At the AGM in September, WestVic Dairy welcomed four new directors to its board. Read about their goals and how they want to make a difference within the industry they love.
Matthew Glennen, farmer director
Matt Glennen is a dairy farmer from Dixie and works on the family’s property, Dixie Park Farm Trust. The farm milks about 500 cows on 279 ha.
He completed a Bachelor of Business (Ag Management) and has been involved in numerous discussion groups across the district. His industry experience also includes working at Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and Reid Stock Feeds. But working on the dairy farm was always his goal.
Mr Glennen is hoping to bring a young perspective to the board and improve the engagement with young people in the industry.
“I want to help improve the projects and activities we have to offer to make sure we are delivering what farmers want,” he said.
“Having been president of the Ecklin Discussion Group and involved in the footy clubs has made me realise how important it is to get involved in something you love.”
He said he would like to see attendance rates of farmers increase and he has a strong focus on farm business management.
“I believe the future for dairy farming is bright and there are a lot of young passionate people out there.”
Rhonda Henry, non-farmer director
Rhonda Henry has been working in banking for 44 years and for the last decade her focus has been on the dairy industry. Her background as an agribusiness banker means her passion lies with improving financial management on farms.
Based in Warrnambool for all of her career, she is passionate about the region and its farmers. Her working life has included a number of jobs in customer service roles, as well as various lending and administration jobs. She enjoys the close contact with people and said she was passionate about helping farmers run their business in the best way possible.
One of the main reasons she joined the board was because she wanted to give back to the industry and wants to do her bit to help create a sustainable and profitable dairy industry.
Ms Henry said she thrived on challenges and was looking forward to the challenges her new position as director will offer.
Jacqueline Suares, farmer director
Jacqui Suares has been involved in the dairy industry for 40 years after marrying a fourth-generation dairy farmer. The family farms in Larpent, milking 170 cows on about 129 ha. While she has always worked off-farm, her connection with the industry has been strong.
After finding herself with more time following her retirement from her position as chief executive officer of a community service organisation, she felt it was the right time to take a break, take stock and realign priorities. As part of this, she realised that she wanted to do something to stay active and give back to the community. Joining the WestVic Dairy Board seemed like the perfect way to do just that.
Being a smaller farm, she said she was hoping to add yet another perspective to the board.
“I want to add the views from a smaller, strictly family run business. The needs in extension are different to larger farms and it is important to have a good balance around the board table.”
She said the industry was in a state of constant change and her goal was to help farmers to better manage their businesses in order to adjust to the changes.
“My biggest passion is people and I want to help farmers to adapt to the rapid changes that have become the new norm in our industry”
Jessica Howe, associate farmer director
Jess Howe has joined the board as an associate farmer director, but she wears two hats — aside from farming with her husband and his family on their farm in Naringal, she also works as a field officer at Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.
She completed a Bachelor Degree in Agriculture with Charles Sturt University and graduated as one of 14 in the inaugural Great South Coast Leadership Program in 2012. She has worked on several farms across the region and continuously strives to build her knowledge. Joining the WestVic Dairy Board was one step towards achieving her goal of supporting young farmers in the industry.
“I’m very passionate about helping young people who want to start their career in the industry with finding their pathways,” she said.
“Being on both sides of the fence, as a field officer and a farmer, is challenging at times, but it also gives me a good understanding of the issues on both sides. I hope that this will add a unique perspective to the board.”
Her other passion is making sure public perception of the industry is positive.