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Francesca Earp is a researcher for global development with a strong emphasis on gender equality, influenced by her time spent working with female farmers in Laos. She holds a Master of Global Development from James Cook University and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy in Veterinary Science from the University of Sydney and a PhD in Sociology from James Cook University.

“I am dedicated to the inclusion and empowerment of female farmers in a culturally appropriate manner…. and I became a PhD candidate, investigating the impact of socio-cultural factors on the uptake of agricultural development training programs, with an emphasis on the female farmer.”

Francesca joined the Cultivate – Growing Young Leaders program in 2020 and has been a proactive member of Young Farming Champions, taking on the role of convenor for the Leadership Team in 2022.

“I joined YFC when, due to Covid, I was feeling a bit lost about my career and education pathway. I found that becoming part of a network of passionate young people and having the opportunity to attend interesting and inspiring workshops really helped me redirect myself and to find my passions again. I wanted to put my hand up for the leadership team so that I could give back to a community that has given me so much and I hope that, in this role, I can help others in the same way the program has helped me whether that means having meaningful conversations with community members, helping to design and deliver exciting workshops or managing new YFC initiatives.”


Francesca Earp

Jess Fearnley

Jessica Fearnley works as an Industry Development Officer in the Plant Systems unit with the NSW Department of Agriculture while simultaneously studying a Masters of Global Development at James Cook University. She is also an event coordinator with Researchers in Agriculture for International Development.

In 2021 Jess secured a project lead role for a traceability project in collaboration with Woolworths and facilitated workshops using skills learnt with Young Farming Champions. In 2022 she was announced as the NSW RAS Rural Achiever winner.

She began her leadership journey with Young Farming Champions as a Cultivate intern in 2020, before taking on the position of secretary for the Youth Voices Leadership Team in 2021. She continues her commitment in 2022.

“The reason for me sticking my hand up again to be a part of the Young Farming Champions Leadership Team is I want to give back to an organisation that had given me so many development opportunities to further myself in my career. YFC has given me the confidence to take on leadership roles and speak my ideas with purpose.”


Jessica Fearnley


Chloe Dutschke is all over the world of wool. She has mustered 10,000 acre paddocks, worked in shearing sheds, travelled to Hong Kong to learn about wool’s role in fashion and held the position of senior station hand on a pastoral property in NSW’s Western Riverina. Her dedication to Australia’s wool industry was rewarded in 2019 when she was named the joint winner of the Peter Westblade Scholarship.

In 2022 Chloe’s career changed direction when she accepted a role with the National Farmers Federation as the Training and Career Development Officer for the government funded program AgCAREERSTART, a gap year program developed for young people to kick start their career in farming.

Throughout her career Chloe has been a Young Farming Champion.

“Joining the leadership team was an easy decision. I love being part of the YFC and I took on this role to create change and drive new opportunities for our program. I have learnt many skills and techniques through the YFC program and I would like to take these skill sets to the next level, flex my leadership muscles and to learn how to mentor future leaders.”


Chloe Dutschke


Emily May, a graduate agronomist with Elders, brings a unique perspective to Young Farming Champions with a solid background in peri-urban agriculture. Growing up on the outskirts of Sydney she has first-hand experience with the rural/city fringe and after working on small farms and market gardens was inspired to study a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of New England.

Since joining Young Farming Champions in 2019 Emily has used learned skills to champion peri-urban agriculture on radio as well as becoming a board member for Hawkesbury Harvest. Her agronomy position with Elders allows her to further deepen her agricultural experience.

2022 marks Emily’s transition to the leadership team for Young Farming Champions.

“As part of the leadership team I would like to encourage and support my fellow YFC so we can all confidently share our career journeys. This allows us to be better mentors and role models for others wishing to kick start a career in agriculture while promoting the industry we are so proud of. This ability to give back to Action for Agriculture while honing my own leadership skills is a fantastic opportunity.”


Emily May


Katherine Bain grew up on her family’s sheep property in the Western District of Victoria and has extended her interest in agriculture across Australia and across the world. She spent a year on exchange in Japan and travelled through Europe before completing a Bachelor of Agribusiness at Marcus Oldham College in Geelong. After university, she worked on a cattle ranch in Canada and then returned to Australian soils as a Business Analyst for Paraway Pastoral in Orange.

With this wide experience behind her and a firm grasp of financial and production management, Katherine has now returned to the family farm to work alongside her parents and build on her practical farming skills.


Katherine Bain


Dione Howard is a District Veterinarian with Riverina Local Land Services based in Wagga Wagga, NSW. She was named the inaugural Wool Producer’s Youth Ambassador in 2019, has completed the Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Company Directors Course and is the 2022 National Rural Ambassador.

Throughout her career Dione has been a dedicated Young Farming Champion, giving her time generously to support others. She has been an active member of the YFC Leadership Team since its inception in 2018, previously holding the positions of Mentor Leader, Innovation Leader, Vice Chair and immediate past Chair.

“By remaining on the committee, I am hoping to support the inbound Leadership Team members to step into leadership roles and take ownership of the strategy developed at the end of 2021, which sees us move to a modern ‘flat’ hierarchy in 2022. Personally, I am looking forward to learning the skills to transition effectively out of a committee, passing on knowledge and skills to hand over to the next leaders of our wonderful team.”


Dione Howard