Three recipients of the 2016 Emerging Leaders in Victorian Agriculture awards were presented by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) during the annual Agribusiness Leader’s Luncheon at the Royal Melbourne Show.
Melissa Neal, Emma Germano and Grace Calder all took home the prestigious honour, which is open to industry participants aged under 40 years old who have achieved in one of more areas of professional, industry and community contribution, as well as demonstrated leadership qualities such as innovation, communication or ethical conduct.
In keeping with the growing prestige of the awards, this year’s recipients received a share of a $20,000 prize pool, with each recipient receiving a cash bursary to go towards their career development and access to valuable professional development activities through the support of RASV.
Melissa is the quality assurance and supply chain manager at AK Ben Pekuah meats, producers of quality beef and lamb for the Jewish Kosher market. Involved in agricultural shows from the age of 14, Melissa has built her experience through a number of roles, including conducting the Royal Melbourne Show Beef Carcase Competition for the last 7 years and as an active member of the RASV beef committee.
She has also advised the minister of agriculture through briefings and cabinet submissions, as well as development of regulatory frameworks for intensive animal industries and project investment within the dairy branch at DPI and was named Rural Ambassador in 2014.
Emma Germano is the General Manager of I Love Farms, also holding the position of Vice President of the VFF Horticulture Division, is a member of the Executive Committee of Ausveg Victoria and is Secretary for Nuffield Australia’s Victorian branch.
Since taking over the family business from her father, Emma has started an exporting arm of the business, not only with produce from their own farm, but providing opportunities for surrounding farms by buying and exporting other produce. In 2014 Emma was awarded the Nuffield scholarship and was recently announced as the recipient of the Women in Horticulture award for Victoria.
With no agricultural background, Grace Calder found interest in the industry through her school agriculture program and by the time she completed her secondary education she had started her own Corriedale Sheep Stud.
She now holds a double bachelor of ag science and business and led the inaugural Latrobe University teams to the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition and National Merino Challenge.
At just 23 years of age, Grace is now lamb industry development officer, department of economic development, jobs, transport and resources, is co-chair of the Victorian Agricultural Shows Next Generation Committee, member of the VFF YAPS Committee, and member of the Rural Finance Scholarship Alumni committee.
Part of RASV’s focus on increasing youth participation in agriculture, throughout the Royal Melbourne Show, the ELVA awards were judged by a panel of industry professionals, after nominations were received earlier this year.
Nominations for next year’s awards will open in June 2016.