R.M. Williams RAS Rural Achiever Award 

The Rules and Application form for the R. M Williams Rural Achiever Award are available on the RAS website https://www.rasnsw.com.au/sydney-royal-competitions/competitions/rural-achiever/

The RAS Rural Achiever Award is a state-wide leadership program run by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW to recognise future young leaders who are working hard to make a significant contribution to their local community and to rural Australia. The Award aims to acknowledge the achievements of young people (20–29 years of age) in primary industry and rural communities.

The program promotes and facilitates unique agricultural industry networking opportunities with rural leaders and other likeminded individuals through RAS and ASC connections and functions during the Sydney Royal Easter Show. This heightens the opportunity for the recipients to become future leaders in primary industry or the rural community.

The recipients are given additional opportunities throughout the year such as representing NSW at the National Rural Ambassador Award, and the chance to partake in an exchange program.

As part of an ongoing alumni program the hope is that Rural Achievers also become ambassadors for the RAS and the wider Show movement.

If you wish to enquire about the Award, please contact the RAS on  02 9704 1160 or ruralachiever@rasnsw.com.au.


Running a Rural Ambassador Program at your Show:-

NSW RAA Secondary Horizontal Logo

Running the Rural Ambassadors program at a grassroots level is a great way to actively engage more young people in local shows, and also provides both competition experience and show involvement to potential entrants in the state Rural Ambassador competition. A local competition will help identify the next generation of Show Society Committee members making it a win-win for both Show Societies looking for younger members and local young people who want to make their mark in their local area.

The above logo is available for all NSW shows to download and use in their schedules when running a Rural Ambassador Competition. There is both a horizontal version (as above) and a vertical version that can be used. We encourage you to download the branding guidelines to ensure you are using the logos correctly. 

Rural Ambassador Branding Guidelines

Rural Ambassador Horizontal - Colour  Rural Ambassador Horizontal - Reverse Rural Ambassador Horizontal - Black Background
 Rural Ambassdor Circle - White background Rural Ambassador Circle - Black Background  
Rural Ambassador Vertical - White background Rural Ambassador Vertical - Black background Rural Ambassador Vertical - Reverse

Why your Show Society Should run a Rural Ambassador Program

Running a dedicated program for Rural Ambassadors in your show provides young people with an opportunity to promote themselves within their communities, expand their networks and play a role in promoting shows, rural living and agriculture.

What’s more, it will help unearth the next generation of young leaders who have a strong commitment to the agricultural industries in your area and genuine interest in the Ag show movement but may not be fully involved with your show each year.

Entrants in the Rural Ambassador program will get an opportunity to participate in the show itself, as well as promote the show and its connected special events. In return, they will gain increased exposure to the wider community, the chance to chat with and socialise with officials and other entrants, and develop a passion for rural shows that sees them contribute long into the future.

The Rural Ambassador competition is a time honoured and fast-growing competition that many young people are keen to get involved in and show off their skills to the local community.

Hundreds of shows around Australia run an annual Rural Ambassador competition, with some hosting it for twenty years.

In NSW, Camden, Cowra, Bathurst and Dubbo shows all successfully run a competition. Their committees are a great source of guidance on getting yours started.

Discover the Next Generation of your Show Society Committee

The next generation of Show Society committee members in your community are ready and waiting to be included. Young men and women with a passion for agriculture have much to offer and running a Rural Ambassadors program could help them realise their potential.

Setting up a Rural Ambassador program at your local show can be a simple and cost effective way to engage locals as well as the next generation of passionate agriculture ambassadors to become show committee members and volunteers.

In New South Wales only five percent of shows host a local competition, meaning that many rural towns in the state are missing out on the opportunity to encourage young people with a passion for agriculture.

Running the program has minimal running costs - but the payoff is exponential with towns like Dubbo, Bathurst and Cowra reporting increased participation from younger people for years after they have participated in the program.

By recruiting outstanding youth in the community, engagement and connection can be enhanced with motivated and innovative volunteers to continue to lead our shows long into the future.

Simple Steps to Kickstarting a Rural Ambassador Program

The Rural Ambassadors program highlights and celebrates young people who have a genuine interest in their rural community as well as a future in agriculture. Running the program locally is incredibly beneficial to local young people and a Show Society looking for keen new members - and the next generation of committee members.

Getting the program off the ground is easier than you might think - and with five easy steps, your town could be on their way to identifying incredible local talent that could offer a lifetime of commitment to your Show Society.

Step 1 - Set up an application process

This is as simple as creating a form for potential applicants to fill out with their basic details as well as how they could benefit from becoming a Rural Ambassador winner along with their hopes and dreams for the future. Seeing the applications from motivated young locals will be the motivation you need to keep going.

Step 2 - Find a sponsor

While the costs of running the program can be very low for the Show Society, getting a sponsor onboard could help entice applicants with a generous cash prize or help funding some further training to help kick start their career. Identify a local organisation that may have the resources, community connection and an affinity to identify with young leaders. For a business, having their name associated with such a positive program could be enticing.

Step 3 - Let people know

Get the word out there to ensure that as many applicants as possible are rolling in. Use the resources you already have in place, like the Show Society website, social media and don’t be afraid to spread the word personally. Word of mouth is powerful.

Step 4 - Let the judging commence

The judging panel should carry out an interview with each of the entrants. Choosing between two and three judges is the ideal number, and a judge who is either a sponsor, has a standing within the community or local show or has experience with the Rural Ambassadors program is ideal.

Step 5 - Announce the winner at your show

The final (and most rewarding) step is to announce your winner. There are many existing opportunities and events that you could use to announce the winner of the Rural Ambassadors program. At the show, during the Grand Parade, or at an event in conjunction with the Young Woman competition are just a few ideas.

Why Running a Rural Ambassador Program works for everyone

In New South Wales just five per cent of shows host a local competition, compared with 90 per cent in Tasmania for instance, meaning that many rural towns in the state are missing out on the potential to encourage and reward youth community involvement in the show or in agriculture. By identifying outstanding youth in the community, engagement and connection can be enhanced with motivated and innovative volunteers to continue to lead our shows long into the future.

Dubbo Show Society have been running the Rural Ambassadors program since 2016 and have seen incredible success. The show’s very first winner, Lauren Amor, continues to be a dedicated committee member who now runs the program for the next generation of local young agriculture lovers.

Lauren believes that running the program is beneficial for both the Show Society and the entrant who has the chance to participate in a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for personal growth.

“I entered our first rural Ambassador program at Dubbo in 2016 and I was fortunate to win that year. It was quite a cool thing to get involved with and promote the show in a different way,” she said.

Lauren says that the Show Society’s aim is to unearth the next generation of lifelong members. “The goal is to have them involved in the show society. We’re lucky that we’ve had quite a few people stay around who have entered.”

Additionally, the program has provided an exciting slot of content that after five years of running the program, has become the peak of the show itself. “Announcing the winner of the Rural Ambassadors program is the pinnacle of our grand parade,” she says. “It's a spectacle and the winner gets to feel special.”

“Along with a prize, we give our winners complimentary membership to our show society, and they become an honorary committee member. We think that is really valuable.”

Despite how valuable the program is to run for both local young people and the Show Society, Lauren believes that it’s easy to get off the ground.

“The program itself doesn’t take much work,” she says, “But it can ba the push that someone needs to point them in the right direction to be motivated, to kick start their career, or get involved with the community.

“Even if some years we only have two or three entrants, it’s still a benefit to them and the show.”

While it is not not essential for potential state entrants to win a Rural Ambassadors program at a local level, it is an excellent way to foster and develop future committee members and show supporters and encourage personal development along the way.

How to guides for Shows runninng a Local Rural Ambassador Program

A local Rural Ambassador program is a rewarding endeavour for both show committees and potential entrants. While it is not not essential for potential state entrants to win at a local level in New South Wales, it is an excellent way to foster and develop future committee members and show supporters, securing the future of the local agriculture show. It also offers personal development, competition experience and an opportunity for young people to be mentored.

In New South Wales just five per cent of shows host a local competition, compared with 90 per cent in Tasmania for instance, meaning that many rural towns in the state are missing out on the potential to encourage and reward youth community involvement in the show or in agriculture. By identifying outstanding youth in the community, engagement and connection can be enhanced with motivated and innovative volunteers to continue to lead our shows long into the future.

Setting up a Rural Ambassador program at your local show can be a simple and cost effective way to engage locals as well as the next generation of passionate agriculture ambassadors to become show committee members and volunteers.

What is it all about-

The Rural Ambassadors program highlights and celebrates young people who have a genuine interest in their rural community as well as a future in agriculture. The aim of the award is to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young people to develop their skills and participate in their communities and local industries. It helps show committees identify the next generation of leaders who have a strong commitment to and an interest in agricultural industries and the show movement. Participating locally can create a pathway towards competing at the state and national level.

Making a Plan-

Running the Rural Ambassadors program can be as elaborate or as simple as each town’s capacity to manage it. It is sensible to build the program into the Show Society’s existing events, such as the Young Woman Competition or Young Judges and Paraders.

Entrants-

Depending on the resources available to the Show Society, yours may wish to run just one or several different age brackets for the Rural Ambassador program.

The senior program would be for ages between 21 and 29 (inclusive) as this aligns with the state and national rules. Entrants to the Senior Rural Ambassador Award will also be eligible to enter the RAS competition in Sydney and offering the full support of the Show Society is a good foundation for potential participants at a state level.

An intermediate age bracket would be between 18 and 20 years of age (inclusive) and a junior program would be between 15 and 17 years of age (inclusive). Running younger programs can help identify talent at a younger age and help engage students as they go through their high school years. High school agriculture departments are the ideal connections to successfully promote these programs to younger entrants.

Application Process-

Written application

All entrants should submit a written application with their personal details, a resume and a letter of application outlining their involvement in agriculture and show involvement. It needn’t be onerous, and it could be an online application or paper.

Personal details

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Mobile number
  • Email address
  • Educational details

Additional details should include

  • Interest in agriculture
  • Involvement in the show community such stewarding, parading or competing in local shows (if any)
  • Volunteering, fundraising or involvement in sporting clubs in the local community
  • Personal achievements
  • Other interests
  • Supporting documents such as certificates of participation, academic achievements, sporting awards, leadership awards or any other personal achievement
  • References such as an employer, mentor, teacher
  • A recent photograph for identification and promotional purposes

Letter of application should include

  • Reasons why the person should win the award
  • A more detailed outline of rural and community involvement
  • Future goals and ambitions
  • Current involvement in the local show
  • Any further information that could contribute to the application

Entry requirements

Consider what terms there may be for entry. They may include:

  • Age criteria - entrants may be required to be aged between 20 and 29 years of age for a senior competition, or 14 and 19 for a junior
  • The entrant must be a permanent resident of the region
  • The entrant should be involved in the local show in some capacity, however small, whether as a volunteer or competitor.
  • The entrant must be available for various events, including the interview process and award presentation
  • Identify any ineligible entrants due to a conflict of interest prior to accepting applications

Interview process

The next step in the process would be a face-to-face interview with the judging panel. This could take place at a number of locations:

  • The home of a Show Committee member
  • At the showgrounds
  • In conjunction with interviews for the Showgirl Competition
  • During the show
  • At a local business or town hall
  • At a loca restaurant, followed by a lunch with judges, entrants and committee members

Judging-

Appointing judges

The judging panel should carry out an interview with each of the entrants. Choosing between two and three judges is the ideal number, and a judge who is either a sponsor, has a standing within the community or local show or has experience with or in the Rural Ambassadors program is ideal.

Judging criteria

The judges will carry out an interview with each candidate which parallels a job interview. The criteria should assess:

  • Knowledge of the country show
  • General and rural knowledge with an emphasis on local issues
  • Involvement in the local community
  • Ambitions and goals
  • Communication skills
  • Personality
  • Stylish and/or well groomed appearance

Each criteria, along with the written application, could be judged out of 10, with the highest scored candidate being crowned the winner. 

National Rural Ambassador Judging Criteria

 

Interview 

Country Show Involvement 

25 points 

General and Rural Knowledge 

20 points 

Community Involvement 

20 points 

Communication Skills and Personality 

20 points 

Ambitions/Goals/Interests 

15 points 

Style, Grooming and Presentation 

10 points 

Conduct 

10 points 

SUB TOTAL 

120 points 

Onstage Interview 

Public Presentation 

20 points 

TOTAL 

140 points 

Involvement in the local Show

Creating a requirement for each candidate to be involved or become involved in the local Show is an important criteria that shows dedication and commitment to the program.  The involvement could include: stewarding, competing, judging, volunteering.

The involvement may be significant or simple, and entrants should be given every opportunity to become involved in order to compete. The competition is focused inclusion and inviting new members in.

Announcing a winner

There are numerous opportunities and events to announce a winner of the Rural Ambassadors program. They could be:

  • A specific event organised for the Rural Ambassadors program, like a Show Ball or lunch function
  • At the show, during the official opening or Grand Parade
  • In conjunction with the Showgirl competition The show society should also:
  • Issue a press release to local radio, television and newspapers announcing the winner and include details on the individual, as well as explaining the purpose and benefits of the competition
  • Inform the local mayor, the state and federal MP and other representatives
  • Post on social media to announce the winner
  • Include the winner’s information and story in the show schedule and any member newsletters
  • Encourage the winner to post a video about their experience
  • Reach out to similar community groups to encourage them to connect with the winner, ie Rotary, CWA, Lions et al

Supporting the entrants

After the winner is announced, all entrants should be thanked and supported by the committee and judges. This could be in the form of a letter, a conversation, an invitation to join the committee or an acknowledgement of their contribution to the community. It is important that all participants enjoy their experience, whether or not they win.

Prizes-

Providing incentive for applicants can come in many forms, and can change year on year depending on availability and sponsors. They could include:

  • Tickets to the show
  • Cash prize
  • Money for educational purposes, such as a course or further training
  • Gift voucher to use within the local community
  • Trophy, sash or ribbon of recognition
  • Certificate of participation
  • The role of show ambassador
  • Honorary membership to the Show Committee for the following twelve months
  • The offer of support of the show society for the winner if they wish to enter the RAS competition in Sydney

Sponsorship-

Once the program is up and running, it should be simple enough to sell sponsorship to the right organisation to provide financial support in running the program. Identifying an organisation that may have the resources, community connection and an affinity to identify with young leaders. For a business, having their name associated with such a positive program could be incredibly enticing. It may even interest some of your Show’s current sponsors. Sponsors could include:

  • Law firm
  • Accountancy
  • Bank
  • Credit union
  • Local family
  • Agriculture produce outlet
  • Past committee member
  • Local store

Costs-

With a sponsor on board to provide the cash prize and the discretionary monetary support the society will offer the winner, the costs of running the program are very low. Costs may include:

  • Cost of a show ticket for entrants and their families
  • Photocopying
  • Ribbon, sash or trophy
  • Time dedicated to running the program
  • Lunch with the judges on the interview day
  • Any advertising to encourage entrants

Attracting Entrants-

Getting the word out there about the program can come in many forms. Such as:

  • Utilising the Show Society website
  • Send a press release to the local newspaper, radio and television stations
  • Sharing details on social media
  • Local businesses with promising young employees
  • Use case studies of former winners from other towns or your own
  • For a junior program, speaking with local schools that run an agriculture program and encouraging teachers and principals to have their students enter is incredibly successful

Fortunately, the most effective way to attract entrants is free. Word of mouth, simply speaking to and encouraging people who could benefit from entering is incredibly powerful and will garner the best results.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How soon should I start planning?

Putting together a Rural Ambassadors program can be organised as quickly as a few months ahead of the Show. Be sure to give entrants around one month to get their applications in. The judging can take place as late as one week before the Show kicks off.

Will the program be costly to run?

With the help of a sponsor, running the Rural Ambassadors program can cost as little as a bit of time, some printing, and the cost of a sash, ribbon or trophy. The payoff on the other hand - is huge. Entrants have the potential to become lifelong dedicated members and leaders of your Show Committee.

Can both men and women both enter the Rural Ambassador program?

Yes! The program is open to both men and women from the local area.

How does the Rural Ambassador program differ from the Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman competition?

Both competitions are mutually beneficial, but where the Showgirl Competition focuses on a young female ambassador for the show itself, the Rural Ambassadors program encourages entrants who have an interest not just in the Show, but local agriculture and rural issues more widely. Additionally, it’s open to both men and women, and the state and national competitions have an older eligible age limit. Many Showgirls go on to compete in the Rural Ambassador program.

Does a local program impact the state competition?

Success or entry into a local competition will not alter the entry process for the state competition but offers an incredible opportunity for show societies to get to know their talented local young people and for those young people to get valuable competition and show exposure before they apply to the state level.

Resources for Shows to repurpose locally-

RURAL AMBASSADOR COMPETITION

This program aims to find and develop talented young men and women in rural and regional New South Wales or communities with a local show. Being chosen as your community's Rural Ambassador is a rewarding and fun experience that could see you win a cash-prize as well as enjoy invaluable experience working within your local Agriculture Show, meeting community leaders, and having a behind-the-scenes insight into one of the most enduring volunteer movements in Australia.

You will be judged on the following

  • General and rural knowledge with an emphasis on local issues
  • Knowledge of the role of your local show
  • Involvement in your community
  • Ambitions and goals
  • Communication skills
  • Personality
  • Presentation

The application process will involve

  • A written application
  • An interview with a panel of judges
  • Key participation in this year’s local Agricultural Show

During the interview, you may be asked

  • About your employment or area of study
  • For insights on local community topics
  • For insights on agricultural topics
  • For insights on political topics
  • For insights on the importance of your local show
  • Your areas of interest
  • Community and volunteer activities
  • What you can offer the Show Society if you win

While these questions may appear daunting, we want you to have a good time whilst also challenging yourself. The Show Society is here to assist you along the way with questions, insights or anything else you may require.

Stories of former Rural Ambassadors and their impact on Shows, Communities and Agriculture-

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Pip Wynn

Pip Job Sydney Royal Show 2000

  • Shorthorn Exhibitor ⦁ Drought Coordinator ⦁ Rural Leader ⦁

Former RAS Rural Ambassador Pip Job is now the Director of Engagement at the NSW Department of Primary Industries leading a team of 65 staff who work on a diverse range of programs to continue to bolster primary industries.

These programs range from stakeholder engagement, farm business resilience, the Young Farmer Business Program and the Flood and Bushfire Recovery Support Services, all working closely with primary producers and rural and regional communities across NSW.

She has been recognised with a Public Service Medal for her role as the NSW Drought Coordinator in 2018 and won the National RIRDC Rural Women’s Award in 2014.

She credits her many formidable roles in agricultural leadership to early lessons she learned showing cattle and being involved in her local Cumnock Show for more than 15 years. Pip began showing cattle at school and describes this time as some of the ‘the best years of her life’.

Pip has a passion for top quality beef cattle and has enjoyed judging in Australia and overseas. Her long association in the rural show network has seen her compete as a showgirl entrant, judge, special guest and exhibitor, as well fulfilling roles as Cumnock Chief Cattle Steward and Vice President.

“You just connect with so many people, you honestly meet the fruit bowl of life at shows. It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience,” Pip said.

“I have mentors from those days, who have been beside me at key points in my life. I learned so many fundamentals of leadership from those early show experiences,” she added.

Pip was a Rural Ambassador in 2000 and her experiences behind the scenes at the show were among the best in her life at Sydney Royal. Bearing in mind it was a particularly good year, as she also exhibited and won the Grand Champion Shorthorn Bull.

“Showing and the Rural Ambassador program were at that stage of my life where everything I learned was so formative. Those experiences build character and gave me important lessons in diplomacy I will never forget.”

“Shows are where so many life lessons come from,” Pip added.

“There is a group of us who showed at the same time and we still have a bit of a laugh because we all knocked about at cattle shows together when we were younger and now have industry leadership roles in agriculture and still credit the skills we learned at shows in those early years,” Pip added.

Professionally, Pip is equally committed to regenerative and responsible land management practices as supporting and empowering rural communities to remain resilient in the face of significant social, economical and environmental barriers.

She remains a Technical Committee member of the Australian Beef Industry Sustainability Framework, has been on the Primary Industries Ministerial Advisory Council and has been formally acknowledged in the Australian Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame.

“There are two groups in my life that I could never repay my debt to, one is Landcare because they gave me such an incredible career start and the other is the stud cattle world,” Pip added.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: James Cleaver

  • Law Graduate ⦁ Agribusiness Manager ⦁ Ring Announcer ⦁

James Cleaver has been able to maximise his impact as a 2019 RAS Rural Ambassador by expanding his platform to address rural adversity and resilience.

“The opportunity to become involved in the show network has given me amazing experiences, networks and further opportunities to continue as an advocate for the agricultural sector,” Mr Cleaver said.

As an Economics and Law graduate, Mr Cleaver has worked in various fields across the rural sector, trying to learn what makes certain primary producers successful and how to help others on their journey.

“Growing up on the land and working with rural businesses has led me to the belief that profitability isn’t the only measure of success for farming families. In an industry which can be isolating, we need to also focus on our own health and the health of those people around us, which can be difficult in a time poor society,” Mr Cleaver said.

“Living in a regional centre like Dubbo, it’s my belief that our bigger centres should not grow at the expense of their smaller satellite communities and that these centres have a responsibility to be outward focussed to ensure the whole region thrives. Centralisation of services creates a paradox where people are not employed in the area, so the area’s population declines and then less services are required so centralisation occurs again. We need services to get out on the road and visit these communities which could have a massive flow on effect for communities & business – it’s that simple.”

“But it is great to see the area recovering after drought, and with commodity prices and land values at all-time highs it’s

time to celebrate the fantastic turn around,” he added.

Through the RAS Rural Ambassador program and my roles supporting primary producers I want to continue to raise awareness and educate others about ‘what we do on the land’ and how we can improve the social fabric of our vibrant rural communities in the future.

“There are so many positives about living in the country, it’s our job to keep sharing them,” Mr Cleaver said.

“When I was lucky enough to be selected to be a part of the 2019 NSW Rural Ambassador program our state was in the midst of a record breaking drought. It was great to share the story with our city counterparts who were so interested in what we do on the land and wanting to support us. I was so impressed with willingness to learn more - as an industry we need to harness that further,” Mr Cleaver said.

“Obviously my favourite show in the world is the Nyngan Show but I will have lifelong memories from being at the Sydney Royal as a Rural Ambassador, I am very thankful for the opportunity” he added.

More recently James has tried his hand at announcing at the Nyngan Show and ‘absolutely loved it’.

“I had John Matchett there to show me the ropes and I loved it. I’ve volunteered to do it again and sought some advice from Sydney Royal announcer Lyndsey Douglas, so I’m hoping it’s something I can do more of in the future,” James said.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Emily Ryan

Emily Ryan

  • School Teacher ⦁ Showgirl + Ambassador ⦁ Show Secretary ⦁

Coonamble Show Secretary Emily Ryan is the event’s biggest advocate. She’ll tell you to drop everything and head west in May, and she’ll give you upteen reasons why. The former Rural Ambassador and Showgirl is committed to continuing to build Coonamble Show’s competitions and crowd. She’s an example of how these competitions find and foster the brightest and most determined future leaders in the show movement.

“I’m really invested in involving younger people in our show, building up our events and competitions and establishing a solid succession plan for our stewards and committee members,” Miss Ryan said.

A primary school teacher who has returned to her hometown to teach year 5/6 at Coonamble Public School, Miss Ryan is eager to share her passion for her local show with her students and the wider community.

“I will never forget my excitement at racing into the pavilion to see if there was a ribbon or an award on my scone entries when I was younger. My nan Shirley Ryan and I have had the best time entering and competing over the years, it is a joy that I would love all children to experience.”

“I honestly think those early wins have developed my deep commitment and love for our Coonamble Show,” Miss Ryan added.

From those early pavilion wins, Miss Ryan has gone on to represent Coonamble inthe 2016 NSW RAS Rural Ambassador program, in 2019 she competed in and was a State Finalist in the Showgirl competition, has been a group delegate for Australian Societies Council, was sponsored by the AgShows NSW to represent them at the Royal Agricultural Societies of the Commonwealth conference in Canada, has organised youth activities at nearby Gulargambone Show and continues to champion youth events at all shows.

“I love that the Coonamble show is progressive, we look to our community to see its interests and often our pavilion competitions or events reflect those passions.”

“Our beef jerky competition is a classic example, we want to include and engage our whole community with all our show events and competitions,” Miss Ryan said.

In a year when so many show committees have had to cancel the much anticipated annual show, the resilient Coonamble committee were able to host its May/June event despite being cancelled in 2020 and this year amidst the country’s worst mouse plague.

“In our typical dynamic way, we made plans and adapted - our committee ran hourly mouse trap checks and I think there was only one cake casualty to the plague,” Miss Ryan said.

“Because of covid we changed the format of our Young Judges Competition this year and it seemed to work, we relaxed the format but maintained our strong connection with judges for mentoring and feedback.”

“Another adaption of the 2021 Coonamble Show was to register to be able to accept the NSW Dine Discover vouchers, obviously this saw a lot of people coming through our gate, which was great after missing a year, now we just need to get those competition entries up,” Miss Ryan said.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Joseph Murphy

  • Rural Doctor ⦁ Ambassador ⦁ Show Leader ⦁

Dr Joseph Murphy is motivated, articulate and driven - so it isn’t hard to see why he was a 2018 RAS Rural Ambassador. From Bribbaree, near Young, in NSW, you can hear the passion in Joe’s voice when he talks about the All Roads to the Royal program which is being driven by the RAS Youth Group and was borne from his own experiences at his first Sydney Royal.

The All Roads to the Royal program gives schools, which demonstrate a developing or continuing a strong agricultural program, the opportunity for a group to attend the Sydney Royal Show for three days.

Joe’s trip to Sydney for the Rural Ambassador Program was his first real experience of the Sydney Royal Show and for it to be as a Rural Ambassador who could go behind the scenes and experience the entire show was a life-changing experience.

“When it was over all I could think was ‘wow - how can I stay involved in this?’” Joe asked himself.

Like many Rural Ambassadors before him, Joe joined the group under the RAS Youth Affairs Committee and continues to contribute youth driven initiatives through the RAS Youth Group.

“All Roads to the Royal funds transport, accommodation, tickets and provides access to the many events at the show

similar to the opportunities we were given as Rural Ambassadors.”

“Our priority is to engage with students, to inspire them to want to come back to the Sydney Royal and also join their local show,” Joe added.

Since Joe began working in Wagga in 2018, he has become intrinsically involved in the Wagga Show. Joe is the Quick

Shear Steward, is on the committee and is a Steward for the sheep and wool committee. He also helps out with the ‘crowd favourite’ wood chopping event at the Sydney Royal.

It seems Joe is one of those very active people who can squeeze extra hours out of every day because when he isn’t thinking or supporting local show events, he is working as a Junior Medical Officer (Rural Generalist and Obstetrics) in Temora and Wagga.

Stewarding, show sub-committees and staying connected with his Sydney RAS Youth Group present as his active rest periods. Joe continues to stay connected with the youth groups and initiatives and frequently visits other shows in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Toni Nugent

  • Angus Advocate ⦁ Cattle Competitor ⦁ Educational Events ⦁

Innovation and opportunity are key words in 1995 Rural Ambassador Toni Nugent’s vocabulary and she lives and breathes them into the agriculture industry every day.

Toni has been involved in country shows, particularly the Junee Show, for as long as she can remember. When they were younger, Toni and her brother entered anything they could from vegetable animals, flowers, hay, grain samples and eggs. A tradition now continued by her three children, aged 19, 16 and 12.

Toni’s family have been a part of the show for many years, ‘both mum and dad are very community minded’.

“As we got older, we would tag along to the events with my dad, especially the sheep and cattle section,” she said. “I have an excellent appreciation for all that mum and dad did for me when I was competing and showing, taking sheep and cattle to shows and travelling,” Toni said.

Toni has been stewarding at the Junee Show for many years in the cattle section and has been at the forefront introducing innovation and opportunity as entries and numbers declined.

“We introduced a school competition in 2019. The schools have long been very supportive of the show but we wanted to grow the competition and increase the students’ understanding of the agricultural industry, making it an educational day for the junior competitors. The students compete individually, while also earning points for their school through entering and placing in the junior judging competitions including meat sheep, grain, wool and beef cattle,” she explains. “We want to create an environment where junior competitors feel comfortable to ask questions, engage and learn, building capacity amongst the younger generation,” she said.

As event coordinator for the 2022 NH Foods Angus Youth National Roundup being held in Wodonga in January, Toni also brings these innovations and opportunities to the event.

“This event is an educational program, yes there is a big focus on preparing and showing cattle but a really important take home for the participants is we are trying to boost their understanding of the beef industry as a whole,” Toni said. “Through opportunities like the RoundUp, kids are building their networks as well as confidence and understanding - who knows what doors that will open down the track,” she added.

Straight after being selected as a Rural Ambassador, I worked closely with Geoff Bush to drive youth involvement in our local shows - it really has all the principles of succession planning.

“We wanted to involve youths aged 18-25 and show them what a great space agriculture is to work in and how to be involved in their own country shows, as well as encouraging them to come back and take on leadership roles both in their local shows and their communities,” Toni said.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Tim Green

Tim and cotton crop

  • Crop Specialist ⦁ Horse Steward ⦁ ASC Next Gen ⦁

“I love small country shows, especially ours,” which is why Tim Green, who grew up near Nimmitabel, returns most years for the popular February event even though he’s not a resident anymore.

Mr Green’s family has long been involved in the show, helping out where they are needed to make sure the show goes

ahead. More recently in the horse ring (“even though we aren’t really horse people”) as it is generally one of the bigger sections of a local show schedule, thus very important to the overall show.

“It is going to be hard for the show to come back now, as we have missed the last two years due to Covid but we will all be there to help out and get it up and running again,” Mr Green said.

Now living in Wagga, completing his PhD studies on short life cycle cereal crops - specifically 100-day wheat, Mr Green was away studying for his science degree when the Nimmitabel Show Society asked him to nominate for the 2018 Rural Ambassador competition.

From that nomination, Mr Green was selected as one of the eight finalists who were invited to take part in what he describes as ‘the most incredible 8 days in Sydney.’

“The other Rural Ambassadors and I remain great mates to this day and together we all had the extraordinary honour of experiencing the Sydney Royal Easter Show behind the scenes, at the formal events and being given opportunities to undertake professional development.”

“I enjoyed so many different opportunities, I have gained invaluable skills and connections which continue to help me still, to this day,”Mr Green added.

Mr Green joined the RAS Youth Group and is also involved in the Agricultural Societies Council, specifically its Next Gen

group.

“I’d like to think I will always be involved in the show or recruiting and mentoring future Rural Ambassadors, I believe I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the program and I want our young future rural leaders to have that same opportunity,” Mr Green said.

True to his word, Mr Green is now the Chairman of the RAS Youth Group which is specifically focussed on educating and engaging young people about the RAS programs, events and competitions.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Anne Starr

  • Young Auctioneer ⦁ Anthem Singer ⦁ Cattle Committee ⦁

Anne Starr has the rare honour of being a State Finalist three times at the Sydney Royal Show - as the first woman to be a State Finalist in the Young Auctioneers in 2004, then she was a Showgirl State Finalist in 2005 and topped it all with selection as a Rural Ambassador in 2007.

She feels honoured to have experienced the show selling steers from the auctioneer’s rostrum, to have been a part of the show as a steward, wearing her blue sash as a Showgirl and in her Akubra and blazer as one of the esteemed Rural Ambassadors

“It is a huge privilege to have been part of Sydney Royal from so many different angles and I am eternally grateful, and always will be, for that experience,” Anne said.

There was never a time Anne and her family were not involved in her local Guyra Show.

“My mum has been the head steward of the cooking section probably most of my life, my aunty is the secretary at the moment and my nan was involved, she was a horse rider.”

“I’m a part of the cattle committee - it’s just a really social and fun group to be a part of. Everybody turns up to the working bee, everybody does their bit, it’s not just left to two people.”

“Guyra Show isn’t a big show but it’s got a big heart, there are so many people involved, so many who aren’t officially stewards, but everyone just gets in to do their bit to make it the event of the year, that nobody misses,” Anne said.

“I feel like I’m part of the show and it’s a big part of my life as well, you get roped in to do all sorts of things at the show,” which for Anne has also included singing the National Anthem at the opening ceremony for the last few years.

Outside the Guyra Show, Anne mentors the Herefords Northern NSW Youth Committee.

“I let the committee get on and do their thing (which includes a heifer show in Inverell every January), I’m just there to support - otherwise how does a 16-25 year old know how to run a meeting, unless they receive some coaching,” Anne said.

Since being selected as one of the RAS Rural Ambassadors, Anne has been back to Sydney Royal to steward and judge but her memories from that week as a Rural Ambassador in Sydney are still at the pinnacle.

“As a Rural Ambassador, I stewarded in the heavy horse section in the main ring. It was really interesting and there were so many behind the scenes parts of the show we go to experience - experiences that the average attendee does not see,” Anne said

Another standout moment for Anne was attending the produce markets in Flemington.

“We arrived at 5am when all the produce was arriving from flowers to fruit - we were ducking forklifts - it was amazing just to see something like that, it was a real eye opener to see the complete circle of the agricultural produce supply chain.” she added.

She’s an example of how these competitions give a development opportunity to impressive individuals who in turn go on to give back to the show movement in spades.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Geoff Bush

Geoff Bush

  • Beef Producer ⦁ Inaugural Ambassador ⦁ Show Leader ⦁

It is interesting to see how often the name Geoff Bush comes up in regard to cattle, the show circuit and RAS Rural Ambassadors.

Geoff was one of the first ever Rural Ambassadors in 1990. He was selected after he and his brother were 'trying to encourage youth involvement’ at the Gunning Show. They invited participants to take part in a cattle section that contained only junior judging, paraders and led steers. Underpinning that motivation was his family's lifelong commitment to breeding and showing cattle (rumour has it, Geoff attended his first Sydney Royal Show at just two months of age).

Geoff honed his show experience while he was studying at Hurlstone Agricultural College, where he began showing dairy cattle and joined their strong Rural Youth group. As a result of these formative experiences, he is firmly committed to encouraging youth involvement in rural shows.

“In 1990 we had a core group of 10 Rural Ambassadors, funnily enough I think I knew about six of them before the competition. In fact we still see a fair bit of them,” Geoff said.

‘Life changing’ is often referenced by competitors in the Rural Ambassador program at the Sydney Royal. Geoff applied this quite literally. He happened to meet his future wife during the program, Cootamundra Showgirl and State Finalist Heather Elliott.

Since then Geoff and his family have continuously been involved in the Cootamundra Show, including 14 years as President and now Vice President. Geoff’s wife Heather is currently the secretary. Cootamundra Show is one the hundreds of rural shows again cancelled due to COVID.

Under the leadership of Geoff Bush, and a very enthusiastic committee, the Cootamundra Show has evolved from a one day show into a two to three day event with a very busy schedule including a night program.

It is also well regarded at zone and state level judging with strong representatives in the Rural Ambassador and Showgirl competitions.

“We’ve nominated a lot of people over the years and we have had a lot make it through to the state finals. We’ve even had a state winner, some years we have even had two make the state finals.”

“Our show has a big emphasis on youth involvement but like any committee it is a constant battle to keep our volunteers engaged. I’m especially concerned about having two years away with Covid - we will be working to keep those strong show traditions and entries but to also include that x factor that you need every year,” Geoff said.

“I’m proud to say we have been very successful in keeping a lot of our Showgirls and Rural Ambassadors remain involved with our show - I think this ongoing involvement ensures we can keep producing and fostering these strong entries year after year,” he added.

The whole Bush family has notched up considerable show milestones, their Kirraweena Stud has attended the Hereford National at Wodonga for over 55 years, they haven’t missed a Sydney Royal either.

A commitment upheld by their son Sam, who with a lifetime involvement in cattle showing, Junior Judging and on the committee of the Cootamundra Show was a Rural Ambassador State Finalist in 2019.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Heidi Gooden

Heidi Gooden

  • Showgirl + Ambassador ⦁ Third Generation Show Volunteer ⦁ Community leader ⦁

Heidi Gooden has always loved the Junee Show. Her family has long been involved in the show and they were enormously proud when she represented it and Zone 7 in Sydney for both the Showgirl competition in 1995 and then the Rural Ambassador program the very next year.

“My uncle, who is 92 now, has been a member of the Junee Show for 74 years and my dad has been a member for 60 years. My family’s involvement in the local show is rarely in the limelight. We tend to be the jacks of all trades who help out where they are needed to make sure the shows run successfully every year,” Mrs Gooden said.

“I was still studying at uni when I entered the Showgirl competition, I loved every minute of it. I had the privilege of enjoying the show at a whole new level. It was a fantastic experience.”

“I believe that the opportunities for life development are very underrated. I like to tell new entrants that their participation at the local level can often be the hardest. Once you reach competition at zone level, the fun really starts and if you’re lucky enough to compete in Sydney, this is where development and engagement opportunities are immense,” she said.

The next year, Mrs Gooden was the perfect candidate for the 1996 RAS Rural Ambassador program - a young rural leaders program developed to highlight and progress future rural high Ambassadors.

“When I went to Sydney, it was like stepping into a different world. Here I was from a small rural town and all of a sudden

I was being introduced and involved with some very esteemed contacts and exposed to opportunities that would be hard to match in any other way. We were certainly welcomed into the inner sanctum of the RAS.”

“I firmly believe the Rural Ambassador program bridges the gap between generations with the older members of the ASC and RAS and this can motivate and really lift the younger generation,” Mrs Gooden said.

This single experience has really galvanised Heidi’s love for her community and her motivation to stay involved and to continue investing her time in her now local community of Lockhart.

“I snapped a photo a couple of years ago and it shows my three passions, cricket, community and combines just as a header was stripping in a paddock behind a community cricket game,” Mrs Gooden laughed.

She might joke about it but Mrs Gooden has more than served her community dues after 10 years as a director on the Board of Lockhart & District Community Bank. Mrs Gooden also continues to work tirelessly for her local Osborne cricket and football clubs as well as playing a part in supporting the local schools surrounding her family’s education.

“I loved every second of my experience as a Rural Ambassador, including my more recent involvement in the Agrivision Careers Expo - it was and continues to be such an important way to share agricultural career options and life opportunities with students. This was a really important project for me,” Mrs Gooden added.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Dwayne Schubert

dwayne schubert

  • Agronomist ⦁ Committee Member ⦁ Royal Councillor ⦁

As an RAS Rural Ambassador, Dwayne Schubert, who is now based near Hobart in Tasmania, says he believes firmly in the future of youth in agriculture.

“I was 28 when I was selected as an RAS Rural Ambassador, I had been involved in Beef Week and this was the

opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.

Mr Schubert was part one of the 2013 Rural Ambassador alumni. His counterparts, all females, have all become lifelong friends. Together they had the experience of being a part of the inner workings of the largest ticketed event and agricultural show in Australia.

“It was extraordinary to be selected to be a part of a young group of rural youth from all over NSW - who remain driven and passionately supportive of their local communities.”

“It was through the Rural Ambassador program that I was honoured to represent the RAS at the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth’s biannual conference in Brisbane in 2014 - where I met Her Royal Highness Princess Anne,” Mr Schubert said.

As an agronomist specialising in livestock production, when he moved and worked around the state, Mr Schubert often deferred to the local show committee as a place to find and meet future friends.

“Whenever I have moved to a new town, I would go to the local show and am guaranteed you can meet like minded people,” Mr Schubert said.

So that is exactly what Mr Schubert did when he moved to Tasmania six years ago, reconnecting with an Agricultural Shows Australia councillor and landing a role as a councillor with the Royal Hobart Show.

“I am now one of the show councillors - which means we support the CEO who runs the show. For the last three years I have been interviewing and developing an audio interview collection of show exhibitors and enthusiasts to keep as part of our records.”

“I have also and would like to continue to serve on interview panels for Rural Ambassadors and the state selection panels for National Rural Ambassadors,” Mr Schubert said.

Rural Ambassador Alumni Story: Lyndsey Douglas

You might recognise Lyndsey as the host of AgShows NSW conferences, or the interviewer on stage with the Showgirl Finalists at Sydney Royal, or maybe she’s the ring announcer at your local show. Her journey into this unique career, announcing agricultural shows, all started with the ASC’s own youth competitions.

After finishing in the top three in the State Showgirl finals (as Condobolin’s 10th state finalist), Lyndsey’s involvement in ag shows - big and small - was forged. Some years later, she was later selected as a Rural Ambassador state finalist and followed up with a win that year as the NSW Rural Ambassador in 2013. Since then, years of stewarding, announcing, judging and show governance have ensued. And going forward, Lyndsey pledges a lifelong commitment to the show network.

“I will happily spend the rest of my life giving back to shows - what I have gained from being a part of local country shows, the Sydney Royal, and other agricultural and equine events, has given so much to me socially, professionally and developmentally,” Lyndsey said.

In a normal year, she travels from Sale in Victoria to Esperance in Western Australia, then up to Emerald in central Queensland to commentate shows in places as small as Alpha (population 335) or as big as Sydney Royal.

In New South Wales, she’s long volunteered with Condobolin Show (who awarded her life membership in 2019) and Camden Show and has been the voice of numerous shows including Kiama, Berry, Nowra, Young, Narrabri, Royal Bathurst, and Orange. She’s also judged Showgirls, Rural Ambassadors, opened shows, and emceed show balls around the state for over a decade.

Lyndsey’s travels representing AgShows NSW as a Showgirl and later a Rural Ambassador - out to Griffith and Hay, down to Cobargo and up to Laurieton - showed her there was a problem she could help fix.

“My primary objective as the NSW Rural Ambassador was to connect smaller country shows, and encourage them to share resources, problems, ideas and innovations across the whole show network.”

“Through all our show volunteers and committees we have this network of committed, skilled and remarkable individuals. There’s no problem that is unique to any one show. It makes sense to share the wins and challenges of this community, so as a collective we can strengthen each other,” Lyndsey said.

“For me, I love the intangibles of shows: the community spirit, the direct producer exposure to consumers and vice versa, the weird and wonderful way towns display their identity over two days...”

Lyndsey was appointed a founding director of Agricultural Shows of Australia, and she is the current chairman of the woolgrower consultative panel with Australian Wool Innovations. The RAS of NSW has recognised Lyndsey as a champion of their organisation and formally supported her delegation to the Royal Australia Societies of the Commonwealth in Scotland and to attend the Scottish Royal Highland Show.

“Competitions like Showgirl and Rural Ambassador are the most effective way for the movement to discover and support the next generation of people who will take responsibility for the prosperity of shows for decades to come.” For the last 15 years, Lyndsey has been honing her show ring announcing skills. These days her live commentaries (and more recently online announcing) are heard across the country at small shows and royals - and include royals in Melbourne, Adelaide and Queensland, where she was the first female announcer appointed in the Ekka’s 142 year history.


2022 R. M. Williams RAS Rural Achiever:-

 Jessica Fearnley, Bathurst has been announced the R.M. Williams Rural Achiever representative for 2022.

2022 R. M. Williams RAS Rural Achiever State Finalists:-

  • Allister Meek, Hobbys Yards: Believing leadership is about influence, not authority, Alister is in the perfect position as a high school teacher to inspire and encourage the next generation of agriculturalists. Alister’s respect for the role agriculture plays, sharpened by his standing as a fourth-generation farmer, prompted him to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management followed by a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary). In his current role at Scots All Saints College, Bathurst teaching Agriculture, Primary Industries and Business Studies Alister is determined to motivate others to help propel the industry forward, to uncover innovation, and guide students towards modern farming practices for the benefit of rural communities and the Australian agricultural industry.
  • Jessica Fearnley, Bathurst: Always confident and willing to take the lead, Jessica is driven by her interest in research and development for the agricultural industry, wanting to see Australian farmers succeed with sustainable and global practices. Not only is she aware of the pressing environmental impacts on the industry, but Jessica is also actively seeking ways in which to ensure the industry can attract and retain the next generation and safeguard their mental and fiscal health. With a Bachelor of Rural Science and partway through her Masters of Global Development Jessica is one to lead by example and is well placed to help shape the future of farming and agricultural policies, and to engage others to work with her vision.
  • Carl Schubert, Dungog: With a focus on sustainability and future-proofing the agricultural industry Carl has a tremendous sense of responsibility and belief that we are all custodians of the land we live and work on. His deep respect for the land and the food and fibre it provides have seen him throw himself into the agricultural Show movement and take on greater involvement with associated societies, Eager to play a role representing his generation, Carl’s work as a rural contractor and stockman sees him actively involved with local producers and supporting the industry with new and innovative ideas.
  • Katy Armson, Padstow: Promoting agriculture as not only a lifestyle but a career, Katy has a Bachelor of Agriculture and is undertaking her Masters of Teaching and a determination to provide access to an agricultural education to students wherever they live. Her enthusiasm for farming is matched by her passion for teaching and the opportunities both provide. Wanting to ensure experiences and opportunities offered to city-based students are matched by those offered to regional students, Katy has plans to facilitate and lead teaching networks and provide mobile classrooms. Leading by example, Katy seeks out ways to add to her agricultural experiences and takes full advantage of opportunities offered by agricultural groups and Show societies.
  • Lucy Colingridge, Armidale: A proud ambassador for the agricultural industry and regional communities, Lucy is committed to agricultural research, specifically ways to improve biodiversity and allow primary producers to successfully explore sustainable outcomes on the farm. Lucy has played an active role within the agricultural industry from her early teens and has extensive experience volunteering and within the Show movement. Lucy has a Bachelor of Agriculture (General Production) and a Graduate Certificate in Agriculture (Animal Science) and has worked as a Jillaroo, Station Hand, Biosecurity Officer and currently works as a Technical Officer - Vertebrate Pests with the Vertebrate Pest Research Unit within the Department of Primary Industries. She believes resilience, empathy and trust are key to effectively leading and endeavours to use these traits in her work within regional communities.
  • Meg Austin, Broken Hill: With firm roots in rural NSW Meg was determined to return upon the completion of her education and to immerse herself in helping her rural community to thrive. Her work as a midwife has highlighted for her the disparity between metropolitan and regional health facilities and the need for quality healthcare no matter where you live, and this has driven Meg to take on more studies to play an active and much-needed role in the vital area of women’s health.  Meg believes belonging to a community and working side by side with the members is of the most benefit to all and that a strong leader leads from within and inspires others to grow.
  • Miranda McGuffice, Cooma: Education and hands-on experience are key for Miranda, along with clear career aspirations and ambitions regarding sheep, genetics and breeding. A lifetime on the farm combined with her Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Business has Miranda’s focus on initiating change within the agricultural industry, to see businesses adopt new systems and respond to advances in areas including genetics and education. Seeking out a strong role model or mentor has helped shape Miranda and she is determined to play the same role for others. Her involvement with community groups and the agricultural Show movement ensures Miranda keeps learning and developing her skills as well as playing a role in influencing the lives of others.
  • Nicole Cowling, Maclean: A focus on the financial side of life will see Nicole use her Bachelor of Business to play a key role in agribusiness and to assist with budgets and financial strategies as an investment in the future of rural communities and Australia. Nicole did not grow up on a farm but has developed an interest in crop and livestock management and has forged strong ties with her community in the Northern Rivers region. Joining the Show society movement has greatly impacted Nicole’s future goals and given her strong opinions on the importance of the policies and infrastructure needed to ensure regional communities can grow. 

National Rural Ambassador Competition

This competition is run by the National body, Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA). Please visit www.agshowsaustralia.org.au for further information on the National competition.

2022 National Rural Ambassador - Dione Howard - NSW

2022 National Rural Ambassador Runner-Up - Matilda Scott - Tasmania

2021 National Rural Ambassador - Karl Milde - South Australia

2021 National Rural Ambassador Runner-Up - Grace Calder - Victoria

Upcoming Shows

Login