By Julie Krieger
One of the key activities to take place under the ASA banner is the ASA National Rural Ambassador program, culminating in the awarding of an annual National Rural Ambassador during the National Finals program. The ASA is undertaking a project to review the Rural Ambassador program with three key objectives.
The review of the Rural Ambassador program aims to:
- Streamline, as much as possible, the Rural Ambassador competition’s process and experience across all States.
- Identify how to showcase the Rural Ambassador Competition as an important platform for communication of critical state and federal messages throughout the rural communities and the agricultural show movement. For Example – Mental Health Awareness, closing the gap between the city and rural and the importance of agricultural shows to the industry.
- Maximise the benefit of the program to both winners and potential sponsors.
The initial phase of the project is complete with a series of recommendations being presented to the ASA Board recently. Recommendations are:
- To put forward to State and local/Chapter groups a process which will ensure as much consistency around the country as possible (respecting that each body has well-established processes already in place). The guidelines may include:
Stage 1: Local Level
The winner selected at a local level represents that Agricultural Society at the Group/Chamber Final.
Stage 2: Group Finals/ Chamber Finals
The winner selected at the group/ chamber final represents that group/sub chamber in the state/territory/region final.
Stage 3: State/Territory/Region Level
The winner of the state/territory/region final will represent their state/territory/region in the ASA National Rural Ambassador Competition.
- Review the entry criteria and in particular, give greater emphasis on rural community involvement rather than purely Show involvement.
- Amend the prize-money allocation to allow winners to utilise some for travel to support their activity as National Rural Ambassdor and some to be used at their discretion.
- Implement a structure mentoring program for winners which would see them benefit from a planned program of engagements, and support, throughout their tenure.
- Ensure that each Royal Show provides an invitation and itinerary of activity to the National Rural Ambassador each year.
- Ensure the judging panel consists of at least one recent National Rural Ambassador winner.
It is further recommended that an on-going (part-time) resource be employed by the ASA to manage the National Rural Ambassador program. Funding for this should come largely from sponsorship of the program and the initial report recommends that an approach be made to Government to champion the Rural Ambassador program nationally.
A national media partner will also be sought and it is recommended that Fairfax Media be approached in the first place. An MOU would be sought with Fairfax which would ensure coverage of the Rural Ambassador program at national level throughout each year, including the Finals, plus at all levels of the competition to as great an extent as is practical.