Champion Changemakers put the Future of Ag in Focus


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AgriFutures Australia is proud to announce the seven recipients of the 2024 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant – women whose creative responses to some of agriculture’s biggest challenges signal a bright future for rural industries and regional communities.

The AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant program has allowed 14 women to bring their ideas, causes and visions for a stronger regional Australia to life since it was launched two years ago.

This year’s seven successful women will each receive a learning and development bursary of up to $7,000 to equip them with the skills and knowledge to develop their project from idea to reality.

AgriFutures Acting General Manager of Workforce, Communications and Adoption, Jennifer Galloway said the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant program was another way the organisation was supporting female-led rural and regional industries, businesses and communities to build a better tomorrow.

“Regional Australia is brimming with untapped innovative and creative ideas that set local industries and communities up for the future,” Ms Galloway said.

“And as the backbone of so many regional communities, it is often the women helping make this happen – whether they’re on the farm, running a small business, leading important conversations, or fighting for local causes.

“That’s why AgriFutures continues to champion diversity through our grants for women. In addition to our AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award, which has supported over 300  women in their professional rural pursuits over the past 21 years, we have also created the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant – to foster the growth and development of a new generation of changemakers with ideas worthy of further work, yet who aren’t quite ready to apply for the Award program.

“We have been blown away by all the applicants, and particularly the recipients this year. From try-the-trade workshops to making scientific information more accessible, boosting mental and emotional health in rural vets and a podcast that helps farm families through the complexity and heartbreak of succession, our 2024 recipients showcase the incredible insight, innovation and impact regional Australian women can bring to driving more prosperous communities.”


Meet the 2024 recipients:

Emily Blackburn, Wongarbon, NSW

Ag Journey Australia is Emily’s vision to bridge the gap between education and agriculture, by facilitating an online platform for students to access information about opportunities in the industry and ‘try the trade’ workshops – allowing students to dip their toe into an industry before committing to further career development.

“We need to invest time and resources in the next generation if we want to ensure we have strong rural industries down the track, and I want to keep showing students the huge diversity of jobs on offer across the sector. Because they may not be what you think,” Emily said.

Emily McNair, Quilpie, QLD

Emily is on a mission to fill a void in the beef cattle industry, establishing a training model to provide education, hands-on experience and pathways to support emerging leaders in embryo transfer practices.

“Embryo transfer services are critical in accelerating the rate of genetic gain and increasing efficiencies across the beef industry. This grant will allow me to develop plans to provide training in the services that aid in improving genetics across the beef industry”, Emily said.

Gillian Fennell, Lambina, SA

Gillian’s immense experience in the agricultural industry has brought her to see the need for a podcast series on succession. It will be an empathetic and authentic podcast that delves deep into the challenges faced by Australian agricultural and farming families when succession planning goes awry.

“We’ve all heard horror stories about succession planning gone wrong – it can bring out the best and the worst in all of us. This grant will help me build a podcast that can help those going through it, whether it’s providing some useful, practical advice or just knowing others are going through the same. We can all use a listening ear at times.”

Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Narrabri, NSW

Dr. Rebecca Thistlethwaite has identified a critical need for early-career researchers in industry-related roles to effectively communicate complex scientific ideas to non-scientific audiences such as advisors, growers and industry specialists. And she is aiming to bridge this gap with her vision, ‘AgriCom Connect’.

“Everyone deserves access to the same information, but for many of us not trained in complex scientific areas of research, it can be difficult and overwhelming to know where to start. That’s why I’m proud to bridge this gap by delivering a translator of sorts that will prove a game-changer for anyone wanting to find out more about all things ag.”

Sarah Golding, Inverell, NSW

An experienced veterinarian, Sarah is passionate about developing a learning platform for fellow vets that builds resilience and provides the tools to manage their mental and emotional wellbeing, so they can continue and thrive long term within the industry.

“The Veterinary industry is in crisis, especially for rural vets who are doing it all and serving the communities they love, without referral and after hours emergency centres nearby to help lighten the load. This initiative aims to equip vets early on with the skills required to remain resilient to the ever-growing pressures that come with being a vet, so they can continue providing the best care to local animals and their owners,” said Sarah.

Olga Davis, Glenrowan, VIC

Olga Davis envisions creating an inclusive and innovative online portal focused on homesteading practices, aimed at empowering individuals and communities to become self-sufficient and healthier, focusing on skills such as growing organic produce, preserving food and sustainable living.

“Everyone wants to live a healthier life, but it can be overwhelming to know where to start. I want to provide practical advice that can help anyone – whether you’re on a farm with the family or in a sharehouse in town – to live a more sustainable, self-sufficient life,” Olga said.

Belinda Pooley, Eumundi, QLD

A second-generation European honey beekeeper in Queensland, Belinda’s vision is to bring a ‘Bee School’ to life and deliver interactive workshops to primary aged school children introducing them to the important roles of bees in agriculture.

“Kids love to say ‘none of your beeswax’ – but I’m all about making bees their business! This grant will help me deliver interactive workshops to kids in primary school to teach them all about the critical role bees play in the agricultural industry. I want to set them abuzz with the endless opportunities this sector offers.”


Applications for the 2025 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant and Rural Women’s Award will open in August 2024.

Find out more here

Ella Smith

0432 801 446
The Regional PR Co.

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