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.
In 2001 Peter Angus took leave from his teaching job to travel to the U.S and Ireland, an experience he was awarded after taking out the very first rural ambassador award. When he returned to teaching the school’s headmaster asked him, ‘Are you a teacher interested in farming or a farmer interested in teaching?’ Peter chose the latter.
Two decades on and Peter now coordinates the Young Rural Ambassador and Rural Ambassador Award programs for SA Country Shows and the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural of SA. He’s on the SA Sheep Expo committee and Australian White Suffolk Association Federal Council (AWSA) and has enjoyed many roles in Agri-politics and industry groups since 2001.
His sheep stud has also expanded to over 300 ewes, selling 110 flock rams locally and around SA. Peter also exhibits at the Royal Adelaide Show.
Peter credits the rural ambassador experience with changing the direction of his professional and personal life.
“It was an amazing experience meeting new people, expanding my professional networks, travelling to shows and developing my confidence further as a guest speaker at events,” he says.
“I had the opportunity to travel to several country and royal shows over the 18 months as national ambassador and was fortunate to have the support of my family to spend time away from the farm.
“I feel very proud and fortunate to have met so many amazing people along my rural ambassador journey, and coordinating the program has been very rewarding, both professionally and personally.”
It was fellow sheep breeder Andrew Krieg who gave Peter the push to enter the program – uncharted territory at the time. Even 20 years on, Peter can recall his wise words.
“Andrew said ‘you should enter this Rural Ambassador Award as it is like Miss Showgirl, but for blokes as well, and you should do it as you are a farmer, teacher and sheep breeder and exhibitor’,” Peter chuckles.
Peter’s father, Hedley Krieg, was also right behind him. He encouraged Peter to increase his involvement at the local show’s sheep committee and his journey began representing the Gawler show, northern show association and competing in the 2000 Royal Adelaide Show state final.
Throughout his time as a rural ambassador Peter says he was never lacking in support and encouragement. His parents, family, committee members of the local show, teaching colleagues, close friends from the sheep industry, and Rob Martin, who was the SA Country Shows and AWSA secretary, were right there cheering him on.
After his win, Peter’s involvement in the agricultural communities deepened even further, He became involved in many groups, including being a committee member of South Australian Farmers Federation Future Leaders committee, a board member of the South Australian Farmers Federation, Chairperson of the Mid North Young Guns Sheep Producers Group and committee member, committee member of the South Australian Agricultural Shows Next Generation group and board member of the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board.
Not only did the program open up career pathways, Peter says it revealed incredible generosity and kindness from his fellow ambassadors. In 2015 the Pinery fire burnt out his farm and some of the first people to get in touch were SA rural ambassadors.
Some donated several loads of hay and helped transport it. Others provided food and support in the days and weeks that followed and some helped plant trees during winter. One ambassador loaned portable sheep yards to use in a makeshift shearing shed and another personally delivered hampers of food, goodies and vouchers. There was no shortage of helping hands to clean up the property, and staff from the RA & HS of SA spent a day pulling down fences in a dust storm.
Peter says the lifelines delivered by his fellow ambassadors will never be forgotten.
“For me, the heart and soul of the program must be the outstanding personal qualities and traits ambassadors share and demonstrate,” Peter says.
“This was a real testament to the caliber of people associated with country and Royal Shows and rural communities, who are there for each other in good times and bad.
“I have looked up to and been mentored by members of the show movement and in the rural industry, and in turn hope to provide the same for others.
“I like many others who have been through the rural ambassador program, have made lifelong friends and there are lots of great memories and adventures shared, with many more ahead.”