Few children pass through life without a bit of LEGO, but one Riverina woman has put it to distinctive use in teaching the world about life on the land.
Aimee Snowdown first launched her LEGO farmer – replete with his wide-brimmed, Akubra-style hat and green overalls – on the world nine years ago.
Representative of farmers in Australia and around the world, the minifigure is used in staged photos published across social media to playfully engage and inspire a new generation to consider life on the land.
Back then Aimee likely never imagined that would lead to her snapping shots of the farmer in the Sheep Meadow at New York’s Central Park in July 2023.
But that’s where the Tocomwal native is currently passing the time alongside her little mate and possibly gazing at the city skyline reflecting on her trajectory since he entered the world.
“There’s a definite popularity when it comes to the world of LEGO photography, so I create and photograph immersive, entertaining scenes reflecting agricultural life – from feeding the cows to planting crops, stacking hay, fixing fences and farm vehicles, and so much more – then I share them on my website, blog and social media,” Aimee said.
It was a quirky idea that quickly garnered a wide audience and propelled Aimee towards the development of Little BRICK Pastoral – an innovative approach to primary industries education.
Her development of a package of teaching resources, supported by school and industry presentations and other outreach activities has garnered Aimee kudos as an agricultural industry trailblazer.
Last month the former Charles Sturt University (CSU) Wagga Wagga student was conferred the university’s prestigious Young Alumni Award for graduates under the age of 35, recently announced as part of Charles Sturt Foundation Day.
The award recognises graduates who are making a difference in the world, either professionally or as a volunteer.
Aimee graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management in 2016 after studying online in the School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences.
It’s an award she’s had to accept from afar as she and the LEGO farmer live it up on the other side of the world thanks to a major scholarship.
It’s also the latest in a string of accolades Aimee has received throughout her career, and one she said she was humbled to accept.
“It’s an incredible honour to be named the 2023 Charles Sturt Alumni of the Year and a real surprise. Thank you to those who nominated me, and congratulations to all the nominees,” Aimee said.
Previously, Aimee was selected to represent Australia at the Global 2015 Youth Ag-Summit, was a Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Rural Achiever and a finalist in the NSW/ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awards.
She was selected by the National Farmers Federation as a 2030 Emerging Leader, securing a prized place in the organisation’s development program for emerging leaders in partnership with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.
She was also named an ABC Heywire Trailblazer in recognition of her status as a young regional change maker.
All this alongside her efforts to grow agriculture education programs and initiatives in northeast Victoria, South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula and Central Queensland.
Aimee is taking her passion for immersive agricultural education to the world as the recipient of the Nuffield Scholarship, Australia’s most prestigious agricultural research scholarship program.
It is a career-defining achievement that has her travelling overseas to study agricultural education models that deliver immersive experiences and engage curious minds.
“I’m most looking forward to exploring the way in which children and the wider population are connected to food and fibre production in other parts of the world and seeing what initiatives I can bring back to Australia,” she said.
It’s lucky the LEGO farmer travels light because the year has been as packed as Aimee’s suitcase, having already attended conferences in Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Qatar, Germany and now the US, since February, with a group of fellow scholars looking at global agriculture issues, trends and economics.
She’s also been selected to attend the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) World Food Forum in Rome in October of this year.
Aimee’s goal is an all-encompassing ag education experience that allows students – in a hands-on manner – to learn about Australian agriculture as one industry and thereby consider a future where they can enjoy a prosperous and meaningful career.
She said current agriculture education in schools relied on teacher knowledge and access to resources often funded by individual industries.
“Yet research shows that if experiences are further provided, knowledge is more powerful and meaningful,” she said.
“Australia thrives on the success of agriculture and agriculture industry thrives on the passion, knowledge and experience of the people involved,” she said. “For Australia to continue to be a global leader, we need to be attracting the brightest, creative and innovative minds into our industry.
“The need to apply an agriculture lens to education has never been stronger,” Aimee said.
Original Article published by Edwina Mason on Region Riverina.