Esperance local Niki Curtis said she felt ‘very honoured’, after having been announced as one of the winners of the CBH Group’s inaugural Growing Leaders Scholarship program.
Born and raised on a farm in Gibson, Ms Curtis worked in communications before taking on the role of executive officer at the South East Premium Wheat Growers’ Association.
Having now worked for SEPWA for seven years, Ms Curtis said growers groups had taken on ‘more and more’ and found themselves a number of local projects.
“When I started, there were only four of us and we were only part-time,” she said.
“Now there are seven of us, we’re about to employ another person and it is likely we’ll employ another later this year.”
After seeing the scholarship and 10-month Signature Leaders Program available, Ms Curtis decided to go for it.
“I’m just at a stage in my career and my life where I am looking for a bit of a challenge,” she said.
“A lot of the program is about exploring who you are and how you deliver within your networks.
“It’s also about learning to grow and develop as a person – it’ll be a challenge.”
CBH general manager grower and external relations Brianna Peake said the scholarship program was part of the company’s commitment to building leadership skills within regional communities.
“Our industry and communities require strong, bold and diverse leaders and our scholarship program will enable recipients to grow their leadership skills and further contribute in this space,” she said.
Grower Group Alliance executive officer Annabelle Bushell said the Grower Group Alliance was proud to help build leadership capability in grower groups and the state’s agriculture industry.
“Grower groups are an incubation hub for the next leaders and innovators in agriculture and play a critical role in the WA agriculture extension network,” she said.
“The Growing Leaders Scholarship is an opportunity for grower group members and staff to develop leadership skills to ensure a sustainable and profitable agriculture industry.”
Ms Curtis said she appreciated the CBH Group and the Grower Group Alliance for having taken the initiative to support their industry.
“They’re putting the money up and making it happen,” she said.
“They’re making sure it’s for regional parts of WA because we often do miss out.
“When you combine the course and the travel, undertaking something like this can become quite expensive and, in regional areas, if you don’t have that support then you can’t really take something like that on.
“I’m very grateful to them for what they’ve enabled me to do.”
Having only received insight into the program through past participants, Ms Curtis said she did feel she was ‘going in blind’ but was excited by the challenge.
“I’ve read that it’s life changing, in terms what you get from it,” she said.
“I think it’s going to be challenging in lots of ways but, at this stage, I don’t know what I’m going to come out of it with.
“I’m very excited about it but quite nervous, too.”