#Youthinag – Courageous leaders step up

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Many of our Young Farming Champions have the agricultural show movement in their DNA and are committed to giving back to their local communities by taking active roles to ensure our rural and regional shows remain relevant and have longevity. Young Farming Champions Steph Fowler, Hannah Barber, Tim Eyes and Jasmine Nixon ran the Cattle Experience at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 2014

We are excited and very proud to announce that a number of our Young Farming Champions are moving from leadership development to leadership roles.

We salute them. Its a courageous step moving from leading yourself to leading your team. It can be both very challenging and very rewarding

As leadership guru Zoë Routh says

None of us wants to be a dud leader. We want to contribute, we want to have an impact, and help improve the lives of others, ourselves and the planet. We take leadership as a serious stewardship opportunity. We need to develop confidence born from purpose not pride.

Leadership is both personal and public. Deeply so. Who we are and how we show up causes effects. Sometimes it’s a ripple in a pond, sometimes a deep and steady current, sometimes a tidal wave! Crafting and managing our leadership presence is as much an imperative as designing good strategy. After all, if we don’t get heard, we don’t advance our cause.

Leaders committed to making a difference and contribution face certain challenges:

  • Performance under pressure when the stakes are high demands enormous focus, energy, and nerve. We need to learn control of our emotions, so they don’t control us.

  • Leaders with strong opinions can be engaging. They can also be polarising. Our responsibility as leaders is about bringing people along for the ride, not pushing them into the car. We need to learn to express conviction without coercion.

Young Farming Champions Steph Fowler and Hannah Barber are taking this courageous journey to leadership roles through the Australian Agricultural Show movement.

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Hannah Barber (right) and Stephanie Fowler have inspired in schools as part of The Archibull Prize and are now leading the next generation of  #youthinag

Meet RAS of NSW Youth Group Chair Stephanie Fowler

Steph first entered the Young Farming Champions Program in 2012 and the skills she developed have held her in good stead in her role as Chair of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW’s Youth Group.

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Dr Stephanie Fowler’s day job as a meat scientist keeps her very busy but she is a multitasker giving back to the industry she loves through many volunteer roles 

The prestigious RAS Youth Group is responsible for the engagement and entertainment of both rural and urban youth at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. It does this through three avenues: a social networking event, Agrichats – where topical issues are discussed –  and the Young Farmers Challenge, which highlights the technical skills and the abilities of youth working in agriculture to urban audiences in a fun and entertaining way. The Youth Group also assists other RAS committees with competitions and events.

For the last two years of her five year term, Stephanie has held the role of Chair, a challenging position requiring her to oversee people of her own age. “As Chair it is my job to facilitate meetings and to make sure that the group is on track and on task. The biggest challenge comes from the fact we are all peers, but unfortunately sometimes in leadership there are times that you have to step up and be not popular to get something done.”

And how does she overcome these challenges? “With lots of mentoring, which has helped me get to the point where I have an understanding with everybody that I’m a friend when I need to be a friend but there will come times, and it’s nothing personal, that I’m not and that’s the way of the role.”

Her mentors, who include former Art4Agriculture events coordinator and RAS Youth Group Chair Kirsty Blades and councillors from the RAS, are people with whom she has created relationships, giving her support when the going gets tough. “They take some of that weight off when you have to make those harder decisions but sometimes it is not things you want to hear. Criticism and negative feedback actually allows you to step back and be reflective; to reassess where you are going with your leadership.”

“Being a leader is probably one of the toughest but most rewarding things I think anyone could ever do. There is something about putting yourself forward like that and stepping up that seems to highlight all the parts of yourself that you really wish you didn’t have. But in the same way being able to see people grow and develop, and witnessing their journey, which you can be a part of and have an influence on, is probably one the most rewarding things I’ve had the privilege of doing.”

Meet ASC NSW Next Gen President Hannah Barber

Young Farming Champion and secondary school teacher Hannah Barber also holds a leadership position with agricultural shows as President of the Agricultural Societies Council (ASC) of NSW Next Generation, which is designed to attract young people into show society executives.

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Hannah Barber is a busy girl . A school teacher by day and president of Agricultural Societies Council (ASC) of NSW Next Generation in her spare time  

Hannah’s role as president, which she has held since 2016, sees her liaise with the ASC as well as members of Next Gen who range in age from 18 to 35 and who have a passion for agriculture and an enthusiasm for the show movement. “The president adopts a leadership role and my duties are heavily liaison and managerial, but the entire ASC Next Gen committee are outstandingly driven and capable which makes my role very easy,” she says.

Hannah’s connections to agricultural shows began in her childhood when she competed in horse events, and was strengthened with the Showgirl Competition where she twice made it to the finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show representing her home town of Parkes. “Most shows in NSW have been running for over 100 years and have been a key event for their communities during this time, allowing them to connect, educate and celebrate. The importance and impact of shows can never be underestimated and I’m committed to doing my part to ensure their sustainability.”

That commitment is evident in her position as president. Depending on the time of the year the job may take only a few hours a week but when events, such as ShowAll Ball and ShowSkills, are imminent the workload increases. It is then that Hannah’s experience and understanding of the show world, and her high organisational and interpersonal skills developed as a teacher come to the fore.

Despite the challenges of dealing with different personalities and personal goals Hannah finds the opportunities the leadership has given her far out-weight the negatives. “Running a non-profit organisation is not a skill many young people get to experience. To be run by, and for, youth in agriculture under the distant but watchful eye of the ASC has made Next Gen a great way to experience this. To climb the hierarchy of positions has given me skills I’ve transferred into the workplace and has resulted in direct benefits including promotions.”

Thanks Hannah and Steph for sharing your challenges and highlights with us. I am confident our supporting partners will agree the return on investment in our youth is significant in terms of creating leaders who’ll continue to contribute value to their workplaces and to the agricultural sector as a whole, in terms of advocacy, teamwork, collaboration, and turning vision into reality .

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Picture You in Agriculture

The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.

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