Dr Frank Kelleher OAM, BScAgr (Hons1)(Syd), PhD(Syd)
Dr Frank Kelleher OAM has spent his lifetime in Agriculture, growing up in Forbes NSW and working in many agricultural enterprises at every opportunity outside of school commitments. His career specialisation is Agronomy, which he studied at Sydney University, graduating Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with1st Class Honours in 1966 and PhD in 1971. He was appointed Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, in Agronomy and Plant Sciences at Hawkesbury Agricultural College, (later Western Sydney University), in 1971 and continued there until retirement in 2005. During that period, he held appointments ranging from Head of Department to Head of the School of Agriculture, and played many senior roles as a member of the Academic Board. His teaching and research interests included plant adaptation and response to environment, climatology, agronomy, crop physiology and soil science. The transition from College of Advanced Education to University in the late 80s saw the emergence of Research Centres and a much greater emphasis on staff and postgraduate research. He was subsequently appointed Deputy Chair of the Postgraduate Research Studies Committee.
His earlier funded research included agronomy of sweet sorghum as feedstock for ethanol production; the effectiveness of extension services in the wheat and dairy industries; and pasture development and management for the equine industries. The latter project resulted in publication of the landmark book “Feeding Horses in Australia” which he co-authored with Drs John Kohnke and Penny Trevor-Jones. Later in his career, he developed a particular interest in spatial information systems and their application to analysis of land use and agricultural production systems. He received competitive funding for spatial mapping and analysis projects on frost incidence in undulating croplands at Spring Ridge; the impacts of urban development on loss of prime agricultural land; and on spatial information systems for land use planning in local government (GWSSpatial);
He was elected to the Management and subsequently Business Management Committees of Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association from 1981 to 1994, including consecutive terms as Ringmaster of Hawkesbury Show from 1987 to 1994. He is a Life Member of Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association.
He has been a long term member and contributor to the Royal Agricultural Society as Judge of its wheat classes (1993 – present) and as Chief Overjudge (1984 – 2015) for the Junior Grains Judging Competition, which became the NSW State Junior Grains Judging Final in 1993. He was recognized as a Long Serving Member of the RAS in 2015 and received the award of Champion of the RAS in 2020.
He has had an extensive career as a volunteer in the NSW Pony Club movement from 1981 to present, holding many senior positions at Club (Kurrajong Pony Club), Zone (8 years as Zone Chief Instructor of Zone 19) and 5 years as Vice-President of the Pony Club Association of NSW. He was awarded Life Membership of Kurrajong Pony Club and Zone 19 and was honoured with Life Membership of the NSW Pony Club Association in 2016. During his tenure as NSW Vice-President, he played a significant role in policy development across a wide range of areas focused on child safety and member protection, including development of the Policy and protocols to minimise the threat of Hendra Virus outbreaks at all Championship events. In 2014 his contribution was recognized by Volunteers NSW, with the Senior Volunteer of the Year Award for North West Sydney Region, and by Sports NSW with a Distinguished Long Service Award. He received the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for his contributions to all aspects of the NSW Pony Club movement.
He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on Australia Day 2017 for ‘services to horse sports and agricultural education’. He joined The Order of Australia Association (NSW Branch) and was coopted as Convenor of its Youth Community Service Award, which recognises exemplary service to community welfare by senior (years 11 and 12) High School students in NSW. It has now been expanded in scope to all (1,017) NSW High Schools. This annual Award, limited to 25 students, has become very competitive and highly prized. The Awards are personally presented by the Governor of NSW in a special ceremony at NSW Government House.