Tayla Field’s journey from city girl to hooked on the bush and a career in agriculture

Today’s guest blog comes from Tayla Field who often gets asked “How does a girl from Sydney find herself here?”

This is Tayla’s journey from city girl to hooked on the bush and a career in agriculture

Bug Checking Cotton

Born and raised in Inner West Sydney, my family connections spread from Rockhampton to the South Coast of New South Wales, with no clear rural connections. Similar to most young children I went through all the phases of potential career choices while growing up, with being a teacher, vet and policewoman crossing my mind.

Tayla Field

However during school I gained an interest in environmental issues locally, where I saw the opportunity to work in areas of sustainability and environmental management when looking into potential university courses.

Commencing study at the University of Sydney in a Bachelor of Environmental Systems, I had the opportunity to mix and converse with students from an Agricultural background, along with teachers, farmers and industry professionals.

Tayla Field 2

The idea of an established, changing and exciting food and fibre industry career was put forward  and now realised a career in Australian Agriculture and Horticultural industries was now an exciting and very real option for me

As I was so very excited to start my second year in Agricultural Science, the end of my first year at uni saw me hassling some very helpful members of the faculty to facilitate a course transfer,  Since transferring I have not looked back and have somehow had the the environment comes first knocked out of me by fellow students, leading to a dual interest in sustainable food an fibre production systems working side by side with getting the best outcomes for our planet.

My experience so far has been a diverse tasting plate of livestock, cropping and agronomy, all of which have interesting areas but come with their own challenges.

Walking Heifer

Working in cattle and sheep yards and leading a heifer for the first time are all experiences with livestock that have been challenging for me, but with the experience comes confidence, control and respect for the animals that you are working with.

I enjoy the livestock side of things, however I am majoring in agronomy in the coming year and have gained a lot from spending some time, with mainly cotton agronomists in the Riverina. I have visited the area at different times of the season and have gained a strong interest in the management of cotton, while recently spending time looking at some wheat and barley production in the winter. I can’t wait to get back out there in late November.

Garlic Trials

These are all first time experiences that have only taken place since beginning the course in 2013, and I can only think of how great it would have been to learn this when I was younger or have more contact with agriculture.I see an exciting future for me ahead in an industry where every day is a new learning experience

“How did you end up here?”

The answer is

” I have discovered agriculture is an exciting forward thinking career  and I am Hooked!”.

I am hooked on the innovation and technology, the wonderful people I meet and a career in an industry that underpins a bright and sustainable future for Australia .


After all would you agree an office like this – could it get any better

Young farmers changing the way farmers are perceived

I recently attended an event where this statement was made

Agriculture doesn’t change the world, Agriculture prevents it changing

Visit here for some comment on this

Well I can assure you there is a new generation of farmers who are turning the way agriculture thinks, talks and acts on its head and they leading the change that agriculture must have

A great example of this is  Young Farmer of the Year and Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth who was unable to attend the Farmer of the Year awards ceremony in Australia this week as she was presenting at the INTO conference in Cambridge in England

Anika Molesworth

Anika reports from Cambridge

“I am having an extremely exciting month! It was a thrill to win the Young Farmer of the Year award. Although I couldn’t attend the ceremony in Sydney, I was lucky enough to have my own awards night here- in a 17th century grain store on a fantastic country estate in Cambridge where they preserve heritage lines of sheep and cattle.

Speeches were made about the award with the 300 INTO delegates in attendance.
Climate change, agriculture and land use have been a real theme of this conference, and it’s been great to meet people from all over the world to hear their stories and feel the momentum growing in this discussion”

Wow are young farmers like Anika changing the way farmers are being perceived in the world – not only are our farmers on the front foot of climate change action and adaptation and mitigation strategies  we are now helping drive the conversations on the legacy our generation leaves for the future

Australian Young Farmer of the Year Anika Molesworth says you can really be yourself in the outback, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…

CONGRATULATIONS to Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth who tonight picked up the Australian Farmer of the Year – Young Farmer of the Year Award. Anika is a shining example of the new generation of Australian farmers bringing a worldview back to the farm both here and in developing countries #GOGIRLFRIEND we are so proud to know you.

Anika Molesworth AGROCKSTARS

Anika was recently profiled in Leading Agriculture here 

This is her story

From the lush rice fields of Southeast Asia to the scorched paddocks of the New South Wales outback Anika Molesworth is forging an agricultural career spanning continents and cultural divides.

As a research assistant for a Laos based project, by the end of the year Anika will have spent most of 2015 working with farmers towards achieving food security and poverty alleviation. The Charles Sturt University project, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), seeks to develop crop-livestock farming system platforms for capacity building, testing practices, commercialisation and community learning. Anika’s thesis for her Masters in Sustainable Agriculture focuses on using crop residue in integrated crop-livestock farming systems for improved climate resilience.

“It is really eye-opening to see the difference in available technology, skilled labour and finance over there,” Anika says, fresh off the plane from Savannahket this week. “In the first week I was there they received a new direct seeder and although direct seeders in Australia are these huge, expensive machines, a direct seeder in Laos resembled a wheel barrow with an engine that you push by hand across the paddock,” she says.

AnikaM_Hi Res

‘Every day it’s a new challenge, a new experience,

You can really be yourself in the outback, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…”

“Yet just like Australian farmers they are incredibly innovative and adaptive, and although most of them have never had formal training, they have incredible understanding of how the climate is changing. They have been noticing an increase in floods and longer dry seasons and have been developing new practices and technologies for managing their land for the future.” The Crawford Fund supports young Australian agricultural students and scientists with a keen interest in contributing to international agricultural development, and as a 2015 Crawford Fund Scholar, Anika will be participating in this year’s Annual Conference “The Business of Food Security: Profitability, Sustainability and Risk”.

Climate science in agriculture is a key interest area for Anika, fostered by her adolescence and early adult years spent in the semi-arid drylands of far-western New South Wales. The Molesworth family have always lived in Melbourne, but when Anika was 12 years old her parents bought Rupee Station, east of Broken Hill. It was the year 2000 and the beginning of the decade long drought, though Anika remembers it had just received some rain when she first visited.

“I was super excited and there were puddles lying about,” she recalls. “We went out in the four-wheel drives to explore the property and the tracks were as rough as anything so we’re bouncing along, looking at kangaroos, emus, endless horizons, rolling foothills of the Barrier Ranges, all the wildlife and open spaces to explore; it was an adventure playground for us.”

Anika says it was unbelievable, for a young kid who’d grown up in the city. Her parents both worked in the environmental sector so bushwalking and camping had been typical pastimes, but the family began spending school holidays and long-weekends at Rupee. With a love of the outdoors instilled from a young age, Anika says it was always at the forefront of her mind to respect the environment and its fragile nature.

The family de-stocked Rupee for several years before introducing Damara sheep when the seasons permitted and in 2005 they purchased the neighbouring property. With the changing fashions, their sheep flock moved from Damaras to Dorpers. Still travelling back and forth from Melbourne, they hired a retired station owner living in Broken Hill help manage the 4500 hectare property. Working with them to this day, Anika describes 82-year-old Colin as a “salt of the earth, absolutely incredible man who has taught us everything.”

Anika says signs of erosion and degradation of vegetation and native species were evident around Rupee from past rabbit plagues and removal of timber for the mines around Broken Hill. Environmental conservation has been at the forefront of their operations since day one.

“When we were building new dams we built bird islands in some of them to protect wildlife and provide nesting islands for ducks and we identified rare plant species and applied for funding from the [then] Catchment Management Authority to fence them off to protect from grazing. We also do extensive tree plantings around the homestead and tracks, put in nesting boxes, and do pest control of goats, foxes and rabbits,” she says.

“We also keep the stock levels at a conservative level so we’re not over-grazing. We keep good records of the vegetation, monitoring what we’ve got on the ground definitely determines the stock numbers that we run.”

Anika Molesworth

Anika saw Rupee in a new light each time a school term ended and the Molesworths made the 870 kilometre pilgrimage from suburbia to scrubland. Seasonal conditions changed the fragile landscape rapidly and dramatically, “and that always kept me interested,” Anika says.

Fascinated by running a farm business in conjunction with protecting the environment, Anika studied a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Agribusiness, through Charles Sturt University. At the age of 19 – after a gap year jillarooing on multi-million acre cattle stations in outback Queensland – she moved to Rupee, where she studied by correspondence and managed the property alongside Colin‘s visit every few days. “I loved the experience and I believe it has built up my skills and capabilities to what I’ve got today,” Anika says. One year into the move, Anika met her partner Corey in Broken Hill.

After graduation she was picked up by Suncorp Bank, taking her to Tamworth and Orange before she and Corey moved to Griffith, where Anika has worked as a Suncorp Agribusiness Consultant for the last four years. “It has opened up my eyes that no matter what you farm or how big, you’re always at risk of the elements, of markets, and of fashion,” she says. “Just being exposed to a whole range of different agribusinesses I’ve seen how dynamic agriculture actually is, that anyone can have financial strain and that each situation requires a unique solution to help stabilize that.”

Still captivated by the sciences behind climate Anika began her Masters, focussing on how farmers can adapt to climate change and mitigate Greenhouse Gas emissions. “There is so much science behind climate and its effect on agriculture, and it’s a terribly complicated area to understand,” Anika says. “So I decided that seeing as I was doing so much reading about it for my Masters that I should find a way to disseminate it to the public in a format everybody can understand.”

In early 2014 Anika founded Climate Wise Agriculture, a “knowledge sharing platform for climate-smart practices.” Across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and a website Anika presents current and credible information on climate science in a way that’s not overly scientific. “The layperson can understand it,” she says, “it’s a way to get more information out there to help land managers and practice adoption of climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies.”

Earlier this year Anika harnessed her strong interest in heritage conservation – also inspired by her parents – to launch the International National Trust Organisation (INTO) Sustainable Farms project. As the global body of the National Trust, INTO is involved with 52 countries. Anika’s Sustainable Farms project showcases National Trust farms from across the globe that have stood the test of time and employ heritage conservational practices. She will be representing INTO Sustainable Farms this September at the International Conference of National Trusts in Cambridge, where she hopes to educate, inspire and encourage participation in sustainable agricultural practices and associated natural and cultural heritage conservation, with Trust farming properties providing the catalyst for imparting a wealth of knowledge and experience.

“For example some farms in Australia might be doing great things with preservation of natural resources, heritage breeds and heirloom species, or a farm overseas might be using traditional farming and cultural practices,” Anika says. “We share that information with the public while also allowing it to be passed on and utilised by other National Trusts around the world.

“This project combines a few factors that I’m really passionate about: looking after agrarian communities, the environment, and built heritage that showcases how the early farmers did things, those traditional, pioneer skills.  Most of these properties are still being run as farms and I love to see what lessons we can learn from them that we can combine with innovation, technology and science to contribute towards building a more sustainable agricultural system.”

Behind the webpages and social media accounts, Anika has honed and developed her communication and media skills to help connect with her audience. In 2014 she entered the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions (YFC) program. Its training workshops with journalists and marketing experts have influenced the way she communicates on social media.

“Speaking positively, focussing on the highlights instead of the lowlights and speaking in terms that people in the city centre would understand are really things that hit home for me,” Anika says.

“It’s tricky because I spend so much of my time writing science and reading scientific journals it is a language that I understand and I probably forget that when I write posts. I still do like to throw a few challenging concepts at people though, so they understand that farming is a very complex thing with a lot of science, marketing and economics behind it,” she says.

“I found the YFC workshops about marketing agriculture really interesting. I hadn’t spent much time thinking about it before, but it really drove home the importance of marketing agriculture as a thriving brand because the majority of the population who live in cities don’t have the opportunity to understand what happens in rural Australia.”

Anika says the highlight of the program was building connections with other young agriculturalists from different backgrounds and involved in diverse work. “I felt privileged that I was able to be put in contact with these people. I think it’s such a great support network and ideas network that I really hope to stay a part of,” she says.

Last month Anika and fellow Young Farming Champion and Central Coast farm manager Tim Eyes featured on SBS program The Feed, which asked the question, ‘Why do young people choose to become farmers in this day and age?’ “Every day it’s a new challenge, a new experience,” Anika says over images of the quintessential, rugged outback landscapes of Rupee. “You can really be yourself in the outback, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else…”

Young producers developing and nurturing the beef industry was the topic of conversation at BeefJam, run by Youth Food Movement at Target100. Anika enthusiastically joined the conversation on how links can be made for consumers to better understand the beef supply chain- from production to consumption.

Anika and Corey get back to Rupee at every opportunity. Visits always manage to coincide with mustering, lamb marking, yard work or fence work – such is the life of a farmer – but Anika loves it.

She loves work that displays a real, physical benefit. “You swing a gate and know that gate is going to be in place, helping the operation efficiency for the next 20 years,” she says. “And every day when you use that gate you’re going to appreciate that it has been swung properly.”

She loves to question when things mightn’t be running as efficiently as they could be. “If it can’t be explained why we’re doing something a certain way then say, well why don’t we do it this way instead? Why don’t we try something new?”

And she loves the idea of producing quality and healthy food that has been produced with good animal welfare and land management. “I take real pride in being a part of helping to feed the country. I think it’s an incredibly important job,” she says.

“I would absolutely love to own and manage my own farm in Australia one day, while working in research and development, continuing international travel and working with people across the globe. I think we’re here at a lucky time when you can do all these things.”

A similar sense of pride, and luck, shines through from her time in Laos. “The Laos people have an incredible sense of humour so it was all charades and laughing while trying to understand each other,” Anika says. “The language barrier was great but it was incredible when someone would ask a question about climate change or farming systems and I explained a concept or why we were doing something, and you saw that lightbulb moment. But in honesty, I learnt just as much from them as they did from me, and it has been truly inspiring and rewarding working in this industry.”

Read more about Anika and what drives her here – Young Farmer of the Year feature on the ABC is a  champion for the global farming tradition

Related Links:

Climate Wise Agriculture http://climatewiseagriculture.com/

INTO Sustainable Farms project http://intofarms.org/

Anika and Tim on The Feed https://art4agriculturechat.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/why-young-farmers-are-forging-careers-despite-the-odds-and-living-to-tell-the-tale/


Meet Nick Eyres who believes if you want it bad enough the road to a career in agriculture will pave itself

Today’s guest blog comes from WA Sandgropper Nick Eyres

This is Nick’s story………

Never having written a blog, I don’t really know where to start, but hey, I’m Nick Eyres and I’m attempting to complete my undergraduate BSc in Agricultural Science at University of Western Australia. The hardest question I have to answer any time I meet a new person, is “where are you from?” I s’pose it’s no different when writing a blog?

Anyway I’ll get there. Most of my life has been pretty cruisy I guess, being the youngest of 3 boys (and the tallest) I have always had older brothers looking out for me, they made sure I took all the blame for the drama we got up to when we were kids. Of course, I was always around to beat up when they wanted some quick entertainment. I didn’t understand that game. Naturally, they were bigger then me so I didn’t put up much of a fight until one day, when after they swapped with me all my $2 coins for their 50c coins (they are bigger after all) I told them that “one day I’ll be bigger than you.” Whilst that dream came true but I never got to collect on their debts. Anyway, growing up in Tambellup, like any rural place, family is a big deal so we’ve always been close.

Nick Eyres 1

Steve and me (centered) with some cousins having some quality chook time in Tambellup

Eventually, in 2000, we moved to Geraldton, where we farmed in Eradu, following dad’s dream of getting rid of the sheep. But soon we found ourselves in Watheroo putting a crop in, in 2004. This was a ripper farm. I was asked years ago which of our farms was the best, this one came with an Emu called Hector.

Nick Eyres 2

Me and Steve picking malee roots in Geraldton

It is pretty awesome looking back on being a kid and being thrown into a new environment all the time, even though sometimes it is hard not knowing anyone, it teaches you at least a couple of things. I went to 6 different primary schools by the time I had finished year 6, at which point we had to move to Perth when dad got diagnosed with the big C, just after the first crop in Watheroo was in the ground. 2004 was a bumper year, one of the best the region had seen in a number of years, but for us it was a different story. My older brothers (Steve and Tom) were both off at boarding school in Perth, so there were many trips for me to the city to await more news from the doctors, and for dad to get his treatment. It was July when he was first diagnosed, and he passed away in December that year. This was a pretty average time for us all, but the amazing thing about it was that we still had a crop that was being harvested. Family and friends called in from all around the state to help us get that crop off, and that’s a pretty incredible thought.

wheat crop

While it’s a pretty sombre thing to share, I reckon it’s the only way I can outline my love for not only agriculture, but the community that comes in the deal. This is exactly why I am passionate about being involved with the industry, and keeping these communities together.

Nick Eyres 3

At the gate of Acacia, our last property in Watheroo

Since 2004 I have lived in Perth, with my mum and my brothers until slowly, one by one, we all left home as soon as we could. I finished school in 2010 unsure of what to do, and after working as a labourer for a year, I tried a semester of engineering at UWA to find that it is in fact exactly what I don’t want to do (apparently a common scenario). After discovering that your career should be whatever you enjoy, I started Ag Science and haven’t looked back. I have definitely taken advantage of the student lifestyle too, rediscovering my passion for sport, getting involved with rowing (which I had forgotten about since I finished school) at UWA. I started to train and compete in a High Performance program that took me to the national championships for the last two years, in my bid to make an Australian team.

Nick Eyres 6

2013 UWABC mens 8+ winning the state sprint champs

While thus far I have been unsuccessful, it has ignited in me a passion for the sport, and for fitness and a lifestyle that is based around being healthy and active. The satisfaction you get from racing well is something that is bloody addictive, and leaves you hungry for more success. I love the training, the people and the sleeping when you are competing, but the best thing is definitely the food – as much as my heart desires. Yeah, this sport is a little bit of a contrast to the lectures in my undergraduate, but that’s why I think (not my boss when I am asleep in my lunch break) that the two work so well together, and why one has complemented the other so well.

Nick Eyres 4

Definitely not a lecture theatre. Me (left) and Sam (in blue) racing the U23 men’s pair in NSW earlier this year.

There are a few things that interest me, with regards to agronomy really. I suppose it could go either way, but while I think there is more clarity in the science behind crops, animal nutrition is a huge frontier for growth. However, having started with a double major in Ag and Chemistry, soil chemistry does tickle my fancy,  but who knows? I do think with the massively expanding technology base being used in Ag systems, there is a huge potential in precision farming in the future.

Nick Eyres 5

Mika teaching me the ins and outs of the sheep yards

Finishing 3rd year now, and another year working as a researcher’s assistant at AHRI (Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative) based out of UWA. My days are spent counting seeds in a lab and looking after pot experiments – if I’m not in a lecture – to keep the bread on the table (well, to be honest the bread in our household is free thanks to the art of dumpster diving), but this is all between training and looking after my new kelpie puppy Mika. Keeping a sheep dog occupied when it’s on permanent holiday isn’t hard when all your lecturers love having a dog listen in on the content of the lecture.

Long Road will pave itself

None the less I guess I’m starting to think about work opportunities now and what the next step of my life will hold, but really, who knows these days.

Perhaps I can fly drones for a living.

So long as what I choose is a passion, the road will pave itself, right?

Meet Keiley Obrien who is excited to mark her spot in agriculture

Today’s guest blog comes from Keiley O’Brien who says agriculture has always been a part of her life. Just at times she didn’t realise it.

This is Keiley’s story …….

Hello all, my name is Keiley O’Brien and I hail from a very small, very rural town called Gulargambone. Photo 31-07-2015 11 29 47 pm

You can find (Gular for short) in Central West NSW about 115km North of Dubbo and . Out at Gular my father owns and operates a transport company which has been in our family for generations.Gular(Gular for short) in Central West NSW about 115km North of Dubbo and six hours from Sydney.

Gular sign

Out at Gular my father owns and operates a transport company which has been in our family for generations. Gular is home to 400 people and is primarily an agricultural area, with wheat, sheep and cattle its main enterprises. Pretty much all employment and jobs on offer within the town’s radius is directly related to agriculture.

At times I found it hard growing up in a town so remote. Your friends from school we’re a good car trip away and your entertainment was extremely limited. But looking back on it now I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was surrounded by people who were playing a massive part in both feeding and clothing the world around me, and I found that pretty cool. Travel writer Zoe Taylor agrees

The passion and spirit of Gulargambone’s people is indeed infectious. The unofficial Mayor, Col Ryan is a true blue Aussie legend
At the end of the weekend, we could actually see ourselves settling down in a little town like this; filled with that true sense of community spirit. Somehow I just didn’t feel that loneliness was commonplace in this town, everyone had a real sense of belonging to something special.

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I would literally travel to soccer games on weekends in the cab of a truck. Don’t ask me how, but dad could always manage to find a load of wool somewhere in the area to pick up and make the trips worthwhile for him. Same goes with school holidays. If I wanted to go to the movies or shopping somewhere other than the two small grocer’s in town, I had to wait until dad had a load to go into Dubbo or Nan was sent in to grab some urgent parts.

Changes in family circumstances led to me living in Dubbo with my mother. Here, I attended St Johns College, Dubbo where Agriculture was a part of the curriculum. Through participating in compulsory Ag classes I got hooked into how important ag was and what it was doing for the world. This made me really start to appreciate where I came from. With encouragement from both my elder brother and teacher I started to get involved in the schools Ag Farm.

St John’s was very focused on the beef cattle show steer competitions and took out many champion ribbons at many major shows. It wasn’t long until I was hooked into the showing circuit myself. Due to my passion for animals and need to buckle down into a steady study routine I ended up at Yanco Agricultural High School, a fully residential and selective agricultural high school to complete my senior years of study.

In 2009 I won my first major awards at the Murray Grey Youth Heifer Show held in Mossvale. Here I was the Intermediate Champion Parader and Herdsman. I then continued on to win Champion Judging titles at the NSW Beef Spectacular, Canberra Royal, Wellington Show, Trangie Junior Judging Day, Albury Show, Angus Youth Round Up, Charolias Youth Stampede, Gulargambone show and Henty Show along with Reserve Champion titles at the National Limousin Junior Heifer Show, Cootamundra Show, National All Breeds Junior Heifer Show, NSW DPI Livestock Assessment Course and Gilgandra Show. I was also offered a spot to compete in the Angus Youth National Judging Competition but due to age and overlap of a scholarship presentation decided to wait until I was older to test my luck.

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If you asked me back then I could have sworn that I would end up as either a meat buyer or meat inspector after finishing high school and doing a uni degree. I was breeding my own stud registered Murray Grey Cattle and named the Murray Grey Youth Junior Ambassador two years in a row. I honestly thought that beef cattle was my one true passion.

But things changed when my teacher Kim Weller encouraged me to test my comfort zone. In 2011 I entered a grain junior judging competition to help make numbers up in order for the competition to actually run and competitors be given the chance to progress onto the NSW RAS State finals if lucky enough. I knew what grain was, where it came from, some of the products that it went into, and that dad carted it, but that was it. Never in the world did I think I could ever judge it, let alone place in the top 3 and make it onto state. But somehow I did. And that’s where my grain story begins.

Since 2011, I have consecutively been selected 5 times to be a participant in the NSW RAS Junior Grain State Judging Finals Competition. And in both 2012 and 2015 I’ve placed as Reserve Champion in the State. (You know that saying, always a bridesmaid and never a bride).

I’ve also taken up harvest employment with GrainCorp and work as a grain sampler. I literally take samples of grain from trucks, test them and can determine majority of the important information about that grain using the equipment and machines provided. So from half a buckets worth of a whole trailer load, I can tell the grower the protein, weight and screenings of their grain, which will then determine the grade and dollar they will receive. It’s an absolutely awesome job and I get to have a lot of contact with the growers themselves which is pretty cool.

This year I was asked to attend the 2015 Coonamble Show as an overjudge for the grain section of their new day long Junior Judging Competition. It was such an amazing experience to be able to share my passion and knowledge of the grain industry with a large number of kids aged from 5 – 22.

I still keep up with the beef cattle and play an active role in the Murray Grey Youth Society as both a committee member and the current NSW State Representative. I’m also a committee member for the National All Breeds Junior Heifer Show and general member of both the Gulargambone Show Society and UNE Farming Futures.

Between all this I’m currently enrolled in my second year of a Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Business at the University of New England in Armidale. It’s an absolutely awesome degree. The lecturers here are so supportive and classes are very hand on and practical. Just this week I attended the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Growers Update, held in Moree as a compulsory fieldtrip for one of my units.  Between my degree, previous work and participation in judging competitions I’ve definitely decided that a career in the grains industry is for me. Upon graduation (which is still a few years off) I wish to go into grain receival, logistics and marketing. I find the future and integrity of our foods industry super important.

So yeah, as I was saying before, Agriculture has always been a part of my life. Although at times I didn’t realise it, I sure do now. I’m thankful for ag and excited to mark my spot in it as time goes on.

Meets Sam Coggins a city boy determined to get back to his agricultural roots

Today’s guest blog comes from Sam Coggins a great example of if you want something bad enough never give up the dream irrespective of what others may think

Sam Coggins (7)

Determined to catch a fish on a family holiday on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Sam Coggins went on eight successive fishing trips without catching a single fish. He tried fishing on the wharf, off the beach, at the river mouth, his cousin even felt sorry for him and took him out on his boat; and yet he could not land a single fish. The more he failed, the more determined he became to succeed. And then, on the night before he was to return home to Canberra, covered in mozzie bites and being nagged by his mum to give it up, Sam Coggins caught a 12cm Yellowtail off Tathra Wharf. This was and always will be the greatest achievement of his life.

Sam Coggins (2)

My name is Sam Coggins and I love agriculture. Despite a rich agricultural heritage on both sides of my family, I was born and raised in the suburbs of Canberra.

Sam Coggins (3)

My dad is a proud 3rd generation farmer that owns and operates an Angus beef producing property near Rylstone in the New South Wales Central Tablelands. Similarly, on my mum’s side, my uncle is a 6th generation dairy farmer from the Bega Valley. Due to the pride that my family takes in farming, I have always looked back happily on the many weekends and holidays spent working and learning on both of these properties. The addictive buzz that you get from caring for your land, looking after your animals and being able to feed people as a result is something that is genuinely unique and something that makes the hard work and the long drives to Rylstone and the Bega Valley seem like nothing.

Sam Coggins (4)

Going through high school I always wanted to study agriculture but regrettably, I never did. At my school, students and some teachers mocked agriculture as a “bludge subject” for “drop kicks” and “no hopers”. In Year 11 I somehow worked up the courage to enroll in it. However, after just two weeks, I had dropped it because I couldn’t handle the flak that I copped from my mates. At school I was ashamed of my soft spot for agriculture. Now in the second year of my Agricultural Science degree at The University of Sydney, this soft spot has grown into a passion that I am unreservedly proud of.

Almost until the end of my time at school, a career in agriculture was never a consideration for me. Half-way through Year 12 I remember trying to work out what type of engineer I was going to be. It was not until I listened to a speech delivered by Dr. Julian Cribb that I started taking agriculture seriously. He convinced me that with a growing world population, climatic instability and dwindling natural resources, global food security is under imminent threat and preserving it will be the challenge of our generation. This alarmed and inspired me. It enabled me to realise the crucial importance of agricultural science and that I can use it as a mechanism to create a significant difference in the world. Combined with my agricultural heritage and dormant interest in science, this realisation ignited a spark that has made me passionately determined to play a leading role in the prevention of a global food shortage.

This newfound passion has since made hard decisions easy. It made it easy for me to ignore people who told me that I was “wasting my ATAR” enrolling in a degree requiring one of only 76.85. It made it easy to forget about schoolies and start work at a winery in the Barossa Valley just three days after my final HSC exam. It also made it easier to justify spending big on a pair of R.M. Williams boots. However, while the decisions have been made easy, a lot else has not been.

While the Grains Research and Development Corporation now generously sponsor me to be part of it, I had to fight my way into the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) Horizon Scholarship Program. Initially told that my application had been unsuccessful, I rang up the program coordinator, told them why I was so eager to be awarded a scholarship and was later interviewed and fortunate enough to be given a place in the program.

Sam Coggins (5)

The RIRDC Horizon Scholarship is designed to support and bring together some of the most promising Australian agricultural undergraduates and develop them into future leaders of the industry. The principal reason why I was so desperate to be part of it was and continues to be because it offers the unique opportunity to connect with other undergraduates that are equally driven and passionate about agriculture. I can’t describe how motivating it is to talk about agriculture with other young people that love talking about agriculture just as much as I do. As well as this, the scholarship also provides an annual fully funded work placement and handy $5000 bursary for the duration of my degree.

A workplace highlight last was being funded to organise and undertake a two-week work placement on a ‘Tassal’ salmon farm in Tasmania. Talking and working with the staff on the farm gave me a deeper understanding of aquaculture, an insight into the operation of intensive food production systems and quite possibly lung cancer from all of the second hand smoke I inhaled.

As well as working hard at university and my heavy involvement in the Horizon program, I have endeavored to develop and share my knowledge, skills and ideas in as many ways as possible. I am employed as a laboratory and fieldwork assistant at the USYD Centre for Carbon, Water and Food, an applied statistics tutor at my residential college and volunteer as the Vice-President of The University of Sydney Landcare society. I actively participated in a selective extra-curricular university field trip to the Pilbara as well as the 2014 and 2015 Crawford Fund conferences and the 2015 Future Farmers Network Youth Ag Council. In September I am presenting my ideas about how to make animal protein accessible to people in developing countries at the University of Western Sydney Students for Sustainability Conference. Tomorrow I am meeting with an MP.

Sam Coggins (6)

Why do I do all this? Because over 21,000 people die of hunger related causes every day. This is a number that is only set to increase and one that I am not prepared to live with. I was determined to catch that fish and I am determined to play a leading role in the prevention of a global food shortage.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime


Listen to Dr Julian Cribb here

You can see why Sam was inspired

Meet Marlee Langfield– sharing her love of agriculture to set the world alight

Farmer (fahr-mer): noun, a person who is outstanding in their field. That’s me! Being a farmer is not a “job”; it is a way of life. It is my life! This great way of life inspires me to share it with others, to be an agricultural communicator; to help reflect who I am, what I stand for and the opportunities Australian agriculture boasts.

Marlee Langfield (3)

My DNA is what connects me with the land. As far back as my family name goes we have always farmed. From a very young age I took an active role alongside my parents in the works of our 743ha farm, “Wallaringa,” located in Cowra, central west NSW. Steering the wheel of the farm Ute in the correct direction while Dad fed the sheep, whizzing around on my red Honda XR50 to transport lunches to the paddock, and falling asleep listening to the ABC’s Country Hour on a dusty old blanket shoved behind the tractor seat while Dad planted the crops. This was a way of life; this was my childhood, and a healthy and happy one at that! My Mother will tell you that until I started school I didn’t know what a ‘weekend’ was, as I had never really had a ‘weekend’ off from farming.

As I grew up I watched my father fight Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for eleven years. During this period he continued to run “Wallaringa” to the best of his ability, which at times was from a hospital bed on the fourth floor in Sydney’s St. George Hospital. Sadly my father passed away in 2008. He was a man of the land whose strength, courage and determination was an inspiration to all. Especially to me, this is where my inner strength and passion for Agriculture, mainly cereal grains and oilseed production derives from. His wishes were structured so that until a rightful age “Wallaringa” will pass directly to me, (his only child) in the meantime I can decide whether farming is my future as well as experience life while the farm is cared for.

In 2011 I had the opportunity to live and study year ten in Okotoks, Alberta Canada with my Mother. We seized this twelve month adventure and lived it to the fullest! We incorporated occasional travel during this time which allowed me to see and experience first-hand international agriculture: an American corn harvest, the Prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, rich red, predominately potato bearing soil of Prince Edward Island. Truly my fondest venture to date.

Returning from Canada I attended All Saints’ College Bathurst for the remainder of my school years as a full time boarder. Without doubt I selected Agriculture as a HSC elective.

Marlee Langfield (1)

The knowledge and skills I acquired over these years fed my appetite for the industry and a ‘want’ to communicate the lifestyle, issues and rewards farming offers developed within me. My HSC major work for Drama, ‘Doin’ It Tough’ (a self-written monologue) aimed to communicate the stresses and strains placed on rural farming families when drought occurs. This performance was very well received which lead me to believe that live theatre is a valuable means of communicating messages from the agricultural industry.

The day I completed my final HSC exam I hot footed it out of the exam room and into the Canola Cutter cab. Driving and operating agricultural machinery, large or small, doesn’t faze me at all.

Marlee Langfield (5)

I practically enjoy driving my John Deere 9860 STS header at harvest time however, I equally enjoy working for GrainCorp as the Cowra and Noonbinna Sample stand operator (better known as ‘the bird in the bird cage’).

Marlee Langfield (4)

In 2014 I undertook a Certificate III in Agriculture with Access Group Training. The stylised flexibility and highly qualified staff this method of training boast made the concept of distance learning a smooth journey. I excelled in my studies condensing the two year course into ten months as well as being nominated for the NSW Training Awards. In May I won Western NSW Trainee of the Year. Recently I was interviewed  for the state title to be announced in September.

It is an honour to be representing agriculture on a regional and state level!

My objective is to raise my voice to promote a rural lifestyle, educate non-farmers and encourage younger generations to consider Apprenticeships and Traineeships in agriculture, which therefore inspires them to enter into this vibrant, flourishing and promising industry.

My decision to progress onto further training was an easy one; I am currently completing a Diploma in Management, again with Access Group Training. Every day I am equipping myself through my studies, practical hands-on experiences and with the help of industry experts to ready myself for the time when I become “Wallaringa” owner and manager. Approximately one of every seven farms is today managed by a woman!

Along with my studies I am involved with the local show societies, am an active member of the Morongla CWA and Red Cross, a budding rural lifestyle photographer and an enthusiastic part-time field day employee for CASE IH and Bisley Workwear. I thoroughly enjoy these other pursuits and see them as valuable opportunities to share my passion.

I plan on being a lifelong advocate or ‘agvocate” for agriculture whether that be aurally, physically or visually. My long term goal is to lead by example and explore the many career paths within the industry, especially farm management.

I am proud to be a leading female in a predominately male-driven industry. A fire for agriculture burns bright within me and I aim to set the world alight!

Marlee Langfield (2)