Western Landcare NSW recently welcomed a new Landcare Coordinator with Tamworth-raised Jasmine Whitten joining their team last week.
Funded under the 2015 NSW Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, the previous coordinator for this area was based in Bourke.
Jasmine will be based in Cobar but will still service the same region, which includes a very large area encompassing three quarters of the way to Wilcannia, Ivanhoe, Bourke, Brewarrina and Tilpa.
Jasmine spoke to The Cobar Weekly last week about her new role and said she sees it as being a “connector” in the community.
“I need to be able to adapt to the needs of what our Landcare and other agricultural groups need and the general community, and help everyone work together a little bit better,” she said.
“My role is to connect with people to help them access funding for environmental and agricultural work.
“Often with these funding schemes there is a form of monitoring long term and that’s often put on the producer so giving them support to know how to do it, how to write a funding application and how to get those projects off the ground is what I’ll be helping with.”
Jasmine said she welcomed the opportunity to move to Cobar from Tamworth and is thrilled to be working in the coordinator’s role.
She said it’s also an opportunity to “pay it forward”, to help others.
“I’ve always known I wanted to work in agriculture and have always wanted to help improve peoples’ knowledge and capabilities’ she said.
In her full time role as a Landcare Coordinator, Jasmine will be involved in supporting and increasing community engagement, help to link people to suitable Landcare programs, she’ll network with landholders, develop local partnerships, participate in natural resource management activities and help to secure resourcing for projects through grants and other sources.
Jasmine said her role is flexible and will also include compiling the Landcare newsletter and potentially coordinating the Life & Light photography competition later in the year.
“I’ll also be involved with the Buckwaroon Landcare Group youth day and this year we’ve got some funding to introduce a healthy soils component,” she said.
The role is funded up until June and Jasmine is hoping that will be then extended.
Jasmine grew up helping out on the family’s merino wool sheep, beef cattle and Lucerne hay property in Tamworth.
She went to high school in Warwick, where she said they had a brilliant agriculture program. It was where she developed her favourite hobby.
“When I was at school they had an extra-curricular program of showing cows,” Jasmine said.
“It took me six months to get on the team and once I got on there I just flourished.
“I did so well, I ended up mentoring younger students,” she said.
“I was recently up in Warwick at the National Santa Gertrudis Junior Show as the group leader.
“I often put my hand up to help out at youth shows,” she said.
Last year was a busy year for Jasmine as she completed her Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England in Armidale (while working part time as a junior agricultural consultant); she won the 2018 Armidale and New England Showgirl title; was selected as a Young Farming Champion and shared her love of agriculture and the story of eggs with 1,500 school children who took part in the Art4Agriculture programs.
“I’m all for seeking new adventure and the opportunity was here in Cobar and I couldn’t knock it back,” she said of her new Landcare Coordinator role.
“I’m loving Cobar, everyone is so welcoming.
“I think I hit the lottery here!” Jasmine said.