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Ted Wolfe's success story

Ted Wolfe is an Agricultural scientist. He was born in Sydney and moved to Cooma with his family as a child. Ted’s grandfather was a wool-buyer, who retired to run several properties on the Monaro in partnership with Ted’s mother and uncle.

“I enjoyed the town life and rural underpinnings of Cooma,” Ted said. “Towards the end of my primary schooling, I was packed off to the Scots College in Sydney and later I enrolled in the only course that I had really considered, Agricultural Science at the University of Sydney.”

Ted went on to undertake a Teaching Fellowship and was awarded a Master of Agricultural Science degree. Near the end of his studies, Ted recognised that his plant science skills were sound, but his knowledge of pasture utilisation by grazing animals was weak. So he enrolled in a course to build his understanding of pasture-animal relations.

“This experience set me up to apply for a PhD at the University of New England, where they were looking for someone to evaluate grass-clover relationships during pasture development and their relevance to cattle bloat.”

At the end of his PhD, Ted moved to Wagga Wagga with his wife, Sally, and worked for the Department of Agriculture as a researcher and pasture group leader while also moonlighting as an ecology lecturer. With his family, he spent 1980 in Perth during a Reserve Bank Research Fellowship at the University of Western Australia, where he worked directly with members of the National Subterranean Clover Improvement Program.

Ted was soon promoted to regional positions in research administration, first at Wagga Wagga as Director of Research, and then at Tamworth as the Regional Director of Research.

“As a Director, I led teams of agronomists, soil and cereal chemists, plant breeders, plant pathologists, entomologists, livestock scientists, horticulturalists and even economists at several research centres. In addition, I collaborated closely with other regional Directors to lead specialists in research, advisory, veterinary, education and management. This experience built up the breadth and depth of my agricultural knowledge.”

Ted’s work also took him overseas – with visits to New Zealand, Thailand and southern China. Through his career, he worked with a diverse range of people and research corporations, and was a member of the Cotton Research Committee, the Australian Cotton Research Council, and the Grains R&D Corporation.

In 1990, Ted was selected as the inaugural Professor of Agriculture at Charles Sturt University (CSU), where he led the School of Agriculture, taught Agriculture subjects and coordinated the Bachelor of Agriculture course.

“When I retired in 2001, I walked out of CSU on Friday and back in the same door on Monday,” Ted said.

Ted stayed on at the university for further six years, helping the School of Agriculture with subject development and part-time teaching. He also took up consultancy opportunities and participated in R&D projects in North Korea, Eritrea and Myanmar.

With a diverse career behind him, Ted has taken up voluntary roles in his community of Wagga Wagga; he has advocated for cancer awareness, been chair of Murrumbidgee Landcare, and he continues to be involved in his local Rotary club. He has enjoyed travelling with his wife to Europe, USA, the Mediterranean, Japan, Canada and China, travels that have “involved hours of ‘windscreen agronomy’ from cars, buses, trains and planes, recognising patterns in the landscape and farming.”

Ted continues with some part-time work and he still takes an active interest in Agricultural research, farming and industry matters.

“I often run into my former students and I take great delight in their achievements. During my working life and retirement, I have made it my business to help out ‘young aggies’ in any way that I can. My life has revolved around Australian agriculture for 70+ years, and I still cannot wipe the smile of enjoyment off my face.”

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