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Grains industry specialists set to sharpen their leadership skills

Fiona Marshall from Mulwala in New South Wales has earned a GRDC bursary to complete the Australian Rural Leadership Program through the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation.
Photo: Meghan Marshall

Grain grower Fiona Marshall and grain trader Gordon McNeil have earned GRDC bursaries to complete Course 31 of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

GRDC offers bursaries worth more than $60,000 each to those working in the grains industry who are committed to rural Australia and wish to further their leadership skills.

Fiona and Gordon will join 24 other participants over the next 15 months to complete hands-on learning in challenging situations.

The aim is to develop effective communicators with deep listening skills who fully appreciate and understand the diversity of multiple perspectives. This helps to develop leadership skills, behaviours, practices and networks.

The program involves four in-person sessions with domestic and international travel.

Grower and director

For the past 27 years, Fiona has grown grain and prime lambs with her family at Bull Plain Farms near Mulwala in southern New South Wales.

In addition to her on-farm work, she contributes to the Grain Growers National Policy Group, chairs the Riverine Plains farming system group, and is deputy chair of AgBiz Assist.

The former GRDC Southern Panel member says she is thrilled to participate in the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

“I’m grateful for GRDC’s sponsorship of my place in the program,” she says. “I look forward to meeting the other course participants, gaining new perspectives, tackling challenges and sharing what I learn.”

Export grain trader

Gordon McNeil is smiling and in a blue checked Agracom shirt. He is standing in front of a green blurred bush.Quirindi, New South Wales, grain trader Gordon McNeil was selected to participate in Course 31 of the Australian Rural Leadership Program with GRDC investment. Photo: Agracom

NSW-based Gordon McNeil is an export grain trader with Agracom. He connects grain growers with new and existing export markets.

Gordon hails from Moree, where he started his career in agriculture on a cotton and grain property before travelling overseas and later attending Marcus Oldham College.

During his degree, he studied the US ethanol industry. After graduating, he joined Agracom in 2011. He initially focused on domestic logistics and later moved into export trading.

Now based in Quirindi, Gordon is excited to embrace the challenges presented to him during the course.

“I’m looking forward to our first session at Moreton National Park, NSW, over 12 days,” he says.

“I am thankful to GRDC for allowing me to sharpen my leadership skills, and I am eager to improve my capacity to inspire and foster positive changes in the grains industry.”

Those interested in the Australian Rural Leadership Program can learn more about Course 32 in 2025 via the Australian Rural Leaders Foundation website.

More information: Fiona Marshall,; Gordon McNeil,

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