Did you know that this year we’re celebrating 20 years of the National Rural Ambassador Award? To celebrate, we’ve been catching up with the 19 individuals who have held the prestigious title since 2001.

He’s been involved with the local show since he was 18 years old and despite plenty of friendly pressure, Karl Suckling still hasn’t taken on the presidency reins – yet. Fortunately though he did try his hand at the National Rural Ambassador program and was crowned the 2002 winner. 

Nineteen years ago Karl was balancing his role with Elders agronomy based out of Geraldton while also working on the family farm. After eight years he returned to the farm full time and today, life’s just as busy. He’s the proud father of three girls, 13, 11, and eight, and runs the family farm with his brother and sister-in-law. With his own three girls, and his brother’s three boys, it’s a true family effort. 

Regardless of what industry he’s been involved with over the years, Karl says the experiences he gained from the National Rural Ambassador program have been invaluable. 

“When you learn by traveling and from other people who may be in a completely different industry, you also learn, and bring it back to what you do,” he says. 

“It gave me a lot of confidence in public speaking, organising and understanding my ability to be involved in different committees.

“I really enjoyed it and made a lot of good friends and contacts who I’ve kept in touch with all over Western Australia and Australia.”

Karl’s certainly no stranger to rural committees in his hometown of Northampton. He started by taking on volunteer roles at his local show as a teenager and later became involved with the grower group as chair, and the local footy and cricket club. Since the rural ambassador program Karl’s also been stewarding and running the Future Farmers competition for the local show for the past 15 years. 

Throw in a role on the local community centre committee and the school board, an ever-expanding farm, many hours spent on the road visiting his eldest daughter at boarding school in Perth and there’s certainly not many free hours in Karl’s days. He’s not ruling out becoming show president just yet though. 

“I’m also still involved in the show with Future Farmers and still getting grief about becoming president but I’ll do it one day,” he says.