Meet Australia’s top 8 Rural Achievers

Young agriculture achievers - Decipher

Meet Australia’s top 8 Rural Achievers

Originally published by The Land.

It’s the last week before the big announcement of the Royal Agricultural Society’s 2019 Rural Achiever on Tuesday, April 16, with eight top contestants vying for the accolade.

The Rural Achiever award is not all about the winner, it’s about the journey there for the eight finalists and the mentoring that takes place leading up to the announcement.

Of course the winner starts a roller-coaster year of functions and engagements where they themselves become mentors.

This year’s finalists come from a wide background of farm and university interest in agriculture.

The event is now in its 30th year, recognising young people aged between 20 and 29. It is all about making sure youth are part of the total agriculture conversation.

The RAS says the the state-wide leadership program “aims to foster advocacy in driven individuals, providing unique networking opportunities and the chance to represent NSW at the National Rural Ambassador Competition”.

Stuart Davies, RAS Youth Affairs Chair says the RAS Rural Achievers program plays an important role in encouraging youth leadership in rural areas, “In 2019 we will be celebrating the programs 30th year, that is three decades of honouring the unique roles youth play in a community’s future,” Mr Davies said.

“Our Rural Achievers are passionate individuals who aspire to give back to their communities in a variety of ways; that may be through creating support networks, fostering new innovations within a field or simply utilising their skills to build a better community,” Mr Davies said.

The 2019 Rural Achievers are:

Rayali Banerjee, Epping

Rayali has shown leadership qualities from a young age, demonstrating an unwavering drive to work in the Agriculture Industry and taking on many challenges to achieve this goal.

Working as a specialised Agribusiness Solutions (SAS) graduate Analyst, Rayali has already brought change to agriculture in her home country of India and now aims to be an agricultural leader in Australia.

Rayali would like to provide opportunities for youth to take on leadership roles and forged their own future in agriculture.

Denbigh Burrows, Wagga Wagga

Denbigh Burrows has a passion for agriculture and rural mental health, utilising his degree in medicine to work alongside local charity groups and make a difference.

Denbigh has organised school and community mental health events in Wagga Wagga and wishes to continue to build connections with local health organisations to facilitate community events that educate and support rural communities. Denbigh is currently working as a junior medical officer in Wagga Wagga.

Samuel Bush, Cootamundra

Samuel Bush grew up on the land and understands the role an RAS Rural Achiever plays as an ambassador for their local community. Completing a double degree in Agriculture and Law, Samuel admires the perseverance of those who manage to produce outstanding products despite the adversity they face.

By focusing on administrative law, Samuel wishes to see how he can best assist farmers and help them thrive in the future.

James Cleaver, Dubbo

James Cleaver comes from a family run agricultural enterprise and aims to utilise his leadership skills and agricultural upbringing to build successful farm business practices and support the future of agriculture.

James works as a Rural Support worker for the Department of Primary Industries, using his economic and law background to create a sustainable future for Australian agriculture.

Samuel Johnson, Forbes

Growing up on the land, Samuel Johnson noticed the huge gap between producers and consumers from an early age.

Through his education in marketing and sales, Samuel made a difference by creating the ‘Thanks a Farmer for Your Next Meal’ social campaign, highlighting the positive work farmers and primary producers do and bridging the gap between producer and consumer.

Samuel wishes to continue to bridge this gap and be a voice for youth working in agriculture.

Katrina Nash, Toogong

Katrina Nash comes from a mixed enterprise property near Cudal. Finishing her final year of a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Communications (Journalism) degree, Katrina wishes to be the voice of rural communities through her passion in journalism and background in agriculture. Katrina was the 2018 JB Fairfax Media Rural Journalism Award recipient.

Lachlan Patterson, Cowra

Lachlan Patterson has a strong background supporting his local agricultural show and local community. Through his Bachelor of Economics and Law degree, Lachlan wishes to develop a business model which provides agribusiness/legal services throughout regional communities.

 Providing key services to rural communities and lessening the reliance on major cities.

Rebecca Thistlethewaite, Narrabri

Rebecca Thistlethewaite is a Post Doctorate Research Associate with the University of Sydney. With Honours in Agriculture, Rebecca is passionate about focusing on sustainability and improving the yield of crops that will struggle under the effects of climate change for Australian growers in the future.

Rebecca also aims to build education for regional youth, helping young people break down financial barriers and improve access to mental health services for rural communities.

RAS Rural Achievers will receive a share in $17,000 prize money, complimentary 1 year RAS Membership, official Rural Achiever uniform & embroidered Akubra and the chance to be selected to represent NSW at the National Rural Ambassador Competition.

The 2019 overall Rural Achiever will be announced next week after an 8 day all expenses paid behind the scenes experience.

Top: Denbigh Burrows, James Cleaver, Katrina Nash, Lachlan Patterson. Bottom: Rayali Banerjee, Rebecca Thistlethewaite, Sam Johnson, Sam Bush.

Top: Denbigh Burrows, James Cleaver, Katrina Nash, Lachlan Patterson. Bottom: Rayali Banerjee, Rebecca Thistlethewaite, Sam Johnson, Sam Bush.

The experience has been a whirlwind for last year’s winner Tim Green, formerly of Kybeyan, where his family run the Boudjah Merino Stud.

Tim now works at the Yanco Agricultural Institute in Leeton with the Department of Primary Industries, working in cotton pathology research, having previously researched wheat pathology in Wagga Wagga.

“In receiving this award it wasn’t so much about winning it, but the journey and getting the great tutoring and mentoring along the way.” he says.

“In those eight days leading up to the announcement we received a lot of advice on professional development and in many other areas.”

In receiving this award it wasn’t so much about winning it, but the journey and getting the great tutoring and mentoring along the way.– Tim Green, 2018 RAS Rural Achiever.

His year involved many visits to country shows where he was pleased to see how well the local show circuit was going. He’s also travelled interstate to the Adelaide Show and will go to the Perth show later.

“What amazes me is how much work the volunteers do,” he says.

He’s also involved in a number of other rural competitions and awards, including the Young Farmer Challenge, the Roads to Royal, and Agrichats, that will be held this weekend at the Sydney Royal.

Back in Kybeyan he said his family were celebrating recent rain after several tough seasons.. “If we hadn’t got that recent rain we’d be in a lot worse position,” he says.

But he sees things as very tough in the Riverina, especially for cotton, with even if rain eventuating soon, it would not be in time for next year’s crops.

Outside of his work, Tim promotes awareness of mental health, especially in young men, which have double the suicide rate of young women.

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