The Victorian Agricultural Shows Rural Ambassador Award is committed to developing the next generation of leaders in agriculture. Melissa Neal, age 29 from Bendigo, will join 10 regional winners to compete at the State Final held this Saturday at the Royal Melbourne Show.
The Rural Ambassador Award encourages and supports passionate young people living, volunteering or working in rural and regional Victoria. Ms Neal qualified by winning the Central and Upper Goulburn Group Final of the state-wide competition in April.
“Australian farmers are feeding Australia… providing fresh, healthy, nutritional food for the community”, was the key messsage Ms Neal presented at the regional competition, speaking on the co-existance of agriculture and the wider community.
As well as preparing for the Ambassador Award, Melissa has a busy time at the Royal Melbourne Show over the next two weeks (20 Sep – 1 Oct). She is part of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria Agrifood Advisory Group and coordinates the Beef Carcase Competition, this year involving 175 exhibits and over 200 students from about 20 schools.
Melissa Neal is a common face at agricultural events around the region. She volunteers her time to run youth, beef cattle and sheep educational events across Victoria. Within the Bendigo region, she actively invests in growing the future generations of our agriculture and food industries through National Beef, the Australian Sheep and Wool Show and has developed a new Schools Garden and Horticultural Program as part of the Bendigo Show Council.
Ms Neal works at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. She works closely with beef and sheep farmers to improve their productivity and red meat processing businesses, and gains great job satisfaction from “ensuring we can all access healthy, tasty beef and lamb for the dinner table”.
Both the Victorian Agricultural Shows Rural Ambassador Awards (20 – 30 years old) and the Junior Show Ambassador (16-19 years old) start at the local show level and progress to a regional level, ahead of the State Final each year.
The program provides finalists with leadership training to polish their communication and presentation skills, encouraging and preparing the candidates to become engaged citizens across local communities.
Early nominations or expressions of interest for next years’ Bendigo Show Junior or Rural Ambassador Award can be sent to Bendigo Show secretary Rod Bowles at [email protected]