For 20 years the National Rural Ambassador program has aimed to provide young people with an opportunity to promote rural Australia; and to discover and recognise the next generation of young rural leaders.

The 2021 national finals will be held at the 2022 Sydney Royal Easter Show after this year’s Royal Queensland Show, The Ekka, was cancelled due to COVID uncertainty. 

The Agricultural Shows Australia Rural Ambassador National Finals competition is the culmination of a series of competitions which take place each year throughout Australia. Local shows applicants proceed through to regional level, then state-based competitions and ultimately to the national finals.

As we eagerly await Sydney Royal 2022, we caught up with each of the National Rural Ambassador finalists to  celebrate their enduring commitment to their communities and learn a little more about them.

James Cleaver, Nyngan NSW

Taking out the Rural Achiever award has been a highlight for James – but he’s also been lucky enough to have another big win under his belt. 

A few years ago he met the famous Richie Benaud after winning an Australia Day ad campaign. Up for grabs was a BBQ at Richie’s, so when a wet day on the farm presented a chance to get creative, James donned his best beige suit, made a microphone, cooked a lamb chop, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Hailing from the home of the world’s Biggest Bogan statue and one of the best water skiing spots in Australia, James, 29, is proud to call Nyngan, NSW home. 

Running fat lambs, steer trade and operating broad acre cropping, the family property has been in the Cleaver family since 1912. From a young age James’ parents involved him and his three siblings in decisions about the farm, developing his passion for growing and supporting rural families and communities. 

Today, he works at the National Australia Bank in Dubbo as an Agribusiness Manager and holds a Bachelors of Economics/Law, having been admitted to the Supreme Court as a solicitor in 2016. 

James concedes he’s ‘completely biased’ but when it comes to his favourite agricultural show, he can’t go past Nyngan.

“There are many people from so many different backgrounds, who dress differently and talk differently – but for two days they’re all at the show supporting their community, socialising with one another, all in one place. Nothing beats that,” James says.