Beef 2024 Preview

Graeme Acton Beef Connections member’s journey towards Beef 2024: Early learnings from my mentor

Beef Central, 08/09/2023

THE Graeme Acton Beef Connections mentoring project being held in the lead-up to Beef 2024 in Rockhampton next May is underway, and as part of that process, Beef Central is following the journey of one of the ten talented young industry stakeholders taking part.


Using a monthly diary format, South Australia’s Phoebe Eckermann* will outline her experiences and learnings as part of the program.

Over the next six months, she will outline her journey towards executing her chosen Beef Connections project, culminating with a presentation in Rockhampton along with her mentee cohort.

Links to her earlier diary entries can be found at the base of this page…..




EACH month brings something new and for me new learnings and moments where I just pinch myself about the support through Beef Connections and the people who make up this program.

August was no different with an absolute highlight being the kick-off with my mentor – Samantha Noon from SJN Rural based in Goondiwindi.

Meeting Richard Rains

Wow what an inspiring group Zoom session we had in August! We were joined by Lauren Angus’s mentor, the incredible Richard Rains. He shared with us so many gems of wisdom from his illustrious career in the beef export sector. Like the importance of surrounding yourself with an amazing team of good people and to have a crack when you’re young, because there’s less to lose!

Like Georgie Somerset (see last month’s diary entry), Richard reminded us to be vulnerable in our mentoring relationships as this “encourages engagement.”

And a quote I love added by facilitator Jo Eady: “Who we are is how we lead,” really resonated with me. Lastly, Richard stressed that communication is key to building strong relationships – pick up the phone, meet face to face or maybe even for a game of golf.

Nerves no more – Meeting my mentor

August also saw us embark on Stage One of our mentoring relationships. We follow a model of Birth, Engage, Sustain and Transition. So August was Birthing month. We all began reaching out to
our mentors. I was able to connect quickly with my mentor Sam over the phone at the beginning of August. We had a quick chat and locked in a date for our official first meeting over Zoom – August 15.

Just a five-minute phone call made me feel at ease about our mentoring relationship and so excited for the journey ahead. A stage filled with excitement, curiosity, and a little bit of nerves.
However, these nerves quickly disappeared when meeting our mentors.

Mentee Liam Cameron found his first meeting with mentor Tammy Kruckow from Top End Leadership “absolutely amazing” and a very reassuring chat. He couldn’t wait to share this with everyone jumping on our ‘Open all hours’ group chat. Very similar to my first mentor meeting too.

Mind Blowing – Meeting Sam Noon

August 15 arrived which meant it was time to meet Sam Noon. Our first “real” mentoring session.

I couldn’t believe the day had arrived. I hopped on Zoom (with a slightly elevated heart rate) and was quickly joined by Sam. Our discussion began with introducing ourselves. I loved learning about Sam and the many roles she plays in agriculture and across rural communities. She’s spent time working in the lotfeeding and grain marketing sectors. And now she works on a range of projects through her own training and consulting business.

I could quickly feel her humility and that we were a great match, it’s a feeling I got and is hard to explain. Her communication skills are a perfect match for my project about sharing career pathways for young people from and not from agricultural backgrounds about the opportunities this industry offers.

Sam was able to answer all my questions from last month too. She believes there’s a bit of competition in the social media space but sharing video media (maybe a YouTube channel) would be bang on to compete. And yes, she did have some other new innovative ideas to bring my project to life (hear more about these in the coming months!) She challenged me to think more about my target audience and how to prepare for success. I couldn’t believe how quickly our hour together flew by. I felt like I could have spent many more hours chatting with Sam.

I was very encouraged by Sam and her belief in the future potential of my project.

And now it’s time to tackle this task!

Tackling projects

Sam has given me so many great ideas to guide my project. I am so excited to get into it and begin to capture the career pathways of the beef industry to share with young people.

With Sam’s help and inspiration this month I’ve been working on preparation. This has meant writing a description of my idea, finalising questions for career interviews, and deciding on my target audience. I was nervous that I don’t have enough time to properly complete my project, but Sam reassured me that I’ll be able to achieve it and I’m grateful for her support.

It’s also great to hear from my fellow mentees as they each begin to tackle their own projects.

I’m excited to see what mentee Lachie Smith has in store. He’s focusing on developing supportive tools and resources to practice the skills of visually assessing and estimating cattle more accurately in the paddock. It was great to hear that he’s been working on the practical parts of his project: guessing cattle weighs, taking photos, and chatting with some professional ultra sounders. Great job Lachie!

A little more inspiration with Georgia Dale

This month mentee Georgia Dale also shared with our group some inspiring ideas that she gained from attending the Rural Press Club Ekka Breakfast in Brisbane.

Julie McDonald was the keynote speaker (see Beef Central’s report here) and has been a Beef Connections mentor in the past. Julie She highlighted the importance of mentors from outside your family and already existing networks (just what Beef Connections is all about).

Julie also shared about the importance of working together to advocate, finding where you add value as a place to start and the origin of mentoring: developing character, making our own
mistakes, and having the guidance of a mentor along that journey. Very relevant ideas – thanks for sharing, Georgia.

Julie McDonald addressing the Brisbane Show audience


Now that our mentoring relationships have begun, we move into that next phase: Stage Two –Engage.

I’ve been doing this already by keeping in touch with Sam via text and setting up our next Zoom meeting for September 15. I have a busy month ahead exhibiting two steers and eight stud cattle
at the upcoming Royal Adelaide and Melbourne shows. My favourite time of year!

It does feel difficult to balance all the parts of life: I’m sure my mentor Sam would have some tips on this for me – I’ll let you know next month.

And keep an eye out for exciting updates from my project coming soon.

Talk again in October…




Phoebe’s previous diary entries

August 2023: Meeting our mentors 

July 2023: Our journey begins


* Diarist Phoebe Eckerman is a research officer with the University of Adelaide, and one of ten 2023/24 Graeme Acton Connections Program mentees. Phoebe’s project vision is to create a web-based resource where people can explore the endless career pathways available in the modern beef industry. She has been engaged with the beef industry since her early teen years, having established her own Limousin stud and shown cattle, winning championships at the Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne Royal Shows.






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