“The program highlights the role producers have to play in the future of the planet and our industry,” Angus said. “It’s an amazing program, and I’m humbled to be a part of it.”
In addition to a host of formal training sessions during the year, Angus’ main focus has been to support the delivery of Project Pioneer. Since 2016, Project Pioneer has helped more than 100 family grazing business throughout the Great Barrier Reef catchment increase and maintain ground cover and improve water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef, while fostering profitable and resilient production systems.
Angus is involved in on-ground extension activities, delivering professional guidance, mentoring and facilitation with senior advisors from RCS and partner organisations like WWF, Central Queensland University and NRM groups.
With Project Pioneer emphasising the systems-based nature of agriculture and how everything is interlinked, this has meant a dramatic learning curve for Angus. Farm management software, satellite mapping, profit benchmarking, management accounting, monitoring points, soil tests, and matching stocking rate to carrying are just some of the skills delivered to producers in Project Pioneer.
Everything’s linked, but the strongest link is people
Angus’s experience has emphasised that despite farmers’ affinity for the land, animals or crops, the biggest driver of economically and ecologically successful farms is people.
“Not coming from a farming background, I’ve been surprised by how passionate and diverse the agriculture and extension industry is. The producers and professionals we are lucky enough to work with are grounded, open, and excited to be making a change,” Angus explained. “It is inspiring to be surrounded by people taking action and sharing their story.”
“Working with people has been a real highlight of the year. I’ve been able to build valuable skills in communication, organisation and working collaboratively, and none of this would be possible without the enthusiasm of the professionals I’ve worked with from a diverse range of backgrounds who have been so generous to share their knowledge.”
While Angus is inspired to work with people, its what’s under their feet that he is almost as excited about.
“I would love to see every grazier dig a hole and get curious about soil,” Angus enthused. “Soil holds the wealth of our nation and is the key to our future. Soil is an area for everyone to get curious about and start discussing and sharing their stories and what they’re learning.”
Which brings us back to that question. How do we support both sides of the fence?
“What makes us change is a question behind a lot of extension work and is bought to the forefront with Project Pioneer. There is no single answer, but through RCS I have found setting visions and goals and putting together a plan is a huge part of it. Project Pioneer does an excellent job to support the skills, confidence and networks to turn that plan into action,” Angus said.
“What really drives it home is a picture like that fence line. I think Project Pioneer has been a great success and I hope the wider community, funders, and other graziers in the reef catchment can see the impacts.”