Young Farming Champions taking the farm to the city

Last week our Young Farming Champions took the fresh young face of agriculture into schools  participating in The Archibull Prize in Sydney and Wollongong

Cotton Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe shared her career journey  with students and teachers at Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School, Parramatta Public School and Kurring-gai High School.

Emma had great success with her Name the Good Bugs/Bad Bugs game turning students with no previous experience into experts in 20 mins.

She found it very rewarding to hear from the teachers of  the Power of the Cow in Archibull Prize schools.

She took her hat off to the team at Parramatta Public School who have formed a partnership and are working directly with 90 students to complete the program

Horticulture Young Farming Champion Tayla Field supported by the Aussie Farmers Foundation took the story of fruit and veg into schools in the Eastern Suburbs and to Gywnneville Public School

With strong messages about eating fruit and vegetables as part of a healthy diet

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Students at Little Bay Community of Schools and Gwynneville Public School (below) embrace the concept of Eating a Rainbow of fruit and vegetables every day Gwynneville Public School

and the importance of traceability and biosecurity Tayla was a hit with the students

Tayla was thrilled to see the students eyes light up when she showed the level of technology available to farmers in the horticulture industry she loves

Wool Young Farming Champion Sam Wan had Wooley Dooley time with students at Picnic Point High School. Read all the fun here.

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Only boys can be farmers – Jasmine Whitten is blowing up outdated stereotypes

When I was fifteen my school careers adviser told me “You can’t become a farmer because that’s a boy’s job!”.

It was clear that she didn’t know me very well.  My upbringing has shown me there are no ‘boy jobs’ or ‘girl jobs’, especially in agriculture!  Rather than accepting this outdated notion, it kickstarted my journey to a career in agriculture.

Welcome to Jasmine Whitten’s story ………

The one thing everyone will tell you about me is that I ask ALOT of questions. I was fortunate to grow up on a diverse farm near Tamworth which produced beef cattle, wool and Lucerne hay. Spare a thought for my parents who were bombarded with questions from the day I learnt to talk. Anything from why are we feeding out hay or what does this broken part on the tractor do?

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I can almost guarantee I asked that exact question just before this photo was taken and I was told to go grab the hammer from the ute.

I loved life on the farm. No day was ever the same and I never missed a chance to do things better or faster than my siblings.

My first paid job was helping to unload a truck load of hay at the age of 8. When you live an hour out of town it can be difficult to make it to sporting commitments. So, I always knew it was highly unlikely that I was going to end up being an athlete, unless, they made hay moving a sport?

In high school, I joined the school cattle team to learn more about agriculture and prepare and show cattle. My parents shared my passion and it wasn’t hard to convince them to do the two-hour return trip to pick me up from the after-school training sessions.

I was very surprised to learn that most of my peers on the cattle team were urban kids and I was one  that grew up on a farm. But I had just as much to learn as they did.

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The cattle team taught me so much more than learning to care for animals. It taught me public speaking, team work, the role of a mentor and how to pass my knowledge onto others (which was perhaps the greatest challenge but the most rewarding).

In hindsight the most important discovery is I now know how important is to have role models, mentors and just people that believe in you 100%.  For me, it was people like Kate Lumber. I first met Kate at school where she passed on her cattle showing skills, coached me in meat judging at university and encouraged me to take every opportunity along the way.  She now works as an agronomist in Moree.

Going to country shows are some of the best memories as I have. I have made lifelong friendships, met people from all over Australia and built rural networks I know I can tap into for support and advice on my career journey.

I always set the bar high for myself and I was determined to be the  best I possibly could at cattle showing and judging. After every competition I would go up to the judge and saying “how can I improve?”

They were always so supportive, taking me through what I could tweak better next time. This commitment to continuous improvement paid off. After four years of showing and judging cattle I was awarded first prize at the Sydney Royal Stud Beef Cattle Judging Competition. At 17,  I was the youngest in the class and I was so proud that I had put in the effort to achieve my goal. To this day I still give back to the show movement by volunteering at youth camps and local shows whenever I can.

I am now following my dreams and studying a Bachelor of Rural science at the University of New England. This degree gives me an opportunity to gain experience all over Australia and I take every opportunity I can. I have worked as a Jillaroo on properties near Rockhampton, Hughenden and Kununurra. I have even competed in meat judging competitions, participated in animal welfare research, worked for an agricultural consultancy companies, through to product sales and learning what it takes to be an auctioneer.

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The UNE meat judging team on judging day!

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My day in the office as a part of the auctioneering team at Tamworth sale yards.

The opportunities I have been given have allowed me to find my niche in the egg industry. The technology and innovation in the industry is phenomenal.  Egg farms are continually investing in the application of new technologies which is having huge rewards for both the hens and those who work in the industry. Working on an egg farm requires extensive knowledge in the areas of environmental stewardship, animal nutrition and best practice animal wellbeing just to name a few. It’s a rapidly changing industry which has captivated my interests completely!

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I can’t wait to go back to my school and share with my careers advisor that agriculture isn’t just about being a farmer and you certainly don’t have to be a boy.

You can be a vet, IT technician, agronomist, policy maker, researcher, journalist, accountant and many more with some jobs are not even created yet!

“I still remember in Year 10 being told by the counsellor at my old school that the farm was no place for a woman,” she said

“But we’re not going to be the cooks anymore. We’re going to be industry leaders. We’re going to be the ones telling the boys what to do.” Source

There will always be barriers to stop you achieving your goals. Don’t let stereotypes around what careers women or men should or should not follow blind you…… You can be anything you want to be! Seek out people who have followed the career path you aspire to, ask questions, and learn from those who have gone before you.

Find a way to climb over, push through or blow up your barriers and most importantly never forget to look back to help others climb over and push through their barriers.

Great advice Jasmine and and congratulations

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Jasmine Whitten 2018 Armidale Showgirl

#youthvoices18 #youthinag #strongertogether

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Teachers are the key to promoting careers in agriculture – its time to engage them using 21st Century creativity

It is undeniable that teachers have a major impact on student learning and career choices. We have all heard stories about teachers discouraging students from following career pathways in the agriculture sector. Why is this so

Industry image also plays a key role in the ability to attract young people into the agriculture sector

“The language typically used in the farming sector to describe the roles of those employed in the industry is out-dated and reflects a mindset which is unattractive to young people. Farm jobs are advertised in terms such as farm hand, station hand, milker and shearer. These terms suggest low levels of skills, training, intellectual content and consequently low status. This is an inaccurate picture of the actual requirements of the contemporary farm employee. Farms require highly motivated, intellectually capable and broadly competent workers. They need people who are able to deal with a wide range of practical problems promptly and with ingenuity. Farm workers need to keep up with the latest research and developments in agronomy and business management. They need to be able to operate and maintain a wide range of technologies from the mechanical to the digital. They need to understand the impacts of global events and markets as well as local policy and market variables. They need significant financial planning and management skills, as they may be dealing with multimillion dollar budgets and regular transactions in the hundreds of thousands. These are exciting, diverse and challenging roles. Little of this comes across in the current nomenclature used to describe jobs in the agricultural sector and in the way the industry is depicted in the media and popular culture” Source 

The Archibull Prize program entry surveys reflect this outdated image of careers in agriculture with students struggling to identify careers in the sector beyond farming related activities. Most of the students’ words were about activities that farmers did i.e. feeding, harvesting, gardening, shearing, milking, watering.

In following Word clouds the larger the word in the visual the more common the word was used by the students.

Careers entry

‘In 2017, more than 323,000 people were employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing but if you consider those employed in the farm input and output sectors, the National Farmers Federation (NFF) says agriculture supports more than 1.6 million jobs in areas like transport and logistics, retail and processing. That means roughly 80 per cent of agricultural jobs are beyond the farm gate and the opportunities are wide and varied.’  Source 

With 80% of careers supporting farmers both beyond and behind the farmgate year on year The Archibull Prize evaluation shows us the key to success is exposing teachers and students to exciting young professionals working in diverse roles in the agriculture sector. A key hook for both teachers and students is the innovation, science and technology that drives 21st century farming. It is also pivotal agriculture provides them with the tools to workshop the diversity of careers.

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Students and teachers relate to exciting young professionals working in the agriculture sector 

By the end of the competition students have a specific and varied repertoire related to actual career classifications rather than jobs around the farm. This is evident with more technical words being used i.e. agronomist, vet, engineer, scientist, geneticist.

Careers exit

With a large cohort of our Young Farming Champions being scientists and agronomists their impact is evident through the high numbers of students who listed ‘Agronomist’ or ‘Scientist’ role. This is further confirmed as students listed their top three choices of careers in agriculture they would consider.

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Students as the end of The Archibull Prize were asked to list their top three choices of careers in agriculture 

The Archibull Prize evaluation Careers Teacher Response

With 89% of teachers in The Archibull Prize exit survey saying they were now confident teaching about careers in Agriculture and a 52% increase in the number of teachers who STRONGLY AGREED there are lots of opportunities for jobs and careers in agriculture its clear we have found a winning formula

The Archibull Prize program design allows agriculture to be embedded into the school curriculum across subject areas its hasn’t been traditionally able to reach. After participating in the program 83% of teachers said they would use learning activities about agriculture in other areas of their teaching.

 

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