Keynote speakers

                Dr Ruth Nettle 

Dr Ruth Nettle leads the Rural Innovation Research Group (RIRG) at the University of Melbourne. Ruth's personal research interests include:

  • Rural workforce development (human transitions in farming and the role of collaborative action in supported change)
  • The role of extension in rural change (learning systems, adaptation)
  • Multidisciplinary research, development and extension (the role of RD&E in rural innovation)
  • Farming systems change (decision-making, technology and change)

Ruth also provides input into the strategic issues facing rural industries in Australia through strategic reviews in human and social capacity; the role of development in the future of RD&E; and the role of extension.  

                Dr John James 

Dr John James is passionate about enabling change and innovation and helping others to learn and build their capacity in this area. For his PhD, he investigated the factors that affect the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies.

After completing a degree in horticultural science, John’s first role was as an industry development officer. During this time he began to understand the purpose of extension, and realised that to enable change he needed to better understand people and how they approached decision making and change. So it was back to university.

John completed a Masters degree focusing on adult learning, psychology and business management. That eventually led him to working at the Rural Extension Centre, coordinating the delivery of post-graduate courses in agricultural extension where he was able to share his passion and expertise with students from across Australia and beyond.

John has also been heavily involved with the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN), he was inducted as one of the first APEN Life Members in 2018.

John enjoys using online collaboration tools to complement face-to-face communication. He pioneered the use of webinars in agriculture to connect with a geographically distributed audience. 

                Hugh Galvan

Hugh is a Sport Development Consultant for Sport New Zealand.

 He currently has a focus on developing Trainers within New Zealand’s National Coach Developer System. Hugh is a “Master Trainer” for World Rugby and has a focus on developing rugby in Oceania. He was recently invited to help establish aspects of Sport New Zealand’s Coach Developer System at the 2019 International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) Conference in Japan. He has a family that is immersed in sport and has an interest in running his farming business in rural Hawkes Bay.

Workshop speakers

                Simon Sankey

Simon Sankey has been involved with the New Zealand dairy industry for over 25 years. Brought up on a farm in Mid-Canterbury, he studied Agricultural Science at Lincoln University and has been involved since then both in extension and development with the dairy industry.

Simon has had stints as a Consulting Officer in Northland, Nelson and Canterbury. As part of his role in development, he was involved with both improving HR practices (HR toolkit) and farm systems (Pasture Plus and Whole Farm Assessment).

Since 2010 Simon has had an internal coaching role for DairyNZ, he is now supporting the Farm Performance team. He also contributes internally and externally to programme design, extension/facilitation and Whole Farm Assessment training. Simon’s current role gives him the opportunity to work with farmers, extension agents and programmes to bring about on-farm change.

He was awarded the 2015 APEN Award for Excellence in Extension for an Experienced Professional.

                 Sarah Barr

Sarah Barr lives & breathes agriculture, and the people who work in the sector. Her work with Coach Approach Rural allows her to assist rural individuals & businesses to achieve their aspirations in a supported environment.

Sarah has been a Trustee and facilitator with the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust for 7 years. During that time, she has also been contracted to assist other Trusts throughout the South Island develop their capability in the Wellbeing space.

Sarah has had several MPI contracts to assist rural communities during times of extreme adversity – droughts, Earthquakes & M. bovis. These experiences have continued to expand her understanding & skill in helping clients successfully navigate their way through the challenges being faced.

                Lab Wilson 

Lab Wilson has over 20 years experience in faciliating learning and development. In past lives he has been a practicing veterinarian, technical service advisor and marketing manager for animal health companies.

Since 2007 he has worked in various agricultural extension initiatives and as a learning facilitator and performance consultant across a range of industries. Through RMPP he was responsible for the design and delivery of facilitation courses for rural professionals and others involved in rural extension. He has collaborated in the creation of an online course, ‘On-farm Consultancy Skills’ for rural professionals.

Lab’s mission in life is to help people experience the power of sharing knowledge. He is deeply interested in the conversations people need to have to develop mutually rewarding knowledge relationships. He views, Communities of Practice as perhaps the most powerful vehicle to achieve these relationships.

He is the author of a book, Customers as Learners, published in 2010.  

                Mary Wilson 

Mary Wilson has over 40 years experience in facilitating learning and development.

Mary was the Establishment Principal of a rapidly growing school for 14 years where she led the development of a strong and positive Community of Practice based on a truly shared vision. Mary has worked extensively with groups across a range of industries supporting change and development of leadership, culture creation and growth.  She is also involved in shared and personal visioning, coaching, mentoring and developing feedback environments.

Mary loves helping people gain a clearer picture of where they are going and supporting them to reach their desired destination. She is deeply invested in supporting the creation of true collaboration that delivers greater outcomes than we can achieve alone. Communities of Practice are one of the key structures to accomplish this.

                Marc Elliot 

Marc Elliott heads UMR’s rural practice. Having grown up on a farm, Marc lives and breathes rural issues, and understands the sector better than any researcher in the country – the communities, the people, and the work. Marc has been working with RMPP since the start of the programme and so has a huge amount of background and knowledge of RMPP. He completed the initial high performing farmers research in 2014, revisiting these farmers in 2020. Marc will describe the challenges, opportunities, and differences across the two pieces of research. 

Workshop facilitators

              Denise Bewsell

Denise Bewsell has a background in agricultural extension having worked for an number of years as an extension officer in Victoria, Australia. Her interest in understanding the adoption of technology in agriculture prompted a move into extension research, working at the University of New England, New South Wales, Australia, and then AgResearch in New Zealand. 

She started with RMPP in 2016 and worked in the pilot project that was the precursor to Action Network. Denise has been involved in training and supporting Action Group facilitators as well as helping manage the evaluation of Action Network. 

            Jeanette Long

Jeanette Long is passionate about developing people and leadership skills in regions and agribusiness. Her work takes her across Australia and New Zealand where she facilitates a wide range of workshops including extension, leadership, communication, strategic planning and mentoring.

Jeanette farms with her husband, Bill, and son, Will, as well as working in their business AgConsulting Co. She has been involved in many extension projects and leadership roles with boards and committees in agriculture, education, rural women and fisheries, and brings this personal experiences to her workshops and presentations.

She has qualifications in agriculture, teaching and a Masters in Business Administration. Jeanette is accredited to deliver the Myers Briggs, Type Indicator, is a trained facilitator, certified coach and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors Diploma.

Jeanette was the recipient of the SA Rural Women’s Award in 2004 and received a Centenary Medal in 2003.