AUSTRALIA’S leading young rural show ambassadors form the nation’s states and territories will vie for the national honour in Tasmania this week.
Agricultural Shows Australia has announced the state finalists in the prestigious National Rural Ambassador Award to be decided at the Launceston Royal Show on October 13.
The National Rural Ambassador Award aims to discover the next generation of rural leaders who are driven to represent and promote their community, region and state.
This year the national championships is being hosted by Tasmanian Ag Shows and held at the Launceston Royal Show. The winner of each competition will also take home a pair of boots from Blundstone Australia.
The Agricultural Shows Australia Rural Ambassador National Finals competition is the culmination of a series of competitions which take place each year throughout Australia. Local shows applicants proceed through to regional level, state-based competitions and ultimately to the national finals.
Cassandra wants to spread the rural message
Queensland’s representative Cassandra Wortmann, 29, is the secretary of the Alpha Show Society. The mother of two young children is a keen polocrosse player and passionate about sharing the ways being involved with your local show can help your community.
“I am a rural ambassador to bring to the fore tiny communities in outback Queensland and the huge amount of community spirit that lives in these places,” she said.
“I want all consumers of food and fibre in Australia to learn about the people who produce it, every kid in schools to have a career in the agricultural sector as an option, whether that is on a station, or cropping, growing fruit and veg, or the massive amount of opportunities in cities across the nation that are essential to the success of our industries.”
Reece gives back through volunteering
Western Australia will be represented by keen rural volunteer Reece Jerrett, 23, from Mundijong.
When he’s not volunteering at poultry clubs and agricultural societies, Reece can be found volunteering at several not-for-profits in his local region, and breeding and exhibiting poultry and waterfowl. He highlights an ever increasing urban sprawl as a threat to the show movement.
“These effects on agricultural properties are felt right through different areas of the community, by impacting local food security, a decrease in exhibitors and volunteers in agricultural societies and the long term impact of young people leaving agricultural businesses all together,” Reece said.
Alexandra is going for gold
Victoria will be represented by Alexandra Pattinson, 29, from Inverloch. Alexandra has been a committee member of the Foster and District Agricultural and Pastoral Society since 2018 and started a Young Farmers Challenge.
Alexandra is also on the Melbourne Royal Emerging Leaders Committee and has been exhibiting in shows since she was a child. Her personal best is a winning tomato chutney and second in the chocolate cake using her nan’s recipe – but she’s going for gold next year.
“The opportunity to be Rural Ambassador for Victoria has been so valuable for me.
“I have been able to highlight my show, my community and my region on a statewide scale,” she said.
“The chance to continue this to nationals and to the rest of the country is thrilling.”
Jessica has some good ideas to share
Bathurst Show stalwart Jessica Fearnley, 27, from Bathurst, is representing New South Wales in the rural ambassador competition.
Jessica is a familiar face at the Bathurst Show, the Sydney Royal Easter show and various other shows across the state. From stewarding, exhibiting and volunteering behind the scenes, to head steward in the horse section at the Bathurst Show, she’s done it all and has strong ideas of how to ensure the vitality of agricultural shows into the future.
“To encourage more participation in shows I would like to use the potential selection as Rural Ambassador as a platform to get into schools and talk more about getting involved in shows.
“I have been working with my local show society on building a series of training days for young stewards, to help develop them professionally, build their relationships and give them the skills to feel comfortable stewarding events,” she said.
“I see being rural ambassador a great opportunity to travel to other shows and see how others are training their stewards and young talent and see what we can implement here in New South Wales.”
Brodie believes youth are the future
Swansea shearing contractor Brodie Carpenter, 28, will represent Tasmania. He runs the Campbelltown Show shearing competition, owns a shearing company, and has a huge passion for the rural sector and a big belief that youth are our future in the industry and our shows.
“I want to get more schools statewide and in the district involved from a young age and bring them up through the ranks and try to keep them around the rural sector,” he said.
“I also want to get state growth involved to help us update our facilities so things don’t perish and disappear for our younger generation into the future.”
Tiffany has a strong family show background
Representing the Northern Territory will be Tiffany Davey, 27, from Katherine. She is the event coordinator for the Katherine and District Show Society Inc, one of the Northern Territory’s largest community events.
Tiffany has also stewarded the Young Farmers Challenge at the Sydney Royal, launched the Young Farmers Challenge throughout WA and is a founding member of NextGenWA.
“My journey with the show movement has been both extensive and varied.
“It began as a child, I entered many classes, from eggs to art,” she said.
“Like many in regional areas, our family’s trophies from local shows were displayed with pride and received their yearly polish.
“I am deeply committed and passionate about the agriculture industry and regional Australia. To me, shows highlight the essence of our regions; they not only foster community unity but also celebrate our regions and their people,” Tiffany said.
“The Rural Ambassador program, in my eyes, perfectly encapsulates this.
“It offers a unique platform not just to represent my local show and state but also to be an advocate for the Rural Ambassador program itself.”
Courtney has a passion for South Australia
South Australia’s representative in the rural ambassador competition is Courtney Higgs, 27, from Naracoorte.
Courtney is an agronomist whose passion for South Australian communities goes beyond her profession. She’s involved with the South East of SA and Border Show Societies Association and can’t see herself anywhere else.
“Regional South Australia is ripe with great opportunities, especially in food production.
“It’s a lovely drive to work, and passing through that natural beauty every day, wide open spaces, and the culture,” she said.
ASA chairman Dr Rob Wilson said the award provides a forum for young people to express their views through education and experience and develop closer links with like-minded representatives from around the state and across Australia.
The winner of the rural ambassador award will be announced at a gala dinner on Friday, October 13.
Find more about the competition here.