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Love of the land

Saturday, 20th October, 2018

The Western Landcare Youth Network with host (centre) Pip Courtney at the 2018 National Landcare Conference and Awards. PICTURE: Martha Gouniai The Western Landcare Youth Network with host (centre) Pip Courtney at the 2018 National Landcare Conference and Awards. PICTURE: Martha Gouniai

By Myles Burt

Students from the Landcare Youth Network have grown a new love for agriculture after attending the National Landcare Conference. 

Five students from the Youth Network travelled over to Brisbane where they took part in field trips, listened to speeches and networked with leaders in the agricultural industry.

The group was even sought out by Landcare CEO Dr Shane Norrish, Landcare Chairman Doug Humann AM and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud for a chat and a photo.

As the Western Landcare Youth Network focusing on training students’ years 14 and upwards in agricultural practices.

Founder Martha Gouniai said with the current generational gap in agriculture, to bring her students from the Youth Network was a great opportunity for her students to see a vast scope of the industry, and an eye opener for a lot of attending industry professionals.

“We do see a lot of older people in the agricultural sphere,” Ms Gouniai said.

“So it’s exciting for people to see young people so passionate and already beginning to build their careers and the way they want to impact the industry.

“A lot of people reached out to the participants, wanted to take photos with them and wanted them to write for their agricultural newsletters and things like that.”

Ms Gouniai said her invitation to speak at the conference spurred the decision to make sure some of her youth participants were able to attend as well.

“To give the young people an opportunity to have their own voices heard,” she said.

“That’s one of the primary purposes of the Western Landcare Youth Network.

“Young people are going to inherit this world and they have to be able to have their say on what this world looks like.

“So providing a platform for their voices to be heard, for their ideas to be acknowledged and for their concerns to be recognised is really important.

“So, any opportunity to have the Youth Network be able to represent themselves we’ll take.”

All Youth Network participants were offered the chance to attend the conference. Five of them took the initiative to fundraise enough money to make the trip and afford accommodation in Brisbane.

One participant’s mother took time off work to drive the group up to Brisbane and back.

“Without the effort of the community and their families behind them, we probably wouldn’t have had that number of participants or potentially any,” Ms Gouniai said.

“So that’s a real testament to how this program has been able to engage the entire community and the families of the young people.”

Youth Network participants left the conference inspired from hearing professionals speak about topics ranging from sustainable agriculture to stories about female representation in the industry.

Ms Gouniai said she was incredibly happy to see her students experience a wider perspective of the industry on a national level.

“I think what they took from it more than the content that they gained is another opportunity for them to step outside of the sphere of Broken Hill and see that the opportunities are limitless for them,” Ms Gouniai said.

“We want them to stay here, that’s the whole idea, to use their expertise and experience in our region, which they definitely will.

“But there’s so much opportunity for them, the world is opening its arms up to them.

“It’s only this time last year I launched the Youth Network and for it to have grown so much shows the demand that young people are seeking programs like this.

“They want to be engaged, they aren’t just lazy, sitting around and bored.

“They’re waiting for us to offer them something and we need to meet our youth halfway.”

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