2011 Runners Up

2011 New South Wales Runner-up – Sally Martin

Knowledge broker

At the time of the Award, Sally Martin from Young, New South Wales, had been the Sheep and Wool Officer with Industry and Investment NSW for the previous 12 years.

She grew up on a grazing property on the Monaro where she continued to be involved in the family farm operation.

Sally provided advice and support to individual sheep producers, grower groups and trial sites on genetics, animal health, reproduction and general production issues. She played an integral role in the Peter Westblade Memorial Merino Challenge, the largest evaluation of commercial merino genetics in the world, which included some of Australia’s largest commercial woolgrowers.

She was concerned at the declining sheep population—the result of a significant change in the flock structure.  She believed the shift away from wool to a meat focus and from the Merino sheep ias fed by misconceptions that Merino sheep are not capable of competing against other breeds for traits such as fertility and meat quality, despite research and commercial trails demonstrating the contrary.

Her ambition was to ensure that existing genetic information is made more accessible and relevant to businesses to ensure a more profitable and resilient sheep industry.

2011 Victorian Runner-up – Jennifer Savage

Fish farming pioneer

Jennifer Savage from St. Germains, Victoria, is a pioneer of fish farming in Australia. In 2004 she established the first aquaculture business specialising in barramundi production, Savage Fish Pty Ltd in central north Victoria.

Jennifer is well qualified with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Fisheries and a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate and Masters in Aquaculture. She worked at the Department of Primary Industries – Snobs Creek, as a research technician working across a variety of native fish species for a number of years before setting up her own business.

Savage Fish aimed to provide premium quality barramundi and murray cod, to be an Australian leader in the breeding and rearing of native finfish, and to supply environmentally sustainable fish to meet the growing demand for clean fresh food.

Jennifer has authored numerous papers and delivered many lectures on fish farming, and has supported a number of new aquaculture ventures, both within Australia and overseas, including a model to support a network of dairy farmers diversifying into aquaculture.

She is personally committed to supporting the re-establishment of the Victorian Aquaculture Council as an effective and united voice for industry to government.

Jennifer believes that fish farming offers a lucrative second income stream for farmers and a real solution to the increasing shortage of supply of wild catch.

She planned to set up a training program for aquaculture specific to Australian native species to be delivered in regional Victoria.

Jennifer believes the Australian industry needs an effective brand to compete against imports and to counter negative perceptions of farmed fish, and hopes to work with the beef and lamb industry to learn from their highly successful media campaigns.

2011 Queensland Runner-up – Erin Corish

Lamb industry innovator

At the time of the Award, Erin Corish from Goondiwindi, Queensland, was General Manager of a 15,000 head prime lamb feedlot outside Goondiwindi and co-owner of a rural publication called ‘Border Living Magazine’.

She was heavily involved in her local industry and community and was a member of Young Farmers Forum, Women’s Industry Network – Cotton and Border Women in Business.

Erin is committed to the lamb industry and to finding solutions to the shortage of supply of prime lambs through better genetics and improved management practices that will help build and retain breeding numbers.

Her ambition was to investigate intensive breeding programs in an effort to increase production and minimise over-grazing. She planned to travel to South Africa to investigate the ‘Afrino’ sheep breed –  a breed of meat Merino – and to test the breed’s performance against Australian conditions by introducing it into her own prime lamb herd.

Erin launched a social media site for her rural community as an extension of the Boarder Living Magazine to keep her community connected and to promote to the broader audience the diversity of rural businesses and the positive benefits of rural life.

2011 South Australian Runner-up – Rebecca Williams

Rural development consultant

At the time of the Award, Rebecca Williams, from Koolunga, South Australia, was the Administration Officer with the Future Farmers Network which was the only national network for young people involved in the rural sector.

Rebecca and her family run a mixed farming operation comprised of broad acre cropping, breeding ewes, prime lamb and alpacas. She also worked as a rural development consultant and was a member of the Clare Valley Young Professionals and the Hilltown Ag Girls Group.

She worked as a rural development consultant and developed a business plan that would provide a support network to the rural sector, allowing rural businesses to access a range of support services, such as education and training, financial support and strategic planning.

Rebecca is passionate about living in a rural community and equally passionate about her career. She believes the single greatest barrier to career progression for rural people is not being exposed to the many employment opportunities that are available in the capital cities and regional centres.

Her ambition was to develop a ‘Satellite Careers Advancement Program’ to assist other rural women living in regional areas to advance their own careers through personal and professional development and by promoting the concept of satellite employees. She believed that were many positions within primary industries that could be filled remotely and that employers were becoming more comfortable with the concept of employees working outside the conventional workplace.

2011 Western Australian Runner-up – Cathy Howard

Small wine producer advocate

At the time of the Award, Cathy Howard from Busselton, Western Australia, had been actively involved in the wine industry for the previous 15 years as a winemaker and wine industry consultant.

For the previous ten years she lived and worked in the Margaret River region where she and her husband launched their own wine brand ‘Whicher Ridge’ in 2008 and opened their winery in 2009. They have full control over the production of all five Whicher Ridge wines.

Cathy is President of the Geographe Vignerons Association and was accepted into the 2010 Women in Wine Industry Leadership Program – ‘The Right Bunch’.

Cathy has been a member of the Margaret River Wine Industry Association Technical Committee, and before that the Chair of the Barossa Winemakers Technical Committee and participated in the Margaret River Wine Industry Leadership Program in 2008.

She believes that a vibrant and sustainable wine industry requires both small and large wine producers and growers. Small wine producers make up to 70 per cent of the total number of wine producers in Western Australia. But given the competitive environment and the prohibitive cost to small producers of marketing and promoting their product, she believes the industry risks losing its smaller producers and with it much of its innovation and diversity.

Her Award ambition was to support Western Australia’s small wine producers and to promote and market their product through the development of a small producers’ website, the organisation of regional based small producers events and an annual small wine producers’ Cellar Door Day in Perth.

Her aim was to increase the awareness amongst consumers, trade and media of Western Australia’s small wine producers, to ensure increased and sustainable wine sales for network members, and to provide a platform for the network members to have a stronger voice in wine industry matters.

2011 Tasmanian Runner-up – Jan Hughes

Agritourism promoter

Jan Hughes and her husband established a successful regional enterprise ‘Rhu Bru’ which utilises rhubarb farm waste product and converts it into a refreshing non-alcoholic drink. Jan Hughes is based in Scottsdale, which has the largest rhubarb farm in the southern hemisphere. Jan has spent the majority of her life working in rural and isolated communities in Tasmania and Tanzania, before returning to Scottsdale, Tasmania, and becoming involved in regional agritourism.

Rhu Bru took out the Reserve Champion and Gold Medal Award at the Hobart Fine Food Fair. Rhubarb has become central to an increasing product range including jam, relish, syrups and vinegar.

Jan’s ambition was to encourage farmers to diversify into agribusiness ventures that would give tourists a real experience of where food comes from and boost tourism spend and employment opportunities in the region. She felt a recognised food trail would provide an important marketable focus for the region.

Her ambition was to travel to other parts of Australia, to learn from the experiences of other successful agritourism regions and to investigate the drivers and barriers to agritourism development.

Jan believed her region could capitalise on the Rhu Bru model and explore other ways of value adding other vegetable production waste products in the region. She saw the Award playing a critical role in assisting her to bring individuals and groups together to actively work towards the development of successful agritourism ventures in the region.

2011 Northern Territory Runner-up