Speakers

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Shona Gawel

Chief Executive Officer, GrainGrowers

Shona is GrainGrowers' CEO. Shona has over 20 years of experience working in the areas of marketing, communications, membership services, media and public relations.


Shona's experience includes roles in Australia and the United Kingdom, working on projects that have spanned digital technology, infrastructure, the charity sector and industry associations.

Passionate about local communities and the champions who make them special, Shona loves being a part of the team that gets to share the stories and experiences of growers across the country.

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Sarah Hyland

Policy Manager - Sustainability and Natural Resource Management, GrainGrowers

Sarah is the Policy Manager, Sustainability and Natural Resource Management at GrainGrowers. She has worked in manufacturing, technical research, innovation, market research and sustainability over the course of her career in the Australian food and agriculture industry. Before coming to GrainGrowers, Sarah led the development, launch and management of the world-first Sheep Sustainability Framework. Sarah has qualifications Applied Chemistry, Cereal Chemistry and Sustainability.

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Jack Langley

Solicitor, Farrell Goode Solicitors

Jack is part of the fifth generation on his family’s merino sheep and cereal cropping property at Narrandera NSW. He holds a Bachelor of Laws and is a Solicitor at Farrell Goode, a rural-based law firm with a strong focus on commercial law and farm transition planning. Jack is also a Director and the current Chair of Narrandera District Investments Limited, the operating company of Bendigo Bank Narrandera & District.

Jack is passionate about rural and regional Australia and what it has to offer for the next generation.

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Gillian Meppem

Senior Regional Manager - North (QLD & NSW), GRDC

As GRDC Senior Regional Manager – North, Gillian's role revolves firmly around establishing and strengthening quality relationships with GRDC’s research partners, industry stakeholders and GRDC staff and regional panel members.

Gillian is a director of the Polocrosse Association of Australia, has worked an 8000 hectare broadacre grain and livestock property, she’s also been a Western Queensland publican, an area manager for Namoi Cotton Co-operative and run her own café and catering business amongst other roles.

In her role as GRDC Senior Regional Manager – North, Gillian helps ensure the GRDC’s Northern Region office operates efficiently and effectively. A total of 16 GRDC staff are based at the Toowoomba office, located in Herries Street, and a further two at GRDC’s satellite office at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

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Lisa Blair

World Record Sailor

Lisa is a force of nature. A vibrant and powerful speaker and world record holding sailor. In 2017, Lisa Blair made history. Just seven years after discovering sailing at the age of 25, Lisa became the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica with only one stop. After surviving a dramatic dismasting at sea, Lisa demonstrated her resilience and determination. An extraordinary feat aboard her yacht named Climate Action Now. This symbolic name reflected her commitment to a sustainable future and inspired others to take action through her post-it note campaign.

On May 25th, 2022, Lisa achieved her latest milestone by becoming the fastest person to sail solo, non-stop, and unassisted around Antarctica, shaving 10 days off the previous record.

Lisa has sailed over 110,000 nm and holds an RYA Yacht Master offshore. Lisa is a proud Australian adventurer, Author of Facing Fear, and Speaker on Resilience and Mental Agility. As a passionate Climate Activist she continues to develop projects that allow her to further her sustainability work while inspiring future generations to take on Climate Action Now.

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Tegan Nock

Co-founder and COO, Loam Bio

Tegan is a Co-founder and COO of one of Australia’s fastest growing agritech companies, Loam Bio, which was founded in 2019 and now has over 70 team members across offices and labs in Australia, Canada, and the US.

Starting her career in farming on the family property at Bogan Gate, NSW, Tegan has qualifications and experience in agricultural sciences. In her role at Loam, she has built one of Australia’s largest microbial product development teams - including establishing global R&D programs, specialist soil analysis laboratories and an international microbial library boasting over 2,500 strains of fungi.

Tegan and the Loam team explore how the world’s smallest organisms - microbes - can solve the world’s biggest problems and have developed ground-breaking microbial products that enable farmers to build significant levels of soil carbon in cropping systems.

Connecting world-class microbiologists with real-world farming challenges, Tegan is a leader in agritech driving high-impact solutions for farming systems and climate change.

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Rhys Turton

Chair, GrainGrowers

Rhys is a Western Australian grower and a vocal supporter of the Australian Agricultural industry. He is passionate about ensuring the longevity of the industry and setting standards that surpass global practice.

Rhys possesses extensive board experience, having served in non-executive director roles for large agricultural organizations that generate annual sales exceeding $800 million. He has a wealth of knowledge in governance and strategy, financial performance, asset management, budgeting, and the allocation of scarce resources.

Currently, Rhys holds various prominent positions, including Director at GrainGrowers, Chairman of the Council of Grain Growers Organisations Ltd (COGGO), and President of the Western Australian Farmers Federation (WA Farmers). In his role as WA Farmers President, Rhys is committed to supporting members during times of rapid change and diverse viewpoints, climate variability, and increased sophistication in farming practices. He is also dedicated to fostering the development of future leaders in Australian agribusiness.

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Zach Whale

General Manager Policy and Advocacy, GrainGrowers

Zach is the General Manager, Policy and Advocacy at GrainGrowers. He manages GrainGrowers’ policy and advocacy efforts working to ensure the right policy settings for Australia’s grain growers. Previously, Zach has worked for the Department of Agriculture and most recently was the Grains Policy Director at AgForce Queensland Farmers. He has qualifications in International Relations and Public Policy and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Zach is from Merriwa in rural New South Wales, where his family remains involved in agriculture.