Agriculture – the vision making the most of it

Justin Whittle

As young people I believe we have a big role to play in being creative, to think outside the box and reshape the future we want to see …. Justin Whittle

We are currently in the process of finalising a video that gives a 4 minute overview of the Young Farming Champions and The Archibull Prize as a personal and professional development opportunity for young people in Agriculture.

I cant believe how long its taken to find footage of young people farming in various industries to balance the footage of over 50 males. Access to royalty free footage of this type just doesn’t appear to be out there. If some-body has some please share.

Its reinforced to me the importance of high quality inspirational footage to encourage young people into careers in our sector. To me this video from Western Sydney University School of Science & Health is a shining light of how to do it well.

How lucky is agriculture to have attracted Justin Whittle – wow I am inspired

If you want to get in touch you can find my contact details here

 

Meet Elly Polonowita who keeps finding her way back to her rural roots

Today’s guest post comes from Elly Polonowita who is following her career pathway into agriculture via a graduate program.

This is Elly’s story ……..

Who doesn’t like a little bit of ‘chicken fried, cold beer on a Friday night and pair of jeans that fit just right’?

Hi, my name is Elly Polonowita. I am graduate research agronomist with Agriculture Victoria. My position is funded by GRDC and is an 18 month program. I am based in South West Victoria in the high rainfall zone. Throughout the program I will spend time with the department in Hamilton, a grower group – Southern Farming Systems and a private agronomy company – Gorst Rural.

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Hand sowing a Septoria Trial, Hamilton, 2017

Winding back the clock a couple of decades I was living on 40 acres of bush land near Daylesford. This is where my sole purpose in life was to look after my baby born.

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My dream job was to be an ice-cream truck driver. In year one I moved to go to school in Essendon. For me this was the city. Houses were so close together, shops were a 5 minute walk away and there was nothing but asphalt roads.

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In year 9 and 10 I completed a certificate II in Conservation and Land Management, it helped me learn more about the environment and grow my love of wanting to help the world in which we live. I had an interest in flora and fauna from a young age.

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From year 8 I participated in Pony Club, learning all kinds of skills. I always enjoyed jumping more than dressage, I found it to be more exciting. In year 10 and 11 I completed a certificate II in Equine Industry. I did this by distance education and did an intensive week up in Wangaratta. This was when I first came across Agriculture as a subject.

At the end of school, I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to take. Agriculture wasn’t originally my first choice, but I’ve never regretted studying it since. I couldn’t move out of home straight away so my options to do Agriculture were between University of Melbourne and Latrobe University. In 2014 I got offered a place at Melbourne in the agriculture degree. I did my first two years at the Parkville campus in the city and then moved to Dookie College, basically Melbourne Uni’s operational farm campus, so that I could get more hands on knowledge.

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Whilst I was at Dookie College I completed a Certificate IV in Wool Classing, got experience at the apple orchard, robotic dairy and some cropping.

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A quote that has inspired me throughout life after school is “You’ve got to be in it, to win it”. I started university in 2014 with the mind frame of taking every opportunity and experience that is offered to me. Not being from a farming family or anything to do with agriculture for that matter, I felt as though I needed to put myself out there, to learn more about the industry and the people in the industry. I bought memberships, attended events, volunteered, extended my professional network and participated in competitions such as Intercollegiate Meat Judging and AWI National Merino Challenge. Over the three years I participated in the Merino Challenge I improved markedly, going from never having touched a sheep to being able to characterise wool and giving it an AWEX ID. The first year I competed I met the famous rams Fred and Truffles, who travel around Australia.

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Fred and Truffles

I’ve always had a love for food and cooking, but never thought I would be able to make a profession out of it. One day I hope to grow my own produce and teach people how to cook it seasonally. Bringing my own paddock to plates of others.

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Homemade celebratory student dinners; eye fillet w/ pumpkin and pea purees, roasted tomatoes and blanched asparagus. 

I have a passion to teach people about where their food and fibre comes from, whilst also connecting rural and urban folks. We can all teach each other a thing or two, through our experiences and stories. No two people have had the exact same journey. Can’t wait to see you around the camp fire, I’ll provide the marshmallows.

Meet Amy Munro aspiring vet and agripolitician

My name is Amy Munro and I am a third year Veterinary Science Student at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. I was born and bred on our family property at Cumnock (NSW). As a child I was in the cattle yards, mustering on horseback and helping out around the farm. This early exposure to farm life granted me an intrinsic passion for agriculture while my interactions with our local veterinarians inspired me to pursue a career as a vet.

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When I was at school, we grew beef cattle on our farm to supply meat to our family owned butcher shop in Orange. I am the oldest of four siblings and am lucky to have loving and dedicated parents who always valued my education. I studied agriculture in High School and became involved in showing cattle. I then became thoroughly involved in youth Committees such as the Angus Youth and Shorthorn Youth, which allowed me to network with industry and further grow as an individual.

 

I was a very diligent school student and constantly strived to achieve for the purpose of being eligible for entry into vet school upon completing my High School Certificate. My hard work paid off and I was also awarded two tertiary scholarships, including the Horizon Scholarship in recognition of my achievements and passion in my pursuit for a career in the agriculture industry.

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Since finishing high school, my interest in agripolitics has grown as I see a great need for honest representation of the real issues facing Australian Agriculture. My involvement with the Horizon Program has granted me many opportunities to network with inspiring people in our industry while opening my eyes to the plethora of opportunities for technological innovation in agriculture. As a Horizon Scholar, I was asked to present at the 2015 Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) Conference in Alice Springs, where I met many wonderful ladies doing great things for our industry.

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I was so inspired by this experience that I have now been involved with AWiA for two years as a member and as a young person wanting to instigate positive change in Australian Agriculture.

Meeting so many passionate women working in our industry further developed my interest in governance and politics. Food security is one of my key issues of interest. It is a topic that needs to be thoroughly addressed to ensure food security for the Australian people as well as the supply of quality food to our neighbours. With the world population set to reach 9.3 billion by 2050, Australian Agriculture needs to be at the forefront of embracing innovations which will increase agricultural yields into the future while ensuring sustainability of food production.

I have had a very busy start to 2017 as I was working with the Department of Primary Industries in Orange developing policies and procedures for the Biosecurity Act 2015.

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I was also honoured to be invited to work in Parliament House in February with the MP for Canberra Gai Brodtmann, who is a mentor of mine. Working alongside Gai allowed me insight into the structure of Parliament as well as being able to observe debates from within the House of Representatives.

While my journey thus far may seem like an easy one, let me assure you I have not gotten thus far without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Life on the land is hard. I have had many people doubt me and try to put me down. But I have met many inspiring and supportive people who have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.

And you may ask me; why do you do what you do?

All I want is to be able to contribute to the best of my ability to the viability and progression of Australian Agriculture into the future. This is important to me because it is the industry in which I grew up, the industry which feeds and clothes the Australian people and the industry in which so many inspiring people work.

As a vet, I can help ensure the viability of Australian Agriculture at the grass roots level- by working in rural communities and assisting producers in enhancing their productivity. As a voice for Australian Agriculture on a political platform, the possibilities are endless.

Agriculture is my home, and my mentors and industry friends are my family. I look to the future with a sense of optimism and confidence in that together, we can progress Australian Agriculture into the future.

 

 

 

Meg Rice part of a generation of young women whose fathers are encouraging them to into careers in agriculture

Love this guest post from Meg.  Super kudos to Meg’s dad for encouraging his daughters love of the land and to follow careers in the agriculture sector How divine is that photo of Meg and her sister in their school uniforms with their dad. One thing that hasn’t changed much in my lifetime (sadly) is school uniforms.

This is Meg Rice’s story

My name is Meg Rice and this a little bit about me and why I love agriculture and rural communities. My passion and interest has been inspired through living and working on my family’s mixed livestock and cropping farm located in Central West NSW.

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I have always taken a keen interest in the management practises of our family farm. This interest has been greatly influence by my father and the great passion he has for agriculture. Dad has always encouraged my sisters and I to be involved in agriculture and to consider why certain things happen the way they do.  We were often quizzed on car trips about the varying agricultural practises and have all developed quite a knack for spotting various weeds when driving around the property.

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Dad and his three girls

I am currently in my third year studying a Bachelor of Agriculture and Law at the University of New England. In undertaking this course I hope to gain a greater understanding of the issues and policies surrounding the agricultural industry and to be able to provide assistance and support to rural and regional communities. I would like to contribute to the success and growth of agriculture and hope to become involved in agricultural policy. In the future I hope to travel overseas and broaden my understanding of agricultural policy and practises in other countries.

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Our property “Kimbar Park”

I have been inspired by the many people who I have met through my agricultural studies. It is truly amazing the different stories and experiences that everyone brings to their studies and how these shape the way they perceive the industry. Everyone always has a yarn as to why things are the way they are and how they could be different if they were running the show! I have been encouraged by the many beautiful friends that I have gained as well as the mentoring opportunities that I have been privileged to have had. During my first year of study I was fortunate to be mentored by Associate Professor Amanda Kennedy, Deputy Director of the Australian Agriculture and Law Centre, who encouraged me to purse my legal studies and encouraged me to seek opportunities to apply these studies in agriculture. It was through a contact of Amanda’s that I was able to experience a week of travelling and working with a rural lawyer. This was an amazing opportunity and it was through this experience that I discovered that I may not want to become a solicitor but rather use my acquired legal knowledge within agriculture. I was also very privileged to have a College academic mentor who helped me through the trials of the first year of university as well as encouraged me to get involved in as many committees and organisations that my schedule could handle.

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My beautiful friend and academic mentor, Kate, graduating with a Bachelor of Rural Science

Whilst at UNE I have been involved as Farming Futures Industry Dinner Co-ordinator for the UNE Farming Futures initiative. I am also honoured to be the current President of the Rural Science Undergraduate Society (RSUS). Committees such as RSUS and Farming Futures enable students to gain practical skills that are applicable within the agricultural industry as well as provide social and networking opportunities. I believe that they also help to promote the many opportunities that agriculture has to offer and highlight the significance that it holds not only in rural and regional communities but within Australia as a whole.

I have been involved in a range of agricultural industry sectors. I have been involved in the grains sector through my employment at GrainCorp as a weigh bridge attendant and sampler. I really enjoyed learning about the receival and processing of grain as well as the getting to know the many characters of harvest on their numerous trips in and out of the site.  I recently had the privilege of representing UNE at the Inter-Collegiate Meat Judging competition. I have also been an office secretary or the ‘Saturday morning girl’ at a local stock and station agent where I have spent many Saturday mornings booking in cattle for Monday’s sale and having a yarn with the regulars.

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2016 UNE Inter-Collegiate Meat Judging Team

Whilst I have not chosen a particular agricultural sector to specialise in, I think perhaps that I would like to dabble in a bit of everything as I have a great interest in agriculture as a whole. I aspire to become involved in agricultural consultancy and policy. I am very interested in the actual and perceived barriers for the adoption of new and emerging agricultural technologies. I am also interested in litigation regarding agricultural issues that are highly sensitive and require specialised agricultural knowledge and expertise.  I am passionate about showcasing the wide range of opportunities present within agriculture.

#youthinag

 

Meet Molly Black who is part of the new generation of plant doctors

Today’s guest blog post comes from Molly Black  who is part of the new generation of agronomists helping Australian farmers grow the best food and fibre in the world.

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I am the eldest daughter of an English dairy farmer and a city boy. While my Mum had a rural background, my Dad’s only exposure was at an agricultural high school. Luckily for me, they met in England and Mum took a chance migrating to Australia. Together they bought our first farm near Ophir in NSW, and started breeding Angus beef cattle.

In hindsight, growing up on the farm was a blessing I took for granted. I had parents that worked from home and so were always around (a bit of a downside when trying to fake a sickie from school!). I had acres of land to host my adventures, plenty of space to put between me and my sister when we fought, and a constant stream of puppies, chickens, calves and lambs. I was exposed to real life, and learnt to think for myself while considering the future.

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Little did I know how small that tractor really was?

When the drought hit, I was in primary school. While I’m sure most of it went over my head, as the drought continued and I aged, I started to notice what was going on. Many farms across the state found themselves without water or feed for their cattle. Many more families were struggling to find money to pay for fodder and trucked-in water. I will never forget coming home from school and not seeing my parents until sunset, usually crestfallen or crying and putting the gun back in the safe. Extreme circumstances meant they had to make tough decisions on a daily basis which sometimes meant it was more humane to euthanize cattle rather than watch them suffer  . It changed everything. We moved into crossing Waygu over the Angus for ease of calving, coincidentally that was where the market was heading as well.

Luckily, my parents had a side business selling mining supplies in town so we survived the drought financially, but Dad couldn’t look at the paddocks the same. In 2010, we moved to Mandurama – with the beautiful Belabula River flowing through the property almost constantly. I took agriculture in the HSC, and decided it just made sense to continue my interest by completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science through La Trobe University.

While at high school, my involvement in agriculture wasn’t ‘cool’, University introduced me to like-minded people. La Trobe’s Ag society had a meet-up every Wednesday, nicknamed depending on the season e.g. calving season, lambing season. Since leaving university, I’ve found out that my degree was nicknamed ‘Agronomy 101’ due to the large amount of alumni agros.

City-living wasn’t really my style, so I graduated ASAP and the plan was to go back to the farm for a while.

Taking advantage of my new-found free time, I went overseas. Visiting Mum’s family dairy farm in the south of England was an eye-opener. My uncle is legally required to trim the hedges along the laneways, or he risks losing the farming subsidy. Cattle farmers in the UK are battling tuberculous, and there is a constant drama due to the severe divide between town and country.

I came back to Australia grateful it took me an hour to get to school and we had space!

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Is there a crop more striking than canola is flower 

By a stroke of luck, while I was overseas I managed to get through a Skype interview and gain a position as a graduate agronomist with Elders. The program is split by doing 6 months training in broadacre and 6 months in horticulture, with a 12 month placement specialisation. Going into the program, I assumed I’d choose to specialise in broadacre. I was sent across the country to Albany, WA for my first 6 months. Not only does Albany have one of the highest average rainfalls in WA, 2016 was considered a ‘big wet’. I went from beautiful volcanic soils to sand, gravel and more sand! Albany taught me many things, but especially that farmers are so innovative in the harshest of environments.

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Inspecting plants for a fodder demonstration near Jerramungup, WA

 I finished my 6 months, and in September moved to Perth to focus on horticulture. To my disbelief, I loved it! It was a combination of many factors that I put down to this 180 in thinking – clients willing to have a chat and pass on knowledge, the sheer complexity of fruit production and a passionate agronomist to shadow to name a few.

The 16/17 season for my clients was trailing anywhere between 3-5 weeks behind the last season. The Swan Valley table grape growers were looking forward to a decent yield, berries were going well and then, in a cruel twist of events, in 2 weeks they got 90mm and 114mm. The Swan River broke its banks, not only waterlogging the roots but also taking a decent amount of the unpicked crop with it.

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Table grapes going through veraison, Swan Valley WA

While trying to come up with a solution to the strong chance many roots had drowned, DAFWA (Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia) released a media alert that the Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) had been found in metro areas in Perth. TPP has the potential to destroy the potato industry in WA, as it is a vector for Zebra chip virus. This pest, now considered too wide-spread to eradicate, has caused me to be very wary of biosecurity. I used to think Australia was strict, and therefore safe, I know now that things will get through.

While I haven’t been in the hort game long, I feel like it is the place to be. There is so much going on and I am constantly in a state of confusion mixed with awe. A move back to the east coast to Griffith has given me the ability to start again, with some basic knowledge and an improved ability to put 2 and 2 together.

Beef cattle production will always be home, but for the future – My name is Molly Black and I am a horticultural agronomist.

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One of the many bonuses of the move to Griffith, free limes!

Meet Emma Longworth the city kid who thinks agriculture is the greatest show on earth

Today’s guest blog post comes from city kid now #youthinag Emma Longworth who happens to live next door to another city kid turned #youthinag Sharna Holman whose journey we have been following through our blog from Muirfield High School to RAS Show volunteer to uni to cotton industry to cotton Young Farming Champion. A great example of city kids inspiring other city kids to jump on the train and head straight to a career in agriculture .

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Emma Longworth excited about her career journey into agriculture 

Hey there! My name is Emma Longworth and I am from the North-West suburbs of Sydney. You may be thinking how did this city kid become involved in the agricultural industry? Well this is my story and it will be long worth (pun intended) the read 😉

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Year 12 Primary Industries – I loved always being out of the classroom!

Living in Sydney, there was no shortage of schools; public, private, independent and catholic. My mum gave me plenty of options but all I wanted to do was to chuck on a polo and attend the local high school, 2kms down the road, that had a farm. So that’s what I did. A school with a farm was a huge novelty for a city kid like me and opened a gateway of opportunities such as The Archibull Prize competition run by Art4Agriculture, the School’s Produce Display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and showing broiler and layer hens. Without these school competitions, I wouldn’t be where I am today. These opportunities sparked my passion for agriculture and I was able to gain an abundance of knowledge about animal and plant production particularly focusing on new technologies, sustainable practices and innovative farming methods.

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Did I mention I was lucky enough to meet Prince William at the Sydney Royal Easter Show?

Choosing the subjects you love makes a big difference in the HSC. Students are often pushed towards harder subjects such as Physics, Extension Mathematics and Extension English as it is perceived their marks will be scaled and they will receive a better ATAR. Agriculture has always been my favourite subject right through to year 10 which led me to elect both Primary Industries and Agriculture to complete for my HSC.  I was told in year 11 to drop these subjects as it wouldn’t scale well and pull down my ATAR. Being the stubborn student I was, I wasn’t going to take that advice as those were my two favourite subjects. Not once did I regret my decision as I placed 3rd in the state for Primary Industries and 8th in the state for Agriculture.

Where to next? A gap year? University? Work?

The one thing I knew is I wanted to study agriculture. But did I want to spend 3 hours battling with public transport to study a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the University of Sydney . So I stepped right out of my comfort zone to have a country experience studying a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England, Armidale. At the beginning of 2016, my 17 year old self packed up her bags and moved into Duval College to study Rural Science at UNE. To this day it has been the best decision I have made. It opened up a network of people and opportunities that I believe I would never have received in Sydney.

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Agronomy Practical at UNE

Through attending career expos and networking with fellow students and lecturers I was able to secure work placement on a coffee plantation and an undergraduate job at a farming software company, Practical Systems. Working as part of the support team at Practical Systems has provided me with a firsthand insight to the challenges farmers face. My job is not just telephone support but I had the opportunity to assist in the Merino Lifetime Productivity Project at the CSIRO Chiswick Field Station near Armidale. So where do I see myself at the end of this degree? Anywhere! With 5 jobs for every agricultural graduate the opportunities are endless!

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Rural Science Undergraduate Society Executive Committee encouraging high school students to study Agriculture – UNE Open Day 2017

I think it is important to raise the profile of the agriculture industry and send the message to young people about the many career opportunities that are possible. I believe we should be shouting it from the rooftops that our nation needs young people in agriculture and there is no shortage of exciting career pathways no mater what your passion or expertise

As a young person from the city, I am looking forward to inspiring other city kids to follow my career journey into agriculture. I want to share with them  you don’t need to buy a farm to farm and you don’t even need to be a farmer. Everyone in the agriculture sector has an important role to play. I am looking forward to you joining me

Emma L  (6).jpg  Sydney Royal Easter Show a great opportunity for young people to get a taste of agriculture   

 

 

Meet Lucy Collingridge who is head over heels in love with wool

Today’s guest blog comes from self confessed “townie” turned #youthinag wool lover Lucy Collingridge

This is Lucy’s story

“Picture this. You’re 15 years old. It’s the January school holidays and you’re visiting family on their farm in the Central West of NSW. It’s first thing in the morning, the sun is hot, it’s going to be a scorcher. You’re introduced to the shearing team and they explain what’s going to happen in the shed today. The shearers will skillfully and efficiently  remove the wool from the sheep . It’s then the rousies job to pick up and throw the fleeces, before cleaning the board for the shearer to bring out the next sheep.  You’ve been given the job of picking up the belly wool off the board and stacking it in the corner, as well as helping the rousies and penning up when you can. You are equal parts excited and nervous, but you can’t wait to give it a go.

CLICK. There go the overheads clicking into gear as the shearers pull their cords to start their day. It’s quick work but you are enjoying it, and learning all about wool and shearing.

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Hi, my name is Lucy Collingridge and I am a self confessed wool lover. Originally from Cootamundra, I am currently working as a Biosecurity Officer for the Central West Local Land Services in Nyngan. Although I am working in pest animal management, my true passion in agriculture is in sheep in wool production.

The above recount is how my morning unfolded on the day that I fell in love with the Australian Wool Industry. Having not grown up on the land, my opportunities to be exposed to Australian agriculture were limited as a child. However, as a teenager I was lucky enough to visit family in the Central West who were keen to let me help out on the farm and learn about agriculture.

Visiting family every school holidays, I was exposed to many facets of farming. Sowing, harvesting, lamb marking, mustering, drafting, and shearing. I thrived on learning more and more about farming and I thoroughly enjoyed spending my holidays working. Why, you ask? Because there is no better feeling than being on the land, out in nature, and enjoying your surrounds while working hard and at the end of the day being able to look back on what you have achieved with pride. Whether it be drenching a couple of mobs or harvesting a couple of paddocks, it is a very rewarding feeling to look back on your productive day on the farm.

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The sheep and wool industry has been a passion of mine from the early days. Although, my high school years were spent parading cattle with the school show team, I really enjoyed the sheep and fleece junior judging as it was an opportunity to extend my basic knowledge on the fibre. Studying agriculture for my HSC gave me an understanding of Australian agriculture and lead me to studying at university. Never did I think that a “town kid” would be heading to Armidale to study a Bachelor of Agriculture, with the plan of entering the sheep and wool industry. But that is exactly what happened! I couldn’t part from the industry that I had fallen in love with only 3 years earlier.

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I have been truly lucky to have found the industry that I love. It has given me many opportunities to travel, study, and be involved with many agricultural shows, such as stewarding at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and being over-judge at the Cootamundra Show Young Judges Competition Group 9 Final. I have met many people from all walks of life, who have all welcomed me with open arms. I cannot recommend being involved with the sheep and wool industry highly enough.”