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Our Story

How Hay Inc. started

With the markedly reduced number of young people entering and staying in agriculture, not to mention the dwindling number of properties training jackaroos/jillaroos throughout eastern Australia, a group of concerned “bushies” around Hay have made a move to counteract this worrying trend.

They recognise the younger generation now have limited opportunities (and properties) to gain the basic hands-on training and bush skills to make them employable. This situation also impacts negatively on agriculturally dependent communities and townships like Hay.

We are a volunteer committee which consists of enthusiastic Hay District community members who are focused on providing a unique and sustainable “on farm" set of skills” in a “hands on” practical method of training. Hay Inc offers an effective comprehensive and highly cost effective training program.

Committee Members And Volunteer Trainers Involved In Hay Inc Include

Richard Cannon

Chris Bowman
Past Chairperson

Sandra Ireson
Secretary/Treasurer and Program Manager

Robert Gibson
Vice Chairperson

Janine Bryant
Assistant Secretary

Sandy Symons,Markeeta Gibson, Duncan Fraser, Matt Ireson, Bede Schiller, Rose Nevinson, Peter McCrabb, Tom Porter, Jim Ives, Bill Ryan, Chloe Smart, Glen Walker.

Other Volunteer Trainers:

Ed McFarland, Geoff McDougal, Les Lewis, Rob Lindon Keith Bolitho, Susan Hanna, Geoff Duddy, Jacqui Crawford, Scott Dixon, Sophie Hemley, Cameron Clark, Scott Hanaford, Jim Walsh, Tanisha Shields.

Past Committee:
Ben Barlow, Roley Desailly, Dan Korff, Luke Hull, Noel Corliss.

Will Lyon TA Field, Stuart Hodgson AWI, Melanie Williams Tocal

Richard Cannon, Chairperson.

Richard owns and operates a grazing and irrigation property located 12 km south of Hay, incorporating a full blood Wagyu seed stock herd, a commercial Angus herd, a commercial Merino sheep flock, as well as irrigated cotton and cereal production. Richard is married to Sarah and has 4 young children. After finishing school Richard spent several years gaining experience as a jackaroo on properties such as Wyvern at Carrathool, and Brunette Downs in the Northern Territory. Richard studied Agribusiness at Marcus Oldham College. On the completion of studies Richard took a management position at Romani Pastoral Company, before then managing Hazeldean Riverina for 11 years based at Rosevale Hay. In this role Richard was responsible for an Angus, Senegus and Merino seed stock operation that produced genetics that were marketed and supplied all over Australia, as well as a large commercial Angus and Merino enterprises. This role consolidated Richards passion in genetics which he has carried on in his own business and continued roles working in conjunction with Hazeldean and TA Field Estates. Richard sees that the “hands on type” education investment in young people through initiatives such as Hay Inc is fundamental for the future of agriculture and its perception and sustainability.

Chris Bowman, past Chairperson.

Chris is an independent, professional sheep classer and merino breeding specialist. Over the last nine years he has built up a classing run of 190,000 stud and commercial flock sheep throughout Australia and New Zealand. He also advises clients on sheep breeding, management and marketing programmes; identifying top performing sires, sourcing genetics and ram selection. Prior to this, Chris was the General Manager and Studmaster of one of Australia’s most influential merino parent studs, Uardry, for 18 years. Under his leadership the stud won six Riverina Ram of the Year awards, achieved the top price at the Dubbo National Ram Sales five times and won countless major championships throughout the eastern states. During this time many young people, who are now at the forefront of the merino industry, were mentored and trained by Chris. They received training in all areas of stockmanship, animal husbandry, station management and maintenance to equip them with the skills to run a successful business. For the past 6 years as Chairman, Chris has been supported by a committed team and has been increasingly impressed with the calibre of young people graduating from the program. Stepping down from the role this year, he will continue to work closely as a committee member and support the growth of our young people in the Australian agricultural industry. Chris’ ongoing commitment to Hay Inc demonstrates his passion for mentoring and training young people particularly in agriculture, and a firm belief they are our greatest asset.

Sandra Ireson Secretary/Treasurer and Program Manager

Sandra owns and operates a beef cattle and sheep enterprise near Booligal on the lower Lachlan River North of Hay, with her husband and adult children. Growing up on a Merino sheep property on the Monaro, Sandra studied Agriculture at University of Western Sydney before working in the veterinary and agricultural animal health industry in sales and marketing. Sandra was awarded 2017 NSW/ACT Agrifutures Rural Women’s Award Winner where she will build on the success of the Hay Inc. Rural Education Program by developing Engage AG an adaptable model of the program, to promote the initiative to other rural communities, creating opportunities for careers in agriculture. She has been a major driver of community events in the Hay region combining agriculture, tourism and education – with one of her successes being instigating and coordinating the Booligal Sheep Races. Sandra is also passionate about creating leadership and networking opportunities for women.
She is also a member of the Tocal College Advisory Council, Isolated Children Parents Association, Murrumbidgee Landcare Steering Committee and a Producer member on Southern Australia Livestock Research Council for Central & Western NSW including Queensland Sheep. Sandra is now the Program Manager for the Hay Inc Rural Education Program.

Matt Ireson

Matt owns and operates a predominately beef cattle and sheep enterprise near Booligal on the Lower Lachlan River North of Hay, with his wife and three children. He is a 5 th generation farmer in the district. He studied agriculture at Wagga Agricultural College (now CSU) before working in the USA on an agricultural exchange and then as an agronomist at the Department of Agriculture in Deniliquin before returning to the Booligal district. He has been involved in the local community as Rugby player and coach, Junior Rugby League Coach, and Active after schools sport coach. Along with many positions on local community groups including President of the Booligal School Parents & Citizens Association and Booligal Sheep Races. Matt is currently the Coach of the Hay Cutters Rugby mens 1st XV.

Duncan Fraser AM

Owner/Manager of pastoral and irrigation property producing wool and sheepmeat plus in the past, rice, corn, canola and wheat. The property is 45 kms south west of Hay NSW. He is married to Louise with two children. Duncan is a passionate advocate and a dedicated member of the agricultural community, with over 20 years experience with various state, federal and commodity agri-political organisations. A former National Farmers' Federation president, in 2015 Duncan was made a Member of the Division (AM) in the Order or Australia for his significant service to primary industry, to professional associations, and to education and training. Duncan holds a B. Ag Ec (1977) from UNE and is Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Program which he completed in 1999. Currently Duncan is Chair of the Sheep Industry CRC and also the Implementation Steering Committee of the National Wild Dog Action Plan, he is on the Board of Skills Service Organisation, Skills Impact and is a member of the TOCAL college advisory council.

Markeeta Gibson - BSC, LLB, Grad Dip Legal Practice, GAICD

Mrs. Gibson owns a law firm and operates a large-scale grazing and irrigation enterprise at Hay in NSW with her husband and two children. Mrs Gibson is currently a NSW practising Solicitor, Past Board Member of the NSW Rural Assistance Authority and was Chair of its Audit & Risk Committee. She previously held positions as Chair of MI Holdings Pty Limited, a Non-Executive Director of Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd and was a member of its Audit Committee.
She is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has extensive experience with rural succession planning, rural, commercial and residential property transfers, as well as trading water entitlements and water allocations.

Rob Gibson

Mr. Gibson owns and operates a large-scale grazing and irrigation enterprise to the North Hay in NSW covering an area of 70000 acres with his wife and two children. Robert brings 30 years of livestock and farming experience to Hay Inc and was trained through the “jackaroo system” on farms in Queensland and a sheep stud near Coleambally. Robert is passionate about wool and regularly takes Hay Inc participants and graduates on farm to extend and consolidate their learning whilst being mentored. Robert is also a qualified and experienced wool classer.

Rose Nevinson

Rose Nevinson grew up on a Merino sheep station in between Hay and Deniliquin where her family has been for 125 years. She graduated from the Hay Inc Rural Education Program in 2017 while she was working at Warwillah Station where she also completed her Certificate IV in Agriculture. Since then she has travelled to the United State of America to work with Youth at summer camp. Rose was awarded the 2019/2020 Deniliquin Agricultural Show Society Showgirl. Since 2019 she has been working as a Woolbuyer for Seig Sheep and Wool which is a locally owned and operated Woolstore in Deniliquin. Rose has also completed her Wool Classing Certificate and in her spare time looks after her mob of Merinos and breeds her own rams.

Bill Ryan

Bill operates Curragh, a grazing operation 120km North West of Hay, where the main focus is a self replacing poll merino flock, incorporating a ram breeding enterprise for own use and also sale rams to a base of clients. Beef cattle are run on the property in season. Bill grew up on his parent’s property near Darlington Point where he returned to work after completing the HSC. Bill later attended Marcus Oldham Farm Management College where he completed an Advanced Certificate in Agribusiness Administration. In 2004 Bill purchased property near Oxley where he currently lives and operates the business with his wife Pip and their three children.
Bill served as a director on the board of Western Local Land Services for three years involving bi- monthly meetings at Balranald, Hillston, Wentworth Broken Hill, Tibooburra and Wilcannia.
Bill is currently Predisent of Booligal/Oxley Branch of NSW Farmers Association in which he recognises the importance of maintaining a voice for issues facing producers in the western part of New South Wales.
Bill has always been passionate about the agricultural industry and enjoys the challenges that it brings. He believes that there are many opportunities in the rural sector and is encouraged to see young people wanting to learn more about the industry and believes Hay Inc. is a great foundation for learning in a hands on environment.

Jim Ives

Jim is located at “Glencoe”, South East of Hay operating an Angus breeding herd turning off Grass Fed animals to the growing Grass Assured market or feeder steers.
Jim along with wife Jane are committed to Regenerative Agriculture. They have been running Glencoe Holistically for a number of years and are striving to increase biodiversity and resilience into their business. Jim joined Hay Inc in 2020 helping with the Cattle handling/education and grazing management workshop.

Peter McCrabb

Peter with his wife Lisa own and run “North Bundy” a 12500Ha sheep station near Hay. Peter and Lisa have 3 children, two of which are employed in the agriculture. Peter has always had a passion for livestock and upon leaving school he spent 4 years jackarooing and working up to assistant manager on stations in the Riverina, NSW and Kimberley and Pilbra, WA. After returning home Peter took over running the family commercial sheep property. He has studied Farm Management through TOCAL. In 1997 Peter and Lisa started North Bundy Pastoral Company. Peter has spent time on the NSW Farmers Wool Committee, he is currently in his 20th year as a Local Government Councillor on Edward River Council, he is a Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Peter has a passion for the sheep and wool industry and for getting young people involved in agriculture.

Sandy Symons

Sandy Symons is a fencing contractor and has lived and worked around the Hay and Hillston district all his life. Growing up on a property called “Yilgah”, near Hillston which was Border Leister stud, Sandy had an early education in handling stock and doing general farm work.
After leaving school he attended the Yanco Ag Research College and received a certificate in Wool classing. Then jackerooed for several years before becoming a wool classer and working on properties around Hay.
In 1982 Sandy with his brother John purchased a property at Booroorban and Sandy married Robin Kay the same year raising 3 children and working the mixed farm property till 2004 when it was sold. “Oaklands” had extensive irrigation development and Sandy grew rice, cereals as well as having a flock of merino sheep.
With the other members of the Hay Inc Board Sandy could see a need for a “hands on” rural education training program that would fill the gap left by the demise of the Jackeroo system. The Hay Inc Training program gives young men and women a great opportunity to learn best practise skills first up, and the satisfaction of teaching the students these skills is what motivates Sandy and the other instructors to keep the course going.

Chloe Dutschke

Chloe Dutschke is passionate about young people in Agriculture! Not from a farming background herself, she can relate well to the students attending Hay Inc and is keen to help them thrive in the Agriculture industry. Chloe lives on a large Merino sheep station outside of Hay and is the Training and Career Development Officer for the AgCAREERSTART gap year program. Chloe continues her passion of promoting Agriculture to young people through programs such as Young Farming Champions. Her dedication and passion to the wool industry was rewarded in 2019, when she was named joint winner of the Peter Westblade Scholarship. Chloe now sits on the Peter Westblade Scholarship committee and gives back to industry by investing time in the Wyvern Training weekend and the Hay Merino Sheep Show.

Bede Schiller

Hay Inc volunteer trainer and committee member.

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