and day out.”

Emily, from Wollongong, says, “I was relieved to discover there are farmers out there who understand the value of ecosystem management and protection and who are actively working towards the betterment of the environment.”

IYL volunteers fencing

Young city people learn how to fence

Megan says she organised the trip because people from cities and urban areas are becoming increasingly disconnected from the environment and rural Australia.

“Thankyou to Little River Landcare and Scott, Liz and Sam for opening their home and providing such a welcoming environment so we could break down the barriers, debunk the stereotypes, and have these conversations.”

Illawarra Youth Landcare is a network of young volunteers who carry out a variety of activities in the Illawarra, NSW and beyond. The group’s aim is to introduce young people to the diversity of environmental management issues faced in Australia.

Big boys toys

This year Art4Agriculture has a brand new partnership with the grains industry and they were very keen to get into the mix and be part of the 2014 school allocation. That has meant  a mad scramble to pull together the necessary resources for the schools allocated grains as part of their quest to win the Archibull Prize.

The grains industry is very lucky to have access to the talents of Belinda Cay who has pulled together some very interesting information on the Australian grains industry in a very short amount of time. Want to know some facts about Australian grains Check this out

Quirky facts about all our industries in the Archibull Prize spotlight

Food and Fibre Infographic

Now what is fascinating me about the grains industry is the interest on YouTube in watching grains either sown or harvested

Love this one with 16,000 hits

Then there is this one with over 150,000 hits

But that’s nothing check these out

Grains video hits

My goodness Aussie Big Boys Toys are almost ( well not quite) as popular as the Peterson Bros

BTW might just be getting up close and personal with the Peterson Bros next month myself