Its almost 20 years since I returned to my farming roots and went on a mission to change the conversations around agriculture.
- Agriculture as a career choice
- Agriculture’s environmental credentials
My vision was for agriculture to be perceived 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
– that was part of the solution to solving the world’s wicked problems.
When my work started attracting young people and they become the focus of our work and the face of our programs, my team asked ourselves how can we give back to them as individuals and the organisations that support them.
To achieve this we asked them what they wanted. What did they say
Young people said we may be only 20% of the populations but we are 100% of the future we want agency and voice in designing that future.
We then asked schools and teachers who are given the important role of ensuring young people are ready for the reality of life beyond the classroom what they want
They said we want:
- an Ecosystem of Expertise we can tap into where our students are connecting with real people, with lived experiences to investigate real issues together.
- opportunities for our students to enhance their wellbeing, build their reliance and leadership skills.
To achieve this we have 3 foundation programs:
Our school programs (The Archibull Prize – secondary school )and Kreative Koalas -primary school ) engage students in agricultural and sustainability awareness, understanding and action through art, design thinking, creativity, teamwork, and project development.
The face of our school programs are our Young Farming Champions. Young people who are role models of who you can be in agriculture who we train to be confident communicators and trusted voices. They become dedicated life long learners like me committed to changing the conversations around agriculture. Our Young Farming Champions represent the diversity of people in agriculture. Sam Wan is a first generation Australia forging a career as wool broker still turning up every month to our workshop to learn how she can wake up tomorrow to do it better
Twenty years ago when I returned to the farm, I was flabbergasted when someone said to me farming was an esoteric career. I was frustrated to see stories about women in agriculture being focused on our shoes.
I was even more horrified by statistics like this from some research Fiona Nash commissioned
In my previous role as Federal Minister for Regional Development, I examined a six-month period of regional stories across the two major metropolitan newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne.
- In Melbourne, 80% of the regional stories were negative, 15% were neutral, and just 5% were positive.
- In Sydney, around 75% were negative and only 25% were positive.
When this is the narrative city people are fed, it’s no wonder they fail to understand the reality in the regions, the huge driver the regions are for city economies as well as regional economies, and the huge, untapped opportunity they present for businesses and individuals alike. Source
Young people like Sam are changing the conversations around agriculture and Action4Agriculture is super pumped to be supporting Next Gen to do that in the agriculture sector and in the community.
How can we ensure that investment continues?