Run by SA Country Shows, the Rural Ambassador Award recognises people aged between 20 to 30 who are committed to their local show and community and highlights the importance of youth in the agricultural show movement.
To find out more about the program, we asked past participants to share their story on how they got involved and what the program means to them.
Courtney Ramsey – 2013 State Rural Ambassador and 2014 National Rural Ambassador (Eyre Peninsula Association)
Having worked in state politics for around three years, I recently shifted to Canberra to take up a role as a Corporate Affairs Officer with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). Since commencing at GRDC in October 2017, I have been given a great range of opportunities and from early August will be taking on a new role in the organisation as a Grower Relations Manager for the Southern region, based in Horsham Victoria.
For me, I think the most impactful part of the award was the networking and relationship building opportunities. The calibre of people I met during the Rural Ambassador program as fellow participants was second to none and I still regularly keep in touch with contacts across the country. I got involved with the SA Agricultural Shows Next Generation Group off the back of the award and met a great range of like-minded, community engaged people who have become some of my best mates. Then there was the ability to have high-level meetings with people like CEOs and agribusiness policy makers with the gravitas of the award as a powerful backing for sharing my ideas.
I’ve enjoyed and risen to the challenges each step of the way, founded by that thing that all Rural Ambassador participants have in common, a can-do attitude, and I'm excited about what the future holds.
Tom Hunter – 2016 State Rural Ambassador Runner Up (Southern Association)
The award was one of the best things I have ever done. I was quite a shy person going into the award and came out a new person. Travelling over to the United Kingdom in 2017 as part of the study tour after the award changed my outlook on life and helped me sure up what I wanted to do for my career.
I have worked as a volunteer ambulance officer for the past three years and love helping people. I have now started my Bachelor of Paramedicine to become a paramedic. I have wanted to follow my dreams of getting into it for the past few years but travelling and having the opportunity to do this was a once in a lifetime experience.
I am very grateful to PIRSA for making this possible. I have been working on a farm until recently and have now dedicated more time studying and working with an events medical service. I am still spending a lot of time at the shows travelling around and talking to many different people.
Kayla Starkey – 2013 Young Rural Ambassador finalist and 2016 Rural Ambassador finalist (Central Association)
I have been quite busy finishing my university degree, which is a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at University of Adelaide (in my final semester now). I have been honoured to win the Rural Youth Bursary, which saw me undertake a study tour of Tasmania to look at the diversification of sheep properties as well as attend the National Association of Agricultural Educators national conference in January 2018.
I have become an executive committee member of SA Country Shows Next Generation Group and stepped into the role of Secretary of the group in September 2017. I have become much more active within my show community as well.
The Rural Ambassador programs have further fueled my passion and desire to educate youth about the importance of agriculture as well as what part country shows have to play to contribute to making that connection of 'Paddock to Plate' for society.
Lachy Johnson – 2017 Young Rural Ambassador (South East and Border Association)
I'm a diesel mechanic at Wise Farm Equipment in Bordertown and I'm a volunteer firefighter. I still have heaps to do with my local show at Mundulla with things in full swing planning for next year’s show.
The award has helped in my job as I have been able to network with a huge range of people and being an ag mechanic I have been able to learn about a wide variety of farming equipment and how farming varies across the state and how different farming practices work. Travelling to many different shows with the award has allowed me to bring many ideas back to my local show which I believe has and will help with shows in the future as well as giving me more confidence to put my own ideas forward to the committee.
To find out more on how to get involved, visit sacountryshows.com