New Guild members from the HGCA communications team were out in force at the Bangers ‘n’ Beer reception at the Cereals Event as to meet fellow member journalists, photographers and PR specialists in the arable sector.
As a Communications Executive at HGCA, Jo Crowley is responsible for corporate news and press relations with a focus on exports, market intelligence, business improvement and events. She also writes HGCA’s regular printed newsletter Grain Outlook, which covers all areas of HGCA activity and is sent to 25,000 contacts three times a year.
After studying English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and law at Queen Mary, University of London, Jo returned to her home county of Warwickshire to join the Leamington Observer as a news and features reporter.
“I earned the NTCJ qualification during my three years on the paper’s news desk, and then changed direction by taking on marketing and PR for a small privately-owned hotel group, Eden Hotel Collection,” Jo recalls. “During my time with the group, which includes the Michelin-starred Mallory Court hotel, I was involved in the launch of two new hotels, including the Arden in Stratford-upon-Avon, a joint venture with the Royal Shakespeare Company.”
Jo moved to HGCA – the arable sector arm of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) – in September 2010 following the creation of a new communications department. She since helped establish the organisation’s social media streams, as well as working to update and improve the website.”
In her home life, Jo is married to a sergeant with West Midlands Police and they have a two-year-old daughter.
“As a working mum, my interests are nowadays under-indulged,” she says. “But they include good food, travel, books, pub quizzes and writing several – as yet unfinished – novels.”
Colleague Laura Temple has a technical focus in her communications executive role, handling knowledge transfer of the HGCA research portfolio, working specifically with agronomy based projects.
“Having grown up on a mixed farm in Yorkshire, I studied Agriculture at the University of Reading, graduating in 2009,” she says. “I then joined HGCA as part of the Knowledge Transfer team and took on my current role in December 2010 as my interest in this area grew.
“Working in the communications team offers the best of both worlds,” she adds. “It gives me the chance to think creatively while still using my practical knowledge of the industry I love.”
In her spare time, Laura is a keen horse rider and skier. She also enjoys the occasional day on a tractor – but only if it’s the right colour!
Jennifer Forrester’s technical communications role at HGCA also focuses on knowledge transfer but in her case on food and feed safety, industrial uses for cereals, environmental research and the Recommended Lists of crop varieties.
Having graduated from Harper Adams University College in summer 2009 with a 2:1 in Agri-Food Marketing & Business Studies, Jennifer joined HGCA in September 2009 as an events assistant, progressing to an executive role in this department in January 2010.
“I moved into the newly-formed HGCA communications team in March 2011 to help farmers and other industry stake-holders benefit from the HGCA’s vast annual investment in research.
As a keen member of her local Young Farmers Club until recently, Jennifer competed within the county and represented Warwickshire YFC at national level. She travelled with fellow YFC members to Kenya to live in a rural community and experience Kenyan rural life first hand.
“As a dairy farmer’s daughter, I still get roped in to help at weekends,” Jennifer adds. “I’m currently attempting to train my unruly Labrador puppy, Pip, and hope to improve my skiing technique.”