25 year old Courtney is the New Zealand finalist at the 2021 Agricultural Shows Australia National Young Judges finals held at the Royal Queensland Show. Growing up on a lifestyle block where her parents bred horses, Courtney started showing cattle at her local ag Day when she was in primary school and never looked back! As a young woman, Courtney established Inca Ayrshires, a pedigree Ayrshire cattle stud which she shows throughout the North Island. She is the youngest person to have ever served on the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society executive.
Although I am not linked specifically to a show, I have competed around the country, representing New Zealand at the ASA finals the Rural Ambassador, Fleece Judge, Merino Sheep Judge, Dairy Parader and twice as a Poultry Judge, Dairy Judge and Beef Judge.
My favourite section of any show is the stock judging, especially Dairy Judging as I think it is a wonderful to have the privilege to comment on the exquisite stock that is paraded. Poultry judging is always a great time, especially over in Australia! I am also a Senior Ayrshire Judge and have judged cattle and poultry and several local shows.
Beyond Australia and New Zealand, I have also shown cattle in Scotland and England. A few years ago I established the Northern Agricultural Youth, a group supporting development and education of agricultural shows through participation and competition. We have run multiple events, such as our Youth Achiever Award which supports our young people throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns with agricultural activities to keep them engaged and educated.
Two years ago I graduated with a Master of Natural Sciences in microbiology/virology and I now work as a Programme Manager in an environmental leadership non-profit, supporting the next generation through programmes involving leadership for a sustainable future. I am also studying an MBA. As part of my work in virology, I have discovered four new viruses and got the name them all! Of course they were named after my cows – two were isolated from their milk.
I started competing in show judging in our national finals in 2016, qualifying in my first year as the Beef Judge representative for the Royal Melbourne Show the following year. The Young Judges & Paraders finals aren’t well advertised in New Zealand, however there is always a strong competition between those who do participate which keeps us coming back for an exciting challenge.
My parents first got me involved in showing stock. My 10th birthday happened to coincide with our local show and as a present they took me along to compete with my calf. Since then I was hooked and one show turned into two, next thing I knew I was showing across New Zealand, Australia and the UK!
My favourite show is the Royal Adelaide Show. I’ve visited three royal shows and Adelaide was hands down the best. The competitors were so helpful and kind (even though we were all competing against each other), as well as the ring stewards and judges who knew the whole point of these competitions are to learn and grow. Amazing people – especially in the poultry section!
My proudest moment at a show happened earlier this year. I won Grand Champion Youth animal with my heifer and Reserve Supreme Champion with her sister as an in-milk cow! It was such a wonderful moment as I’ve only been lucky to win two overall Grand Champions before and they were both from these two cows.
Another really important showing memory was at the Royal Adelaide Show a couple of years ago when I was nervously preparing for the ASA Poultry Judging final by myself (this was my first time judging poultry) and a younger competitor in the state finals came along, took me under his wing (excuse the pun) and helped me so much that I managed to win second in Australasia that day. He had no reason to help me, but he genuinely wanted to share his love of poultry and I was grateful that he did. It is people like him who make showing such a positive and worthwhile experience.
In the future, I would like to be in a position where I can continue to see the agricultural shows thrive and watch the next generation take the reins in leadership positions within the sector.