Wayne Van Balen
Wayne Van Balen was born a fourth generation Apple Orchardist in Tallong in the NSW Southern Highlands which was a significant Apple growing area prior to the growth of Batlow and Tasmania. A severe bushfire in 1965 coupled with a family suicide in our case, brought an end to that dynasty. In fact, the size of the town halved due to a lack of incentive to re-build.
Wayne's passion to be reacquainted with horticulture has always persisted. In 1985, after completing a degree in Land Economics, he was appointed as Extension officer for the NSW Nursery Industry Association. In those days he met Judy McMaugh, Neil Black and Don Burke who were progressing significant initiatives and encouraging students to join their professional organisation the Australian Institute of Horticulture. Wayne did not achieve this until he completed his horticulture course in 2005. During the intervening 15 years as a Property Valuer with the State Bank of New South Wales (both urban and rural) Wayne also obtained his Associate Diploma in Farm Management from Orange Ag College (Sydney University).
Wayne regards it as a privilege to devote endless voluntary hours as President of this organisation. Working with a team of highly motivated members at National Council level and liaising with our wonderful team of Regional Conveners is exciting.
There is much to do but the enthusiasm from our members and the great opportunities to network nationally and internationally is a great motivation. We have many high profile members and hard working members in the regions who are passionate about improving their careers and of course their business profitability and understand how important continuing professional development is. We not only have a responsibility to stay abreast of best practice science in our profession/s in amenity and production horticulture, but also need to educate government as to how important our industry is for the health and wellbeing of our society to the value of production we contribute and the vast potential that our sector has for tourism earnings.