Meet the new McIntosh and Son Mingenew Midwest Expo board members
There is a new crop of board members behind this year’s McIntosh and Son Mingenew Midwest Expo — each with a different purpose and connection to the event.
Bec Kelly, Leanne Grant-Williams and Billi Marshall joined the nine-person board for the first time this year.
All three are well known across the Mid West for the different roles they play in the community.
A Mingenew farmer, Ms Kelly returned to the family property her parents have cropped since 1950 about four years ago.
While this is her first year officially on the Expo board, she said growing up in Mingenew meant she had always been involved in some way.
“If you grow up in Mingenew then you grow up helping with Expo,” she laughed.
“I was asked (to join the board) and I just thought it was my turn, a lot of the board members have been there for a really long time.
“And I say that in a good way, they have done such an amazing job and there is so much work that goes into these things.
“So I just thought it was my turn to help out.”
Ms Kelly said she had been busy helping with marketing the event, and would serve as a bit of a “go-to” person on the day.
She helps with the board’s human resources portfolio.
“We are putting profits towards cyclone Seroja. Mingenew had quite a few displaced people,” she said.
“Our farm was not very badly damaged compared to a lot, but we lost the roof of a place and a silo and have had weeks cleaning up trees.
“There were a lot of people that were really affected and had their family homes torn apart.
“It does make you feel good about doing the whole event, it is good to know the profits will be there to help people.”
As the farm manager at WA College of Agriculture — Morawa, Ms Grant-Williams hopes to bring her passion for youth in agriculture to the board, which is fitting because this year’s theme is Connecting People, Building Futures.
“A big focus this year is on juniors and careers in agriculture, so I thought this was a really good opportunity to get involved,” she said.
“It sounded like something I really wanted to bring my skills to.
“I have had a lot of involvement with students junior judging competitions so I thought I brought a lot of enthusiasm and involvement with that.”
Ms Grant-Williams has been involved in agricultural education for the past 12 years, and was born and raised on a farm in the Great Southern, at Pingrup.
She started her career with WA’s agricultural colleges in Denmark, working there for eight years before moving to Cunderdin for three years, and finally on to Morawa last year.
With a passion for careers in agriculture, Ms Grant-Williams hopes this year’s event will encourage youngsters to consider a career in the field.
“We have really found that because of COVID, there are no backpackers getting around,” she said.
“You often ask students what they want to do, and they will say, “I don’t know”.
“It will be great to connect the students with employers across the region,” she said.
“The agriculture industry needs young people and I think Expo is a great place to connect them.”
Ms Grant-Williams said local businesses were keen to engage local employees, because they enjoyed living in the regions.
“The students that have been to ag colleges have a really good grounding,” she said.
“We have some keen, young and bright minds all over the region.”
As well as providing a crucial link between Expo and the college students, Ms Grant-Williams hopes to bring a wealth of enthusiasm to the board and this year’s event.
“I have a lot of ambition to promote students to find a job, find a career, and to find a pathway to take forward,” she said.
“The students can’t wait to get back to Expo, they want to compete against other students and measure their skills.”
“We are a little isolated (at Morawa), but it is good to compare themselves other students doing similar things.”
A well-known face on WA’s agricultural scene, Ms Marshall has officially joined Expo board after years of helping to run the 2019 Elders Young Judges competition.
The BOS Vet and Rural cattle breeding technician will this year also co-ordinate Expo’s first Young Farmers Challenge, for people aged 18 to 35.
Teams of four will battle it out to complete a series of six challenges, which will be unveiled on the day.
“Expo is trying to draw attention to young people in agriculture, by highlighting the industry and trying to get more people on board,” she said.
“People are screaming out for workers this year.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone more passionate about youth in agriculture than Ms Marshall, who founded a new group called AdvocateAg last year.
The social group aims to unite young farmers working long hours in isolation, holding its first event last year.
Ms Kelly, Ms Grant-Williams and Ms Marshall’s fellow board members include chairman Andrew Cosgrove, vice-chair Sarah Christie, treasurer Jeremy Clapham, corporate partner/grounds co-ordinator Jono Moss and human resources executive Nils Hay.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails