Former ICMJ National Coordinator awarded ICMJ Life Membership

Former ICMJ National Coordinator awarded ICMJ Life Membership

A career in meat science wasn’t even on Sarah Strachan’s radar until she joined her university’s inter-collegiate meat judging team.

Now 25 years later, Ms Strachan has spent her career in service of the meat industry and is the current group manager of adoption and commercialisation for Meat & Livestock Australia.

Last night at the ICMJ National Conference dinner in Wagga Wagga, Ms Strachan was awarded ICMJ Life Membership for her significant contributions to the organisation over many years.

Ms Strachan is only the sixth person and the first woman inducted into the ICMJ Hall of Fame as a Life Member, following in the footsteps of industry stalwarts including ICMJ founding president John Carter, former MLA Managing Director Jason Strong, US meat science expert Dr Tom Carr, Mr Owen Gwinn and Charles Sturt University Professor Peter Wynn.

“It was completely unexpected,” Ms Strachan said of the honour.

“I’m particularly chuffed that the committee thought of me in the same league as the other recipients.”

ICMJ President Peter McGilchrist said Ms Strachan was an extremely worthy recipient.

“It was an absolute honour to recognise Sarah’s dedication and commitment to ICMJ with life membership,” Dr McGilchrist said.

“Her selfless contributions and unwavering commitment to ICMJ over many years stands as a beacon of generosity and passion, inspiring us all.”

Ms Strachan said participating in the 1999 Australian ICMJ competition was a key moment in shaping her future and also led her to volunteer for the ICMJ committee.

“I came to draw a lot of enjoyment from being part of ICMJ and because of the great people involved, I was able to keep that connection and stay involved,” she said.

Ms Strachan was instrumental in the transformation of ICMJ from a one-day meat judging competition into an industry-recognised education and development program.

“Anyone who is involved with ICMJ is doing this as an extra-curricular activity, so they’re enthusiastic people with extra initiative to go the extra mile and that attitude is infectious,” Ms Strachan said.

As a committee member, Ms Strachan also coached the Australian ICMJ team in 2007 on their tour of the US.

Competing on the US meat judging circuit in the alternates contest, Ms Strachan achieved the highest score of any Australian competitor in ICMJ history at the time.

“I will always cherish the privilege to take the Australian team to the US,” she said.

“That was not only a trip of a lifetime but one of the best professional development opportunities and ability to create networks and start getting a global perspective on the meat industry.”

Ms Strachan stepped up into the ICMJ National Coordinator role in 2011 and spent five years continuing to grow the program and participant numbers.

“Nearly every day in my job, I interact with an ICMJ alumni including many MLA staff, researchers, business operators and key industry personnel.”

Newly appointed MLA Managing Director Michael Crowley was Ms Strachan’s meat judging coach during her very first competition.

“There are a lot of youth agriculture program around and lots of professional development opportunities for people in the industry but there is really nothing like ICMJ,” Ms Strachan said.

“Our industry is reliant on having well qualified, educated, passionate people coming through and ICMJ provides that.”

The ICMJ National Conference continued today at Charles Sturt University, where Ms Strachan presented on consumer expectations and purchase drivers in the meat industry amidst the rising cost of living in Australia.

The event will culminate in the National Meat Judging Competition at Teys Wagga Wagga tomorrow followed by the Gala Awards Dinner tomorrow night.