In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Australian Association of Ruminant Nutrition (AARN) is pleased to celebrate its first-ever female president and all-female executive committee. Our terrific trio is made up of Natalie Schwerin, Ellen Fitzgibbon, and Kristy DiGiacomo who, along with the 5 other committee members, volunteer their time to contribute to the AARN out of pure dedication to the ruminant industry. Unlike other Australian Agricultural bodies/companies who average <13% female representation on their boards, 5 of the 9 (56%) AARN committee positions (along with our legendary EO Jess Bloomfield) are currently filled by women. The AARN is continually working to promote female representation in our industry and create a safe and equitable safe for all/ While we have a way to go both in Australia and globally, on this international women’s day and every day we celebrate the amazing women working in Australian Agriculture.
Natalie Schwerin is the current President of the AARN and grew up in Geelong, Victoria in the family hospitality businesses. Always having a secret love for the land, this city girl moved to regional Queensland after graduating from the University of Melbourne in Animal Science in 2008 and is now, according to friends and family a true Queenslander. She began her career in the animal feed industry working as a production nutritionist with a feed mill on the Darling Down, her roles since then have included project management of silage on Australia’s largest feedlots, research and development on large scale piggeries, rumen health in dairy nutrition and implementation of new nutritional technologies in poultry, working for both national and global corporations. Natalie is a sucker for studying, completing a Master of Science in Agriculture at the University of New England not long after the birth of her daughter in 2014, she is also a member by exam in the Australian Association of Ruminant Nutrition and has recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Agribusiness from Marcus Oldham. Natalie’s husband Bill is a fly-in fly-out worker meaning that Natalie is a single parent to Bronte and Tom for 6 months of the year while also working her full-time job as Australian Sales and Technical Manager for a large premix company. Who said we can’t do everything?
Ellen Fitzgibbon is the current Vice President of the AARN. Ellen graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Bioscience, before going on to complete post graduate studies in ruminant nutrition and bovine reproduction. Ellen has held numerous positions within feed manufacturing business’ as well as industry roles. Her current position is in field and formulating nutrition as well as managing research for the dairy arm of the business. Ellen’s spare time is invested in her seed stock enterprise, Watermark Angus. A first-generation farm, with the future in mind! A ruminant nutritionist, mother, and Angus stud principle, Ellen’s passions lie with her family, cattle, and life on the land. Ellen is a believer in bringing teams together to formulate success on farm and has worked with a number of veterinarians and consultants to achieve excellent results for dairy, sheep, and beef operations. Ellen’s particular areas of interest are heifer rearing, transition management, farm profitability and fertility. She has worked in several roles, providing consultancy and technical support to farm businesses in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and South Australia. She brings depth of knowledge, collaboration, and an iron hand (thanks to her dutch heritage) to the AARN.
Dr. Kristy DiGiacomo is the Treasurer of the AARN (2018-present) and is a senior lecturer in production animal nutrition at the University of Melbourne. Dr. DiGiacomo’s research focuses on livestock nutrition, physiology, and adaptation to the external environment in a variety of production animal species including sheep, dairy cattle, dairy goats, and pigs. Her research examines the role of nutrition and nutritional supplements in managing and manipulating animal growth and production under various physiological and environmental conditions such as growth, lactation and heat stress. Her research aims to understand the impact of nutrition on metabolism and nutrient partitioning to manage animals for improved productivity and environmental sustainability. Kristy has a passion for working in agriculture and loves the mix of science and teamwork required in her role. Kristy is a passionate communicator who loves to teach others and share ideas. Kristy is a dog-loving, avid reader who enjoys getting lost in fictional worlds while spending time in the sun.