A game-changing workshop for our AgriFutures™ Horizon scholars and Rural Women’s Award winners


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AgriFutures Horizon Scholars participating in the annual workshop

How is the game of agriculture changing? This was the driving question at this year’s professional development workshop that saw two of AgriFutures Australia’s hallmark People and Leadership Programs integrate for the first time.

Thirty-six students on the AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholarship Program travelled from all corners of Australia to gather in Wagga Wagga, NSW to participate in a four-day workshop that aimed to develop their leadership skills and promote game-changing thinking in the agricultural space.

The scholars were fortunate to meet and learn from the seven state and territory 2018 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award (RWA) winners whilst the group engaged in joint activities throughout the workshop.

Jasmine Whitten, a Horizon scholar studying a Bachelor of Agribusiness in her final year, and sponsored by Australian Eggs, said working alongside the AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award winners was a great opportunity.

“The Rural Women’s Award winners are absolute power houses, achieving remarkable things. These ladies are role models for me and by having the opportunity to talk and learn from them, highlighted for me various pathways that I can follow to make a difference in my rural communities,” said Ms Whitten.

The combined group heard from several key note speakers including RWA Alumni Ms Edwina Beveridge, CEO of Ceres Tag Mr David Smith, Sefton’s PR Ms Robbie Sefton, AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, Mr John Harvey, and National Farmers Federation CEO, Mr Tony Mahar.

Dubbed the ‘movers and shakers’ of the next generation in agriculture the scholars participated in a ‘Talking 2030’ pitch session with students pitching to a panel in a shark-tank style. The panel included Tony Mahar, David Smith, AgriFutures Australia’s Jennifer Medway and RGTC Group Director Di Somerville.

As part of the AgriFutures™ Horizon Scholarship Program, scholars are paired with an industry sponsor that aligns with their career aspirations and industry experience. The workshop allows the sponsors and students to meet face to face and discuss further opportunities within their industry.

Along with their sponsor activities, the scholars participated in several field trips to local businesses that aligned with the key theme of ‘Game Changers’, these included Riverina Oils and Bio Energy, Vetafarm, Coolamon Cheese and Ferrero Rocher’s local hazelnut farm.

First year scholar and Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) sponsored student, Charlie Bergmeier said meeting like-minded people from all over the country, and being able to pool their ideas and experiences was a unique opportunity.

“The program allowed us as young leaders in the agricultural industry to meet and discuss the future of agriculture. This is extremely important in ensuring the growth and sustainability of the industry into the future. Being able to witness and partake in such an event was priceless, and getting the opportunity to meet and network with the Rural Women’s Award winners really reinforced the impact that discussing and developing ideas can have on an industry,” said Mr Bergmeier.

Outside of the workshop activities, AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award winners spent the remainder of the week fine tuning their own pitches with professional development from Robbie Sefton and Roisin McCann (ABC) in preparation for the AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award national selection panel, which took place on the final day of the workshop.

The seven state and territory AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award winners had the opportunity to network and learn from each other with projects ranging across infrastructure and engineering, farm safety, product development, succession planning, training and coaching, compliance, and breaking into international markets.

South Australian, AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award winner, Alex Thomas said the cross-pollination of ideas between the two program groups was contagious and set an incredible new benchmark for the future success of agriculture.

“Fruitful collaboration between the Rural Women’s Award winners and the Horizon Scholars demonstrated that unification across an otherwise fragmented industry, is entirely possible, and entirely necessary,” said Ms Thomas.

The national winner and runner up of the 2018 AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award will be announced at the Gala Dinner on Monday, 15 October 2018 at Parliament House in Canberra. You can purchase tickets online to attend the AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award Gala Dinner.

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