The curtain should be drawing to a close on what would have been an incredible celebration of everything agriculture in the heart of Brisbane. Despite the organisers best efforts, the uncertainty of Covid meant that at the eleventh hour the Ekka did not go ahead, for the second year in a row.
Nine of Queensland’s finest young agricultural leaders were due to head to the Ekka to compete for the title of 2021 Rural Ambassador. To celebrate their achievement we hit the phones to learn a bit more about them. It turns out each is already a winner in their own right at a local show level, and have also gone on to win their regional title.
Each year, a Rural ambassador is crowned as part of a statewide competition open to males and females, twenty to thirty years of age who have a strong commitment to the rural industries and an involvement and passion for the agricultural show movement.
They come from near and far, from the tiny town of Teebar on the Fraser Coast to the Herbert River region in far north Queensland, and west out to charming Charleville.
So let’s give you the elevator pitch on each of these young leaders.
The business of death and droughtmasters.
Representing the Burnett region and Teebar Show is Jessica Kirk who is studying commerce and is a sixth generation member of the family funeral business, and active in the family’s Droughtmaster grazing property.
Leaving the saddle behind, this show ring star is competing on two legs this time.
Representing the Central Highlands and Clermont Show is Ashleigh Chapman, a seasoned horsewoman who competes on the show circuit and works at Belyando Produce, a well known rural retailer and supplier in the region.
A love of pipes and pastures for central Queensland entrant.
Representing Central Queensland and the Sarina Show is Ashton Solli who has qualifications in both agriculture and plumbing, is a former Sarina Showgirl, has been successful in local junior judging competitions and enjoys crafting leather, glassware and timber.
Educated cattleman swaps judging for being judged.
Representing the Darling Downs and Goondiwindi Show Lawrence Sehmish-Lahey is a longtime junior judging competitor in the cattle section who today has his own Droughtmaster stud, a double degree and now wants to explore weather impacts upon feedlots for his masters.
Nurse wants to help rural women make noise.
Representing the Near North Coast and Gympie Show is Emily Larkin who is a proud member of Gympie’s Rural and Regional Women’s Network which is a platform for women within the ag sector to make their voices heard. She’s a mum of two, a local practice nurse and volunteers at local events like the show ball and ute muster.
Stockman heads south from top of the sunshine state.
Representing North Queensland and the Herbert River Show is Shelby Naughton who is the head stockman for Christmas Creek Station. Prior to this job, she was horse principle for Stanbroke Pastoral Company at various stations in the Gulf and Western Queensland. She also won the national stock horse young judges title at Sydney Royal.
Media consultant puts mental health on the map through art.
Representing the South Burnett and the Nanango Show is Jasmine Firmin has her own cattle stud, Nioka Valley. The qualified graphic designer started ‘Willow and Pine Studios’ during Covid and her business allows her to share her art and designs to create conversations about mental health within rural communities.
Dirt doctor helps kids fall in love with ag through shows.
Representing the South East and Beaudesert Show is Georgia Rodgers who works with Elders in the graduate agronomist program. With qualifications in agriculture, Georgia contributes to the pastures and field section of the local show, and engages local schools with ag at the show. She’s also into sewing, crafts, cooking and gardening.
Coffee connoisseur and rural contractor is a proud agvocate.
Representing the South West and Charleville Show is Teri Sommerfield, a rural contractor and part time barista. Teri is studying her masters in ethics and legal studies, and is involved with the community in agriculture, the arts, and - of course - the local show. Teri wants to advocate for the community benefits derived from agriculture to the public.
The aim of the Marsh Rural Ambassador Awards is to highlight the importance of young people in rural and regional Queensland, in particular those associated with the Agricultural Show movement. The award identifies those people actively involved in their local Show, who have a sound knowledge of current rural issues affecting their local areas, Queensland and Australia and have a strong affiliation with agriculture.
The Marsh Queensland Rural Ambassador Awards Winner have been postponed, and we will share more of the future date of the competition as the information comes to light.