As far as last minute decisions go, the Rural Ambassador Award turned out to be a pretty good one for Ashley Evans. She went on to become the national finalist as the Tasmanian representative in 2019.
While the 28-year-old had been heavily involved in the Royal Hobart Show on the Beef Council, she admits she didn’t know much about the competition. Fortunately, a fellow councillor did and encouraged her to enter.
With just a few days before closing, Ashley filled out the application that ended up taking her on a journey she says opened her career networks and appreciation for agricultural shows across Australia.
“It was a completely new experience for me which is always great. I got to go to South Australia on an exchange before I went to the finals and that was an amazing opportunity to see how a larger show on the mainland does things. I went backstage, looked at the logistics and the way people manage it and everything that goes with a huge show,” she said.
“I’m involved with a few shows and field days in Tassie but because of the population and size of Tassie, to go to a mainland show and see how it’s done on a larger scale was a great opportunity.”
Ashley’s now an agricultural science teacher, educating kindergarten to year 12 students about opportunities across the agricultural industry for the next generation.
It almost wasn’t the case though – she had aspirations to become a corporate lawyer in her teens. Fortunately an inspiring high school agricultural science teacher changed her path and what’s the court room’s loss, is now many a Tassie student’s gain.
She says her Rural Ambassador experience opened up valuable connections across her career.
“It’s honestly helped me in so many ways but in terms of networks, I think that’s where the biggest gain came from,” she said.
“Being able to network with people on the mainland that I may not have ever known otherwise, and also people in Tassie, has helped my career which is a huge, huge passion of mine.”
While she enthusiastically says she’d encourage any young person to give the Rural Ambassador a go, Ashley admits getting some light shone on the competition has been a bit of a challenge in her home state.
“I think the issue we face in Tassie is knowing about the program in the first place and what it’s all about,” she said.
“There’s so many incredible young people involved in shows across Tassie and we absolutely need these people to be engaged in this program and have the opportunities that other ambassadors have.”
Between Ashley’s involvement in three shows across Tasmania, her various volunteer roles and her work with our next generation, it’s a pretty safe bet the Rural Ambassador Award will take more of a starring role when she’s around.
“It was an unexpected but fantastic experience and amazing to think it’s something I hadn’t thought about previously,” she said.
“The skills and opportunity that it’s given me have not just helped within the show circuit and that side of the community, it’s helped me in my career and everyday life.”