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OP CONSERVATION HERO AWARDED OAM

Horrie Poussard, a final-year student of Parade’s Class of 1957, can lay claim to a farming connection from as far back as his schooldays.

Which perhaps best explains why he was this week recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for service to conservation and the environment.

“My mother had been brought up on a Mallee farm and I had family members in farming who I liked visiting during my secondary schooling,” Horrie said.

“A school visit from an OP, Bob Pattison B.Agr Sc, when I was in Matric set me on a path to doing Agricultural Science at Melbourne Uni.

“After graduating, I spent some years working with Victorian farmers and then working on rural conservation issues (and) for the next 20 years I worked on soil conservation, catchment management and then developed the Landcare program in Victoria.”

Horace (‘Horrie’) Poussard was one of 844 Australians recently honoured, having earned an OAM in the General Division.

A student in Agricultural Science at Melbourne University, Horrie emerged as a farm consultant who found work with the Soil Conservation Authority. Then in 1986, whilst serving as a departmental adviser for Conservation, Forests and Lands, he was chosen to design Landcare - the community-owned program that encourages integrated management of agricultural and private land.

The organisation evolved in Victoria through an initiative of the late Premier Joan Kirner, (then Minister for Conservation, Forests and Lands) and Heather Mitchell, (then President of the Victorian Farmers Federation) back in 1986.

While Joan was inspired by the prospect of a community-led bipartisan conservation group, Horrie was the man identified to make it happen – and in November 1986 Landcare was launched in central Victoria.

“Why me? That’s a good question,” Horrie said in a previous interview with Sarah Hudson of The Weekly Times.

“The director of the department (Land Protection Service within Conservation, Forests and Lands) knew I’d finished my master’s degree in conservation extension (advisory services) and so he looked at me and said ‘You can do this’.

“There have been an awful lot of people involved over the years to strengthen and promote Landcare. I was simply involved in the early years.”

Horrie was charged with the responsibility of making a workable program to protect natural resources in the context of productive agriculture. His brief included forming training groups, creating incentive grants and educational materials. He was the first Landcare executive officer and even came up with the title of the organisation.

“I initially thought Farmcare,” he said.

“At the time Medicare had started and the notion of care was a nice thought, but Joan said it’s broader than just farms so I called it Landcare.”

Landcare subsequently became a national program and like Medicare is one of very few programs still alive after more than 30 years - thanks to the bipartisan support it achieved at State and Federal level.

And Horrie’s work is not yet done.

“At various times I have lived and worked in Asia and the Pacific, often involved with agriculture/environment and community development projects,” Horrie said.

“My background led me to help found Australian Landcare International in 2008, an Non-Government Organization which advises and supports rural community projects overseas. This allows me to continue to encourage sustainable food production and resource conservation in developing countries.”

The Old Paradians’ Association congratulates Horrie Poussard OAM.

Images: The Weekly Times, Global Landcare