The Soil you need to Cultivate – and the journey to balancing life, career and family with leadership

 

Young Farming Champion and Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) member Laura Phelps recently grabbed an opportunity to broaden her knowledge and share her insights with the UK Government as part of their BREXIT strategy. This opportunity has taken Laura to London where she will be based for the next six months. Laura’s sojourn has opened to door to appoint Bessie Thomas to the YVLT.

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Bessie as a grazier and young mother brings a further depth and perspective to the group and shows its commitment to supporting young people in leadership as they face the challenges of balancing work and life.

The YVLT recognises young people are going through rapid transitions from study to work and family and part of its aim is to determine how to best support and encourage them to take on leadership roles.

Formerly involved with Art4Agriculture as an AWI wool Young Farming Champion and in media and communications behind the scenes, Bessie stepped away for a time when she had her first child in 2016.

“The Youth Voices committee seems like the perfect way for me to dip my toes in and get involved with agricultural leadership and support roles again without having to move my focus away from home, farm and motherhood,” she says.

Bessie loves her career as a journalist but she also loves her family and her outback property, and although she was quite sure she could combine them all to her usual high standard, life, she has found, has meant prioritising.

“I have a husband I love, a beautiful young child and a farm currently in drought – they all need me and this is the soil I need to cultivate right now.  I can press pause on a career and involvement with external roles, but I can’t press pause on feeding my hungry sheep, supporting my husband, or feeding my hungry child.” Bessie realises she may be able to do it all – but not all at the same time.

The YVLT, now in its infancy, will grow and change as time progresses and how exactly it provides support to its members will also evolve. For now it is enough that one of its goals is to provide a flexible approach to commitment.

“Feeling pressure to over-commit or guilt about potentially letting the team down has stopped me from getting involved with committees in the past,” Bessie says. “With the YVLT I’ve been asked to only give as much of myself as I can. This means I’ll be able to throw my all at projects I’m really keen on when I have the time, or say ‘Sorry guys, I’m shearing/going away/sick and I’m going to be pretty unavailable for the next month’ without feeling guilty about it. Other members are invited to do the same and it means we’ll get the work done as a team without any one person feeling like they have to keep filling in the gaps.  It’s a way for me to get involved, use my skills and help the industries I love, but also know that I’m allowed to press pause for a day/week/month or year if I need to, knowing that I can dip back in when the time is right for me again.”

One of the visions of the YVLT is to let young people share their dreams and design the future they want. By attracting one of Art4Agriculutre’s brightest alumni back to the fold and into a leadership position, the YVLT can already call itself a success.

Welcome Bessie #youthvoices18

Closing the gender gap in agriculture to promote STEM careers

Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe is presenting at the PIEFA Conference in Canberra today.  As a young person working in Agriculture Emma knows how exciting it is and loves to spread the word to all the young people she meets in schools. Emma’s presentation looks at the elephant in the room –  industry image.

This is what Emma will share with the audience ………….

The future of our world starts off in the classroom today.

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 agriculture. Why is that?

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

Sadly Agriculture has a reputation as the King of Gender Inequality.

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With statistics like these we can see why

  • For 100 years Australia’s agricultural secondary and tertiary colleges were MEN ONLY
  • It wasn’t till the 1970’s that they opened the door to women
  • It took until 2003 for the ratio of men to women studying agriculture at university to become 1:1
  • Whilst women now generate 49% of on-farm income they earn 8% less than men

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  • Women only hold 13% of industry leadership roles (compared to 28% across other industries) .
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  • In fact farming decision-making bodies have been described as “closed social networks” with men over 35 years still the most likely to be elected to boards, despite 40 per cent of Australian farmers being women, with an average incidence of tertiary education that is double that of men. An industry with a men’s club mindset.
  • Agriculture STILL has the least gender diverse board rooms with only 2.3% of women in CEO positions compared to 17% in other industries.

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  • It wasn’t till 1994 the Australian Law Reform Commission reviewed farm women’s legal status and finally defined them as “farmers” instead of
    • Domestics
    • Helpmates or
    • Farmer’s wives

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My name is Emma Ayliffe and I am 26 years old

I am VERY proud to say I am a member of a group of young people changing the face, image and gender diversity of agriculture

As you will have noticed I am female

What you might not know is I am

  • a farmer,
  • an agronomist,
  • a business owner and
  • a Young Farming Champion

I also sit on

  • The Southern Valley Cotton Growers Association Committee
  • Australian Cotton Conference Youth Committee
  • The Irrigation Research and Extension Leadership Group
  • And I am the Vice-Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership Team

As a Young Farming Champion, I go into schools as part of the project-based learning program The Archibull Prize. The Archibull Prize has gained the awesome reputation as being the Queen of Gender Equality

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My role as a Young Farming Champion in schools is to share my career journey in agriculture and inspire others (both men and women) to follow in my footsteps

Like me, many of our Young Farming Champions have STEM based careers.

As part of my agronomy business I am involved in crop research trials and conduct research myself. We test new and evolving farm technology including automation and advanced crop managements and many other areas of agricultural STEM.

AGRICULTURE HAS A LOT OF WORK TO DO TO CHANGE THE IMAGE OF CAREERS IN OUR SECTOR

As you can see from this word cloud from The Archibull Prize entry survey at the beginning of the program young people in schools struggle to identify careers in the sector beyond farming related activities. This is despite 82% of careers in agriculture supporting farmers both behind and beyond the farm gate.

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Talking about agricultural careers to teenagers in conjunction with The Archibull Prize comes at an opportune time as students make crucial decisions on their educational future.

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 agriculture.

To have young farming professionals share their experiences only makes the decisions better informed and raises excitement about STEM-based careers.

A key hook for both teachers and students is the innovation, science and technology that drives 21st century farming.

The Archibull Prize exit survey highlights the success of this approach

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 like agronomist, vet, engineer, scientist, geneticist.

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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 that THEY would consider.

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The full extent as to the endless opportunities and career options cannot be described in the short 5 minutes that I have here today but working with students participating in the Archibull Prize for SEVEN months in schools allows them to immerse themselves in every aspect of the farming industry as they study and explore ALL of the exciting career options.

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Women (like me) are key agents of change and innovation and offer significant leadership in sustainability, food security, rural communities, natural disasters and policymaking.

If we are going to have a profitable, productive, resilient and sustainable agriculture industry into the future the sector must been viewed as a career of first choice that promotes gender equality.

Young people are doing amazing things in agriculture – both young men and young women – we have a chance to model gender equity to the next generation when going into schools

The Archibull Prize model shows how far we have come.

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We invite you all to join us in The Archibull Prize to create a future where men and women work together as partners on farms and on boards and where the conversation is no longer about gender, but how we are building a better agricultural future for Australia.

Watch Emma talk about her career journey at the Sydney Royal Easter Show Secondary School Careers Workshop

 

 

 

 

Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth honoured on Earth Day

Young Farmer Champion Anika Molesworth has been honoured by Instagram in their Earth Day celebrations as one of  “Instagram’s Most Inspiring Environmentalists”

Observed every year on April 22, Earth Day is a day to celebrate the planet and educate people about the need for environmental protection.

In honor of this eco-friendly holiday, Instagram highlighted individuals who are doing incredible and inspirational things for the Earth every day of the year. From photographers to scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, farmers, writers, small business owners, filmmakers, and chefs, here are just a few of the changemakers in the Passion Passport community who are using their platforms to fight for sustainability.

This is Anika’s profile

ANIKA MOLESWORTH (@ANIKAMOLESWORTH)

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What she does:

Anika is a researcher in international agricultural development who splits her time between her family’s arid outback sheep farm in western New South Wales, crop trials in the Riverina (where she’s completing her Ph.D.), and international fieldwork at the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute. No two of her days are ever the same — one morning she could be flying a drone with a multi-spectral camera over a cotton crop to gauge plant health and the next, she could be wearing a white coat and running laboratory experiments. But regardless of whether she’s wading through muddy fields to collect soil samples or giving TEDx talks, Anika is fighting for sustainable farming, environmental conservation, and climate change action.

What sustainability means to her:

“Sustainability means conserving and enhancing our precious natural resources so that future generations can enjoy a rich and wondrous world just as much as we have. That means looking after the wildlife, vegetation, soils, and water (the building blocks of a healthy environment). But in order to do this, we must realize the fragility of the natural world and our impact upon it. When we care for the land, it supports us.”

As you will see Anika’s joins some of the world’s greatest environmental legends

Read their stories here .

Anika is also a member of our Youth Voices Leadership Team Read about the team here 

#YouthVoices18

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

 

 

 

Youth Voices Matter

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Young people are in a unique position as they face the reality of an uncertain future but potentially they are bestplaced to push for and define the long-term societal response to the planet they envision. They are also the most vulnerable to the legacy of decisions made by older generations. Although young adults arguably have the most to gain and the most to lose their voices are not prominent, and too often engagement with this crucial demographic is in many ways limited. The Archibull Prize seeks to enable and empower students to make decisions and take actions that contribute to creating a sustainable future. To assist the students on their journey we pair them with young professionals (Young Farming Champions) from the agriculture sector.

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Young Farming Champion and keynote speaker Anika Molesworth  explains why Youth Voices Matter is this excellent post  “Restless Development”  from her Climate Wise Agriculture blog

Around half the world is under 30 and nine in ten of these young people live in developing countries.

Some are calling it Peak Youth – never before have there been so many young people in this world.

Due to this, their voices are going to be heard, and their actions are going to be felt. Their presence in global to local issues will be known. Why do I think this? Because the young generation are now more educated, tech-savvy and connected than ever before. And they care about their future.

This is why youth coalitions are growing and hashtags like #YouthVoices18 matter.
Young people restless for change are striving for fair, just and ecologically-sustainable development.

The youth today are going to face challenges like never felt before in history.
Climate change, forced migration and ecological degradation to name a few.
When natural environments cease to function as they should, and communities fracture and disperse, young people are caught in the wave of consequences from past actions and inactions.

But the youth also play an important role in overcoming these challenges.

Youth voices are particularly powerful.
Their smart-phone megaphones and global cyber-networks mean ideas and information are shared instantaneously. They see the injustices, they hear of the biological-plundering, and they are motivated to speak up, knuckle down and swipe-left on the status-quo.
For instance, young people in many parts of the world are calling on their governments to do more to prevent harmful climate change impacts. They say the failure to protect their future by slow or inadequate action violates the rights of young people to life, liberty and property enjoyed by previous generations. The idleness to set in place policies and structures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions exacerbates the risk and intensity of droughts, bushfires and floods – severely impacting those setting out on a career in agriculture.

Young people pursuing farming have no small task on their hands. Striving for high quality produce and global food security whilst reducing our environmental footprint is one of the most significant challenges of our time. Many experts predict that by 2050, population demands from nearly 10 billion people will require a 60% increase in global food production or a significant change to the global distribution, storage, consumption and access to food. Education and empowerment of young people in agriculture is critical.

When planning a brighter future, we need to be guided by young people, drawing upon their energy, creativity and skills for positive change. There are so many exciting young people working in genetics, soil science, irrigation engineering, carbon capture research, etc. – powering ahead in research, technology development and sharing their stories. Our leaders must not only acknowledge their interest, but seek the input of the youth, to implement measures that effectively protect young citizens from the foreseeable impacts of the ‘mega-challenges’ like climate change, and provide the platforms for young people to rewrite the narrative.

Young people in agriculture are taking a seat at the solutions dining table.
Their restless desire to change the trajectory should serve us all food for thought.
As the people who will be most greatly impacted by climate change, social upheaval and ecological unravelling, they need to be armed with the skills and knowledge to face these head-on, and they need to be part of developing the global redesign.

When given the capacity, support and trust – these restless young people push the boundaries and become a force for ambitious positive change.

 

_2017 Supporting partners Capture

YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS FOLLOWING THE LEAD

Meg_Rice_058.jpgYoung Farming Champion Meg Rice, a UNE Bachelor of Law/Agriculture student was recently named a 2018 RAS Rural Achiever. It continues her list of achievements, which also include being president of the Farming Futures committee at UNE – a legacy generated by Young Farming Champions before her.

Farming Futures is an annual careers fair and dinner at the university, showcasing industries and businesses who are employing agriculture graduates. It was established in 2011 by Young Farming Champion Jo Newton. Sally Strelitz is an Outreach and Engagement Officer at UNE and supports student committees. “Jo identified there were four or five jobs per ag graduate, yet students felt like they had little awareness of where these jobs actually were. Farming Futures seeks to bridge this gap in the sector, “Sally says. “The inaugural careers fair had 11 booths and this year we are looking at about 40 different businesses from around Australia who are coming to exhibit and talk to our students.” Jo showed foresight in the overarching design of Farming Futures which has helped ensure its ongoing sustainability. Things like actively planning for succession, fostering a culture to support this and seeking mentors to guide future iterations of the committee are ideas rarely implemented in volunteer student organizations.

This sustainability has seen several Young Farming Champions take up positions on the committee, the latest being Meg. “Last year Meg was president of RSUS (Rural Science Undergraduate Society) and on the committee of Farming Futures and now she has moved to president of Farming Futures,” Sally says. “Meg is very open-minded. She is happy to take other people’s ideas on board, but she also knows what she wants. She is an inclusive leader. She’s not afraid to work hard and take a risk if she thinks something is a good idea. I see Meg’s career will be one to watch.”

We think Meg’s career is one to watch too