Victorian Rural Ambassador Award 2014
Melissa Neal of Bendigo was announced as the 2014 Rural Ambassador Award State winner, representing the Central & Upper Goulburn Group, selected from 10 Victorian finalists.
The Victorian Agricultural Shows program, sponsored by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV), recognises young people who contribute to rural and regional areas with a particular emphasis on their involvement in their local show society.
“The Rural Ambassador Award is a great way to build confidence and give back to organisations that have taught me a great deal”.
Working as a Red Meat Industry development officer at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) in Bendigo, Melissa is passionate about incorporating research into industry practice and delivers educational activities to beef and sheep producers and supply chains.
Beyond her career, Melissa continues to communicate research through agricultural shows, co-ordinating commercial and educational focused events such as the Royal Melbourne Show Beef Carcase Competition and is actively involved in agricultural and youth organisations including the RASV Agrifood Advisory Group, Bendigo Show Council and Angus Youth RoundUp.
The State final selection process asked finalists to complete a three-minute public speaking presentation, written submissions and a 30-minute panel interview.
Finalists were assessed on their communication and leadership qualities, and level of involvement, or readiness to become actively involved in their local agricultural show and community.
This year’s finalists for the Award were of a very high standard, and I congratulate all of them for their contribution to their local shows and communities.- Gerard Ballinger, Rural Ambassador Committee chair and VAS Board director
Rural Ambassador Runner Up
The runner-up was also announced with the title going to Stephanie Muir of Warrnambool Show Society from Hawkesdale.
Representing the South Western Group, Stephanie grew up in the Yarra Valley with her interest in animal agriculture, sparked by a school agriculture program.
Stephanie completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) and a PhD at the University of Melbourne and currently works as a research scientist with DEPI, at both Warrnambool and Hamilton, working primarily on effects of alternative forages on animal production.
Stephanie’s involvement with agricultural shows started as a teenager, breeding and exhibiting Belted Galloway cattle at local and royal shows.
She has been involved with Warrnambool Agricultural Society since moving to the south west in 2012, and this year is vice-president and chief dairy steward.
Stephanie is keen to work with schools to encourage students to undertake higher education in agriculture and promote the diversity of career options available in the agricultural industries.
State finalists were hosted at the Royal Melbourne Show today by the RASV as part of the awards.
Ricky Ferris, Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria
Kate Reedy, Central and South Gippsland Region
Hannah French, Wimmera Agricultural Societies Association
John Wright, North Eastern Affiliated Agricultural Societies
Renae Cook, Gippsland Agricultural Societies Association
Michelle Ryan, Goulburn Valley Riverina Shows Association
Nicholas Dolle, Western District and Affiliated Agricultural Societies
Ivana Blekic, Northern District Agricultural Societies Association
Stephaie Muir, South Western Group
Melissa Neal, Central and Upper Goulburn Group
Thank you to VAS for organising the competition, judgest Ian Blades, Heidi Knowles and Elizabeth Porter and Dinner MC Stephanie Bullen, 2013 Victorian Rural Ambassador and 2014 FCAS National Ambassador Runner Up.
Thank you for your generous support of the Victorian Rural Ambassador Award
VAS – Victorian Agricultural Societies Ltd
RASV – Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria
RB Sellars – Country Clothing from Outback to Ocean
JLT– Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) provides of insurance for many Victorian Shows through VAS Ltd