TWO Western Australians have been recognised as emerging leaders in the grain industry by being selected for GrainGrowers' flagship leadership program.
Alana Alexander, a farmer and university student from Walebing and Murray McCartney, a grain grower and sales manager from Geraldton, are among the 10 young Australians who were chosen for the 2020 Australian Grain Leaders Program.
The prestigious program provides the opportunity for grain farmers and industry professionals to come together to help identify and further enhance their leadership style.
The program also helps develop and refine management skills that can be applied daily on-farm or in other positions across the grains sector.
Ms Alexander, who is from a livestock farming family in New Zealand, moved to WA four years ago with the intention of doing one seeding season.
However after travelling between the Canadian and Australian harvest seasons for two years, she fell in love with the grain industry and made the permanent move to Walebing.
"What struck my interest was how different it was to New Zealand, I couldn't believe how well they could grow grain, especially off the sandy country," Ms Alexander said.
"My boss is agronomist Erin Cahill and he has such an in-depth knowledge of what goes into growing crops, so when I ask him questions he gives such detailed answers on the science behind it which has really inspired me to learn more."
Mr McCartney is a fourth-generation farmer who has been on the family farm, which grows wheat, barley, canola and lupins, for most of his working life.
"I'm really passionate about grain farming, plus I'm a bit of a farm nerd and I really get quite into the bigger picture stuff like global food security," Mr McCartney said.
"We reduced the size of the farm about three years ago and I've been working with BASF since then doing a technical sales role.
"It appealed to my curious side looking into more of the agronomy side of things, I'm learning a lot all the time and I really love it."
The WA pair flew to Sydney earlier month for the first of this three face-to-face sessions.
The program also involves one-on-one coaching with expert facilitator Jo Eady, Rural Scope, as well as the completion of a project component.
Ms Alexander said she applied for the program because she thought she had leadership potential but wanted to be pushed out of her comfort zone.
"I wanted to learn some new skills and I thought it would be a great way to get more involved in the industry," she said.
"Also the networking we're exposed to is invaluable, especially for a young person like myself who's not been in this industry very long and isn't originally from Australia."
Mr McCartney said he applied for the program as a way to give back to the industry.
"I probably spend a bit too much time on Twitter like a lot of people in agriculture and saw the program advertised there," he said.
"The program is all about improving leadership skills and helping us understand a bit more about our own leadership style, all while helping the industry further develop."
GrainGrowers leadership and events general manager Kaitlin Commins said the WA farmers were chosen for the program after impressing with their applications and subsequent interviews.
"Having spent a week with Alana and Murray, I know that they are going to make a huge difference to Australian agriculture," Ms Commins said.
"They both want to tackle big issues facing the grains sector as part of their projects and the fact we have two emerging leaders so excited to contribute and give back is exactly who GrainGrowers, through our expert facilitator, designed the program for."
Ms Alexander's chosen project involves exploring how the industry incentivises people to join and remain in agriculture.
"My project is about investigating what training there already is for young people who want to get into the grain industry and what extra options there should be," Ms Alexander said.
"It's about trying to increase the number of young people entering the industry and working on farms."
Mr McCartney's project is focused on helping farmers to be the best advocates they can be for the grains industry.
"It's in the context of allowing farmers the continued social license to operate with vital technologies," he said.
"It's a pretty topical subject at the moment with increased interest from the wider community on what we're doing with things like GMOs, so I went to help us all be the best advocates we can, so we can keep doing what we do best."
The WA duo will head to the Innovation Generation conference on the Gold Coast, Queensland from July 14-17 and to South Australia from October 6-9 for the final two sessions.