The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act.
We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to create.
We believe a strong leadership team is one where people of common values and beliefs take responsibility for, and share ownership of, a vision. We believe that by empowering the individual with tools and skills to thrive, the individual will strengthen the collective, and therefore good leaders will be committed to create a sense of connection and collaboration.
“The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
The inaugural Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) is a collection of some of the most courageous young people in agriculture. With an agronomist, an agricultural researcher, a livestock geneticist, a woolgrower, a veterinarian and a policy advisor for government, the Team holds wealth of experience that defies their years.
The YVLT sees the Young Farming Champions (YFC) program take the next step from leadership development to leadership practice roles.
This new committee will mentor and support the YFC program and provide an agricultural youth leadership voice to community, media and industry.
The team have identified the values which will form the foundation for their decision-making processes and guide them in interactions with each other, their peers, collaborating partners and the community.
These values are:
Currently working as a research scientist for Agriculture Victoria within the Department of Economic Development Jobs, Transport and Resources, Jo Newton is positioning herself at the interface of research, application and extension in the field of livestock genetics. “We have world-class research facilities and minds in Australia but haven’t always done a very good job of translating research into action. I am determined to change this and ensure research outcomes aren’t confined to scientific journals. I believe the best way to achieve this is through communication between scientists, academics and the rest of the agricultural sector.”
Jo credits her early mentors for helping shape her professional development and career aspirations. She believes the best way you can show gratitude to your mentors is to pay it forward and is a firm believer in the importance of telling agriculture's stories and supporting young people in agriculture.
“Access to mentors, resources and professional development opportunities is important to help young people realise their full potential. In 25-30 years’ time it will be young people making the decisions which shape the future of agriculture (and Australia). Now is the time to be investing in them so they have the capabilities to do so successfully.”
Emma Ayliffe is an agronomist, specialising in cotton, who prides herself on analysing the science behind crop production and making this applicable to growers. “It is my job to help my growers reach their potential and overcome obstacles. I also like to think of myself as an advocate for agriculture as a whole, whether it be the local cotton growers association, the GRDC Advisory Panel or just a helper at a field day to be part of the team and the voice that represents agriculture.”
Carving a successful agricultural career with her own agronomy business Emma is grateful and appreciative of the direction and opportunities given to her by others, and wants to give this same support and guidance to the next generation.
“As youth we are the future and it is up to us to shape how we want our industries and our world to look. It is important for us to forge the way for the generations after us, to collaborate with young and old, to bring fresh ideas and perspective and, ultimately, to speak up and represent the people around us.”
Peta Bradley grew up surrounded by wool and is now a development officer with MERINOSELECT, having recently graduated from the University of New England with a Bachelor of Rural Science. She works with sheep breeders on a daily basis combining the technical aspects of genetics with on-farm practices. “Within my job I am helping farmers improve how they record and produce sheep meat and wool products.”
Peta is a Wool Young Farming Champion and credits the program for helping to develop her career over the last four years. “I have grown and developed from a school ambassador to representing my industry in the wider community at a range of agricultural events and I have put my hand up to be involved in the Youth Voices Team to give back to the project that has given me so much.”
“Youth are the leaders of tomorrow. They provide a fresh face that people associate with the future. To equip these people with the skills to go forth and represent agriculture in the public and also arm them with high level professional and personal development skills ensures these young people are at the leading edge of our industry.”
Laura Phelps has an ever-evolving and non-traditional career. She has worked with developing nations, pork producer groups and farming organisations and is now with the Federal Government in Canberra covering anything from international policy development to agricultural communications. “Most people imagine working in agriculture as working with animals or as a farmer. My role is often behind the scenes, developing projects which actively contribute to better policy and trade outcomes for all aspects of agriculture. It’s confusing and often hard to explain but it’s exciting work.” Laura has experienced firsthand the benefits of being involved with Young Farming Champions. “The skills I have learnt at various stages have set me up personally and professionally and, while I am still learning and developing, I think it is important to remain involved so others have access to the same opportunities. This is why I have volunteered for the Youth Voices Team.”
Anika Molesworth is a farmer and agricultural researcher and in these roles she can be many things. “I can be doing nitrate analysis of crop leaves in the lab, or hard-yakka field work in Cambodia, or I can be public speaking and exchanging ideas on the future of farming, or kicking back at home on my parents’ Broken Hill farm.”
The future of farming both excites and worries Anika with the challenges produced by a changing climate and she takes every opportunity to learn and explore possible options. Being part of Youth Voices is a continuation of that drive.
“I would like to learn from this incredible team, and from the young people involved, and I am keen to impart some of my knowledge; to exchange ideas and create conversation about the agricultural industry. I love the enthusiasm of young people - nothing is too big or out of their reach, anything is possible - and I love working with people with that mentality.”
In her final years of study at Charles Sturt University in Wagga, Dione Howard describes herself as ‘almost a veterinarian’. It’s a journey that began on her family’s Illawarra Merino Stud in the Riverina and has continued as she has honed her expertise to include animal production, welfare communication and animal biosecurity. As a vet she sees her role as one of many health professionals who work alongside farmers.
“I am excited to take part in Youth Voices because I believe Young Farming Champions play an important role in future of agriculture as voices of our industries. I want to ensure our stories continue to be shared and I am also looking forward to giving back to an organisation that has done so much to help me – both personally and professionally.”
Dione believes it is important for enthusiastic young people to be connected to agriculture so they and industry can mutually benefit. “And it’s also lots of fun!”
Bessie Thomas brings another perspective to the Youth Voice Leadership Team as a young mother and sheep grazier on an outback property in western New South Wales. Formerly involved with Art4Agriculture as a 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.”
Bessie believes young people bring fresh opinions, new ideas, energy and enthusiasm to agriculture but is also interested in enhancing the communication and connection between the young and young-at-heart via the online world. “As a huge social media user I’m fascinated by the way agriculture is portrayed and received by consumers. Being involved with the Youth Voices committee means I can help propel agricultural perceptions forward in a positive way.”