THE Grassland Society of Southern Australia new chair Meg Bell believes the organisation’s new management structure heralded an exciting era for the body.
Ms Bell, the society’s previous president, has been elected as its first chair and in another first, the previous vice president of the society’s central committee, Georgie Rees, has been elected VP for a second successive term.
GSSA has adopted a new management structure, with a seven-member board replacing the former central committee. As part of the change, the society will now be led by a chair rather than a president.
In another break with tradition, Ms Bell has become the first person in the Grassland Society’s 61-year history to be elected to the top position for a second successive term after serving the previous year as president.
Ms Bell, from Konongwootong north of Coleraine, is also the chief executive officer of the MacKillop Farm Management Group, a farming systems group based in the Limestone Coast of South Australia. She also coordinates a Better Beef producer group in Victoria’s western district and runs a vet and livestock consulting business with her partner, Owen.
Ms Bell was raised on a beef and cropping property at Millicent and joined the grassland society as part of the organising committee for the 2015 conference at Naracoorte.
Long serving society member Tim Prance has also been re-elected treasurer.
Ms Bell said the changes represented a new way of operating, but the board is energised and excited about getting to work.
“This new structure will be beneficial for members in the long-term as it will ensure more continuity, better networking opportunities and further improve the professionalism of the society through a better-established structure.”
The society is also developing a new strategic plan which is expected to be approved by the board at its next meeting to set direction for the next five years.
Ms Bell said the society continued to play an important role in connecting farmers, agribusiness and researchers.
“Grasslands is well known for holding good networking and extension events and we want to further develop that and help to fill a gap in that area,” she said.
“We know our members really value the information we put out and the events that meet demand in their areas.”
The society’s 2020 annual conference was run online and was hailed as a great success with between 150 and 180 people registering for most sessions.
“If we need to change the structure of how we run events in this COVID-19 era, we will do that in accordance with the wishes of our branches,” Ms Bell said.
“There are some really exciting opportunities for the society at the moment.
“We have a strong membership base who are very supportive and remain very interested in pasture-based research.”
The Grassland Society of Southern Australia is the peak farmer organisation dedicated to the transfer of information and technology related to temperate grasslands. It was formed in 1959 and has branches in South Australia Limestone Coast, Western Victoria, Gippsland, Albury-Wodonga, Central Ranges, and Mid-Goulburn.