When little girls are asked what they want to be when they grow up, Florance McGufficke hopes they pick a job in agriculture. Ms McGufficke grew up on a farm. She recalls spending her early years in sheep yards and shearing sheds and school holidays that "always managed to be timed perfectly with lamb marking". She has completed a double degree in agriculture and business and is currently the 2023 NSW Young Woman. Ms McGufficke is part of the changing face of the country's agriculture industry. A recent Westpac report found in the 15 years between 2006 and 2021, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of 25 to 29-year-olds who are working in agriculture. And there's been a 42 per cent increase in the number of women in professional agriculture roles. It's a change Ms McGufficke, who currently works in Dubbo as Elders NSW stud stock and sales support officer, said she sees every day. She said women were changing the rules of Australian agriculture and claiming their space as well-grounded, hardworking risk-takers. For Ms McGufficke, there was never any doubt women could hold roles in the ag sector. "Growing up with my two sisters it was the norm to help Dad with any task - to drive a tractor, to fix a fence, to work in the shearing shed. He is a role model. I think he believes women make better workers due to their diligence, attention to detail, patience and awareness (especially when driving big machines through small gates)," she said. Three years ago, Sam Johnston bought a 60 hectare mixed farm between Forbes and Jemalong. He had always been passionate about farming and agriculture but left the family farm to go to Sydney University. "I have always been interested in property and property development and when I worked out that it wouldn't be a viable long term plan to purchase something in Sydney I reviewed my options," the 28-year-old said. "I worked out that the best place to start would probably be the neighbours next door to the family farm and it just so happened to all work out. My farm is really just a four paddock extension with an older cottage - where I now live - to the family farming block which is great as I can utilise all the existing infrastructure and plant/equipment." When he first moved back to the region, Mr Johnston said he "had a feeling" a lot of people his age "may have been talked away from ag and talked out of farming, which was a shame". But having made an effort to connect with the locals, Mr Johnston said he had met a good crew of younger men and women who were just leaving school or had recently finished university and were keen to pursue farming or an agriculture-based career in the Central West. Despite the devastation of having a foot of water go through his house last year, just after it had been renovated, and losing all his new pasture and lucerne in the same hit, Mr Johnston still loves the industry. He is also keen to see more people under 30 work in ag. Mr Johnston said the sector has loads to offer. He also believes it's an industry that's keen to support young people with plenty of leadership and mentoring programs available. To encourage more people under 30, especially women, into the sector, Ms McGufficke said it needed to start at the grassroots level with schools and TAFE speaking openly about agriculture jobs. It also needed to be made clear that in the majority of sectors women wouldn't be limited by their physical size, she said. But overall, Ms McGufficke said women needed to speak up. "I would like to see women be allowed to tell their stories, as this is a stepping stone in the creation of more powerful and confident women, inspiring each other," she said. "I hope this will create a space for women to have more confidence in their skills and ability to take on jobs or be selected for positions in agriculture." Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.