2021 Distinguished Past Student Award Winner

John grew up on a dairy and sugar cane farm at Mundoo near Innisfail in North Queensland. He graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture from the Agricultural College (QAC) in1966 and was a regular at Back to College Weekend for many years. 

John’s lifetime interest in agricultural production was first kindled through the agriculture course at Innisfail High School where he completed his junior level studies in 1962.  He enrolled in the Agriculture Diploma Course at the Queensland Agricultural College (QAC) in 1964 and was awarded the Queensland Diploma in Agriculture (QDA) in 1966.  

During his years at QAC, John was very active in student sporting codes, particularly basketball and hockey, as well as in the QAC Air Training Corps Unit and in 1966 joined the College CMF Unit.  

He joined the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI) in 1967 as a Cadet Technician working on a variety of agronomy projects at the Biloela Research Station where development of hybrid sorghum varieties suited to drier areas and improving irrigation practices and plant breeding for cotton were the main research themes at the time.  

Then followed a year at Walkamin Research Station in 1968, where John was involved in research on improving irrigation and cropping practices for different soil types relevant to the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation area.  

His next posting was to the Kairi Research Station where from 1968 to 1990 he progressed to become an Agronomy Experimentalist in a wide range of research projects on crops and cropping practices for maize, peanuts, sorghum, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pasture/crop rotations.  

In 1990, John’s outstanding ability to organise and oversee project work was recognised in his appointment as Manager of the Southedge Research Station. He continued in this role until 1997, during which time the research program was focused on testing a range of horticultural and field crops which showed potential for replacement of tobacco growing, which was in terminal decline.  John was appointed Manager of Walkamin Research Station in 1997.  

While at Walkamin he oversaw the expansion of the largest freshwater fisheries aquaculture centre in tropical Australia consisting of 42 ponds and associated infrastructure as well as coping with the demands of a broad range of field crop, horticulture and pasture projects. 

He held the position of Manager of Walkamin Research Station until his retirement in 2012 after 45 years of service in the Qld DPI.  

John achieved a notable milestone in his career in 2017 when he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to veterans and their families.  The award recognised John’s extensive involvement in several organisations connected with veterans and dealing with issues related to their military service. 

As an active member of the UQ Gatton Past Students Association, John has donated memorabilia to the museum, and contributed to the UQ Scholarship Fund.  In 2016, he compiled and published a comprehensive 1966 Diploma Class Handbook which documented the life and times of his classmates with interesting historical information about the college, staff, courses and activities. It's an example of the enthusiasm, energy and ability that John brings to a project that he is passionate about.