This article originally appeared online for Farm Online

Photo by Matt Jelonek

NATIONAL Rural Ambassador Harris Thompson, 22, Venturon Livestock, Boyup Brook, is settling back into being a farmer for a few weeks after a hectic Perth Royal Show schedule.

Mr Thompson, who helps run commercial cattle and sheep enterprises and Charolais, Angus and White Suffolk studs with his parents Andrew and Anne, was one of seven finalists vying for the Agricultural Shows Australia (ASA) National Rural Ambassador title presented at this year’s Perth Royal Show.

Vice president and cattle steward of the Upper Blackwood Agricultural Society, Mr Thompson became eligible for the national title when he was awarded the WA Rural Ambassador title by the Royal Agricultural Society WA in September last year.

He was competing against similar State rural ambassadors for the national title during the Perth Royal Show last week.

Mr Thompson clinched the national title with an impassioned presentation to the four judges on a topic he feels very strongly about, the importance of rural shows.

But once he had claimed the National Rural Ambassador title – he is the first young WA farmer in 16 years to win it – he then had to put celebrations aside and help prepare and lead his family’s Charolais and Angus show teams, as well as Simmental cattle for a client, in the exhibition arena – 22 cattle to pamper and parade in all.

He personally placed second in the State paraders final.

Back on the farm this week Mr Thompson said he faced what looked like being a very hectic 12 months touring regional shows throughout Australia promoting the ASA Rural Ambassador program, showing cattle, judging cattle or a combination of all three.

“We (Venturon Livestock’s studs) took cattle to Sydney and Adelaide (Royal Shows) this year and I judged (cattle) at the Sydney Royal and at regional shows all over WA and last year I judged at Rockhampton Beef Week,” Mr Thompson said.

“On top of showing and judging next year I’ll also be promoting Rural Ambassadors and supporting regional shows.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of regional shows they’re something I’m really passionate about,” he said.

“I think they’re important because they give something back to their local communities.

“They also help bridge the divide between city and country people – it seems that fewer and fewer city people these days have country connections and going to a rural show is a great way for them to reconnect.”

Mr Thompson’s busy year will start with attending the ASA’s inaugural Next Generation conference on the Gold Coast in January, part of his prize – along with $6000 – as National Rural Ambassador.

He said his parents were “stoked” at his win and had always supported his passion for cattle and regional shows.

“I love my cattle,” he said.

“I like the British (sheep) breeds, but Merinos do my head in.”

Supporting young people interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, in WA the rural ambassador competition has five heats held in regional areas with 63 agricultural societies across the State taking part.