The nation’s top young rural people

Karl Milde (25) from Eudunda, South Australia and Dione Howard (27) from Milbrulong, New South Wales have taken out National Rural Ambassador titles.

Karl Milde (25) from Eudunda, South Australia and Dione Howard (27) from Milbrulong, New South Wales have taken out Agricultural Shows Australia’s prestigious National Rural Ambassador Final for 2021 and 2022 respectively at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Since returning to the family property, Karl has doubled the size of the enterprise and is passionate about taking steps to ensure its sustainability. He’s also committed to driving support for mental health awareness in the farming industry and rural regions.

“Since joining my local show committee I have started up an inaugural Merino Ewe Hogget competition which was fantastic to get people enthusiastic about something during the current droughts. I have also been pushing a big awareness to mental help in the rural communities as I’m someone that has experienced it firsthand and am driven to help others so it can all be just that little bit easier,” Karl said.

“I’m the 6th generation to have grown up on our family farm, which is home to Illawarra Merino Stud, winter cereal crops and oilseed production. Agriculture is definitely part of my genetic makeup – I’ve forged my own career in agriculture as a livestock veterinarian,” Dione said.

“I grew up racing to the wool pavilion at our local Lockhart Show to see Dad’s fleeces, then it was on to the schoolwork and last but not least the rides! I fell in love with a different part of showing when I was part of my high school’s sheep and cattle show team, participating in junior judging and parading competitions. While at university I volunteered at Sydney Royal’s Primary School Preview Day, which sparked my interest in Royal Shows. A lifetime highlight was last year being named the 2021 NSW Rural Ambassador Representative. Now I feel like I’ve come full circle, helping out with the Lockhart Show Society again (social media & radio promotions),” Dione said.

Grace Calder (27) from Creswick North was runner up for the 2021 competition with Matilda Scott from Cleveland, Tasmania runner up for 2022.

The national Rural Ambassador Competition aims to discover the next generation of rural leaders who have the desire to represent and promote their community, their region and their State. The award provides a great opportunity to give young people a forum to express their views through education and experience and develop closer links with like-minded representatives from around the State and across Australia.

The national championships are held in a different location each year. This year, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, celebrating its bicentenary, hosted the 2022 championships including the 2021 finalists who were unable to compete at Ekka due to covid cancellations.

Dr. Rob Wilson is chairman of ASA, the peak body overseeing 572 agricultural shows in Australia which attract six million visitors annually and contribute nearly $1billion to the national economy. Rob says the competition is designed to recognise the best new talent in livestock judging nationwide.

“It’s an extremely prestigious event and positions at the nationals are keenly contested,” Dr. Wilson explains.

“These young people are the future of agricultural show competitions which are crucial to the continual improvement of Australia’s food and fibre. The national competition is a coveted opportunity to grow personally and professionally by practising skills against the cream of the crop.”

Watch the full story on ABC