Our Teams

Owl Farm is operated on a day-to-day basis by a team of three permanent farm staff, and overseen by a number of committees: the Farm Management Committee is made up of technical representatives of each of the funding partners, the Demonstration Manager, and representatives from St Peter’s and local farmers.  The Governance Committee is comprised of senior members of the funding partners, the FMC Chair and the Demonstration Manager; it provides guidance on strategic directions.  The St Peter’s Farm Operations Committee is made up of the Farm Manager, Demonstration Manager, and school Board Trustees.

Jo Sheridan
Demonstration Manager

Jo was brought up on a dairy cow and goat farm in Taranaki, and after studying Applied Science (Ag) at Massey University she spent time travelling and working overseas on various farms. She has been involved for over 20 years in the dairy sector supporting farmers with education and extension on farm, and has her own business, Architects of Change: an independent facilitation and extension business. Jo is also involved on her local school’s Board of Trustees and local community projects. Their two boys keep Jo and her husband Carl busy, coaching and supporting numerous sport teams, mountain biking, sea kayaking, visiting skate parks and camping around as much of NZ as they can. In her spare time Jo has been known to compete in the odd Spirited Women adventure race – having completed three already.

Tom Buckley
Farm Manager

Tom hails from Devon in the UK and has been in New Zealand for 14 years. He studied Agriculture at Harper Adams College of Agriculture and has wide experience of different farming methods. He has worked at Owl Farm since October 2015, and has been critical to improving the farm’s performance. Tom is married to Kelli, a senior sire analyst at LIC; they have two daughters. In what little spare time he has, Tom likes watching his kids at sports, wakeboarding, and walking.

LaArni Bayquin
2IC

LaArni Bayquin has been at Owl Farm for five years, and has become an invaluable 2IC to Tom. LaArni is from the Philippines and after spending three years training in Japan started her career in NZ. Since starting at Owl Farm as a Farm Assistant LaArni has completed her Levels 3, 4 & 5 ITO training. LaArni is renowned for always bringing a smile to work each day. She is boss in charge of calf rearing and effluent management. Her next goal is to learn how to be an AB technician.

Jules Wood
Farm Assistant

Jules is the newest member of the farm team, having started at Owl Farm in 2021. Jules has wide experience of the dairy industry and in her free time likes to compete on her western horse “Chilli”. Jules loves a good yarn and has a keen eye for animal health. She also names every calf born on the farm!

Bella Sheridan
Hostess

Starting in 2019 Bella is the youngest of all our staff members. Her job is to meet and greet all the visitors to Owl Farm and provide positive experiences for the many students who visit.

Aksel Bech
Chair of Governance Committee and St Peter’s Farm Ops Committee

Aksel has a commercial background in both Human Resource Management and equipment sales & service, particularly to the Dairy, Wine and Brewing industries.  He gained a BSc in Microbiology and Psychology from Massey University, and holds an MSocPsy in Industrial and Organisational Psychology from the University of Waikato. Aksel started his career working for Natural Gas Corporation, then Cedenco Foods in Gisborne (a tomato grower and tomato-pasta processing company). He was part of the successful management buy-out of NDA Engineering in 1998. Here he continued as owner/manager until the business was sold a decade later, after which Aksel did various volunteer activities with UNICEF and other organisations, held Board of Trustee roles in two primary schools and St Peter’s Cambridge, as well as directorships in private sector companies whilst also focusing on family.

David Green
General Manager (NZ), PGG Wrightson Seeds

David has held the position of General Manager New Zealand Seeds since 2009. He is responsible for all facets of the New Zealand Seed business. David graduated from Lincoln University in 1990 with a B.Com (Ag) degree and since then has worked in many roles for PGG Wrightson Seeds Limited and its predecessor companies. David is a former executive member of NZGSTA and a current executive member for the NZPBRA and is the NZPBRA representative on the newly created Seed Industry Research Centre Governance Board. He is a Director of R&D companies Grasslands Innovation Limited and Forage Innovations Limited.

Bruce Thorrold
Strategy & Investment Leader Productivity, DairyNZ

Bruce has been a strategy and investment leader since March 2001. The strategy and investment team is responsible for investing the farmer levy. Before joining Dexcel (now DairyNZ), Bruce spent 15 years with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and AgResearch, where he worked in soil science and catchment management, including hill country and lowland studies. At Dexcel, Bruce led the farm systems research team and was involved with the Holstein-Friesian Strain Trial and the Lake Taupo policy process, before taking on his current role.

Charlotte Rutherford
Director for On Farm Excellence, Fonterra

Charlotte Rutherford is the Director of On Farm Excellence within Farm Source. This role is responsible for supporting Fonterra Shareholders in the areas of Milk Quality, Food Safety, Environmental Management and On Farm R&D. Charlotte has been with the Co-operative for 19 years, working largely in the area of sustainability. This time has included periods leading strategy and policy development and she continues to have oversight of all environmental policy at both a regional and central government level. The current regulatory environment presents both challenges and opportunities for agriculture in New Zealand and it is Charlotte’s job to ensure these opportunities are maximised for Fonterra Shareholders. Part of this work has included the introduction of the Co-operative Difference which is a way to work alongside farmers to ensure their businesses are sustainable into the future, and recognising great performance along the way.

Mark Wisnewski
Senior Manager – Corporate Business, Westpac Bank

Mark has been with Westpac since graduating from Massey University in 1994 and has an extensive background in agribusiness. He has spent 16 years in the Westpac Agribusiness team in a variety of senior roles which have included working closely with customers and Westpac staff. Mark’s current role as Senior Manager in Corporate Business involves managing the banking relationships of a limited number of corporate clients in the greater Waikato region.

Alison Bailey
Professor of Farm Management, Lincoln University

Alison has been at Lincoln University since May 2016. She has been an active researcher in Farm Management for over 25 years, primarily as a social scientist working within multi-disciplinary teams. The focus of her research is on the analysis of sustainable farming systems and wider agri-ecosystem resilience, with particular emphasis on the financial impact on farm productivity of alternative farming systems and agri-environment policy. Her work contributes to improvements in how government legislation is implemented, reducing the burden for both government and the farming industry whilst managing risk, maintaining food safety and quality, and/or reducing the impact on the environment. The work has been undertaken across the European Union, United Kingdom, Africa and most recently New Zealand for both Government, commercial and charitable organisations.

Ian Brown
Chair, Farm Management Committee

Ian Brown is a dairy farmer from Tokoroa. Along with his wife Karyn, he has progressed through the dairy industry from farm assistant, via sharemilking to farm ownership. He has also contributed off farm to the dairy industry through Fonterra shareholders council, the DairyNZ farmer audit committee, and local initiatives. He has two daughters who attended St Peter’s; both of whom are pursuing their own respective careers. Ian’s off farm interests include cycling and motor racing. As Chair of the Farm Management Committee, Ian has an important liaison role in the Governance Committee.

Ian Tarbotton
Science Extension Manager, Ballance AgriNutrients

Ian leads the Ballance Science Extension team who are based across New Zealand; they deliver training, regional projects and science-based advice to farmers. He is involved in a number of key projects in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Ian comes from a farming background, and studied Agricultural Science at Lincoln University. He then worked for AgResearch as a Social Scientist on many projects linked to agronomy, farm systems and environmental management. After this came a period of working for DairyNZ as Extension Strategist, helping support positive change in the dairy industry. He was part of the initial SMASH (Smaller Herds) committee and started the DairyNZ Dairy Connect service. Ian also sits on the Farm Management Committee.

Mark Ter-Morshuizen
Nutrient Specialist, Ballance AgriNutrients

Mark Ter-Morshuizen joined Ballance in January 2013, having moved from the company’s then other farm nutrient division, Altum. He has a wide range of farming experience, gained in both New Zealand and South African agricultural industries. Having completed a Diploma in Agriculture, Mark managed dairy farms and large sugar cane estates in his home country, but moved with his family to New Zealand in 2005. In the following six years he worked in a variety of rural industries, including a dairy farm, a dairy genetics company, in rural banking and in animal feeds. Cambridge-based Mark spends his spare time on a range of family duties involving his kids, gardening and DIY.

Jo Sheridan
Demonstration Manager, Owl Farm

Jo was brought up on a dairy cow and goat farm in Taranaki, and after studying Applied Science (Ag) at Massey University she spent time travelling and working overseas on various farms. She has been involved for over 20 years in the dairy sector supporting farmers with education and extension on farm, and has her own business, Architects of Change: an independent facilitation and extension business. Jo is also involved on her local school’s Board of Trustees and local community projects. Their two boys keep Jo and her husband Carl busy, coaching and supporting numerous sport teams, mountain biking, sea kayaking, visiting skate parks and camping around as much of NZ as they can. In her spare time Jo has been known to compete in the odd Spirited Women adventure race – having completed three already.

Nic Boyd
Director of Finance, St Peter’s

Nic has been with St Peter’s as Director of Finance for nearly three years. In her capacity on the Farm Management Committee, she helps Jo produce the financial reports for Owl Farm, and represents St Peter’s financial interests on the Governance Committee.

Rob Campbell
Chief Operating Officer, St Peter’s

Rob originated from Dunedin, and graduated from Otago University with a degree in Economics, which he followed up with an MA in Economics from the University of Canterbury. He spent 35 years based in Auckland, working in banking and finance. Prior to joining St Peter’s, Rob worked at Dilworth School, managing endowment funding. He represents St Peter’s Cambridge on the Governance Committee.

Ian Brown
Chair, Farm Management Committee

Ian Brown is a dairy farmer from Tokoroa. Along with his wife Karyn, he has progressed through the dairy industry from farm assistant, via sharemilking to farm ownership. He has also contributed off farm to the dairy industry through Fonterra shareholders council, the DairyNZ farmer audit committee, and local initiatives. He has two daughters who attended St Peter’s; both of whom are pursuing their own respective careers. Ian’s off farm interests include cycling and motor racing.

Aksel Bech
Chair, St Peter’s Farm Ops Committee

Aksel has a commercial background in both Human Resource Management and equipment sales & service, particularly to the Dairy, Wine and Brewing industries.  He gained a BSc in Microbiology and Psychology from Massey University, and holds an MSocPsy in Industrial and Organisational Psychology from the University of Waikato. Aksel started his career working for Natural Gas Corporation, then Cedenco Foods in Gisborne (a tomato grower and tomato-pasta processing company). He was part of the successful management buy-out of NDA Engineering in 1998. Here he continued as owner/manager until the business was sold a decade later, after which Aksel did various volunteer activities with UNICEF and other organisations, held Board of Trustee roles in two primary schools and St Peter’s Cambridge, as well as directorships in private sector companies whilst also focussing on family.

Tom Buckley
Owl Farm Manager

Tom hails from the UK and has been in New Zealand for 14 years. He studied Agriculture at Harper Adams College of Agriculture and has wide experience of different farming methods. He has worked at Owl Farm since October 2015, and has been critical to improving the farm’s performance. Tom is married to Kelli, a senior sire analyst at LIC; they have two daughters. In what little spare time he has, Tom likes watching his kids at sports, wakeboarding, and walking.

Frank Portegys
Senior Extension Partner, Cambridge-Pirongia, DairyNZ

Frank has been involved with farming all his life, being brought up on dairy farms on the Hauraki Plains and Morrinsville before attending Massey University. He has spent time working for MPI (MAF) and eight years in the fertiliser industry before joining DairyNZ in 2002 as a Consulting Officer and also working in the Environment Team. In 2008 Frank and his wife went dairy farming as an equity partner and sharemilker milking 400 cows between Morrinsville and Cambridge. While there they were finalists in the 2012 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards taking out the Nutrient Management Awards and Best Dairy Farm Award. He is now back with DairyNZ as an Extension Partner in the Cambridge-Pirongia area. He is also an all-round good guy.

Rob Campbell
Chief Operating Officer, St Peter’s Cambridge

Rob originated from Dunedin; he graduated from Otago University with a degree in Economics, and followed this with an MA in Economics at the University of Canterbury. He spent 35 years based in Auckland, working in banking and finance. Prior to joining St Peter’s, Rob worked at Dilworth School, managing endowment funding. He is now the Chief Operating Officer of St Peter’s Cambridge.

Ian Tarbotton
Extension Team Leader, Ballance

Ian leads the Ballance Science Extension team who are based across New Zealand; they deliver training, regional projects and science-based advice to farmers. He is involved in a number of key projects in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Ian comes from a farming background, and studied Agricultural Science at Lincoln University. He then worked for AgResearch as a Social Scientist on many projects linked to agronomy, farm systems and environmental management. After this came a period of working for DairyNZ as Extension Strategist, helping support positive change in the dairy industry. He was part of the initial SMASH (Smaller Herds) committee and started the DairyNZ Dairy Connect service.

Charlotte Westwood
Veterinary Nutritionist, PGG Wrightson Seeds

Dr Charlotte Westwood has 25 years of experience in veterinary science, nutrition and farm management in both New Zealand and Australia. With a vet degree from Massey University and a PhD in dairy nutrition and reproduction from the University of Sydney, Charlotte enjoys all aspects of dairying systems but particularly ruminant nutrition, reproduction and animal health management. As a veterinary nutritionist employed by one of Owl Farm’s sponsors, PGG Wrightson Seeds, Charlotte has been a member of the farm management committee since 2014. 

Sarah Wood
Farmer Services Manager South Waikato, Fonterra

Sarah grew up on a large sheep and beef farm in North Canterbury. She moved to the Waikato to study for a bachelor of Management Studies at University of Waikato, and has never left. While raising a young family, she and her husband sharemilked their way to farm ownership in the Matamata Piako region over 12 years. During that time Sarah worked in the Technical Sales team in various roles at Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and then moved to her current role with Fonterra in 2009. Over the last 12 years she and her team have supported farmers through the highs and lows of dairying, and she firmly believes that the NZ dairy industry has a great future despite the global challenges. Sarah has represented Fonterra as a member of the farm management committee since 2014.

Jo Sheridan
Demonstration Manager, Owl Farm

Jo was brought up on a dairy cow and goat farm in Taranaki, and after studying Applied Science (Ag) at Massey University she spent time travelling and working overseas on various farms. She has been involved for over 20 years in the dairy sector supporting farmers with education and extension on farm, and has her own business, Architects of Change: an independent facilitation and extension business. Jo is also involved on her local school’s Board of Trustees and local community projects. Their two boys keep Jo and her husband Carl busy, coaching and supporting numerous sport teams, mountain biking, sea kayaking, visiting skate parks and camping around as much of NZ as they can. In her spare time Jo has been known to compete in the odd Spirited Women adventure race – having completed three already.

Richard Luxton
Farmer

Richard has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Canterbury and a Diploma in Agribusiness. He has completed the NZID Directors’ course, and the Kellogg’s Rural Leadership programme. Richard is a St Peter’s alumnus; he sits on the St Peter’s School Foundation Committee and has been involved in a number of charitable trusts. He has extensive corporate farm governance and management experience. Richard is currently a director of Tatua Dairy Cooperative, JD & RD Wallace Ltd and Kotare Ltd (two large-scale corporate farming businesses). He also manages two family dairy farms in the Waikato, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

Kevin Old
Lincoln University

Kevin Old is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Land Management and Systems at Lincoln University. Kevin teaches and supervises students in the fields of agricultural systems and agribusiness. His research is in the areas of agribusiness governance and farm management decision-making, with a focus on co-operative decision making, primary sector governance in New Zealand and Australia, and land ownership and succession. He has a PhD from the University of Waikato.

Grant Wills
Farmer

Grant and his wife Karo live in Walton, Waikato, on their 780-cow dairy farm. Grant has transitioned from 100% on-farm involvement to contracting a sharemilker to take care of the dairy platform and runoff. Grant and Karo also have some farming interests in Otago. Grant has had a strong involvement throughout his career in research, management, and extension roles. He spent ten years as a Fonterra Shareholders Councillor, until his retirement in the 2017 season. He continues to be involved in the industry with a focus on environmental stewardship, and agricultural tourism. Grant and Karo enjoy spending time with their three adult children. Outside farming and family interests, Grant enjoys sport, particularly golf and tennis.

Dayna Neal
Westpac

Dayna is an Agribusiness Manager for Westpac and has clients throughout the Waikato. She was brought up on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Te Awamutu. Prior to completing her Bachelor of Management Studies at Waikato University, Dayna worked as a farm assistant for three seasons. She has been with Westpac for five years and has just returned to her role after having her first child.

Nic Boyd
Director of Finance

Nic has been with St Peter’s as Director of Finance for nearly three years. In her capacity on the Farm Management Committee, she helps Jo produce the financial reports for Owl Farm.

Kate Hillerton
Owl Farm Administrator

Kate originates from the UK, where she gained a B.SC in Agricultural Management from Wye College, University of London. She has wide-ranging agricultural experience, both practical and administrative. Now semi-retired, Kate likes to keep her hand in by continuing to provide the administration role for Owl Farm, along with specific projects as necessary.

Daniel Bradbury
Associate Member

Daniel was born in the UK, and started his career in agriculture while on an OE in New Zealand in 2008, before returning to the UK where he spent five years working across three different dairy farms. He has been resident in New Zealand since 2014, and is currently sharemilking 260 cows in the Waikato. He was runner-up in the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards 2021 Share Farmer of the Year.

Rachael Foy
Associate Member

Rachael has a Bachelor of Agriculture degree from Lincoln University. In 2017 she was awarded Dairy Manager of the Year (Auckland/Hauraki) and placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year. In 2021 she was awarded Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer of the Year. She has more than seven years’ experience of dairy management and is currently contract-milking a spring-calving herd of 750 cows on 300 ha near Huntly.