Rural change agent
Karen Hutchinson, from Hanwood, New South Wales was, at the time of the Award, Executive Manager of Murrumbidgee Irrigation and an irrigated agriculture leader at a time of unprecedented change in the management of the nation’s water resources.
Karen came from an academic background with expertise in group processes and sustainable resource management and professional experience in strategic development.
Since 2000 Karen has lived with her family at Hanwood outside Griffith, where she has been involved in primary industries; directly at a farming level growing sultanas for dried fruit production on their irrigated property. Indirectly she has been an educator and involved in policy development for the irrigation industry.
In her role as Murrumbidgee Irrigation Executive Manager, Karen was responsible for water distribution and customers throughout the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA).
Karen believes that with agriculture in the Murray Darling Basin facing the prospect of significant cuts to water allocations, the efficiency of water supply and its use will become absolutely critical to the survival of the Basin’s rural industries and communities.
Karen wants to see irrigated agriculture go beyond resilience, to embrace change and to demonstrate its ability to adapt and thrive in response to political and environmental change.
She believes during a time of unprecedented change, the irrigation community of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area will need strong leadership. She aimed to use her academic background and qualifications, her industry knowledge and the strong links she had with industry and the farming community to provide that leadership to her community.
Her Award ambition is to research current knowledge and thinking on innovation and change, to learn from other industries that have faced change and to map out opportunities for engaging industries and communities to manage change in the MIA.