The awards are open to males and females, 20 to 30 years old, who have a strong commitment to rural industries and an involvement and passion for the agricultural show movement.
It aims to highlight the importance of young people in rural and regional Queensland, in particular, those associated with the agricultural show movement.
The award seeks young people who symbolise the rural spirit - people with vitality who are forward thinking and with a passion for the land and local agricultural shows.
The state winner, to be announced at a gala dinner in Brisbane on Saturday night, will compete at the national final to be held at a state royal show.
Here are the finalists:
John Hunter, Gin Gin Show Society – Burnett Sub Chamber
After graduating from high school John Hunter joined the Royal Military College, Duntroon (Canberra) where he undertook Army Officer training. John has now returned home and is again working in the agricultural field; predominately with beef cattle and enjoying the challenge of training his own working dogs. John sees his role as a Rural Ambassador as one to assist in keeping traditions alive, to ensure that the rural industry which he feels so passionate about continues to thrive and move forward. He says we must all do our part and there is no better way for him to show this than lead by example in running for a position as Rural Ambassador.
Sharna Holman, Emerald Show Society – Central Highlands Sub Chamber
Sharna studied a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture graduating with first class honours and was then selected to participate in a number of programs that promoted young people in agriculture and food security. Most recently Sharna was selected as a Young Farming Champion representing the cotton industry through the Art4Agriculture program. This opportunity allowed her to go into schools and as a young person engage with kids and showcase the cotton industry and agriculture as what it really is – exciting and innovating. Sharna believes that being involved with the Rural Ambassador program will assist in debunking myths of what someone involved in agriculture ‘looks like’ and what kind of careers are available within the sector.
Monique Williams, Mudgeeraba Show Society - South East Queensland Sub Chamber
Monique Williams is a Visual Art, Film and Special Needs teacher at Southport State High School on the Gold Coast. In 2014 Monique represented South-East Sub Chamber in the Queensland Country Life Miss Showgirl State Finals and says this experience fuelled her ambition to break down barriers between the country and city and to provide an avenue for urban communities and school students to learn about agriculture, regardless of their geographical location and upbringing. Monique wants to use her skills as a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) teacher to assist in providing students from rural schools with equal access to the curriculum and post-secondary experiences and careers. Monique foundered a City Country Exchange between Southport State High and Dalby State High and Show Societies. She encourages others to take on the city country exchange program and spread this program across our diverse state.
Christie McLennan, Taroom Show Society – South West Queensland Sub Chamber
Christie McLennan has completed a Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Science which allowed her entrance into the Master of Pharmacy at Griffith University. After five years working as a pharmacist, Christie decided to broaden her scope of practice to become a diabetes educator completing a Graduate Diploma of Diabetes Education. Christie has had a wide range of associations with the agricultural show movement; as a young child initially through school work and pavilion displays to an adult in 2010 winning the Queensland Country Life Miss Showgirl. She is the current vice president of the Taroom Show Society and the president of the South West Sub Chamber. Christie feels that by entering in the rural ambassador competition she can encourage other young people and show societies within her sub chamber to support and understand the awards to its full potential.
Jack Fogg, Toogoolawah Show Society – West Moreton Brisbane Valley Sub Chamber
Since graduating from high school and beginning his working career, Jack has worked hard to achieve many personal goals. Through his experience working with ANZ he learnt the value of property investment and at the age of 19 purchased his first block of land and built his first investment house by the age of 21. Jack, along with his partner currently run a breeder and backgrounding herd of cattle, comprising of approximately 160 head of mainly Simmental infused cattle. Jack also currently works as a livestock agent and auctioneer for Shepherdson and Boyd, Toogoolawah. In this role he is required to advise and represent clients in relation to livestock business transactions. Jack believes to keep at the forefront of any industry you need to ensure you continue to learn and evolve. Keeping this in mind, he uses meetings of both Agforce and Landcare to expand his knowledge and skills.
Owen Daley, Cairns Show Society, North Queensland Sub Chamber
Owen Daley hales from a dairy farm on the beautiful Atherton Tableland. Owen has an extensive relationship with agricultural shows having lead dairy heifers and prepared teams of cattle for shows both in Australia and New Zealand. Owen was also involved with the dairy sale held at the Centenary Malanda show last year. Owen is an advocate for hands on education and believes that regional shows are the right platform to expose youth to dairy dandling schools, cattle handling skills and young farmers challenges. Owen’s personal ambition is to own and operate his own dairy farm with his partner Brie and watch his son grow and prosper in a rural upbringing.
Kate Roberts, Proston Show Society – South Burnett Sub Chamber
Kate was born in Brisbane, attending primary school on the north side before moving to a family farm at Blackbutt. Kate has always wanted to work with cattle and has been fascinated by the science of cattle breeds and genetics. Kate received her first ribbon in 2009 in a junior handlers competition and has been hooked on agricultural shows since. Kate has volunteered in many educational programs focusing on school and youth competitions at many shows some including; Proston, Nanango and Gatton Societies. Kate has an accomplished genetics background in fields of artificial insemination, pregnancy diagnosis, breeding and planning genetic projections. Kate is a trainee manager at the Smithfield Feedlot in Proston where her passion and skill for animal nutrient is able to be utilised.
Liz Couchman, Oakey Show Society – Darling Downs Sub Chamber
Originally from Ipswich and now of the Goombungee region, Liz Couchman is a supervisor at the Heritage Bank of Oakey. Liz and her husband moved to the regional town to chase their dream of living on the land. Converting a lifestyle property to a profitable ethical farm has been her mission since purchasing their 35ha farm. Their goal is to raise happy fulfilled livestock. Implementing technologies such as drones for fence checks and herding sheep, Liz and her husband design and own their own prototypes and are testing them on their own farm. Since moving to the region, Liz has become involved with the Oakey Show Society and has enjoyed using her position as Darling Downs Rural Ambassador to raise awareness of the ag sector. In 2018 Liz will assist in promoting the Oakey Show theme of “Women in Ag”.
Mikaela Calvert, Gympie Show Society, Near North Coast Sub Chamber
Mikaela, a 22-year-old hairdresser from Gympie has had a long association with agricultural shows, assisting family members in their own sections before competing in the QCL Showgirl competition in 2015. Mikaela’s showgirl experience saw 10-months of intense fundraising; 23 fundraisers raising over $15,000 for the Gympie District Show Society. It saw the birth of ‘Everyone needs a Farmer Dinner” which raised enough money to feed 28 families in Longreach during the drought. Her involvement in the show movement has since continued and Mikaela is now assisting with Gympie’s inaugural Education Trail, as well as the Tiny Tots competition. Mikaela has launched her own website “Voice for the Farmer” a branch off the farmer dinner. The website consists of rural stories form across Gympie that aim to bridge the gap between older generational farmers, young farmers and their consumers.
Meg Bassingthwaighte, Longreach Show Society - Central & NW Qld Sub Chamber
Meg completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. During her degree, she worked in an administration team for a medium tier accounting firm. She soon realised her love for the outdoors and physical interaction with other people and children would not be satisfied as an accountant. In 2016, Meg became a governess through Longreach School of Distance Education and commenced a Graduate Diploma of Primary Teaching through online studies. She is currently a nanny on a cattle station in the Muttaburra area. Meg relishes the ability to be involved in community events, attending shows, race meets and various fundraisers or other community events. This year, she is treasurer of the Yaraka BnS committee which supports charities such as the RFDS and The Black Dog Institute, supporting charities with relevance to our local area means a lot to Meg.
Isabella Fanning, Rockhampton Show Society – Central Queensland Sub Chamber
Isabella is currently studying a Bachelor of Agriculture at the Central Queensland University and has entered the Rural Ambassador competition to tackle loss and disconnect between the country youth of Rockhampton and wider areas. Isabella endorses the new offerings at the Rockhampton University and believes her role as Rural Ambassador is one of positivity and keeping young people engage and enthusiastic about her regional area. Isabella believes the Rural Ambassador competition is a breeding ground for agricultural leaders and is wishing to lead by example. Isabella has an impressive history associated with the beef cattle industry and has had a strong presence in the family livestock agency, Fanning Rural Agencies based in Rockhampton.