Kindness – what does it look like to you. Who are your role models?

I sit on the Action4Agriculture board and we recently workshopped our values which our graphic artist is currently working his magic on to load on our web page

Our values are

The final wording is from board member Dr Jenni Metcalfe with inspiration for Kindness coming from the work of Brene Brown who says

“Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind.”

 

Brene clarifies her quote this way

We need braver leaders and more courageous cultures.

Why courage? and What’s getting in the way of building more daring cultures? Of the ten behaviors and cultural issues that leaders identified as barriers to courage, there was one issue that leaders ranked as the greatest concern: Avoiding tough conversations, including giving honest, productive feedback. Source 

My personal top two values are Courage and Making a Difference. Brene helped me realise I needed to spend more time walking my fear

As a life long avoider of tough conversations I am grateful to Brene, our board and the brave people I truly value who I have stepped up to have tough conversations with recently.

I found some of those people are like me and walk away rather than have them and others have role modelled to me what “Best practice” looks like. I thank them for helping me learn and grow and hopefully change

Taking time to celebrate the journey

Last night was a major milestone for me as I handed in my resignation to the Young Farming Champions (YFC) Leadership Team committee ( formerly Youth Voices Leadership Team)

Nothing brings greater joy than to see something that you started grow and evolve and handed over to next gen.

This committee of YFC bravely stepped up to see what skills, knowledge, experiences and support are needed to going from young people learning to lead themselves to leading  teams

Their generosity of spirit and pay it forward mentality has seen them go on the journey themselves AND create a cachet of resources and templates for those that follow them.

Special shoutout to our three team chairs Dr Jo Newton OAM, Emma Ayliffe and Dione Howard , our secretary Jess Fearnley  , and our partnerships Ambassador Dr Anika Molesworth

It was a wonderful moment to go round the room and have each member of the team share their highlights.

“the skills I have learnt being part of this committee have helped me grow as a person. They are equally transferable to my workplace and my other volunteer roles. They have given me the confidence to be a peer to peer mentor and a coach.”

“We believe we are walking examples of Action4Agriculture’s vision to grow tomorrow’s leaders today to cultivate farming systems and practices that are good for farmers, people and the planet”

Friday nights can be tough

Friday nights can be tough. They are that time of the week where you reflect on the conversations you have had and the important work you have got done and you decide if you are moving forward or going round in circles.

I can definitely see forward movement from young people in agriculture through the extraordinary applications we are receiving for our Young Farming Champions program

There is also significant international interest in replicating the Action for Agriculture programs overseas and I am working with some very exciting people to create a template of what that could look like

BUT my major frustration remains and that is.

We have a leadership system in agriculture that invites people with big ideas to stand in the arena by themselves until they can beg or borrow enough money to pilot their big idea. Success requires you to attract other volunteers who also have day jobs, who toil and toil and toil pouring their hearts and souls into your big idea ( and adding their ideas) until they are as burnt out as you.

I have been looking for a model that invites people to identify an arena they want to be part of. An arena that cultivates a culture where everyone is working together towards a common goal and everyone can actively see every Friday night that their collaboration is having IMPACT.

Two models I am witnessing that are potentially achieving this are Farmers for Climate Action and the Voices for Movement both of which have attracted significant philanthropic funding

There is hope on the horizon for a new model through conversations I have been having with other people running leadership programs. These bright minds might just have come up with a model that will deliver significant rewards for the personal well being of the people in the arena and the agriculture sector.

The next step in this process happens on Monday. Fingers crossed my journal reflections next Friday are less focused on our abhorrent political system and more focused on grass roots empowerment

Don’t tell them why, Show them How

I am fascinated by what makes people tick.

I learnt a long time ago humans are feeling beings who also happen to think. We absorb information differently and we process it differently.

We are now at the point in OZ where the early adopters and some of the late adopters have got their vaccines.

My passion for life long learning saw me sign up for another of Changeologist Les Robinson’s Theory of Behavior Change workshops this week


Les reminded us if we want to drive behavior change its important to tailor the message for each demographic you are trying to reach to THEIR  specific needs, wants and pain points.

Its time to stop telling our later adopters and laggards WHY and show them HOW

Time for less facts – now matter how impressive they as the science tells us they will only create more resistance

Time for more compassion, less judgment

Lets show them HOW

What does HOW look like to you?

 

 

How do we make sustainable farming part of our DNA?

Agriculture is this country is starting to feel the societal pressures that food production should harness environmental good outcomes that European farmers have been experiencing for decades.

One would hope Europe’s experience would have given us the opportunity to show foresight and be prepared.

Quite the contrary as Gabrielle Chan shares in this excellent article   

“No Australian political party is doing serious thinking about how to knit together food, farming and environmental policies to continue feeding the population while mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss.”

In 2016 the United Nations announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that give every business including agriculture a global blueprint to guide our country’s activities towards a global collaborative achievement of sustainable development. The SDGs provide a ‘common language’ through which our rural industries can communicate domestically and globally, in alignment with world leaders on the SDG index as well as Australia’s major trading partners.

They also provide an extraordinary opportunity to develop a leadership capability framework to support the National Farmers Federation 2030 roadmap.

Leading change for a sustainable economy and planet has a huge focus in Europe yet big business in Australia is much slower to move into this space.

“The systemic pressures the world faces today mean that leadership simply cannot be the preserve of a ‘heroic’ few. Delivering the future we want will require organisations to cultivate leadership at all levels, and to embrace diverse and complementary strengths and approaches. The focus will be on developing collective leadership capacity, with individuals supported and inspired to deliver against their potential, and to contribute effectively within their personal strengths and role.”

Whilst progress on building the knowledge, thinking and practice around the new normal is very slow at government level our teachers are grasping the Sustainability Leadership mantle firmly ensuring our young people are going to be ready for the jobs of the future.

Meet Sana Said from Riverstone High School

By mapping our future leadership needs and deploying our people for  good, we have a significant opportunity to shape the food production agenda and deliver an equitable system for all.

There is also icing on the cake with a number of economic benefits from SDG reporting globally to be realised through enhancements to the natural environment.

  • FOOD WASTE: Potential to lower global costs of food waste for saving AUD $240 to $600B per year (20-30 per cent of food globally is wasted through post-harvest losses that are easy to prevent)
  • FOREST ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Potential to lower Global costs of deforestation and forest degradation: AUD $200B to $550B per year (Deforestation and forest degradation which currently account for 17 per cent of global emissions
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY: Increase renewables’ share of energy generation worldwide could increase to 45 per cent by 2030 (from 23 per cent in 2014) (IRENA, 2014) Potential to lower global costs of non-renewable energy: AUD $250B to $900B

Thanks to Jo Eady from Rural Scope and Mark Paterson from Currie Communication for inspiration for this post

 

The climate crisis means farmers have to be prepared for the worst day every day

After being declared the windiest place in NSW in the last 48 hours like all  our farmers across the country our local dairy farmers have to be prepared for the worst day everyday. 

With no power for more that 48 hours I was mega grateful I had purchased these two power pack to walk Larapinta a number of years ago. They kept all the devices I needed to keep me safe and warm with no electricity

What was even more rewarding was despite 130km plus winds, rain and no power the dairy was still operating 24/7  milking the cows

On a dairy farm there is nothing more important than your cows and your team and a generator that will run the dairy using the tractor in a blackout is a MUST have on every dairy farm.

Some great info here on preparing for floods

Women in Agriculture – Its time for the invisible to be truly visible

I am a woman who has come to prominence in a man’s world

In 2012 I won agriculture’s most prestigious accolade the inaugural Bob Hawke Hawke Landcare Award

All the subsequent winners are men

In 2021 the inaugural winner of the 2020 General Jeffery Soil Health Award is a woman 

I am 100% confident that both of us are not a token gestures to gender  diversity, its a 100% acknowledgment that we are where the world sees agriculture as the place we should be heading

I am where I am today because a number of very special men supported my journey

But very few ( almost none ) put their hands up in a public space and say I am on Team Lynne and the work she does on behalf of the greater good is important work we can all champion.

My call to action to women everywhere in agriculture be proud of what you are doing

Shout your cause from the rooftops

Its time for the invisible to be truly visible

And its time to tell the men in our lives who think its good enough to pat you on the head and say “Go Girl” is no where near the ground breaking response that is required to drive real change.

What does Gender balance look like you to you??

Is agriculture spending enough time thinking about who our customers are and what they are becoming

Women represent 56% of graduates of agricultural science university courses yet Young Farming Champion,  Australian Young Farmer of the Year and co-owner of Summit Ag Agronomy Emma Ayliffe tells me she can count on one hand the number of female agronomists over 35 working fulltime.

Emma is 30 and it will be interesting for her to reflect back on the agronomy sector in 10-15 years time and see if this is still the case

Research shows that the previous generation of women who decided they had to make a choice between career and children chose children. This generation of women are choosing career.

To learn as much as I can about why current agricultural sector workplaces are not meeting the wants and needs of women over 35 I have been doing a lot of reading and learning a lot.

The research tells me

We need to look at the blueprints of our workplaces, to understand how the policies, processes, structures, employee behaviours, leaders, and culture in our workplaces can value women and their contributions 

My reading has also opened my eyes to the importance of the language we use when promoting the sector to next gen agriculturalists and next gen consumers. Speaking of next gen consumers did you know 80%  of purchases made today are by women. So women are important for both talent management and the business bottom line.

In today’s world we are led to believe men have an unwavering belief in the machine – the ability of technology to solve the world’s problems. Women on the other hand see people as our greatest resource and women around the world are standing up to save the planet.

As our board is all female and the majority of consultants we work with are also female, it’s very important to us that the language we use appeals to all genders

The ultimate challenge of gender bilingualism, both in terms of understanding consumers better and of better talent management, is a skill we can all learn.

During a recent strategic planning meeting our all female board were comfortable with this description of how to promote careers in agriculture as an opportunity to:

  • make a humanitarian/environmental difference locally and globally
  • build capacity to act on issues that are important to regional communities and
  • have a positive impact on the lives of others

On learning about gender bilingualism and reflecting on the previous version below ( written by a male consultant)  I felt this version might have  broader appeal. What do you think?

Promoting agriculture as an exciting industry:  

  • where innovation, disruption and creativity are fostered,
  • where careers with purpose can grow limitlessly and
  • where partnerships across sectors are encouraged and nurtured

Our industry is changing. I often find myself having conversations with people in the livestock sectors who are bewildered that livestock industries are attracting  young women 2:1 where as young men are attracted to cropping industries.

I have always been concerned that the Australian dairy industry has an over reliance on promoting the high level of technology in the industry and a reticence  to talk about its huge environmental gains

There is an exciting opportunity to reframe gender balance as one of the century’s most obvious business opportunities. But first we have to acknowledge, understand and maximize the complementary differences between men and women. The challenge here is not to treat everyone equally and the same, but to treat everyone equally and different, with a deep understanding of what those differences are.

With so many opportunities in our sector its the perfect time to thinking about who our customers are and what they care about.

Books I am reading and referencing

  • Brandsplaining by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts
  • The Fix by Michelle King
  • Seven Steps to Leading a Gender-Balanced Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

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The stories you tell, struggle to tell and the ones that get locked into a box

When our farm started doing things very differently ( like milking cows three times a day in a rainforest environment ) and winning awards people were very interested in our story.

I still get asked to tell my story often. For the last seven years I have suggested journalists tell the stories of the young people I work with.

Recently I have had a number of requests to tell the story about my commitment to the advancement of women and girls as it just so happens that 8 out 10 young people working with me putting their hands up to tell agriculture’s story are young women.

A recent request (and turning 65) had me thinking deeply about my journey. Looking for pictures and the process reminded me of things that had slipped my mind or things I was determined to put in a box and do my best never to open again.

Its doesn’t work that way does it?

The dark parts of your life you don’t talk about just tend to sit there and fester

As part of my deep dive into my journey I came across below. A Take Two story written by journalist Jodie Duffy for the Illawarra Mercury that morphed into a couple feature stories.

I remember the original interview. It was awkward both Michael and I were not quite sure what to share.

In 2021 it is this comment from Michael that stands out for me

Nick was always the centre of our lives and the day he started boarding school is one of our most harrowing moments.

It was the highlight of our week when he got off the train on Friday afternoons He always made sure he got home in time to help me finish in the dairy

I tell people I came back to my farming roots because Nick decided to join the business in 2001 after he finished school.

But that is not the whole story. In 2000 when Nick was completing the HSC the pharmacy I managed, which was open 14 hours a day was robbed a number of times by two masked men.

Instead of coming home to milk cows after a week at school Nick would come to the pharmacy to protect me. He turned out to be very impressive at data entry as well

I was grateful but also felt guilty that I was potentially putting my son at risk.

As it turned out it was always other people’s children who were ever only going to be at risk

When the robbers were finally caught I discovered there was a good reason they didn’t hold up the pharmacy when I was working. That was because I knew them both and they knew I would recognise their voices.

You often don’t know how much you are being impacted by traumatic events  happening around you until you reach the tipping point

One of the robbers was a long term customer of the pharmacy and he was injured in the police pursuit that eventually caught him. The hospital asked him what medication he was on. He told the hospital to ring me.

That was the day I lost it.

Those robberies fueled by the long term drug habits of two young men  impacted so many lives. The beautiful young people I worked with, everyone who worked in the pharmacy and their families and my family

My family tried so hard but we never really moved on. No matter how hard you try you cant put the bad in a box and pretend it never happened.

I am a very different person today. The confident persona is a façade.

You don’t get a second chance to rob me of my soul.

When I feel undervalued I tell you and I don’t do forgiveness.

TAKE TWO – by Jodie Duffy

Lynne

I met Michael when I was 18 He came to Jamberoo with his brother to play football. The local paper did a profile on him and when I saw his picture I said “wow I’ve got to meet this guy”

A mutual acquaintance lined up a blind date for the Jamberoo Footballers Ball – the social event of the year in those days. Michael had injured his ankle @ training and spent the entire night with his foot in an esky of ice. This was probably a good thing as we didn’t realise until well into our relationship that Fred & Ginger we where not. Real life lived up to the photo and it was infatuation at first sight.  I went off to Uni and we spent every weekend together for the next 3 years. My girlfriends called Michael – HT. He is still my heartthrob 30 years later.

We got engaged when I was 21 and married as soon as I finished Uni

When we first got married Michael had a 7am -3pm job. When he was approached to manage the farm @ Clover Hill we both drifted into doing 14 hours shifts

When our son Nick was born 5 years later; he spent the greater part of his younger years with Michael on the farm. We had four sisters living next to us and they became his pseudo grandmothers. I still worked 14 hour shifts and was pretty much an absentee mum. When Nick went to boarding school we grew much closer

Whilst Nick was a boarding school Michael and I ensured we had as many weekends off as possible. Nick played a lot of sport and it was great to watch & support him @ weekends.

Nick skied competitively and we went to Canada every Christmas holidays so Nick could train. This was a wonderful time in our lives. In 2000 the deregulation of the dairy industry had a huge impact on our dairying business. This was the defining moment that bought us all back to the farm. It works really well, we complement each others skills. Nick has been managing the business for the last 4 years and became a partner in June. Nick is a 7th generation dairy farmer. My family has been dairying in Australia since 1831 and Michael’s since the 1860’s

My father was a reluctant dairy farmer and always said- Lynne whatever you do never learn to milk a cow. I have followed his instructions implicitly. There is so much more to do on a dairy farm than milk cows. The role that gives me the most satisfaction is looking after the calves. You are working every day with between 30 to 40 living breathing little things that rely on you totally. I recently had to get the vet to euthanize one of my calves. It was almost as heartbreaking for him as it was for me

Michael is the family’s quiet achiever. He is crazy about his cows. His great passion is watching them compete in the show ring. He lives from show to show. At the moment an accident he had in December has kept him out of the ring and this part of his life has been put on hold. You can tell he misses it desperately

I see my role in the industry differently to Michael. I feel it is critical that agriculture has high profile. It is important to constantly remind people we produce the food of life.

Michael

I really cherish the moments Lynne & I had together when we first met. As I get older I am constantly reminded how much she means to me.  When Nick was little I was able to fit my work schedule around the important moments in his life. I took him to school every-morning He would spend his afternoons with our next door neighbours who lived adjacent to the dairy and he would sneak across to the dairy whenever he could

When he started to play football I started the afternoon milking earlier so I could coach his team

Nick was always the centre of our lives and the day he started boarding school is one of our most harrowing moments.

It was the highlight of our week when he got off the train on Friday afternoons He always made sure he got home in time to help me finish in the dairy

Lynne always organised her days off so she could help me show our stud cattle As a girl she had shown horses and was a deft hand at putting the finishing touches on the cows as they went into ring. Nick shares our passion for showing. It is truly rewarding to watch your child follow in your footsteps

As a family we have shared all the highlights and watched our show team grow to a point where they are nationally competitive

Life on the land is a roller coaster. We reinvent our business (and sometimes our selves) every year – whatever it takes to make it successful The business plan is definitely a dynamic document

Deregulation was the turning point in our lives. The big positive is we get to work together as a family every day doing something we all think makes a difference