Townie makes mark on dairy

March 7, 2024 | 5 Min read
After growing up as a self-confessed townie, Penny Welch has embraced the genetics industry and been rewarded for encouraging a new generation.


After growing up as a self-confessed townie, Penny Welch has embraced the genetics industry and been rewarded for encouraging a new generation.

The genetics material export officer at Total Livestock Genetics has been honoured with a National Herd Improvement Association of Australia (NHIA) Young Achiever Award. 

Ms Welch’s dedication to supporting young talent and advocating for the herd improvement industry earned her the prestigious acknowledgment. 

Nominated by TLG operations manager Ruth Barber, who said Penny's infectious passion for agriculture and her encouragement for the next generation were outstanding. 

She is the third female staff member from TLG to receive the award in the past four years, following in the footsteps of Emma Hallyburtonand Helena Carter. 

It’s a far cry from her teenage years when she was one of only a few girls in a class of 30 studying agriculture at Emmanuel College in Warrnambool.

“I’m a townie by birth. 

“I met a dairy farmer looking for a relief milker at an Emmanuel College open day. I had no previous connections. I started milking cows as a teenager and TLG came to the farm and flushed cows when I was about 17 and I thought it seemed pretty cool,”Ms Welch said. 

She started working in the live export industry and moved into semen collection and then exporting semen.

“I really enjoy the science behind it and what we can do to get bloodlines overseas to countries where they have never been. "Now aged 33 and living in Terang, her role involves working with colleagues to export product from TLG and private clients all around the world.

Ms Welch is also on the committee for the Western District Youth Camp which was revived in January 2024 after COVID.

“We’re trying to get the next generation excited about the industry.

“There were a number of students who had never worked with dairy cattle before and it was good to give them a calf to raise for a couple of days.”

Ms Welch also works with the Neil Porter Legacy and Genetics Australia hosted a stall at the careers expo in Warrnambool earlier this month.

“I’m always trying to showcase what the industry has to offer,” she said.

“When I started studying agriculture at Emmanuel College, I was one of three or four girls in a class of 30. When we ran the camp, it was mostly women. There has been a massive swing in the past 20 years.”

As part of her award, she has received funding for career development from NHIA has invested in the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program.

“I want to gain more experience to go the extra step in the industry and in the company if I can.

”Ms Welch is humbled by the award.

“It means a lot. It’s recognition from peers who I’ve looked up to my whole life which is incredible.”

She is also a former winner of the Power of Women in Dairying scholarship which enabled her to travel to World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin. She continues to work with the power of women to promote their contribution to the dairy industry.

Categories Agribusiness

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