he 2017 National Finals of the Rural Ambassador and Young Judges Competitions were conducted in Melbourne in conjunction with the Melbourne Royal Show.

Firstly, congratulations and thank you to the committee of Victorian Agricultural Shows (VAS) for a well organised event. Thank you also to the Melbourne Royal Show for providing the facilities and venues.

Each Australian State, the Northern Territory and New Zealand are eligible to compete in the competitions. This year there were 56 competitors across all competitions.

The Rural Ambassadors were presented at a dinner with each entrant participating in an on-stage interview conducted by the MC. The winner, Justin Matthews from Queensland and Runner-up Emily Ryan from NSW are both worthy winners who will promote Agriculture and Shows at every opportunity.

Young Judges competitions were designed to educate the Judges of tomorrow. Most states run Show, Group or regional and State finals to feed into the National final. NSW alone has over 1000 entrants across the state each year. Competitions are run for Beef and Dairy Cattle, Meat Breeds Sheep, Merino Sheep and Fleece, plus Beef and Dairy Paraders. The ability level of the finalists is outstanding, often separated by only one point. Winners in each category were:

National Rural Ambassador Awards

Champion – Justin Matthews from QLD

Runner Up – Emily Ryan from NSW

National Meat Breeds Sheep Judging

Champion – Joanna Balcombe from NSW

Runner Up – Tracey Bennett from QLD

Third Place – Matthew Hill from VIC

National Merino Sheep Judging

Champion – Matthew Baker from QLD

Runner Up – Lauren Rayner from WA

Third Place – Sam Phillips from NSW

National Merino Fleece Judging

Champion – Caitlin Hepner from SA

Runner Up – Amy Hoogenboom from New Zealand

Third Place – Tessa Runting from VIC

National Dairy Cattle Paraders

Champion – Renee Anderson from VIC

Runner Up – Ryan Barker from TAS

Third Place – Tegan Afford from SA

National Dairy Cattle Judging

Champion -Craig Robertson from New Zealand

Runner Up – Clinton Keir from QLD

Third Place – Stuart Lehman from TAS

National Beef Cattle Paraders

Champion- Pyper Page from TAS

Runner Up – David Bartley from QLD

Third Place – Clayton Ray from NSW

National Beef Cattle Judging

Champion – Damon Englund from TAS

Runner Up – Christopher Muller from SA

Third Place – Amy Birch from QLD

We started using social media to a greater extent in 2016, where a live feed of the Meat Breeds Sheep final received over 4000 hits. Again this year Facebook posts of results as competitions were happening achieved a massive following and exposure to sponsors.

These competitions involve young competitors across the country in their local show and provide a supply of judges into the future. Interests have been sparked that lead to a career in agriculture. We are witnessing the future of shows and showing in the making.

Next year the National Finals will be in Adelaide in conjunction with the Adelaide Royal Show.

David Peters, Chair NCWG