#YouthinAg – building the confidence to step up

Courage and Conviction

The  Art4Agriculture network is a passionate group of young people and their supporters who have a vision for an agricultural sector that is vibrant, dynamic and profitable and is seen as a cutting edge career opportunity to grab with both hands

A large part of what we do is identify young people who want to share their love of agriculture with the world and provide them with the confidence and skills set to change the conversations around agriculture. Another important aspect of the program is that it encourages young people to connect with different agriculture sectors. In this way they can see that our agricultural industries share many common problems that can most effectively be addressed by working together.

Young people in agriculture have some big challenges to tackle and one of the ways they can fast track this is to build their communities of influence.

One of the best initiatives that I have seen that help them do this is by participating in Heywire. Heywire brings together young people from rural and regional communities across Australia who care about stuff and want to take action

ABC010_Heywire2016_CompOpenSocial_DD2_4 Its a wonderful program to help young people (introverts and extroverts alike ) think strategically, to collaborate and work with others through the hands on experience of developing a project. Its  an outstanding program to  help young people  build up courage and conviction that they actually can lead, that they have a voice and can have an opinion.

If you’re aged 16-22, and live outside the big cities, enter your story in the Heywire competition and be part of something big. Entries close 16 September 2016.

 

 

Kirsty McCormack – #youthinag rising star

Big shout out to Young Farming Champion Kirsty McCormick who recently won the Cattle Council National NAB Agribusiness Rising Beef Champion Award

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Kirsty’s finalist blurb shares her love of being an active participant in, and role model for #youthinag in the agricultural supply chain from paddock to plate and her passion to connect producers and consumers

Kirsty McCormack is a passionate young woman currently working for OBE Organic based in Brisbane. Hailing from the New England region in NSW, Kirsty’s experience in industry has spanned across the supply chain – from working alongside her family contract mustering, leading Stud cattle, meat judging and now to her role of Sales and Production Executive at OBE.

This love of the land brought her to study a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England. Throughout this time, she learned the science behind agriculture and on-farm decision making, and the implications they can have along the supply chain. Throughout her time at university Kirsty has also been heavily involved in a number of committees and programs to further her knowledge and perspective of production across Australia and the globe. Completing agricultural tours through Cambodia, Vietnam and China with UNE and the Syngenta Connections Program in the Philippines, Kirsty realised the ability and obligation we have in Australia to continue providing safe quality food for the world.

Through being a Young Farming Champion in the Art4Agriuclture program, the exposure Kirsty has had with school children in urban areas has increased her awareness of the need for transparency and education throughout the beef supply chain to allow consumers to reconnect with their food.

“Any opportunity to showcase the innovative technologies that are being used within the beef industry, and the power of social media is one step in the right direction”, says Kirsty.  She believes that the opportunity to participate in the Cattle Councils Rising Champion program will allow her to further promote and brand Australian beef both domestically and on a national scale.

Kirsty joined the Young Farming Champions program in 2013 – read her blog here.

Kirsty McCormack Rising Beef Champion

Kirsty centre with her fellow 2016 Rising Beef Champion finalists 

 She is a tiny little pocket rocket and would have to be one of the most delightful people you could ever meet. She loves agriculture and everyone in agriculture loves her. We look forward to watching her star rise and rise

Cathie Fox is shooting the farm

 

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The world is changing. Less and less people in our affluent society have a direct link to agriculture yet social media and the internet have brought a connectedness not previously known. Rather than run from these inevitable change farmers are learning to harness modern technology to tell their own stories. In doing so they are rebuilding trust between urban and rural communities. Cathie Fox, from Marrar in New South Wales, shares her story through photography.

Cathie has taken a life-long interest in photography and, through trial and error, now produces beautiful insights into life on the farm. In the last ten years, with the advent of digital technology, she has been sharing her images with the wider community, and through her son Daniel’s work with The Archibull Prize, is now using her photographs to engage with students and promote agriculture to the next generation.

“The reason I initially started taking photos was for history,” Cathie explains as late afternoon sun accentuates the yellow canola around her. “It was for future generations to see how farming was performed and how it has changed, especially over the last 10-15 years with machinery and technology.”

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The Fox Family farm is a mixed enterprise, comprising approximately 80% cropping and 20% sheep and provides a wealth of photographic opportunities for Cathie. While cute lambs and loyal working dogs may be favourites for some, for Cathie it is the love of cropping that attracts her most ardent attention “My favourite subject is harvest but really anything to do with machinery moving over paddocks because it is so changeable with each season. Harvest is particularly satisfying with so many different aspects and my boys (son Daniel and husband David) love their machinery. You can see that when they are working and can capture it. They’re reluctantly happy to pose for my camera,” she laughs.

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Along with the prosperous times photography has also been an avenue for Cathie to capture the problems and challenges, which constantly shadow a farmer’s life. From droughts to locust plaques she has been there with her camera. One poignant story she tells illustrates the power of her images. “In the middle of the drought our daughter Ashleigh was about eight and she was feeding 38 poddy lambs,” Cathie relates. “She would sit down and all the lambs would pile on top of her.  I took a photo and it was published in the Grain Growers calendar. In response I got this most beautiful letter from a lady saying how awful the drought was and when she saw the photo it restored her faith in everything and reminded her how good times can be. It was so lovely for me to think I had done that for someone. I’d made her feel good when we all knew how bad we were feeling.”

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Today Cathie’s images are making their way into schools. Her son Daniel is an Art4Agriculture Grains Young Farming Champion and he tells his story by mentoring students through The Archibull Prize. His presentation to students comes alive with Cathie’s dramatic images of large red headers at harvest and paddocks of golden wheat and brilliant yellow canola.

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Like his mother Dan believes it is important for farmers to connect with the wider community. “In the past even if people weren’t directly involved in agriculture they would have family who were. Anyone who lived in the cities could come down to the country and see the farms and experience farming in one way or another,” he says. “That divide is progressively growing so for us to go into schools and show the kids this is what we do and it is really exciting, it gets the connection back to the agricultural sector. We want to get the message out there that Australian produce is the best in the world.”

Dan Fox

You can read the book here 

Cathie and Dan make a good team and have developed close relationships with the schools and students. Cathie has made calendars for the school and the school has, in turn, used her images in a variety of outlets, including an award-winning Landcare presentation featuring Dan and celebrating local heroes. Yet the connection does not stop there. Students go home and talk in positive terms about agriculture to their families and friends – further rebuilding the trust between urban and rural communities.

“We are proud Dan wants to impart knowledge on people, on kids,” Cathie says. “He wants them to learn and he wants them to be passionate about agriculture as he is. He wants to share all the love he has for his industry, his heritage and he wants everyone else to feel it too.”

IMG_1172Both Dan and Cathie are sharing their farming stories and contributing to agricultural conversations.

“Anyone who sees those photos can relate to what is in the audible news. Having a photo gives people who aren’t in the industry a sense of what that’s like. They can see it. You can hear as much as you like but the visual is so effective.”  says Cathie 

 

 

Josh Gilbert helping young people to rethink the world and create a better future.

Today I am reblogging an awesome blog, Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert recently wrote for the Foundation for Young Australians.

 

Josh recently had the honour of being named Mr NAIDOC

Awarded to the nominee who empowers their peers to stand up for the rights of their people and their community, demonstrates hope and determination in the face of personal challengers and serve as an inspiration of persistence for all those around him/her

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The whole community stood as one, with the pride and spirit of the town’s people keeping the small town alive and flowing, no matter what the challenge or opportunity.

It’s a town where we celebrate “Woolfest” by running sheep down the main street, where the luck of the Irish flows in the streets and gold prospects filled the dreams of the early white settlers. The community was built from the hearts and the hopes of the people, even in recent times when the hospital burnt down or a nearby community hall burnt down from a bushfire.

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But while our rural and regional communities love to back a local and a community cause, Government investment in regional hubs and ideas encourages the next generation of rural entrepreneurs to stay local and develop their ideas in their own community.

This provides not only a benefit for youth who get to grow their ideas in regional towns, but also the community who benefit from an increased amount of funds in the local economy.

Entrepreneurship doesn’t just grow in the hearts and minds of people, it is nurtured in the cattle yards, thrives amongst the canola and blossoms in our orchards.

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The agricultural industry is built on same foundations as innovation, with leading farmer’s forming natural innovators in the products and markets they create. Though only recently has agriculture’s best kept innovation secrets been shared throughout our city streets. Here are the top 5 things to love about entrepreneurship in rural and remote Australia and working in agriculture:

  1. Your office is dictated by you

Although entrepreneurs often crave the caffeine hit from the constant coffee meetings and the hustle found in co-working spaces, great ideas can be found flourishing between farmers at a cattle sale, sitting on a tractor harvesting wheat or at a local coffee shop in a small town. Being an entrepreneur in the country means your office is completely dictated by you- you can be integrated into farm life and the environment as much as you would like.

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  1. W.F.F. – a completely unknown day

We all know big corporate companies are encouraging us to work from home, a great opportunity to wear your favourite pyjamas, stay in bed and meet virtually with clients anywhere in the world. In the country, we shake things up a bit further- instead we Work From Farm (W.F.F). Working From Farm means that no two days will ever be the same. You will be taking teleconferences and important calls from the cattle yards or shearing shed, moving livestock or fixing machinery in your lunch or coffee break and pitching your idea constantly to absolutely any animal that will listen.

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  1. The industry is ready for disruption

While the innovation uptake curve was modelled off agricultural research and development, much of the industry has remained static. We have progressed in terms of water usage and climate change adaptation and agricultural greats have designed and patented leading products to help with safety and production- yet the whole agricultural industry is ready for serious disruption!

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  1. There are plenty of mentors for advice

One of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur is trying to get the ear of someone who has done it all before and learn from them. An experienced mentor can make the difference between your product either a success or a failure. In regional Australia, the opportunity to find a mentor who is invested in helping you succeed is easy- simply head along to the nearest auction or sale and ask away. Before long, some of the greatest and most honest feedback will be heading your way!

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  1. The whole town will back you

The greatest thing about living in a small town is that the whole town will be motivating and encouraging you to succeed.  Everyone is invested in you becoming your best and wants you to do well- they want you to put the town on the map! Whether it’s the debrief session by a campfire or coffee (or both), getting cut outs of your face in the local paper or being told over and over that you will become the next prime minister, the whole town will rally behind you and give you their support.

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Young people working with farmers to co-create the future

I am a big fan of Australian leadership guru Zoe Routh and have been lucky enough to attend some of our workshops. I look forward to Zoe’s regular newsletter and as I was sitting down to write my latest newsletter to schools participating in The Archibull Prize this one titled The Future Belongs to the Adventurist reprinted below arrived in my Inbox this morning.

I was excited as I felt it was the perfect segue for my newsletter and this graph from the 2016 Archibull Prize shows you why. It would appear this is no shortage of young people in our schools putting their hands up to co-create the future with farmers

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The Future Belongs to the Adventurist

It’s 2036. 20 years ago we were all waiting with baited breath for virtual reality, artificial intelligence, driverless cars, nano medical technology, replaceable organs, and robots to help us make dinner.

That seems so archaic now…

Jeff Kowalski says we will experience more change at work in the next twenty years than we have had in the previous 2000. Watch the video here. Prepare mind to be blown.

Are you ready?

Most of us are woefully under-prepared. Here’s why:

1.    Curse of Now. We are too busy dealing with now to think about next. This is the disease of busy-ness.

2.    Learned helplessness. Thinking about the future can be terrifying. These is so much volatility and unknown. Radical leaps in all technologies, currencies, climate can make us feel powerless. If we let it.

3.    Flabby imagination. Most of us have not been taught to deal with future possibilities. So we default to hysterical catastrophising, naïve sheep-like follow-ism, or blissful ignorance.

We are in a giant, surging river of change, and if we don’t work out how to navigate it, we will get dumped from our boat, and be cast to the mercy of the current.

This is what we need:

Attitude: We need an Adventurist mindset. We need to be curious and intrigued about what’s around the bend in the river. We also need to learn to read the threats, how to listen for waterfalls, how to see a drop on the horizon that signals potential hazards, or the potential fun ride of rapids.

Aptitude: We need mapping skills. We need to learn how to map the current reality, assess trends, and map future possibilities. These are hitherto been the domain of the wild and often weird futurist. All of us need the thinking tools of the futurist. They are the new map and compass for the modern leader.

Application: We need to undertake expeditions. The only way to see what’s around the corner is to test the waters. Short little trips to explore what’s ahead will helps us chart a safe route. We do this by making a short range plan or project, testing its viability, and then deciding whether to launch the boats.

Most of us do not choose our attitude and default to the common denominator of those around us. Most of us aren’t taught to think about the future or take time out to entertain possibilities in a structured way. Most of us are simply implementing business as usual and calling it ‘progress’ because we made more money than last year.

Make no mistake, the future world exists now, downstream through a whole heap of turbulence. If we’re going to navigate it safely, we had better learn to paddle.

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Emma and Cosi team up to have fun with grains

Today’s guest blog comes from  Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe who travelled to South Australia to join the AgCommunicators team and Cosi on the Seed to Store promotional tour to South Australian schools

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Emma (centre front) had a great time as you can see …… 

On Monday and Tuesday this week I was lucky enough to be part of the GRDC and AgCommunicators Seed to Store Tour around SA.

Seed to Store is a video competition that is run by the GRDC where entrants are asked to make a simple 1 minute video that showcases the grains industry and tells the story of the seed getting from the paddock to the store. As part of the process the GRDC asks a specialist group of people to promote the event, the grains industry and the great opportunities the industry provides as well as create a buzz around the competition. The winners of each category are shown at the Royal Adelaide Show and win themselves a cheeky $1000!

My 1,863km journey began in Hay where I live. On my 7 hour drive to Adelaide I had time to ponder on the week ahead. Would the kids be excited? Would we be able to deliver some good messages? Would I forget what I was meant to say in my talk? How much are these kids even going to care about grains? Would the schools truly be happy to have us there?

Monday morning the lovely Sarah McDonnell picked me up and we began our way to our first school, St Francis De Sales in Mt Barker. We met the third member of our team there, the iconic Andrew “Cosi” Costello who presents a show called “South Aussie with Cosi” on Channel 9. This school was amazing; we were greeted by a sea of some 120 year 6 and 7’s who were all eager to hear about grains, show off their new horticulture building but most of all excited to meet Cosi!

Fun Fact

Did you know that there are 50,000 edible plants in the world that we know of, yet 60% of our diets are made up of wheat, rice and corn?

 

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The lovely Sarah telling the students about the Seed to Store Competition

We spent about an hour at each of the schools talking about grains and our involvement in the different areas of Agriculture. Cosi had studied as Roseworthy, like myself, but had worked in the livestock industry. He now runs a charity in Cambodia called Cows for Cambodia that is focused on helping to break the poverty cycle as well as teaching Cambodians about farming practises. Sarah was a food scientist before moving into education, focused on primarily Agriculture and I am an agronomist, so it was my job to explain a bit about what goes into growing grains. Other than having to endure us talking we also played a few games such as can you guess the grain and can you match the grain to the food it becomes? Did you know that Barley is in Mars Bars?

Fun Fact

The Roman goddess, Ceres, who was deemed protector of the grain, gave grains their common name today – “cereal.”

 

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Me Presenting 

From here we headed to Unity Collage in Murray Bridge in the Cosi Car. Once again the excitement of having Cosi visit the school became apparent quickly. It was also here that I learnt that Cosi was quite hilarious as he retold of his stories of struggles at high school with having a police officer as a father. After a quick lesson on “how not to pick up chicks” we chatted about grains, careers and tested everyone’s knowledge.

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Helping the Girls team win at guessing which grains become which foods at Unity

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Checking out the Rhino that Cosi Bought Tailem Bend

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The Cosi Car…it was hard to miss and attracted a lot of attention

The final school for day one was Keith Area School, and after a bit of a delay we got there about 45 minutes before the end of day bell. I thought this could be interesting, right before home time all these guys are going to want to do is get out of here but they were great fun! They were very interactive and attentive and an absolute laugh. Cosi was grilled about what they needed to do to win the big bucks with their videos.

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As he is one of the judges its smart for entrants to know Cosi’s Pearl Barley’s of Wisdom 

After staying the night in Keith we headed to the Area School at Coomandook. We had nearly half the school come to listen, and what a way to start the day. Everyone was highly entertained by Sarah story about “sensory analysis”, or taste testing to you and me, and how her love of Arnott’s chocolate biscuits had driven her to date a guy who worked there! The questions were fired thick and fast at the end of the session about grains as well as careers.

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Selfie with the year 7-11’s from Coomandook

From here we headed to Birdwood High School in the Adelaide Hills. It was quite a long drive and Cosi couldn’t resist a snack on the way…and what is better than one that he promotes!

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Coz it’s a Bargin!

The final school of the day was Birdwood High where we managed to get a whole range of students from year 8 to year 12. We got to the school right before the end of lunch bell. Our first port of call was the Ag Block where we got to cuddle some orphaned lambs.  Once in the hall with everyone they were really involved which was awesome, and as a special treat I got to see my cousin who goes to school there.

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Playing guess which grain is which food at Birdwood High School

We all said our goodbyes and I was on my way home again. On my 7 hour drive home I once again got time to reflect on the couple of days that had just been and all the laughs and things I had learnt. I learnt that the kids in a lot of these schools are genuinely interested to find out where their food comes from and their teachers genuinely want to teach them that.

I learnt that, once I got over my nerves and worry about forgetting what I had to say, interacting with students like this is very rewarding. And I leant the Seed to Store competition is a great opportunity and incentive for students, and community alike to learn about and showcase grains and pick up a lazy $1000! Most importantly I learnt that it is important for people like myself to go and showcase the good news stories and highlight the positives of the industry because for a lot of these kids it is probably something they have ever thought of looking at as a career, and to show them there is a lot more to agriculture then being a farmer.

Check out some of the previous winners here

The 2014 Winner – The Australian Grains Industry has a Great Story to Share

 

This is a great video entrant and runner up, from last year

 

And this guy won himself $1000, that’s a lot of chocolate!

 

 

Thanks to Belinda from the GRDC and Lynne from Young Farming Champions for this amazing opportunity and to Sarah and Cosi for the laughs and memories and I can’t wait to (hopefully) do it all again next year!

The Archibull Prize 2016 is up and running

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The Archibull Prize will roll out in 40 schools up and down the Eastern Australia in 2016

In 2016 The Archibull Prize aims to build on is successes and influence the pace of change for Australia famers and the community to move towards a sustainable energy future

The program has been acknowledged as a world class program in its ability to use creative arts and multimedia to connect business and agriculture with the community and school students to:

  1. Investigate the positive initiatives undertaken by farmers and businesses every day to make a better future;
  2. Consider agriculture related careers;
  3. Expand their understanding of farming;
  4. Understand the challenges of farming and opportunities for farmers and the community to work together to ensure a bright future for all and
  5. Create unique linkages between farmers, business and the community that allows the two-way flow of information in a way that is rarely seen.

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Over the past five years The Archibull Prize program has consistently shown that the students involved were deeply engaged in the range of learning experiences the program provided.

The Archibull Prize encourages students to record their STEM learnings through artistic expression and was recently acknowledged both by teachers and government as a leading example complementing the Australian Government’s initiative to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in primary and secondary schools

The agricultural industry, by its nature, incorporates all the aspects of STEM learning and can showcase the careers built around science, technology, engineering and mathematics – careers that will shape the future of Australia.

The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions bring agriculture to the nation’s students. Using creative thinking, imagination, innovation and digital technology the aesthetic values of art in The Archibull Prize support the understanding and application of all the STEM subjects.

Put simply, The Archibull Prize is a successful addition to the learning program for students, teachers love it because it meets the needs of the curriculum and enhances classroom engagement, and communities are able to engage with the program and schools in a meaningful way.

The schools will be studying the Australian Grains Industry, the sheep and cattle industry, the cotton industry and the wool industry

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We would like to welcome the following schools to the program

Calvary Christian College – Carbrook Campus Jnr
Calvary Christian College – Carbrook Campus Snr
Calvary Christian College – Springwood Campus
Campbelltown Performing Arts HS
Dungog Public School
Elizabeth Macarthur High School
Erina Heights Public School
Eurongilly Public School
Genesis Christian College
Glasshouse Christian College
Granville Boys High School
Gwynneville Public School
Hurlstone Agricultural High School
Irrawang High School
James Ruse Agricultural High School
Jugiong Public School
Kellyville High School
Kildare Catholic College
Kooringal High School
Kyogle High School
Little Bay Community of Schools
Malabar Public School
Mareeba State High School
Mater Dei Catholic College
Matraville Sports High School
Morton Downs State School
Murwillumbah High School
Muswellbrook High School
Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School
Northlakes High School
Northlakes Public School
Seven Hills High School
ST John’s College Woodlawn
The Henry Lawson High School
Toowoomba SHS Wilsonton Campus –
Tumbarumba High School
West Pennant Hills Public School
Wilberforce Public School
Winmalee High School