AS an emerging influencer in the grains industry, developing leadership and advocacy skills is a necessity, which is why West Australian farmer Lisa Jeitz applied for GrainGrowers' exclusive Grains Social Leadership Program.
Now in its third year, GSLP is designed so growers can collaboratively build social leadership skills, including confidently engaging in critical discussions about food production in the media, with their peers and in the wider community.
For her part, Ms Jeitz grew up on a mixed farm in Borden before studying agricultural science at The University of Western Australia, working as a research agronomist in Esperance and as a farm consultant with RSM Bird Cameron and Reed Richardson.
Sixteen years ago she moved back to a farm, this time a 6500 hectare cropping operation at Cascade, with her husband Kirk, where as chief financial officer she manages all things financial and administrative, including risk management, grain pricing and human resources.
Having been in agriculture her entire life, Ms Jeitz said she loved the sense of belonging that she derived from being a part of a rural community.
"I love being in primary production, being at the beginning of the food chain and producing something really tangible," Ms Jeitz said.
"I have been looking at doing some personal development - I'm really interested in social licence and had been wondering how I could and if I should contribute to that space.
"I saw this course opportunity and I know that GrainGrowers has a reputation for high quality training, so I applied for that reason."
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As part of the GSLP, participants work with a small, bespoke group of individuals who are passionate about the industry, believe they can create real change and can foster understanding across different communities.
Only 10 grain farmers are selected to be on the program each year, with a focus on further developing high-level leadership skills and honing advocacy skills with the confidence to engage on all levels about modern grain production.
The GSLP aims to build confidence in communicating industry issues and sharing industry success stories, as well as further develop stakeholder engagement skills and techniques.
For Ms Jeitz, her motivation to apply for the program came down to a desire to understand more about social licence, including how to reach people and what kind of story telling techniques are most effective.
"If we're going to continue to have the capacity and social licence to continue farming without heavily-imposed government controls, then we need to get the urban community to be onboard with what we do," she said.
"There is a big disconnect in that understanding - it is not the supermarket that provides people with food, it's the entire ag sector starting with farmers and I'd like to improve the communication and understanding going both ways.
"We need consumers to understand that we're the first step in the food production process and that every Australian uses our products three times a day, at least."
As part of the program, the participants focus on social media and marketing, an area which Ms Jeitz would like to upskill, as well as honing their own authentic story within the agricultural sector that can be used as a way of communicating with the urban community.
"It was really exciting to be selected for the program as it's such a great opportunity," Ms Jeitz said.
"I get to hear and learn from producers from across Australia and expand my network with like-minded growers, within the first week I had already made great new connections.
"The quality of the information and the method of the delivery is nothing short of exceptional - they're challenging us while being really supportive and it's one of the best courses I have done for many years."
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