26 year-old AgWoman Hannah Barber, from Parkes in central New South Wales, is leading her dream life. During the week she is a secondary school English teacher, on weekends she works on her family farm and in her free time she advocates for agricultural shows and is studying the importance of agricultural education on rural and urban students.
Growing up surrounded by crops, sheep and cattle it is not surprising Hannah became involved with agricultural shows from an early age. She exhibited arts and sewing in the pavilion, competed with her horse in the show-jumping and twice was the Parkes Showgirl, making it to the coveted finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Being a Showgirl opened a Hannah’s eyes to the opportunities in agriculture and reshaped her visions for her future. It gave her contacts within the industry and allowed her to make connections that saw her attend agricultural conferences in India and Zambia where she realised the world was not short of arable land, but of education, constructive policy and infrastructure.
These experiences honed Hannah’s desire to make a difference through education. She first completed a Bachelor of Arts and Teaching, then found a teaching position in rural NSW, and then completed a Bachelor of Educational Research.
Now teaching back in her home town of Parkes, Hannah is undertaking a PhD on food and fibre literacy; and retains her connection to the show movement as president of Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Ltd Next Gen, a state-wide body designed to encourage the younger generation to become involved with agricultural shows.
"I am incredibly spoilt, getting to experience the challenging but satisfying world of teaching high school students, while soaking up the lifestyle of agriculture by living on my family farm. I am a huge advocate for education; what opportunities it can open for the individual but also what impacts it has on the community as a whole. The more informed we are and the more we thirst for understanding, the more we can interact in harmony and create a supportive environment for all. I enjoy interacting with our youth on a daily basis and encouraging a love for education, but I also love the opportunity to go home and learn something about stock or machinery or land health on a daily basis from my parents. As my Dad likes to say "a day when you haven't learnt something is a day wasted" and I guess this quote has really shaped my life and what I enjoy."
What a wonderful way to approach life Hannah. Education is so important and and we think both people in the industry and those who are not would benefit from knowing more about agriculture. Keep on passing on the passion!