Elders graduate recognised as young achiever
An Elders agronomist who was among the first recruits to the company’s graduate agronomy program has won the Agribusiness Young Achiever of the Year award for Ballarat in 2017.
Diana George took out the award from the Ballarat Agricultural & Pastoral Society’s Youth Committee which aims to support and develop the next generation of people working in the rural sector.
Rob Coburn, an animal health specialist with Elders at Ballarat, came third in the awards, which were announced at a gala dinner in August.
The two awards reflect the depth of talent among the new generation of people Elders is recruiting and developing for its business.
They also coincide with the opening of applications for the company’s 2018 intake of graduate agronomists.
The daughter of a farming family from Nevertire in the central west of New South Wales, Ms George was accepted into the Elders graduate agronomy program in 2015 after finishing an agriculture degree at the University of New England and notching up several awards along the way.
She spent six months at Elders Gatton increasing her knowledge of horticultural crops under the supervision of Senior Agronomist, Jason Blackwood, before moving to Elders Toowoomba for a similar stint in broadacre agronomy.
What began as a six-month post there became 18 months, as Ms George enjoyed working in broadacre crops with the support of Senior Agronomists, Andrew Millers and Ken Reimers, and Maree Crawford, who heads up the agronomy group in Elders’ northern zone and is a passionate advocate for women in agriculture.
In April this year, she moved to Victoria to take up her first agronomy appointment at Elders Ballarat and has quickly earned the respect of her clients and colleagues.
“Diana hit the ground running, demonstrating an amazing breadth of skills and high levels of customer focus,” said Julian Prendergast, branch manager of Elders Geelong and office manager, Elders Ballarat.
“She is very pro-active and is already growing our presence among broadacre and pasture clients from Ballarat across to Mortlake and Ararat,” he said.
Mr Prendergast said it was refreshing to see young agronomists like Ms George working in the industry.
“Agriculture has its fair share of older men, so it’s great to see young people, especially women, making the most of educational and career opportunities to bring more professionalism to our industry,” he said.
The Elders graduate program is unique because it gives participants a high level of mentoring and hands-on training from senior agronomists around the country, while they work with a range of clients in different climates and growing conditions.
After 18 months in Queensland, Ms George admits she’s been learning fast about growing canola, faba beans, lentils and pastures in southern conditions.
“The varieties, pests and diseases are quite different in Victoria, but this reflects the value of the graduate agronomy program in broadening my understanding and experience while working with more experienced Elders agronomists like Mick Walsh and Rylie Cherrey,” she said.
“It’s an excellent program and a great way to start my career with Elders.”
Elders technical services manager Graham Page said the unique program gives graduates personal assistance to grow the skills they need in line with their existing knowledge and competencies.
“We train our graduates closely, allow them to witness our teams in action and expose them to the way we conduct business with our clients to develop long-term, sustainable farming practices,” he said.
Elders will be recruiting for its fourth intake of graduate agronomists in coming weeks – for more information click here.
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