R.M. Williams RAS Rural Acheiver 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:-

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.

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 it’s 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 guid 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 IT IS 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 Showgirl 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. 

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.


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