Can we teach courage?

6E6D1DEB-BF9D-400E-805F-AF839E7941C0.JPGWith the National Farmers Federation about to launch their Telling our Story Initiative, lets not kid ourselves it takes a lot of courage to stand up and share your story. You can listen to other people tell you how to do it until the cows come home, doing it yourself is something else again.

Having spent the last ten years sourcing funding for Picture You in Agriculture to support young people in agriculture tell their story I am always on high alert looking for others leading the way we can partner with.

I get so excited when I read an application for the Young Farming Champions program that tells us they are a Heywire Alumni. Why? Because Heywire has nailed giving young people in rural and regional Australia a voice and wow dont they use their voices powerfully

I am a huge admirer of this program because it undertands the leadership development journey thay young people require that agriculture in the main hasnt quite grasped yet. We have made some well meaning token gestures inviting young people in agriculture to the decision making table but in the main beyond a few shining examples agriculture struggles to hand over the reins and actually give them a voice.

Here is the super simple version of the highly successful Heywire model.

  1. Young people in rural and regional Australia tell their story.
  2. If your story is selected you are invited to a week long summitt in Canberra where you work with ABC producers to have your story heard on the ABC.
  3. You also get to work with other young people who share your passion to develop a project that makes regional Australia a better pleace for young people with over $100,000 up for grabs to implement your project ideas.

A lot of other great stuff happens at the week long summit

But its what happens next that makes this program so special. Remember there is $100,000 up for grabs to put these young people’s ideas into action and it how the grantees are selected that lights my fire.

The funding for the grants is coordinated by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal who invite and mentor an alumnus from the Heywire Trailblazer  program to help them short list the grant recipients. Intern Ashley Eadon blogged about her experience here

“I have given my honest opinion on the applications as a Heywire winner, previous grant recipient, but most importantly, as a young person. I can now safely say, that after reading over 100,000 words in applications that I have an insight into the philanthropic side of grants that most 20-year-olds don’t. It was evident that the strongest applications had involved youth in the grant writing process. Key take away: when youth share their ideas and feedback on projects targeting them, and this perspective is valued, the projects are more likely to succeed. Overall, there were many strong applications put forward (some completed solely by youth). Once these projects are implemented, they will serve to create positive change in areas of mental health, racism, safety, employment and ‘adulting’.” says Ashley Eadon

The next step in the process also involves young people with the grant recipients being selected from the short list by a panel of alumni who have come through the program.

It gets better! The grant winners are announced at a ceremony at ABC Melbourne MC’d by Heywire Alumni. What a joy it was to attend the latest annoucement of grants and do a bit of amateur filming of the event. ( next time I will sit a bit closer)

Look what happens when you guve young people a voice – listen to Chanceline sing around 10.50 mins – magnificent

Wait there is more!!! Heywire Alumni also get a role in selecting the story winners for the following year. This is called giving young people agency (see footnote ). BTW I also filmed the speeches by MD of the ABC, CEO of FRRR and Minister McKenzie which were all very impressive. I am very confident, like me, everyone in the room remembered the impact the young people had on them. My gut feeling is if we adopted a similar ethos in agriculture we could change the culture from despair to hope overnight!

Brene Brown is 100% confident you can teach people courage and so am I – lets do it Agriculture



Agency in context – Agency is the power people have to think for themselves and act in ways that shape their experiences and life trajectories. The opposite of agency is Learned Helplessness

Heywire stories featured in this blog

1. Ivan Reyes

2. Chanceline Kakule

3,  Lauren Paynter






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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