Passionate pink shirt Maree Crawford wins national performance award
Elders brand champion, women in agriculture advocate and chairwoman of Australian Summer Grains Conference, Maree Crawford, has been recognised for her efforts with a national Elders Operational Performance Award.
This year’s Australian Summer Grains Conference (ASGC) was one of the biggest yet, featuring renowned scientists, marketers, growers and leading industry identities.
As chairwoman, Maree was responsible for co-ordinating a team to ensure that the event was a success, managing to generate a good profit for the five joint venture partner grain associations.
As well as chairing the event, Maree was also a key speaker, presenting on one of her passions – women in agriculture. In a twenty minute presentation, Maree spoke about how women are a powerful force for growth of the industry.
“Women don’t have adequate representation on rural decision-making and policy forming bodies. They are under-engaged in agriculture, particularly grain,” said Ms Crawford.
“It’s not just a gender equity issue – it’s an issue for the Australian agricultural sector. Lack of influence and involvement from half of a potential resource is a lost opportunity for input and growth,” she said.
“This isn’t a male versus female thing – it’s about selling a message of sustainability.”
“For the industry to see growth and remain economically sustainable we need to enable women to have greater involvement in the running of the farm whilst still being able to meet domestic commitments.”
Maree also believes that the future of the industry is dependent on well-trained specialists coming through a good mentorship program.
Although from a farming background, Maree described entering a male dominated industry as daunting and is a strong advocate of the next generation being trained by those more experienced in the industry.
“I was taken under the wing of those above me when I first started and it ignited my passion for agriculture and taught me skills and knowledge I wouldn’t have otherwise acquired.”
“One of the most important things we can do as professionals is pass on our knowledge to build a strong future for the industry.”
“This message ties into women in agriculture too. The more we lead by example and have strong women in leadership roles mentoring those below them, the greater chance we have of building a sustainable industry with equal gender representation.”
Maree has also been a key player in her ‘pink shirts in paddocks’ campaign, as a way of raising the visibility and profiles of Elders staff.
“The Elders brand is iconic and as such the pink shirt stands for our ability, our resilience, and our contribution to the industry. There is a lot of pride in being a part of Elders and wearing the pink shirt shows that pride,” said Ms Crawford.
National Agronomy Technical Services Manager, Graham Page, says that Maree is a role model in the industry and deserves recognition for continually going above and beyond for Elders and her clients.
“Maree plays a key role not just in improving the standard of agronomy services in the Elders Northern Zone but in advocating for improvements industry-wide,” said Mr Page.
“She is a valuable asset to Elders who sets a precedent for other agronomists and their capacity to influence change.”
As part of her award Maree will be given the opportunity to attend the national One Elders awards dinner held in in Adelaide in December 2016.
Pleased with her award win, Maree is most focused on the effect that it may have on spreading her messages.
“I am really humbled but pleased to win this award. I hope that it helps to spread some of the messages I advocate and that it motivates others to actively speak out about issues in their sector.”
Maree leads by example and exemplifies the strong females and the hardworking pink shirts that she encourages to grow within the industry.