Nuffield: Producing Change

I have spent the last few weeks working on a lot of Nuffield-related things.

In 2012 I applied for a Nuffield agricultural scholarship, and it still amazes me that I got one. On the days when I question what I do, I reckon it was a complete fluke and I have a good dose of Imposter Syndrome. On days when I’m feeling stronger, I say “I am Enough” and I get on with it.

I am the current Chair of Nuffield Queensland so it is my job to co-ordinate and run the selection process for potential Queensland scholars for next year. I have been involved with this in some way since 2014 and every year, it is a real shot in the arm. Like everything Nuffield-related, it challenges you to be better, to be wiser, to be more productive.

This year, like every year, the topics that potential scholars want to investigate is an intriguing mix of production-improvement topics, and social-science topics. Both are important in agriculture because we need to both be better at what we do, and we need to be better at telling people what we do. Such a tough ask for reticent farmers. When I listen to myself bemoan the markets or the weather or agri-politics, or play down the part I play in agricultural change work, I think, yes, this is exactly what I am saying we all do, and it is what needs resetting!

Farmers should not be seen as whinging, poorly educated blokes just getting by. Farmers should be seen by urbanists as intelligent, progressive men and women who are doing the vital work of feeding and clothing the country and the globe. Every time we go to a Nuffield conference, I see change happening. Agriculturalists improving their farms and the lives of others by their communications with each other.

In addition to my work as State Chair, every year Wayne and I host some of the current crop of scholars from Australia and overseas in Japan as part of their Global Focus Program. I have been able to speak Japanese since a one-year immersion as a Rotary Exchange Student (another fantastic and life-changing program). Hosting the scholars now gives me an opportunity to give back to a country that gave me so much, and that I love dearly. It also forces me to improve my Japanese vocabulary, which is a mental challenge that I love. The Nuffield farmer-scholars often know very little about Japan or it’s agriculture (which is the whole point of the visit) but they are all accomplished in their fields and eager to learn. They challenge me to question and improve, and underscores the importance of life-long learning.

Doing a Nuffield scholarship was quite pivotal for us as a farming family in so many ways. I always caution scholars not to change too many things too quickly upon completion of a scholarship but here we are five short years later with everything changed…for the better.

I hope I can continue to give back to Nuffield and to agriculture more generally with Big Bluff.

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