Ag in the classroom can do so much more than share the paddock to plate story

It was so rewarding for me to be invited to attend the official launch of the Matraville Sports High School training ground initiative for student teachers that exposes them to ‘real issues’  which sees the school partner with the University of NSW in a world first

Now Matraville has more teachers to give the students the attention they need, and the UNSW is giving its student teachers much more classroom experience than they would normally receive.

Up to 60 student teachers will now be on the Matraville campus at any one time.

“For too long teacher education has been stuck in an ivory tower with occasional excursions out into the real world .This is the first time that a secondary campus has been established for a university teacher education facility in Australia.

“The kids can get their hands dirty — student teachers need to see what it’s like to actually deal with an extended school community. It is exposure to real schools, with real issues far beyond standard teacher education”. Professor Chris Davison head of the School of Education at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

You can only imagine how thrilled and honoured I was to see the showcase video that shows how The Archibull Prize is viewed as an integral part of this groundbreaking initiative that includes drama and gifted education programs, particularly focusing on the arts and science, as well as literacy and numeracy initiatives for those students needing additional support.

Watch the showcase video here 

Since its inception The Archibull Prize has been funded by industry and supporters of Ag in the Classroom. This means our annual reports have always focused on the benefits to agriculture. Yet when the art judge Wendy Taylor and I visit all the schools we know the benefits of The Archibull Prize experience to the schools, the students and their wider communities are so much more than this and sadly we have yet had the opportunity to tell the whole story

Thank you so much Matraville Sports High School and UNSW for sharing the holistic importance of the Young Farming Champions and The Archibull Prize programs. Kudos to you


Living to learn and grow and aspire to great things

I live to learn and grow and aspire to great things. Corny as it might sound I genuinely want the world to be a better place because of the things I did in my lifetime

Today is the day Your mountain is waiting

I have made lots of mistakes, pissed off plenty of people and I am one of those people that you either like or you don’t.

I no longer worry about these things. Mistakes make you the person you are today and who needs fake friends

For the last ten years I have been surrounded by some very exciting people who have helped shaped my journey

But I knew if I was going to achieve what I want to achieve I was going to need a mentor who was in it for the long haul

I got my first taste of what that could be like when I spent 3 days with Shaun Coffey in Brisbane in 2013. It was such a buzz. But Shaun spends more time overseas than he does here and we realised that wasn’t going to work

I am excited two years later that a new opportunity has arisen and I now have regular access to the very bright mind and the brave person who is willing to take me on

At our first meeting he reiterated how pivotal it was for me prioritise what space I want to play in. This can be especially challenging for women because we often experience a high degree of inner stress over conflicting commitments.  We have been conditioned to spend our energy helping other people achieve their goals.

So my first task is to have a vision that is built on my values, not the agenda of others.  I look forward to being inspired by my personal convictions, to learning new skills that become habits, to staying calm and remaining strong. I look forward to my new life and I look forward to sharing my journey with you


What will the farmer of the future look like?

What will the farmer of the future look like?

Farmers of the Future.jpg

Farmers of the future will say I am proud to be both an environmentalist and a farmer 

I must admit I always struggled with the image of the profession ‘farmer’.

I was always proud to be a pharmacist – people appreciate pharmacists, they value them

In the 21st century whilst people want to appreciate and value farmers, we are finding that more and more people are questioning whether our modern farming practices align with their values.

I always felt and still do like I was potentially walking into a war zone when I talked about farming in a public forum. I always felt agricultural practices were under the microscope and in some cases quite rightly so.

So my wish for farmers of the future is to be viewed as an integral part of a farming community that is perceived as, and is delivering safe, affordable, healthy food and quality fibre AND leaving a positive footprint on the planet.

My wish is that farmers of the future will feel proud to say that I am both a farmer and an environmentalist. Many, many now do already

To help facilitate this transition I am part of a team who has worked behind the scenes and sent Young Farming Champions Josh Gilbert and Anika Molesworth to Paris.

I say fervently that Josh and Anika are the image that future farmers will all aspire to. They are the gutsy young people learning the corporate mindset during the week and spending every spare minute they have working side by side with their parents on the farm

They have gone to Paris on a fact-finding mission with the aim to back what they found to share with young farmers like themselves and anyone else who cares to listen.

What is so exciting here is that they care enough, and others care enough to support them, to go and learn whatever COP21 had to offer?

The support from government and the community was phenomenal

Prior to their trip Josh and Anika had an audience with both the NSW Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Primary Industries who reiterated the important role agriculture plays in NSW

Minister Blair also recently met with Josh and Anika and 15 of their peers.

2015 Archibull Prize Awards  (110)

Minister Blair feels strongly that investment in the new generation of agricultural leaders can do so much more than securing the production of food. It can provide jobs, grow wealth and create vibrant and resilient rural and regional communities. And the perfect way to create world class leaders is to create the right environment and give them the skills to thrive. And what a great opportunity Paris is to help them develop those skills and knowledge.

And excitingly bring that knowledge back and help Australian farmers drive the transition to clean energy technologies. Farming communities have a great opportunity to champion renewable energy

As Anika says “We are blessed with open skies and vast horizons, we have boundless solar and wind resources. Importantly farm supplied green energy has the potential to provide Australian farmers with a new and steady income stream. This will help reduce the physical, emotional and financial stress on our farmers and help ensure we have resilient and prosperous rural and remote communities.”

There is no denying that a positive future for agriculture will require change.  The journey will see them find themselves in a difficult space. They will be challenged by the conservatives. Some will feel threatened and try to bring them down. They are brave, they have a strong support network and that network will grow.

They want the best outcomes for both farmers and the planet. To achieve this they are out talking to everyone. They are finding many other groups share their values.

They are very excited we now have a Prime Minister who also shares their values and wants to leave the same legacy they aspire too.

They are off to Paris to learn. To seek out the solutions that they can bring to the table. They see themselves as part of the rational group in the middle who know it’s smart to talk to both sides and that WIN:WINS are possible. By this I mean the group that sits between farmers embedded in the old ways and extreme green groups. The rational group who view partnerships as the key to success

They and many farmers like them are committed to Australians having the bright future that we all deserve. I look forward to blogging their journey and sharing it with you .

You can find their blog here 

You can read Gabrielle Chan’s story on their crowd funding campaign which say 65 Australians fund their trip to Paris and COP21 here 


The Oscars of Art

Its that time of year when I write a blog post that I know is going to get over 1000 visits a day for the next 6 days. That every time I open my email account it is going to say downloading 1 of 250 emails. Just to keep up with approving the comments I need a glass of milk every hour.

Want to know what causes this frenzy. Well the judge has made her decision, the trophies have been painted ( or are nearly finished after all they are a masterpiece in themselves), the giant cheques are at the printers, Lynne and Jenny from the RAS are in overdrive tizzying up the venue, the sponsors are chomping at the bit hoping they have the WOW Archie, the students have booked into the dentist for a last minute whitening, the teachers and their designers have selected that WOW outfit , the GREEN carpet has been laid and the VIP”s are coming.

And why all the interest the week before the event. Well the People’s Choice opened of course. Yes its your turn to vote for the Oscars of Art – The Archibull Prize 2015

WOW AWARD - The Archibull Prize

Click on the photo to see a larger version and vote for your favourite Archie.

We know these photos don’t do the entries justice so if you would like to see more elements and both sides of all these masterpieces and meet the students who created them you will find them in our Flickr Album here 


Food at Rock-bottom prices is NOT a birthright

Whilst in Lockhart for the Spirit of the Land yearly celebration I had an opportunity to frock and fascinate up and attend the Lockhart Picnic Races. BTW no shortage of men and women in the Riverina who would do high fashion proud at Flemington

After hearing a couple of male farmers I was introduced to say, when asked where their partner was “She’s working so I can spend it” Acknowledging upfront the phrase is said in jest it made me cringe. It’s time for it to be no longer the norm that too often female partners of farmers have no personal identity other than being the bread winner so the farm can put bread on other people’s tables.



As one woman who spent 35 years of her life doing this it isn’t much fun. It’s only in the last ten years when I realised it was time to find my personal identity, give my life a sense of meaning that I could empower others to ensure safe and healthy food is truly valued by everyone in this country. It well beyond time to debunk the myth ‘food at rock-bottom prices is a birthright’ supermarket duopolies happily perpetuate.  As this article from Fresh Agenda reminds us Food doesn’t come Cheap

Rehanded’s Managing Director Jim Gall is so right when he says

If Australian agriculture is to thrive, it needs talented men and women. Businesses, governments and representative bodies that accommodate flexible career pathways and an open mind, may just attract some of the best business, science, engineering and marketing brains in the world, and therefore provide Australian produced food and fibre with a distinct and sustainable brand and business advantage.

Now I must declare my interest here, I employ women in agribusiness …. . They are often the most talented creative and strategic minds in the business. I also have a farm that is successfully run by my wife ……..

So why do I care? Well I also have two daughters and if one day they choose to pursue a career in agriculture, I would like to think they would be afforded the same opportunities I have.

Jim Gall .  From the Back Block to the Boardroom

Like Jim, I too am very lucky to be able to identify and nurture and support some of the most talented, creative and strategic, bright young minds in agriculture today through the Young Farming Champions program. More than 60% of this team are women and none of them have any intentions of pursuing careers that see them as the off farm Money Tree diversification strategy that supports the farm. They all want an innovative, rewarding, dynamic,exciting and profitable agriculture sector that they play an active role in creating and sustaining

And that means disrupting the way agriculture traditionally thinks, talks and acts.

It means agriculture not just talking about working together to achieve more innovative solutions and better results. It means walking the talk.

It means taking a collaborative approach to raising agricultural awareness, leadership development, community engagement and inspiring the next generation’s best and brightest to seek careers in the agriculture sector.

It means forging partnerships to identify, prepare and support our emerging leaders.

It means creating the right environment for our young people and giving them the skills to thrive.

The Australian Young Farmer of the Year Anika Molesworth is just one of many examples of what happens when you expose bright and creative and innovative young minds in agriculture to some of Australia’s finest communication, marketing and professional development experts as well as the diverse networks necessary to support them.

The voice of the collective can be so much stronger than working alone

When we come together under a common mission with shared values truly extraordinary achievements can be made…

Anika Molesworth Australian Young Farmer of the Year

Listen to more of what this wonderful young woman has to say here

Women and Wool – its not all about the fashion

I had a big smile on my face this morning when I read this story Female auctioneer paves the way in Australian wool industry


Cassie Baile once auctioned me and like everyone in the room I was just flabbergasted  to watch this gorgeous quiet young thing turn into a force of nature when she picked up the gavel

#GoGirlfriend Like me all your fellow Young Farming Champions in the room that day knew you were going to make your mark in the industry that lights your fire and the Wool Industry is very lucky to have you

Reprint ……..

Cassie Baile has opened the door on opportunities for young women aspiring to become wool auctioneers in a role traditionally influenced by men.

The 25-year-old from the NSW New England has been appointed as an auctioneer for the Australian Wool Network at the Yennora Wool Selling Centre.

In her role as Northern Wool Technical Officer, Cassie will divide her time between client work at AWN’s Goulburn branch and the showroom floor in Sydney.

The only female auctioneer at the Yennora Wool Selling Centre, Cassie admits to getting a buzz out of wielding the gavel.

“I was fortunate enough in the first week I started with AWN on July 27, they asked me to sell in Room 2, and that was a fantastic start,’’ she said.

“While we are running one week’s sale, we are always preparing for the following week’s sale, so week on week the whole AWN team are quite busy.’’

Cassie said the key skills for auctioneering were communication, elocution, presentation and a good rapport with clients and buyers.

“Since beginning auctioneering two years ago, I have received support and guidance from all within the industry,’’ she said.

“In what has been traditionally perceived as a male influenced sector, I could not have asked for more support from all involved.’’

Cassie will move to the Goulburn branch in October to work with AWN branch manager Mark Hedley, and his staff.

“I will be based in Goulburn and then travel between Sydney to type and prepare the next week’s sale, and make sure all the samples on the show floor are complete for the catalogue,’’ she said.

“In Goulburn I will be managing my own client base with all aspects of their wool production. This includes sheep and ram selection, flock management, wool marketing and ensuring a high quality of service.

“As part of the Australian Wool Network team, I will be working with my colleagues to proactively gain the best results for our clients throughout all stages of their wool production, from the shearing shed to the production of high quality woollen garments.’’

Cassie hails from a superfine wool property at Bendemeer in the NSW New England region.

Her childhood memories of helping with sheep work and in the shearing shed fuelled her passion for agriculture and the wool industry.

Cassie gained her professional Woolclassers’ Certificate in 2009 through Tamworth TAFE before completing two years of an Agribusiness Degree at the University of New England, Armidale.

In 2012, she obtained a traineeship with a pastoral house, working as a Wool Technical Support Officer at Yennora.

Cassie is pleased to be moving back into a regional area with a strong history of wool production.

“I never saw myself living in Sydney but it was a good base to start,’’ she said.

“When I was approached by Australian Wool Network, I was able to make possible those goals I had always wanted to achieve.

“Everybody in the company has been so supportive, making my transition to the new role very smooth.’’

Cassie encourages all young people with an interest in agriculture to pursue their goals.

“I believe your personal drive and passion will create the best possible future for you,’’ she said.

“Find a way and make it work, and you will get there.’’

When it comes to women in agriculture, Cassie said there were no limits.

“There are equal opportunities for everyone – all young people who are interested in the industry should embrace their passion and make the most of it,’’ she said.

“Set a goal, go for it and make it happen.’’

“It is great to see women moving into traditional male roles in agriculture, such as wool classing.

“We need to encourage young people to come into the industry to ensure its survival.’’