Zanda McDonald Award’s 2024 finalists announced

Sheep Central, November 22, 2023

Zanda award finalist Xavier McCluskey.

TRANS-TASMAN agricultural badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award, has revealed its shortlist of ten young candidates from Australia and New Zealand for 2024.

Zanda finalist Tessa Chartres.

The coveted award that rewards future leaders in agriculture with tailored mentoring and education celebrates its 10th anniversary next year.

Zanda finalist Nick Dunsdon

The 2024 award finalists — five each from Australia and New Zealand – have been selected for their leadership skills, passion, and the  contribution they’re making within the primary sector.

Zanda finalist Caitlin McConnel and friend.

Zanda finalist Sam Fryer.

The Australian finalists are, Clayton Utz agribusiness lawyer and farmer, and Future Farmers Network chair in south-east Queensland, Caitlin McConnel, 33; Coban Pastoral Co manager and GDL rural property agent in Cunnamulla, Queensland, Nick Dunsdon, 33; Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority area manager and founder of “A Place To Call Home” podcast, Sam Fryer, 33; Murray Irrigation Ltd general manager business development and South  West Music Regional Conservatorium chair in Deniliquin, New South Wales, Tessa  Chartres, 32, and; Greenstock processing specialist in Tamworth New South Wales, Xavier McCluskey, 29.

Award chairman Shane McManaway said the judges were elated with the calibre of the latest crop of applicants.


Zanda finalist Carla Muller.

Zanda award finalist Jordi Hoult.

“It’s wonderful that this award has been helping grow future leaders in agriculture for a decade now,  providing unique opportunities to connect, collaborate and foster learnings from industry mentors  who have walked the path.

“We’re thrilled with our shortlist, and  looking forward to meeting everyone in person for interviews next month, to get to know them  better,” he said.

New Zealand’s award finalists include agricultural economist and principal consultant for Perrin Ag and former NZIPIM director, Carla Muller, 31, in Whakatane; veterinarian and senior advisor at the Ministry for Primary Industries, Jordi Hoult, 29, in Manawatu; Angus Australia extension officer Nancy Crawshaw,

Zanda finalist Richard Dawkins.

27, in Nuhaka Northern Hawkes Bay; sheep and beef farmer, and Marlborough Federated Farmers vice-president, Richard Dawkins, 34, in Blenheim and; West Auckland beef farmer and 2022 recipient of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Award, Tim Dangen, 31.

Zanda finalist Tim Dangen.

The ten shortlisted applicants will be interviewed next month, with three finalists selected from each country. They will head to Queenstown in March 2024 for the Zanda McDonald Award Impact Summit, where an Australian and a New Zealand winner will be crowned at a celebratory evening with industry leaders and award partners.

The winners will each pick up an impressive personal development package, including a fully personalised mentoring trip in both countries by private jet, $10,000 worth of tailored education or further training, media coaching and ongoing networking opportunities.

Zanda finalist Nancy Crawshaw.


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