Naracoorte agronomist Courtney Higgs believes country shows are the “glue that hold rural communities together”.

And as the 2022 state winner, which was announced on Tuesday night at the Royal Adelaide Show, she will be hoping her enthusiasm and ideas can draw more young people into the show movement.

Several generations of her family have volunteered with the Naracoorte Show, including her father Chris who was president for many years.

Her earliest show memories are of riding in the pony club classes and entering art and then progressing to beef handlers and Young Judges competitions.

“I guess I had no choice but to tag along but I grew to love our local show, it is a great show to be part of,” she said.

The 26-year-old has been a valued member of the show committee since 2011 and for the past two years has been trade site coordinator.

She has been the driving force behind the inaugural Young Farmers Challenge to be held at Naracoorte next month and will also convene a challenge at the Bordertown Show.

“I can see it being so important having more young people involved, a bit of entertainment and fun and a bit of competitive banter,” she said.

Earlier this year, Ms Higgs joined the SA Next Generation executive and is on the organising committee for the Agricultural Shows Australia national conference, being held in Adelaide next year.

Ms Higgs says she was encouraged to enter the award by the show committee – more than half of which have been through the Ambassador program – but never expected to win.

As well as attending as many SA country shows as possible, she is keen to hold workshops to enable youth to gain skills to take a more active role in their local show.

“We have a plethora of experience within SA Country Shows and I believe the workshops will help keep that knowledge alive,” she said.

As the winner, Ms Higgs receives $5000 from the Show Society Foundation and, with the two runner-ups, will participate in a two-week study tour sponsored by PIRSA.

The runner-ups were Point Pass pig, sheep and grain farmer Henry Schutz, representing the Eudunda Show and Northern region, and farmhand Michael Hollow, representing the Maitland Show and Yorke Peninsula region.

RAHS of SA chairman Hamish Findlay, who was one of the three judges, said it was a pleasure to spend time with the eight finalists.

“Of all of the candidates, I would employ any one of them, it gives me so much confidence in the youth of Australia,” he said.

Ambassador award coordinator Peter Angus said all of the finalists came from diverse backgrounds from finance to the automotive industry, as well as farming and agronomy with them “fine examples” of their local community.

“It was refreshing to have a group that had different past experiences at their country shows and different focus areas,” he said.

“As well as seeing the (Royal show) competitive sections, they get to meet the different people in the departments such as marketing and sponsorship, who can provide them with insights and a checklist and then within groups they can share ideas and use this experience to improve the running of their local shows.”

Primary Industries Minister Clare Scriven said the ambassadors were “wonderful examples of high calibre young people from rural and regional communities”.

“PIRSA is proud to support the Rural Ambassador award as it enables young people to build on their local community involvement as well as potentially develop their career pathways in agriculture,” she said.

“We always want to see shows continue, and continue in a strong, authentic way.”