Virtual classroom kicks off rural women-led projects

In September 2016, 18 rural women leaders embarked on an exciting journey of growth and development. The National Rural Women's Coalition’s (NRWC) e-Leaders Grow, Innovate and Sustain Program was designed to reduce barriers to participation in professional development for women and enable a greater diversity of future rural women leaders from a range of backgrounds and interests in the Northern Territory.

It was funded through FRRR’s Creating Inspiring Rural Community Leadership & Engagement (CIRCLE) program. The participants completed eight webinars using NRWC’s collaborative virtual classroom technology – logging on each week to learn from industry’s leading presenters, and to learn from each other.  The women were given the skills to grow their leadership capability; to build capacity in their own rural enterprise and/or within their community; to develop a project plan; and to understand themselves to become better leaders and communicators. The live sessions were recorded enabling those who missed a session, to view the recording afterward - an important aspect considering a key challenges for participants was internet access and reliability. During the program, each participant was asked to identify a project to work on. Here are two of them:

Crafty cow project classes kids in local industry

Decorated cows at the Alice Springs Show. Source

Nicole HAyes Building Capacity in Agriculture: Source: http://centralianbeefbreeders.com.au/

Nicole Hayes from “Undoolya Station”, Alice Springs ran ‘Building Capacity in Agriculture: Education in Schools’ ‘ to help schoolchildren learn more about agriculture by way of a fun competition. Schools from the Alice Springs district were encouraged to decorate one metre high wooden cow silhouettes in the theme: 'Where does my Food Come From'. Their cows were entered in the Alice Springs Show as part of the cattle section run by the Centralian Beed Breeders Association (CBBA). The project helped to improve awareness about Primary Industry among future farmers.

“It’s a fun way to open up awareness as to how important farming is to Australia and the world. To achieve this we have to start small and from a young age and communicate a positive message and attitude about farming.

Sharing strategies for land condition in Katherine
NRWC's e-Leaders Grow, Innovate and Sustain

Jodie Ward, Extension Officer for the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries in Katherine – ran the Raising The Profile of Land Condition project – to be held at a biennial field day at Katherine Research Station. The aim of the project was to raise awareness of the effects of consistent overgrazing on land condition and the potential impact on not only the owner’s hip pocket, but the community as a whole. It would involve a number of presentations, focusing on peer learning strategies and opportunities.

Continued connection over a virtual cuppa

The NWRC has continued to provide a platform for the E-Leaders to connect and stay in touch via the offering of a monthly informative and inspirational webinar series called 'A Cuppa With'. E-Leaders are encouraged to join in on the webinars to continue along their leadership journey and to stay in touch with like-minded peers and colleagues.

The final report for this project gave FRRR insight into it's importance:

“Experience tells us that when you invest and train a leader, that person will take this knowledge back to their business or industry group resulting in significant growth and impacts for not only their business or industry group, but the wider community.

“The underlying premise of the E-Leaders Program concept is that if you train an industry and community leader the effect is that on average, up to 10 other community groups, and up to 100 additional people (per participant), are influenced directly as a result of investing in training for that leader."

The e-Leaders have since been working on planning and project development and many of their projects are showcased on the NRWC website under the banner of ‘Sharing stories of sustainability’ – visit the site here and scroll down the news page to read more about each.

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