When I came back to the farm in 2001 from a career in pharmacy I was quick to realise milking cows was not my forte. I wanted to contribute beyond underwriting the business financially when cash flow was short. In the Australian dairy industry that happens far too often and far too often it has nothing to do with poor business management skills.
I decided I would use the marketing and consumer insights skills I learnt in pharmacy to see if I could find a tribe of people who shared my passion to ensure that the product farmers produce was genuinely valued by everyone in the supply chain.
Interestingly enough that tribe came from outside the dairy industry and they were all under 40. After 15 years that tribe is growing exponentially and I couldn’t be more proud. To be honest it couldn’t come at a better time. My advocacy role was seriously starting to impact on my health and what is extra special the young people in the tribe could see that and wow have they stepped up.
Australia has a leadership problem. Far too many of our politicians are a disgrace. To address our leadership problem the tribe of young people I have surrounded myself with have reached out to other bright young minds in the agriculture sector ( and there is no shortage of them) to create a new agriculture grass roots youth led leadership model. Its called Cultivate- Empowering Influencers.
Initially it is a partnership between the Youth Voices Leadership Team of the Young Farming Champions and the NFF2030 leaders who advocate under the banner of This is Aus Ag . That partnership will grow. Its a model based on collaboration. Its a model for the bright future of agriculture and this country as a whole.
However not everything is rosy – its time my generation stepped up. I have found agriculture’s squeaky wheels are determined that anybody who advocates on their behalf must be resilient and the friendly fire to help you do that can be vicious. Agriculture has far too many people who sit on the sidelines and criticise. If you don’t think the people who lead your organisation are delivering then do something about it besides whinge.
Lets start with investing in our young people to ensure they have the capacity to lead within the highly complex supply chain vagaries of the 21st century.
What skills do they need?.
Do we have programs that meet those needs?.
Do we have the support networks and the people within those networks who can mentor, inspire, coach and connect them with other like minded thinkers?
If not invest your valuable time ensuring we do. Decide what your legacy will be. Are the people in your tribe supporting a positive future for agriculture or they contributing to the friendly fire.
Are you part of a youth group that loves to collaborate with other bright young minds?
FYI The Youth Voices Leadership team and their collaborating partners are also working on a model for policy development immersion workshops and mentor support. They also have a number of new advocacy programs and school education programs incubating. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are all in this together and we are #StrongerTogether