Meet Sally Beer whose teachers nurtured her passion for agriculture

Today’s guest blog post comes from Sally Beer whose taken every opportunity that has come her way to prepare her for a career in agriculture

my professional photo

This is Sally’s story ……..

I had a fairly typical country kid childhood. Growing up on a mixed cropping and livestock property in Deniliquin, NSW, we always had a myriad of animals to look after- horses, poddy lambs and calves, dogs, cats, budgies, a wild rabbit that my brother rescued from under a bath tub at a polocrosse carnival and somehow convinced my Dad he should keep, and a couple of joeys.

photos for YFC

We still have Milly the poddy lamb, who turns 11 years old this year, in the back paddock, and we would take ‘Dimitry the Roman Kangaroo’ to every horse event in the Riverina when he was a joey, where he would act as our mascot hanging in his green Coles shopping bag on the truck dividers.

mum cam sally dad

Of course, there was always jobs to help with on the farm, whether we were checking the rice paddocks and irrigating with Dad or mustering cattle. Mum’s favourite story from when I was a baby was when I was crying in the night, so she asked Dad to check on me- Dad took me for a walk around the rice paddocks checking water levels, and was gone for over 2 hours. When he returned, Mum was frantic and I was fast asleep. I was definitely a Riverina baby!

At high school my enjoyment for agriculture was fostered and enhanced by the fantastic agriculture and primary industries teachers. They pushed us to develop our practical skills on the school farm. They also encouraged us to recognise the huge range of opportunities available to career seekers in the agriculture industry beyond the farm gate as well as behind it. It was without a doubt the influence of these teachers that started me on the path I’m on today.

High school finished and, like many 18 year olds, I heard the irresistible call of a gap year. I spent 12 months working on Clonagh, Paraway Pastoral Company‘s backgrounding property near Cloncurry, QLD. During this year I learnt several things: that black tea is always the better option when there is only powdered milk available for smoko; how to leap stock yard railings in a single bound, faster than a speeding Brahman (so much more impressive than Superman); that I have shocking directional skills (this continues to haunt me, and is a source of hilarity to anyone in a car with me); and finally, it is perfectly acceptable to drive 6 hours for a weekend away at a campdraft, and to only hit one town during the interim. During this year, I improved my stock handling skills out of sight and was exposed to an industry vastly different to what I had grown up with, and from there my university career was set. Judging from the people I had met during the year and their varying roles at Paraway, it seemed there was so much variety within agriculture, and I wanted to experience all of it!

I did a Bachelor of Agriculture/ Bachelor of Business at the University of New England, and in my third year completed an exchange year at the University of Wyoming, USA.

UW

I know every student is tired of hearing it, but university really is the best years of your life, and you should take advantage of everything that comes your way. You never know who you will meet, where you will go or what doors will open up later because of it. During my exchange year in the USA I was fortunate to complete an internship with a contract ranching and harvest crew in Montana during my summer away from university. I learned to rope(badly), wrestle calves and to debate with my colleagues (the virtues of roping compared to a crush when vaccinating and castrating calves was our usual topic). I also travelled to Kenya as part of an ‘Agriculture & Culture’ study tour with my American classmates.

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We visited tea and coffee plantations and an enormous rose greenhouse, visited a Masai tribe in Masai Mara National Park, and stayed at Manor House in Kitale, which is a training facility for young Kenyan men and women to learn best practise in bio-intensive agriculture.

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The students and staff at Manor House were inspiring, and this was, without a doubt, my favourite part of the trip. The Manor House trains its students in low input farming to improve sustainability and efficiency compared to traditional methods, then they return to their communities and teach others. To compare with the students how their families had previously farmed compared to their passionate vision for the future was an eye opening and humbling experience.

Finally, I was lucky enough to be a part of the UNE International Food and Agribusiness Management Association student team in 2016. As part of this we travelled to Denmark for the annual sustainability conference and competed in the student competition.

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Though we did not get through to the final round, sitting in on the conference for the rest of the week was well worth the trip as we discussed major issues surrounding food waste, improving technology in agriculture, impacts of climate change and attracting young people to the industry from the differing perspectives of developing and developed countries.

Sally Beer

I’m now finished at UNE, and have taken up a job as a ‘Junior Accounts Manager’ for GeoCommodities, a grain and pulse broking company based in Horsham and in Bendigo. My primary responsibility is organising freight for the grain we sell, and there is no two days that are the same! We are working in domestic and export markets, with buyers and sellers of varying sizes. It is an enormous, dynamic and welcoming industry that requires fast thinking and good interpersonal skills (because you will be on the phone. A lot!). You are constantly thinking on your feet to get the best result for both your grower and buyer, or in the event of a delay or truck breakdown you need to be able to change things quickly.

Though I still have much to learn, the main thing I have picked up on my travels is that we are incredibly lucky to have the training opportunities that we do in Australia. Agriculture needs to continue to attract and retain talented young professionals at every level in the value chain to ensure we continue to improve and meet every challenge of sustainable food production. By using programs such as Art4Agriculture, and young Livestock Breed Societies, and Farming Challenges at the local agriculture  shows, we are showing school students during their formative years that agriculture is a dynamic and exciting industry that needs them in it.

I will finish with the classic Dr Seuss quote; ‘Oh the places you’ll go!’ I have adapted this as my personal slogan for the agricultural adventure I am on. I hope that I might be able to encourage some other young people to come into an industry they otherwise they may not have considered, because…

Dr Suess

#youthinag

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!

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 .

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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)

Agronomist Casey Onus loves her job so much she’s never “worked” a day in her life

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Casey Onus brings us today’s special guest blog. A 22 year old agronomist from Tamworth, NSW, who despite being a “Townie” her whole life was born for a career in agriculture – literally! This is Casey’s story…

If you want to be outstanding in your field, you’ve got to be out standing in your fields. There aren’t any shortcuts and I know I’ve certainly got a long way to go.

I’m Casey Onus…

I attended my first agronomy meeting chaired by Dallas Parsons at Seed & Grain Sales at Croppa Creek on the morning of the 8th of January 1993 at 0 days old and was born later that afternoon at Goondiwindi base hospital. Despite living in town my whole life I spent a fair chunk of my childhood with my father bouncing around paddocks identifying weeds for lollies and weaving my way through what seemed like forests of cereals and sorghum, trying not to lose myself down Moree’s heavily cracked black soil plains in the process.

Throughout school I never really focused on what I wanted to do as a career. I assumed at age 12 that I was going to be member of The Saddle Club and that would be my job, but I quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen.

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Gave up my childhood dream of being a member of “The Saddle Club” to chase a career in Ag

In years 9 & 10 at St Philomena’s we had the option to pick our elective subjects and being the outdoors kid that I was I picked Ag because I didn’t want to be stuck in a classroom for any longer than I had to be. I was fortunate enough to have a very passionate Ag teacher who really made me see how important agriculture was not just to me but everyone; if you had to eat or wear clothes then you needed something from agriculture.

I was lucky enough to not only enjoy Ag as a subject but also turn that enjoyment into results which saw me win the Dallas Parsons memorial agricultural award in year 10 as well as take out the CMA property planning competition on “Nullamanna station” in 2008.

During year 10 I also attended a Rotary Youth in Ag Youth in Cotton camp which really opened my eyes to the endless opportunities that agriculture had to offer. I got so much out of the camp that I volunteered to help in the running of the camp in subsequent years and ended up presenting the marketing and moisture management sections of the camp. It was great to see so many young people, especially from costal backgrounds coming along to see what the local cotton and agricultural industry was about and if they took away half of what I did from the camp then it was well worth the time and effort.

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My first crop of Mungbeans at Caroona on the Liverpool plains, made easy having recently attended the AMA Mungbean training & accreditation course

During years 11 & 12 at Moree Secondary College I unfortunately didn’t have the option to study agriculture as a subject as there were simply not enough students at my school for it to run. This didn’t concern me overly until it came down to crunch time. All of a sudden I was headed for the HSC with no idea of what I was going to do at the end of it. At this time I was offered a job as a bug checker by the branch manager at Landmark in Moree over the holidays. I spent endless hours out in the various crops getting muddy, bitten, sunburnt and couldn’t have loved it more.

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Hard not to love views like this – Barley at Loomberah NSW

Although my father is an agronomist I wasn’t convinced that all agro’s loved their job as much as he did, but being out in the paddock every day and seeing how unique each farm was showed me exactly how rewarding it was. I got to see the tiny plants that I’d checked for months on end finally produce lint, grain and oilseeds.

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Getting hands on in soil science at UNE, definitely one the most useful and exciting subjects according to Chris Guppy….. but he’s probably a bit biased!

I applied for the Bachelor of Agriculture at UNE in Armidale and decided I was going to chase my dream of becoming an agronomist. Uni was hard and I certainly lost count of the amount of times I wanted to throw in the towel, but heading home for holidays and getting amongst the crops kept me going and rekindled my motivation to get me through another year. I completed several Agronomy, Soils, Cotton and Grains units as part of my degree and even managed to get an article “Finding Cotton’s Next Generation” published in the 2013 Cottongrower magazine yearbook.

Despite having one unit left to complete as part of my degree I applied for the Landmark Graduate Agronomy Program and was accepted for a position in Tamworth, under the watchful eye of their agronomist Cameron Barton. Despite already working for Landmark for 3 years, my graduate year taught me a hell of a lot at an incredible pace.

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Views from my “office window”

In my graduate year I was lucky enough to fly to Albury with Heritage Seeds to learn about pasture systems and varieties and learnt a lot from countless field days, GRDC events and industry updates. As well as joining the local Duri Ag Bureau and taking on my own clients with a range of new crops, not just the cotton and broadacre I was used too. All of a sudden I was trying to grow ryegrass not kill it! I was lucky enough to stay on at Landmark Tamworth and am now a fully-fledged agronomist working with a great group of farmers from all backgrounds as well as providing tailored agronomic advice, precision agriculture services such as NDVI imagery, variable rate maps, capacitance probes and everything in between.

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Growers attending our pasture demonstration trial walk at Woolomin.

They say “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and I firmly believe they are talking about jobs in Australian Agriculture. Because I certainly haven’t “worked” a day in my life yet.