Walk a mile in my Jeans

Today’s guest post is by Angela Bradburn. Angela is a Policy Officer at Cotton Australiaand recently visited Art4agriculture headquarters at Jamberoo where she go up close and personal with some of the cows.

The colourful ones

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and the more traditional variety

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and the Archies at Sydney Show

At Sydney Royal with the Archies

Cotton Australia is the peak industry body for Australia’s cotton growing industry and a proud supporting partner of two of Art4agriculture’s signature programs The Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions program

Angela is one of a growing cohort of young people from non farming backgrounds going places fast in agriculture

In her role at Cotton Australia, Angela contributes to policy formulation and advocacy as well as acting as a reference point for industry organisations, government and other stakeholder groups on key policy and research issues. Key policy issues she is working on include climate change and carbon faming policies, education, labour and workforce issues. She also works with representative grower panels to provide research and development direction to cotton industry.

Here is Angela’s story ………

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I didn’t grow up on a farm, and have mostly lived in metropolitan areas all my life, but I am very proud to be working in agriculture, and currently for the cotton industry which is providing me with so many opportunities to grow and achieve.

I hope by sharing my story and my career path and experiences I can help to convey that there are exciting careers in agriculture aplenty.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at University of Sydney in 2004, and have worked for the last seven years in agriculture and natural resource management policy and programs, across government, in private consulting and now industry. I have  had many great opportunities, colleagues and mentors and challenging and interesting work environments along the way.

I’ve been based on Sydney and Canberra for most of my career, but thankfully with very strong grass roots ties. I’ve spent lots of time in contrasting environments – on the farm and in rural and regional Australia as well as in the board room and corridors of Parliament House.

The thing is my career could have gone many different ways, and there was no lack of choice – once I got into the right networks.

Angela and Scott 3

Angela with husband Scott enjoy the view at Art4agriculture HQ

People are often curious about why I chose to do agriculture. At school I liked science, plants and animals and was also interested in human health. Looking back, agriculture is perfect for this as it touches on all of these things. The interconnectedness of environment, agriculture, food and health is what farming systems are all about!

I spent some time living on a hobby farm in Kangaroo Valley – this definitely sparked an interest. I also ended up doing agriculture as an elective at school and our school had a farm, which was a lot of fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed studying agriculture at the University of Sydney, and was very glad I fell into it. The degree had a strong theoretical science base but involved practical experience on-farm and in agricultural businesses across many industries – an important mix from my perspective. We were a tight knit group that went through, and many of us are still friends and keep in touch. Even just looking at my class of 2004 paints a fascinating and impressive picture of the array of career opportunities in agriculture.

During my time at university I had great opportunities provided to me by the cotton industry. I managed to secure an undergraduate scholarship provided by the Cotton CRC, to support me through my last two years, and in addition I undertook a Summer Scholarship– also an initiative run by the Cotton CRC where you work on a small research project with industry researchers.

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I had a great time working on this based in Narrabri at the Australian Cotton Research Institute. This time in a rural community and working in the industry and its research community definitely built my appreciation and an affinity for the industry. The Summer Scholarship program is a highly successful model and I think it’s very important to provide these sorts of pathways for young people to help them in making career choices (it’s great to see other initiatives out there such as the Horizon Scholarship ). It’s wonderful be back in the industry that gave me so many opportunities during my studies and to be interacting with a lot of the same people that I did during my uni years.

After graduating I was lucky enough to secure a position within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Graduate Program. Looking back, this was a really big foot in the door and a good place to start a career. This is a structured program where we rotated through areas of government and received training, leadership and capacity building opportunities. I worked in policy and technical roles across Biosecurity Australia (BA), Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the Rural Policy and Innovation Division.

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From here I worked for four years as a consultant, for a company called Hassall & Associates (now GHD). Our team provided advice to government and industry to help improve the management of natural resources; effectiveness of industry and government programs; and sustainability and competitiveness of rural and regional Australia.

Now, working at Cotton Australia I continue to be excited by agriculture’s bright future, and the passionate, bright and resilient people that make up the industry.

Sophie Davidson & Angela Bradburn

Angela with Sophie Davidson ( Education Officer for Cotton Australia)

One of the things I enjoy about my current role is that working for an industry body, you have a unique opportunity to work with the other representative groups to present a unified voice for agriculture more broadly. Cotton Australia is a member of other larger groups (such as the National Farmer Federation), and its rewarding working side by side with our colleagues, sharing our experiences and striving for positive change. Piarn Masterclass 2

The cotton industry itself is comprised of very inspiring people – lots of young industry leaders, women and generally innovative and passionate business people.

“Did you know that the average of farmer in the cotton industry is 39 and it is estimated that in Australia 40% of the farms have women as partners in family farms?. If you didn’t know that I bet you know Australia produces the best cotton in the world and we clothe 500 million people.” 

One of the highlights  of my role this year was undertaking a PIARN Master Class*.

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The Inaugural PIARN Master Class with Professor Snow Barlow

The ‘Master Class’ program has been developed and is funded by the Primary Industries Adaptation Research Network (PIARN), out of the University of Melbourne.  Run as a short, intensive program, the initiative aims to connect future research, policy makers and industry leaders with on-farm activity so that primary industries research and development can be more relevant and effective, particularly in managing key climate challenges.

I joined a group of 20 from across different agricultural industries, to take part in three modules held in different locations across rural and regional Australia over late 2011/early 2012.  The program involved farm and site visits, interactive workshops and open forums with producers, leading researchers, policy makers and key industry figures.

The Master Class program provided an opportunity to enhance and build valuable knowledge and networks with policy makers, other industries and researchers.

As well as providing a chance to observe in the field how different farming groups are successfully applying knowledge, the interactive nature of the program means that I will also get to contribute a ‘cotton industry perspective’.

I enjoy remaining connected to both my industry and across agriculture at all levels – policy makers, industry and farmers. Social media is excellent for that and I invite you to follow me on twitter @angelajbradburn

I also value being active in professional associations. In Sydney there is actually a very vibrant network of people who work in agriculture and agribusiness. A lot of us come together as part of the group Farm Writers,which holds events, brings us key speakers and provide a collective forum.  Agribuzz for example is a smart-casual event  that facilitates professional networking and provides professional development opportunities. Over drinks and canapés, our members and friends exchange business intelligence and views, enjoy brief presentations from key note speakers and take the chance to meet agribusiness’s leaders and leaders-in–the-making.

A career in agriculture – give it serious thought.  I did and I have never look back

By the way check this out if you want to know what it takes to Grow a pair of jeans

*Presentations made by a number of invited experts to the PIARN Master class are available at www.piarn.org.au/events/piarn-master-class/ACT-presentations.

5 thoughts on “Walk a mile in my Jeans

  1. Wow. that was such an interesting story. I’m 13 and live with my mum and her partner on the central coast nsw. my uncle owns a farm in orange that my dad and i stay at in school holidays and weekends. I’ve always loved agriculture and the farm life. my dad has just get a new job in the mines in Ulan, Mudgee and will be living on an acreage. my current high school doesn’t provide agricultural facilities but the school I’m looking at for when i live with dad has a wide range of ag facilities; St Matthews Central High School. I find it great to know that you took an interest in Agriculture during secondary school also. People at my school aren’t very supportive of my love for ag and am often referred to as an fag. I really enjoyed this story and it provided me with a lot of insight as to what I can do to achieve an occupation in Agriculture. thankyou so much

    • Hi Emily,
      Good on you for following your dreams regardless of what your friends call you! Agriculture is so exciting, something I’m only just realising myself, despite being in my thirties and growing up on cattle stations! There are so many different career choices for you out there, should you want to follow through, and what could be more rewarding than being part of something that feeds and clothes the world?
      You go girl!

      Cheers
      Kylie

  2. Hi Emily, how exicting to read your reply!

    I’m glad reading this helped you, and hopefully it spurred you on to stay interested in ag. As I say I have never looked back, it really is an exciting and important sector to be a part of, with so much opportunity and full of great people. I can understand where you are at and pleased for you that you’ll be able to do agriculture at school – I loved it. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions, I would be very happy to talk to you further about my experience, and all of the different pathways I could have followed etc.

    PS Im with Kylie, do what you enjoy and what makes you proud…it’s such a shame that ag doesnt have the reputation in schools that it should – I know what you mean there. Most people I know are doing great things as a result of their agriculture studies – I could write lots of impressive stuff! Plus we need people with these skills going into the future, there is a shortage and it’s well recognised.

    Good luck and have fun! Angela

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