CWFS Women and Youth in Agriculture Conference

Pathways To Change

The CWFS Women and Youth in Agriculture ‘Pathways to Change’ Conference was held on Friday, 21 October 2016 at the Condobolin Ag Station and proved a fabulous day for networking, catching up with friends and gaining valuable information.  With stunning weather and an array of high calibre speakers, the Conference attracted over 85 women, sponsors, community members and agri-advisors.

The project’s aim is to upskill and increase awareness of sustainability in agriculture by encouraging women & youth to participate more fully in all aspects of this industry. The major goal for the 2016 Women and Youth in Agriculture Conference was to showcase the variety of different pathways to change. Speakers focused on how they were able to enact change in their own lives and how it relates to an agricultural context.

Danica Leys, CEO CWA


Danica Leys, CEO CWA, opened the Conference and set the tone for a wonderful and informative day. Danica previously held senior roles at NSW Farmers and has an integral knowledge of agribusiness. Her role with the Country Women’s Association (CWA) is to oversee operations with a focus on growing memberships and developing new strategic alliances. CWA is a powerful lobbying, advocacy and fundraising organization with a huge country base. Danica is aware of the power of social media and the importance of communication within isolated regional communities. The key point of her presentation was rural connectivity and how to advocate for better services in a positive and proactive way.

Robbie Sefton, Sefton & Associates


Next presenter was Robbie Sefton from Sefton & Associates who was very informative on both the business and personal strengths you can bring to your business. It became clear very quickly why she was awarded the Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Woman of Influence Awards 2015. Robbie’s dynamic presentation covered many topics from communications, staff and personal wellbeing (with a number of funny anecdotes!). Her lasting advice – back yourself; surround yourself with a core group of people you can trust and knowing and using your personal strengths.

Fiona Schofield, Fresh Fodder Foods & Milliner


Fiona Schofield, milliner and co-owner of Fresh Fodder foods, was our next speaker. As a working mum and business owner, she told many endearing and inspirational stories of her life in the fashion trade and starting a new catering business with her husband. These stories resonated with so many in the audience; that is, sometimes you just can’t plan where your life takes you. Her main points – learn your trade and know what the consumer wants; believe in yourself and don’t be afraid of change and the key to growing a business is communication. Fiona generously donated some of her famous Fresh Fodder dips and they were passed around to a most appreciative audience.

Sarah Russell French, Dow AgroSciences


Sarah Russell French, Dow AgroSciences was the next presenter. Sarah has had an amazing career for her age (yes, she is very young!) and we all wondered how does she do it? Her numerous academic achievements are just the start; there is also the sabbatical in Kenya where she worked with HIV, small holder farmers and on a WASH program (water sanitation program) in Western Kenya. Her current focus is serving people, the environment & the broader agriculture industry. Sarah’s lessons learned include; patience and making the most with the tools that you have, learning from other cultures and need for research into seeds & fertilizers for better crop production.

Sarah Curry, Majors Mulch


Next was Sarah Curry from Majors Mulch. Sarah is farmer, agronomist, mother, business owner, entrepreneur and gardener; a multi-talented woman who has many roles, like so many on the land. Sarah’s passion is healthy soils; whether for sustainable farming or for the garden. Sarah spoke about her development of a new innovative mulch product that had many of the crowd interested. Sarah’s hands-on soil masterclass was very popular, engaging and informative.

A Few Action Shots

Other Sessions Included

Helen McMillan, CWFS


Helen McMillan, our very own CWFS Trials Agronomist, spoke on the current CWFS trials and research, including soil acidity and overdependence on agrochemicals. Her informative presentation was particularly timely with the recent flooding causing pasture and crop concerns.

CWFS Lime Project

Helen McMillan is the project leader for the GRDC funded Lime project. For further details on the lime project click the lime project link.

Michael Vaughan (ADM), Steve Collins (GrainCorp)

Michael Vaughan, ADM and Steve Collins, GrainCorp gave comprehensive talks on the finer points of grain marketing for this season. Michael gave a presentation on the marketing choices available to us and an overview on the international market and grain trends. Michael stressed the need to be pragmatic with our marketing. Steve explained the new marketing choices for GrainCorp and answered questions from the crowd on marketing decisions at harvest. This talk from both grain marketers generated much discussion with harvest almost upon us.

Megan Rogers, Sheep Connect


Megan Rogers, Sheep Connect – Megan has a vast experience in sheep and wool with past experience in NSW DPI. She has developed a consulting business to incorporate managing larger projects and works with organisations such as AWI and MLA. Her presentation covered aspects of the sheep industry and she was extremely interesting and engaging.

Sally Coddington


Sally Coddington was the next speaker and talked passionately about succession planning. Sally hails from Dubbo with an incredible history growing up on the land and later managing a sheep station, travelling to South Africa to research Dohne sheep and then introducing the breed to the eastern states of Australia. Her presentation on succession planning from a mature person’s perspective was most insightful. Sally covered all aspects of her own personal journey, the financial and personal highs and lows of planning and executing a farm family succession. Sally reiterated the need to plan for retirement and look at the many options to replace or at least compensate for loss of farm life.

Darren Secomb, Succession Facilitator, Rabobank, spoke about succession planning in conjunction with Sally’s presentation.  Darren’s expert background and experience made his talk useful and  practical and the audience learnt some interesting pointers about planning for this important life-changing event.

Jenny Beach, a facilitator from Orange, completed the day’s activities with a summary of each speaker.  Jenny offered her insights into the day and hoped that some of the advice and stories from the speakers would be reflected on by the audience, well after the day had finished.

Finally, I would like to thank all the speakers, the attendees, the sponsors and the staff who helped make this day such a great success.  CWFS has had such great feedback and it is wonderful to see that an event like this can generate such enthusiasm for constructive change and confidence to improve ourselves and our communities. We also have received numerous requests to hold this Conference on an annual basis rather than biennially so the staff is busy planning for the 2017 Women & Youth in Agriculture Conference – so watch this space!

Women and Youth "What else have we done?"

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