August 2015 NG of the Month – Ellen Newberry
We’d like to introduce you to our latest NG of the Month – Ellen Newberry, Teacher of Business Studies and Commerce at O’Connor Catholic College, Armidale, NSW, Australia (who also moonlights as a beef cattle producer with my family’s beef cattle operations in NSW and Queensland!)
We asked her a few questions…
Q. Tell us how you came to be involved with NG?
A. My first Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth experience was in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the 23rd Agricultural Conference in 2008. I had been an RAS of NSW Rural Achiever that year and part of the prize package was to attend the conference as a delegate. What I thought was a great junket turned out to be a life changing experience as I had the opportunity to meet dozens of enthusiastic young people from around the Commonwealth who shared a common passion – agriculture. Following this conference, I attended the NG’s understanding and assistance mission to Papua New Guinea in 2009, under the guidance of John Bennett. This was my first experience of agriculture in a developing country, and it was truly eye opening. Subsequently, I attended the RASC Agricultural Conferences in Edinburgh in 2010, and Livingstone, Zambia in 2012. Each time, I was fortunate to spend additional time visiting agricultural enterprises in those countries, and developing a greater awareness for agriculture in developed and developing nations. My last RASC conference was in Brisbane in 2014 – they just keep getting better!
Q. Why do you think NG is important to the Agricultural Industry?
A. The RASC NG group is the only agricultural group that I know of to form such ongoing relationships between agriculturalists from developing and developed nations. Together, the NG’s provide an enormous diversity of experience and knowledge. In an age of increasing reliance on social media and electronic communication, I think the NG group is unique because it’s foundation lays in the relationships that are formed in person, through the RASC Conferences and Understanding & Assistance Missions.
Q. How has RASC furthered the NG mission?
A. The Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth is the foundation for all NG activities. Not only has the RASC provided extensive support and enthusiasm for the NG group, but also the financial contribution to allow Next Generation representatives to attend RASC Conferences has been significant. This is especially true in the sourcing of bursaries and scholarships for members of developing countries to attend NG Understanding & Assistance Missions.
Q. What does the future hold for the NG mission?
A. I would like to see the Next Generation group continue to focus on developing their Understanding & Assistance missions. As there have only been a small number of these, it is still early days to make judgements about their long-term success. However, I believe that subsequent missions returning to previously visited countries have great potential. Indeed, returning to monitor the progress being made, and to assess what is working and what’s not, is the only way that we can really measure the long-term success of the Understanding & Assistance Missions. Moreover, scheduled returns of the NG group to developing countries will solidify relationships between those co-operatives of farmers with whom we hope to work, and ourselves. This will eventually encourage a more open discourse in between the missions themselves, which will allow the NG Understanding and Assistance missions to have a more ongoing impact in the future.
Q. What is YOUR vision for NG?
A. I believe that the NG movement will continue to grow, as more member-organisations see the immense benefit from sending young representatives to both Conferences and Understanding & Assistance missions. NG representatives’ return home re-invigorated with enthusiasm and passion for their local agricultural movements, and a list of new ideas to bring to their organisations.
As the NG movement matures, I would like to see former NG representatives go on to become active in the RASC itself. The RASC has a highly diverse, qualified and experienced group of NG’s on which to call – and it should ensure that it does not allow this potential to go unused.