Second time lucky for Sheila
IT WILL be a case of second time lucky for 2015 Syngenta Growth Awards winner Sheila Charlesworth.
Ms Charlesworth, who won her award in the community and people sector last year, was set to embark on this year’s study tour to Europe with the rest of the Growth Awards winners earlier in the year before fate intervened and she could not attend.
However, in a case of better late than never, she will go along with this year’s winners on next year’s trip.
“I’m looking forward to it very much, it will be a great chance to learn from what our counterparts are doing overseas.”
It has been a busy 12 months for Ms Charlesworth, involving a move across the continent.
She won her award for her work with the Mingenew Irwin Group, a farmer-led research organisation based in Western Australia’s northern wheatbelt.
Now, she has taken up a role as chief executive of the Burnett Mary Group, based in Bundaberg, which is the region’s peak natural resources management (NRM) organisation.
Ms Charlesworth said while the roles were vastly different, the fundamentals of good NRM and retaining people in agriculture remained the same.
“I hold my time in WA very dear to my heart, I had a wonderful time and was involved in some very exciting work,” she said.
“We conducted trials on soil acidity and managing crop inputs which had a real benefit to our cropping systems but we also conducted post-paddock work.
“One very exciting collaboration we did at the Mingenew Irwin Group was a joint venture called the Centre for Postharvest Grain Biosecurity and Quality Research.
“This was a partnership between Australia’s Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), Murdoch University and China’s Academy of State Administration of Grain and our group.”
“One of the major things we looked at was non-chemical control of grain storage pests, through investigation of concepts such as nitrogen recirculation in grain storages for pest control.”
“With the pressure on grain storage chemicals such as phosphine, this is critical research.”
Now, sweeping wheat fields have been replacing by swaying sugar cane and neat rows of vegetable crops and Ms Charlesworth has a fresh set of challenges.
“We are doing a lot of work with fertiliser run-off and ensuring there is no damage to the Great Barrier Reef.”
“It is a wonderfully productive agricultural region on the edge of one of the world’s natural wonders and the challenge is to work together to protect our natural assets.”
Ms Charlesworth has been no stranger to change during her working career.
Initially she worked in the corporate sector heading up an internet-based business before taking a role with the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority in Victoria.
From there she headed to WA before heading to Queensland.
The race to find Sheila’s travelling companions is on in earnest.
Judging for this year’s Growth Awards will take place in Sydney on Tuesday with 24 candidates still in contention for the awards.
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner in early December.
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