Agriculture a bonanza of opportunity. Lets empower our youth to grab the opportunities with both hands

Yesterday thanks to NSW Landcare I was able to share my journey to join the movement to empower our youth to create the future we all deserve

Landcare Stage.jpg

It was definitely a lifetime highlight to be sharing the stage with two Young Farming Champion alumni Josh Gilbert and Anika Molesworth. There were a number of requests from the audience for access to our presentations. My blog opens this opportunity to share part of my story and my key messages from the presentation

_2017 Landcare Conference Lynne Strong 16_9 _Page_01


All of us are in this room because we share a special affinity with the planet and its future.

The question I would like to ask you is

How do we harness others who share this same passion? And when do – What is it we want our movement to do?

I know what I want us to do. I want us to invest in our youth

_2017 Landcare Conference Lynne Strong 16_9 _Page_02

My mission is to build a community of collaborators with visionary leaders in schools, in government, in farming industries and in business to set up our youth now for the future.

Investing in our youth will secure the future

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Collaboration is the key to success. If we exclude perspectives, we limit possibilities.. . We need everyone’s talent and voice if we are going to create a better world.

And if we are going to drive change and a new era of collaboration in agriculture – it’s going to take a lot of courage. We are all going to have put our hard hats on and be in it for the long haul.

I have a burning desire to provide opportunities for our young people to thrive in business and life

_2017 Landcare Conference Lynne Strong 16_9 _Page_04 Youth are the future of agriculture.  Investing in our youth will secure the future

Because I know that this will

  • make a difference to young people,
  • Make a difference to rural Australia,
  • Make a difference to agriculture and
  • It will make difference to the future of Australia itself.”

I am excited that today you have given me the opportunity to share my journey to join the movement so together we can empower young people to create the bright future we all deserve

I am a 6th generation dairy farmer. I come from a long line of dairy farmers. I was lucky enough to grow up on a mixed farming operation at Cowra in Central NSW.

I spent the first 25 years of my career as a community pharmacist.

This gave me opportunities to

  • Gain business acumen
  • marketing experience
  • consumer insights
  • capacity to build strong customer/business relationships

Returning to the farm in 2001 I was excited by the science and technology. I love the genuineness and the camaraderie of people in rural and regional Australia

However  I soon realised I had a very limited world view of agriculture beyond the dairy industry and our farmgate. I am very confident I am not the only Australian farmer in this situation. I could see huge opportunities for our farmers to gain the business acumen. marketing skills and consumer insights, I had in pharmacy. And pivotally the capacity (AND DESIRE) to build strong consumer/producer relationships

It’s not easy to build farmer/consumer relationships these days is it. Unless you set up a stall at the farmers markets the modern supply chain model means farmers and their consumers are getting further and further apart

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So, we must come up with innovative ways to close the loop, reach out and share our stories

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Australian agriculture hasn’t been traditionally good at sharing its story. Has it?

Yet Australian farmers have a great story to tell

We live and farm in a complex landscape, and by world standards it is a hard and unforgiving landscape.But Australian agriculture adapts.

  • We innovate
  • We research
  • We manage for best practice environmental and animal wellbeing outcomes
  • We care for our communities and for the opportunity to provide the best food in the world to the people of the world.

I could see so many opportunities to tell these stories and

It makes good business sense to open the lines of communication and information sharing. Otherwise how to we gain the knowledge and insights to ensure we are delivering what our customers want

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This kick-started my new journey of advocacy and education.

One of the most important things I learnt in pharmacy was


If I was going to be a story teller for our farm, our farm had to be the image we wanted the community to see

 Winning the Bob Hawke Award in 2012 allowed me to find my tribe – a cohort of people who both shared my vision and who were acting or wanted to act but didn’t have the tools and support networks. This was the start of my bigger, broader journey in agriculture.

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I was confident that what I learnt through my Clover Hill Dairies experience and the Bob Hawke award journey could be applied to the broader agricultural context.

Our on-farm success was a direct result of surrounding ourselves with people we could learn from and collaborate with and had on speed dial when we needed them and they had us on speed dial when the needed us

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I knew collaboration was the key to successful leadership and the future of agriculture. Together we can build a better food future.

AGRICULTURE needs to learn how to collaborate with different stakeholders.

  • Be that with government
  • Our urban counterparts
  • Our fellow farming industries or
  • with our supply chain partners.

_2017 Landcare Conference Lynne Strong 16_9 _Page_20

 Young people understand the importance of collaboration. What they lack are the skills sets to harness others who need a little push. Our young people want to learn how to influence, and how engage. Our young people want to be confident, independent thinkers

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To support them we need seamless professional development programs. Programs that are be flexible, so our young people can dip in and out depending on their life and professional context at the time. Not everybody’s life progresses at the same rate or in the same linear fashion.

 For the past ten years the Art4agriculture team has been collaborating with others who share our vision to invest in youth to  secure the future. Our collaborators come from all walks of life. Philanthropy, government, NGO’s, business and farming industries


We design and deliver programs that

  • connect farmers and the community through partnerships between young people in agriculture and young people living in urban landscapes
  • using education, art and technology and
  • Encouraging and developing dynamic two-way conversations

 _2017 Landcare Conference Lynne Strong 16_9 _Page_23

All of our programs are designed to put young people at the centre of the learning experience be they in agriculture or in schools

The Archibull Prize is a project based learning program for schools. It attracts innovative and creative teachers looking for a challenge. And their students rise to the challenge in an awe inspiring fashion.

The Young Farming Champions attracts our best and brightest young agricultural professionals with a burning desire to share their story, their ideas and motivations with their host schools

The program provides them with the skills to share their story with the students. help the students  investigate and reflect on the complex challenges facing agriculture like Climate Action, biosecurity, food and fibre waste and biodiversity. The Young Farming Champions also inspire young people to consider careers in the agriculture sector

What seemed like a straightforward concept at the outset has become a trigger for so much growth and contribution. It lights the fire, then those participants, once sparked, seem to carry their own torch.

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Josh Gilbert and Anika Molesworth are shining examples of this. 

I believe in this program. It is such a huge catalyst for change. This is the reason we work with young people –  It’s the perfect place to start

 Imagine, if 20 schools and government agencies and forward-thinking businesses in each state partnered with our farming industries each year

That’s 10,000-young people in each state, that’s 70,000-young people across Australia who could be inspired to be stewards for the landscape and the agricultural sector.

 Investing in  our youth will secure the future

 The world is calling out for us to have a COLLABORATIVE mindset.

The challenge is how do we foster


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Collaboration needs courage. It means taking risks.

It means putting aside differences and finding commonalities.

 Young people do this naturally: they seek connection not division.

 While we teach and encourage we can also learn

 Next time you are faced with a complex challenge, don’t go it alone. Reach out and seek a collaborative, collective solution.

Next time you feel concerned about the future of agriculture, think – how can I support young people to lead the way?

Encourage them to tell their stories, to step up and do a leadership program, to become the voice for the future of the sector

Because they do make a difference.

Imagine if we pooled ideas, resources, and skills across industries and communities?


 It is an absolute bonanza of opportunity.

You can read Anika’s presentation 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

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