Lessons to learn from the young

It is very easy to be negative about what we arent doing but its so much more exciting to showcase a job well done

Let’s use 2013 Cotton Young Farming Champion Ben Egan as a great example of this.

Ben recently gave this introductory speech to the first 2014 Young Farming Champions workshop on the weekend. The brief was ‘share your story and your passions’. Now Ben has been through the program already and did know what we were looking for and there is no denying Ben is entertaining (and on reflection that black eye from rugby game the night before should have prompted me to film him from the other side)

Click the photo or access this link to hear Ben’s speech


Ben wasn’t the only one in the room proud of what he does and excited to be able to share it. We had 20 young people in the room from 5 different industries with the same fire in their bellies. Sadly there were no dairy farmers in the room to be inspired by their peers.

Ben has also spent the last 12 months with the support of his family and friends and the amazing technology that is the GoPro camera collecting photographs and footage  to create a video to share with the schools he will visit as part of the Archibull Prize (and the world) that espouses his love for farming, for cotton and a career in agriculture

I loaded Ben’s Young Farming Champion’s video yesterday and its already had 400 hits on YouTube – its a masterpiece. Click the photo or this link to see this video that is sure to go viral


But then its not surprising Ben is such a superstar at such a young age. Ben comes from an industry where my generation set the example that needs to be set if we are to change the way the world perceives agriculture

What a great example is cotton industry leader Barb Grey who is supporting and mentoring another 2013 Cotton Young Farming Champion Liz Lobsey who is running the Next Gen in Cotton Forum at the Cotton Conference in August

Here is the blurb from the website –

Next Gen In Cotton Forum to Make Its Mark at the Australian Cotton Conference


The Australian Cotton Conference will cater for its younger demographic through a new Next Gen in Cotton program aimed to ensure the voices of up and coming leaders and industry participants are heard.

According to Conference Chairman Barb Grey, the Australian cotton industry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to taking up new technologies and developing more sustainable and economical ways of operating.
“The business environment for growers and those who supply and service our industry is moving fast and changing rapidly,” she said.
“It’s essential the next generation of industry players are involved in the future development of our industry and even more essential that the next generation take some ownership of the future direction of the industry.
“We wanted to provide a forum to allow this to happen as part of our Conference program and I’m delighted that a young agronomist on our committee, Liz Lobsey, has taken the running on this,” Barb said.
The Next Gen in Cotton Forum is FREE to attend, aimed at people aged 35 and under and will:
• Recap the industry’s Vision 2029:  “Carefully Grown, Naturally World’s Best’, and determine how Next Gen can have a positive impact on our vision,
• Provide tools for Next Gen to better communicate effectively on personal and professional levels
• Provide an opportunity for Next Gen to create networks and build on established connections
Darling Downs agronomist Liz Lobsey is leading the charge, and pulling together an interesting program that will deliver on the objectives above.
“We’re still in the planning phase and what we do know is that the forum will be held on Wednesday 6 August and include a breakfast and facilitated workshop session,” Liz said.
“The Next Gen breakfast forum will deliver a unique experience and provide an environment where younger people are able to speak freely with like-minded peers. We want those who have chosen to attend the Next Gen in Cotton Forum to walk away with a spring in their steps, and with a fire in their bellies about the exciting future of the cotton industry,” she said.

I know if I was government or an overseas investor this is one industry I would want to talk to.

Just to prove my point the cotton industry has just released their CottonWolf video to promote their conference. Check it out here It’s outrageous and Barb does a wolf diva cameo at the end

Barb Grey Wolf Diva

Wolf Diva – Barb Grey

Oh my goodness is that CEO I spot on the left.

Adam Kay

Adam Kay wrapped in cotton.  Could it get any better. Too delicious for words   

For budding Ben’s out there keen to tell the great stories of their industry some pointers from Justine MacKay can be found here

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

4 thoughts on “Lessons to learn from the young”

  1. Well said.
    Keeping the young workers in our industry has been a focus of mine due to some good luck gaining a bursary through Dairy NSW.
    The opportunity came with a need to give a presentation later in the year about this subject.
    I had a look around some very big farms in Victoria. I was disappointed in the turnover rate of staff and in a lot of cases that backpackers were used instead of Australian workers as the locals wouldn’t do the job. Even some of the people who had been there for a while said they’d never want a farm of their own.
    I had an opportunity this week to watch a large local dairy at work for three days and have figured out why they have such a massive staff turn over – a story for another day!
    But the biggest reason I can find is that our skills are undervalued. I have highly skilled people and business owners look down their noses at me all the time. They don’t realize how much skill is required to run a business that turns over a substantial amount of money every year. Particularly one that relies so much on the weather!
    There is more to dairy farming than putting cups on cows.
    I have a blog half written (time constraints) about this so I wont repeat myself too much but that’s what we should focus on for a while – how skilled our farmers are! It wouldn’t just promote our industry in a good light, I believe it would boost the farmers who undervalue themselves and we all know we could use a pat on the back!
    keep up the good work.

    1. Yes you are so right dairy is such an exciting industry. the innovation, the technology the brilliant minds in the industry but we have this communication culture that is toxic

      1. I have been guilty of that myself. Only because I didn’t understand the industry and was in a black hole myself. Like you said, more focus on the positive is what’s needed.

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