TWO young women with a passion for Australian agriculture have been chosen to help lead the way for the next generation of farmers farm.
Art4Agriculture, in conjunction with the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, unveiled Jess Lehmann and Nellie Evans as Young Farming Champions for 2017, following in the footsteps of alumni such as 2017 Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the Year Josh Gilbert, and 2015 Young Australian Farmer of the Year Anika Molesworth.
Born into a family of cotton luminaries in grandfather Vic Melbourne and father Chris Lehmann, Jess Lehmann has a genetic attraction to rural Australia.
She grew up on the family farm at Narrabri and with her father’s words of support ringing in her ears set on a path of innovation and agricultural research.
Working with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, The University of New England and the Australian Research Council and learning from mentors along the way, Jess said she believes that environmentally sustainable and ethical agriculture is crucial .
“When I reflect on the work I am doing and the work I’ve done, I am always amazed by the various people and bodies who contribute to our agricultural sector,” Jess says.
“Whether it’s farmers, contractors, researchers, scientists, policy developers, or agronomists; everyone is a part of the overall equation and everyone will benefit from future agricultural research.”
Jess will be joined as a Young Farming Champion by Nellie Evans, a University of Sydney fourth year agricultural science student.
Nellie has taken a circuitous route to the world of cotton agronomy, studying landscape architecture before launching into her new challenge – “the one I should have always started out with’” she says – when she found cotton on the plains of Warren, Gunnedah and Bourke.
“The cotton industry is really at the forefront of research and development as it faces a future of climate, social and market based challenges,” Nellie says.
The Cotton Research and Development Corporation said it was pleased to begin its association with the initiative.
“We believe it is important to share positive agricultural stories with urban Australians to improve their understanding of sustainable fibre production, and in turn improve our own understanding of urban consumers,” research and development general manager Dr Ian Taylor said.
“The program has been very successful in achieving these goals by training young people in the industry to speak confidently and charismatically to school students, the public and peers.”
All Young Farming Champions attend a series of workshops to teach the skills and knowledge to lead agriculture’s next generation and go into schools with The Archibull Prize.