"Dear Samantha, thank you for your application unfortunately you have been unsuccessful on this occasion".
In 1999 I received my first letter of rejection for a cadet journalist. They came in hard and fast - 25 rejection letters in total.
Not sure why I kept them but I'm glad I did as it's reminded me that I never gave up on what I was passionate about.
I was like a dog with a bone forging a career in journalism. And man has it been, and continues to be, one hellava ride.
It shows that no matter how many set backs there are, it's always worth it to keep fighting for what you want.
It's a bit like the past couple of years in agriculture. This year kicked off with a bang. But we were still feeling the kick in the ribs from the drought.
We were kicked again by a mouse plague.
We were kicked by floods.
We were kicked by a labour shortage crisis.
We were kicked repeatedly by COVID-19.
And we were kicked with more floods.
But against all the obstacles and challenges producers faced, they kicked back. And shoulder to shoulder The Land was right there to take up the fight.
What did we do in this challenging year when we wanted to provide readers with cracking good new stories? We came up with campaigns that left the whole industry talking.
At a time when the agricultural industry has never looked so bright, with record livestock prices, bumper crops and endless job opportunities, we turned the spotlight on the young faces shaping the industry's future in the Ones to Watch feature.
From the 14-year-old woolgrower to record real estate agents and even up-and-coming ring announcers, The Land uncovered 35 of the brightest minds in agriculture that will be leading the industry in years to come.
They were all under the age of 35, they shared a passion for the industry, which meant they didn't think twice when still working late at night or cramming another role onto their jam-packed resume.
They were also people who had not been making the headlines but were behind the scenes succeeding in their respective fields.
The show-stopping cover featuring Hayden Chappel from Texas Angus went viral across all social media platforms with even his parents posting: "We are very proud of Hayden...he is an integral part of our business".
The Land is a voice for the bush in NSW and advocates for its readers, through news campaigns, asking the hard questions of political and industry representatives as well helping readers stay informed while covering events like Sydney Royal and hundreds of livestock sales across NSW.
This year we too faced challenges and The Land team partnered with its readers by launching the #viewfromtheland on social media so our journalists could help tell their stories when we could not get on farm due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This call-to-arms saw us inundated, where we used images across print and digital, with some making covers.
Let's not forget those campaigns:
It's not often you become a story. But when floods hit my home-town in March, that was exactly the case.
Despite being knee-deep in water and covered in cow dung from shifting cattle to higher ground, the newshound in me had my phone at hand to snap photos and record interviews with farmers who were in the same boat (some quite literally).
Our town became isolated and I was called on by my community to lend a hand where I found myself on the back of a trailer parked in floodwater, in the pouring rain, waiting for medical supplies and food to be brought to us by boat.
Then six simple words changed everything for my family: "Yeah mate, just bring them up". An agent had been helping organise agistment, fielding calls from western farmers who just two years earlier had nothing to offer but dust.
They had reached out with the offer of a safe haven for stock, returning the favour to their coastal counterparts now the seasonal tables had turned.
While a cup of tea won't wash away the challenges of 2020-21, we can still take that moment to look back on the year and realise we've all made it through.
And as I re-file those rejection letters, I'm reminded of the changes that have occurred in more than two decades, as a different kind of letter pops up in my email inbox.
"Dear Samantha, we love The Land, I wait for my newsletter every day to get the latest news."
When an 80-year-old reader takes the time tells you this, you know you are doing something right - and it's a job worth fighting for. So I'm glad, like our producers, I never gave up.
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