Wednesday 2nd June marked the opening day of a joint venture between The Livestock Collective (TLC) and Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) for the eagerly anticipated Livestock Leaders Advocacy and Influence Program.
By Hannah Matthews
The first of its kind, the program was a fully online, interactive event, bringing together SPA Leadersheep scholarship recipients across 6 states of Australia from a variety of sheep industry backgrounds including production, veterinary, marketing, sales and processing.
The professional development program, aimed at developing and empowering future potential industry advocates to speak on the industry’s behalf for years to come, included more than 12 fully interactive online contact hours over 3 days. At the helm was Amelia ‘Milly’ Nolan, Events Coordinator of TLC and Melissa Neal, SPA’s Industry Leadership Manager who led the 14 candidates. Presenters included expert workshop facilitators from Sheep Producers Australia as well as the wider agricultural communication, content creation and social media fields.
Day 1 – Wednesday 2nd June
Day 1 was opened by Milly and Melissa, before the unique program and industry insights from Holly Ludeman, Livestock Leaders Managing Director and Alistair Oulton, Sheep Health and Welfare Policy Manager at SPA. Deanna Lush of AgCommunicators took the reins for the remainder of the day and held 3 interactive and engaging sessions focusing on the importance of shared values communication in building trust when connecting with consumers and other food system stakeholders.
Day 2 – Thursday 3rd June
Day 2 was Heidi Wright of Wright Social‘s turn to educate the participants on social media skills across a variety of platforms including LinkedIn and Instagram. Heidi coached participants on methods of transitioning from simple availability to talk on behalf of the industry, to creating and leading the conversation and making the most of their unique insight. Next, a surprise session with SPA CEO Stephen Crisp allowed participants to ask a range of questions regarding new policies and topical issues within the sheep industry, before James Lush, founder and director of Lush the Content Agency prepared participants for the challenges ahead on the final day media interviews.
Day 3 – Friday 4th June
After heeding James’ advice on Thursday afternoon, participants arrived fully prepared for their virtual media interviews on the Friday. A half an hour time slot, consisting of a 5-10 minute individual media interview ensured James put the candidates through their paces on their chosen case study. Scenarios included potentially contentious issues within the feedlotting, trucking, biosecurity and ovine health sectors and James challenged participants through channelling his background as an ABC presenter and interviewer. After the gruelling session, participants were provided with feedback from James, Melissa and Milly regarding their performance. Collectively, Deanna, Heidi and James’ training provided participants with new and improved tools to articulate their message clearly, confidently and concisely, whilst maintaining control of the interview.
It is safe to say that the first Livestock Leaders Advocacy and Influence program was a huge success, with participants commenting on how their learnings have prepared and empowered them to speak confidently on their standing within the sheep industry. Promising engagement on social media and other public platforms from candidates since completion of the program can support this, and huge credit should be given to The Livestock Collective, Sheep Producers Australia and workshop facilitators. The sheep industry is in a very fortunate position to have such dedicated, smart and visionary leaders!