Justin Whittle

Being an Agriculturalist!

Justin Whittle is an Australian agriculture graduate and 2015 Youth Ag-Summit alumni. His interests include innovative food systems and climate smart agriculture. He is a passionate advocate for and researcher of edible insects, cactus and seaweed industries. For the past 16 months, he has been working in Thailand, Myanmar and Mainland China, investigating the future of food.

The 2015 Youth Ag-Summit (YAS) opened me up to new opportunities, friendships and the world-- quite literally. It has now been over two years but I still have strong impressions of what the Summit meant to me. The theme was “Feeding the Planet.” It took place in Canberra, Australia, and if I had to sum up what I learned in one word it would have to be: perspective. Young leaders today are digitally very connected, but physically they remain distant. This conference broke down all barriers and gave us a truly unique experience to listen to perspectives, conversations and collaborate for action.

At the YAS I wanted to promote out of the box thinking and challenge people to think differently. - But I was the one who was challenged to think outside the box. While sharing my ideas of proactive conservation, edible insects, jelly fish protein and cactus fruits. YAS taught me to look inside these ideas and investigate their real-world application for rural communities.

Justin Whittle researching Red Palm Weevil farming in Thailand
Justin Whittle researching Red Palm Weevil farming in Thailand

Justin Whittle,
here he is researching Red Palm Weevil farming in Thailand

Justin Whittle - Being an Agriculturalist!
Justin Whittle - Being an Agriculturalist!
YAS 2015 Alumni

Not coming from a farming background myself, it was incredible to get perspectives from young farmers around the world. Through dialogue and conversations at the Summit, I started to change the perspectives and approaches I had towards agriculture. The YAS also gave me the confidence and drive to follow through on my ideas through my network of support around the world.

I spoke a lot about edible insects at the conference a lot about edible insects so I decided to go to Thailand to do a research project. It was the Thailand YAS alumni who helped me find a university and connections in the region. Through that connection I spent 12 months researching and studying in Thailand. There I was able to meet not only Thai’s but also Summit alumni from Australia, Canada, Vietnam, South Korea and China. Since YAS I have been working to expand my knowledge of agriculture and become an international agriculturist.

Thai Alumni 2015
Thai Alumni 2015
Thai Alumni 2015

At the Summit, we were encouraged to write down three little things to inspire our own communities. My goals are always evolving, however I have managed to act on them all.

My 3 little things include:

1) Going Bush - experience the outback and rural livelihoods
2) Start a Pest4Profit campaign – educating people on proactive conservation
3) Form a start-up. – experiment and build on my ideas.

 At the Summit, we were encouraged to write down three little things to inspire our own communities.
 At the Summit, we were encouraged to write down three little things to inspire our own communities.

One of my fondest memories was completing YAS Goal 1 by flying to Perth, Australia to meet 2015 alumnus Laura Grubb, who took me on a rural experience through Western Australia. During the trip, I got to continue my conversations with young rural farmers. This experience wouldn’t be possible without meeting Laura at the YAS. She changed my perspective about agriculture. Since meeting her, I have been investigating and researching my pest4profit campaign. As for YAS Goal 3 I entered my start-up idea to an entrepreneur food summit with the support of YAS. Although I didn’t qualify as a finalist, I got to discuss my start up and network with likeminded people and meet my alumni mates, which I consider a big win.

Left to Right 2015 Alumni at Thought for Food Summit 2016- Andrea, Justin, Brittany, Edward
Left to Right 2015 Alumni at Thought for Food Summit 2016- Andrea, Justin, Brittany, Edward
Left to Right 2015 Alumni at Thought for Food Summit 2016- Andrea, Justin, Brittany, Edward

Without these connections from the Youth Ag-Summit, I could have never had the goals, dreams and international network of mates that I have today.

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