Dimboola resident Pru Cook is determined to support the next generation of farmers in her new role.
The agricultural extension specialist has been appointed to the Grains Research and Development Corporation Southern Region Panel to represent grain growers interests.
"I was raised on a farm in Diapur. My sister, brother and I were the fourth generation and I just loved everything about that farm," she said.
"They say it runs in your veins and I think that's true.
"I remember at the age of 17, I asked my dad if I could drive the header for harvest, which started my interest in the grains industry.
"I also saw my brother become a farmer at a young age, which sparked my curiosity about how young farmers access information and support.
"That's is something I want to explore as a panel member ... how are we meeting the needs for the next generation of farmers?"
In 2007, Ms Cook completed a bachelor of agricultural science at Melbourne University and in 2009 a graduate diploma in journalism at La Trobe University.
"I finished uni in the middle of the global financial crisis and it was hard to find work at the time ... I backpacked around South America and worked on farms over there," she said.
"When I came back I got offered a job at Grains Innovation Park in the grains extension team, and I have worked in that space ever since."
Ms Cook said while working at GIP, smartphones and social media were just being introduced to the farming industry.
"One of my first projects was delivering workshops to help farmers navigate these new smartphones," she said.
"Especially Twitter. It has become a crucial tool for communication in the grain industry.
"It allows farmers to provide information to researchers, who can make sure their projects are focused on industry needs."
Ms Cook has also managed social media operations for GRDC and agricultural extension at Birchip Cropping Group.
For the next two years, Ms Cook will help GRDC represent the interests of grain growers in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.
"I am keen to explore more effective ways to get information to farmers and help them make decisions in a timely manner," she said.
"The agriculture events calendar is very crowded and it can be quite challenging to get farmers along to events.
"Given the current pandemic, I think now is the right time to look at alternative options.
"I have also decided to start my own business specialising in agriculture extension project management and development."
Lawloit farmer and Southern Region Panel chair John Bennett said the panel members are the link between grain growers and the research.
"The panel's role is to identify issues and priorities, advising GRDC on what's important to growers in their business, and informing potential investment in research, development and extension to help growers increase profitability," he said.
Mr Bennett said the new panel features a combination of grain production, extension and scientific expertise.
"We had the induction via Zoom and they start in their new role September 1.
"They are a fantastic group and the four new members are very well qualified. We have a mixture of researchers,advisers and growers who will make a positive contribution."
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