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

Futurists

 

Paddling

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.

image

 

Meet Deanna Johnston proud rookie farmer

Today’s guest blog post comes from Deanna Johnston who is very proud to be a rookie farmer.

Another great story from the inspiring new generation of farmers

With my Kelpie pup I trained

If day care consists of riding shotgun with Dad in the tractor when sowing and harvesting; sleeping in the tender wool bin during shearing time then this has been the best start to my rural career. Hi I’m Deanna Johnston and I’m a rookie farmer.

Our breeding ewes with their lambs

I had already started shearing, doing the long-blow on our Coolalee rams before I was going to primary school. My Dad worked as a shearing contractor before settling back down to the farm which gave him invaluable insights as to how  other farmers run successful farm. Dad had always had an interest in sheep, especially Merinos and he began to get more serious about the sheep enterprise on the farm in the year 2000. We turned to the SRS strain of Merinos and started breeding for a purpose – dual purpose merinos. Currently we are experiencing an  extended dry period  and are grazing  2000 breeder ewes with another  800 little mouths in the feedlot.

After primary school the next step for me to broaden my knowledge  and an early start to my career calling to the agricultural industry was to attend Yanco Agricultural High School. Right from year seven I was part of the sheep show team in which I was able to become part of the McCaughey White Suffolk stud where we started to implement Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer into the breeding program.

Supreme Ewe at Holbrook

Completing my Certificate IV in Woolclassing and Certificate II in Shearing by the age of 16 proved to me that this was the industry I wanted to be part of. Since then, shearing competitions and wool handling competitions have become my weekend hobby.

Competiting in Fleece Judging

In March this year I came out in fourth position in the State Final Fleece judging competition in Sydney. These competitions are great for refining the skills that are taught in TAFE Certificates. An added bonus is you meet other young people with the same passion for the wool and sheep industry.

4th in State Final Fleece Judging

In 2014 I was runner up the National Young Guns competition at LambEX in Adelaide which over 1000 people attended. This competition involves writing an essay on the topic: “attracting young people into the prime lamb industry” and creating a poster to go with it. When in Adelaide I had to speak on my topic, answers questions posed by the judges who also adjudicated on the essay, poster and speech component. This was an incredible experience for me as I met many industry leaders, local and overseas producers and scientists and academics who all had the same passion: the future of agriculture  in Australia and the the world.

The PETA campaign against the shearing industry was released while I was attending the LambEX conference. It hit me hard as I was very disappointed that industry my family was part of was being portrayed in this negative light   This made me even more determined to share the positive stories far and wide about the wool industry I love and the farmers I know who care deeply about their animals.

Shearing competition at Yanco (1st place)

Having been lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by the sheep and wool industry I know it has a lot of offer. I want to share this message with other young people who haven’t had the same opportunities. The Australian wool industry provides thousands of jobs both in Australia and overseas. No matter where your interests lie, the wool industry has a career path suited to you. Careers in the wool industry can be divided into two main areas — on-farm and off-farm. By attracting young people into the sheep and wool industry, it will only grow and become more successful, not only focusing on the producing side but through the whole chain from paddock to plate and in this case clothing.

With the end of my HSC year nearing I have been fortunate enough at my age to have to have met some amazing industry professionals including Dr. Jim Watt and Errol Brumpton (OAM). When I finish school my ambitions are to study a double degree in Agriculture and Business at the University of New England in Armidale with the prospects that I will come back on the farm and take over the sheep enterprise (I haven’t told Dad yet I might tell him about this a bit later).

So how I spent day care wasn’t so bad at all as it left me with a great passion and a dream. Being in this agricultural industry is where I want to stay as the world is going to become more reliant on what the industry can offer. The future is exciting and I am lucky I will be a part of it along with many other young and enthusiastic people.

Breaking news – The 2016 National Merino Challenge results are in and Deanna has taken out 3rd palace in the secondary school division and her school Yanco Agricultural High School have won Champion Team

AWINMC

Well done Deanna and Yanco

Impact 25 – Vote for Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert

The accolades keep coming for Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert

Currently on the journey of a lifetime to ParisCOP21 Josh has just been named in the top 200 people in the running for the Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 list

From CEOs of some of Australia’s largest charities and the Prime Minister, to one-person teams, the Not for Profit sector has spoken and nominated a wide range of people for the second Pro Bono Australia Impact 25.

Almost 200 people from across Australia and almost every aspect of the for-good sector have been recognised for being the most influential.

You can vote for Josh here and excitingly another legend in agriculture has also made the list.  Make Alexandra Gartmann one of your three votes

It is the second time Pro Bono Australia has called on those within the sector to nominate its champions.

After two weeks of voting, the top 25 influencers will be unveiled, acknowledging them for being leaders in a sector that accounts for 4.3 per cent of Australia’s GDP and employs over one million people.

With hundreds of people taking part in the nomination process, CEOs dominate the list of nominees, with 63 being chosen.

There were also former and current prime ministers, 2015’s Australian of the Year, and an author.

A large number of nominees also came from the executive level of Not for Profit organisations.

Last year’s Impact 25 was made up of a wide selection of household names, including World Vision CEO, Tim Costello, and domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty, both of whom have been nominated again this year.

Voting is now open and will close on Thursday 3 December.

Everyone who votes can go into the draw to win one of two free tickets to the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s 2016 conference valued at $1,750.

Click here to see the full list of nominees and to vote for Impact 25.

– See more at: http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2015/11/impact-25-nominees-unveiled#sthash.Wnc2hmP8.dpuf

 

Young farmers changing the way farmers are perceived

I recently attended an event where this statement was made

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

Visit here for some comment on this

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

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

Anika Molesworth

Anika reports from Cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Coggins (7)

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

Sam Coggins (2)

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

Sam Coggins (3)

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

Sam Coggins (4)

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

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

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

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

Sam Coggins (5)

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

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

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

Sam Coggins (6)

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

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

PostScript

Listen to Dr Julian Cribb here

You can see why Sam was inspired

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

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

Marlee Langfield (3)

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

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

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

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

Marlee Langfield (1)

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

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

Marlee Langfield (5)

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

Marlee Langfield (4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marlee Langfield (2)

Calum Watt is dedicating his days to producing the best barley for your beer

Today’s guest blog comes from Calum Watt who’s dedicating his days to producing the best barley crops for your beer. A love of plants – and particularly broadacre cropping systems – has lead him to study a Masters of Agricultural Science specialising in genetics and plant breeding. He enjoys a challenge, telling a yarn, and sharing a cold one.

Here’s Calum’s story…

G’day! I’m Calum Watt, and I’m currently an agriculture student at the University of Western Australia hailing from a town called Harvey in the southwest of Australia’s biggest state. I’m the eldest of two boys, although still the shortest which is somewhat a laughing matter for the rest of the family. I’ve lived in Harvey most of my life having moved around country communities as the old man got flung from one ag college to the next.

trasnport to grab the mail is different in Harvey

Transport to grab the mail is a bit different in Harvey

Whilst farming and agriculture in general have always been an interest for me, I can’t claim that I’m a fourth generation this, or a second generation that, and it’s unlikely that our small hobby farm will be passed down to me (much as I’d like it to be). Nevertheless, I cannot complain with the ‘Old Macdonald’ style farm I grew up on; it gave me the opportunity to see what I liked and didn’t like in agriculture…sheep being top of that list.

Being a dairy and orchard farming community, Harvey was completely different to the broadacre farms around Narrogin where I hailed from before “cow-town.” Although I’ve called Harvey home it still gave me a kick to tell people during my schooling that I was from somewhere else, somewhere where agriculture was the driving force of the community. Having schooled in Bunbury, most of my peers were either from farms similar to me or “townies,” as we called them. Although our farms were relatively small people were often really intrigued about what went on, what we grew, bred or otherwise did and I often got called a country hick even though I seemed far from it.

High school for me was nothing glamorous. I had wanted to attend the local agricultural college but having my dad as deputy principal meant it would’ve complicated things. School was a means to get to Uni. Math, English, chemistry, physics and geography were the subjects I had at my disposal with the end goal being a botany degree at UWA.

one of only two to graduate Botany

One of only two to graduate Botany

Why botany? Well I’d always preferred plants, especially crops, to animals and botany was a way of following my agricultural interest without having to do an Ag Science degree and all the animal units that it entailed. To ease my transition from Harvey to Perth I went to a residential college where I met my current friends, who unlike me, are all from broadacre farms dotted around the wheatbelt, something I’m slightly envious about. Being able to travel to their farms deepened my interest in broadacre cropping and on completion of my undergraduate degree, I enrolled straight into a Masters of Agricultural Science specialising in genetics and plant breeding.

Genetics units during my undergrad instilled an interest in me to make meaningful change. Understanding that the nature of farming is changing for good or worse made me want to integrate genetics and crops into the notion that I could become a crop breeder. My ambition is to be the bloke who makes the crosses that result in a crop variety that is bigger and better in every sense possible. Whilst this may be challenging, it drives me to excel in my studies and makes me aware of new opportunities to better my understanding of broadacre cropping.

the scale and uniformity of a crop is amazing

The scale and uniformity of a crop is amazing

Networking with industry is enabling me to develop a position as a future leader in this field and has provided me with the opportunity to complete my masters research project jointly with the private cereal breeding company Intergrain. If you’re not aware already, aluminium toxicity significantly impacts the ability of a crop to obtain nutrients and water, ultimately resulting in lower yields; something no farmer is out to chase. My thesis is looking into this issue from a genetic perspective and trying to ascertain if there are significant benefits to genetic tolerance, and whether genetic tolerance may or may not lead to a yield penalty.

No doubt you’re already watering at the mouth at the thought of a cold barley made frothy and it’s in my interest to make sure that aluminium isn’t a factor in depriving you of the opportunity.

innovation generation - canberra 2015

Innovation Generation – Canberra 2015

So now you may be aware that my path to agriculture has been slightly different to some and how my interest has changed and grown substantially over time.

One thing I know for certain is that the agricultural sector is so diversified that something exciting is always happening and this is why I want to be a part of it.

Cheers, Calum Watt