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.
As a fourth generation Mallee farmer, Giles Oster was asked during the 2006 rural ambassador program what he would do to ensure a fifth generation. With a chuckle, the 2006 South Australian ambassador admits he was a little taken aback and offered to draw a picture of how that plan worked.
Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary and today he’s the proud father to three girls aged five to 10 and married the ‘girl of his dreams’. Together they run the family farm with his parents, brother and extended family.
In 2006 Giles was a Mallee farmer who was home on the farm for the fourth year after finishing an ag science degree at Adelaide University. While he loved the uni lifestyle, the call of the wild proved too strong and Giles wanted to come home to the farm. As he puts it, ‘it’s in his blood and hard to get out’.
The connection to agriculture and the lifestyle goes way back for Giles. In primary school he became a sheep steward and always kept the connection. After moving away and enjoying new experiences, he returned to take a role in the show society representing Pinnaroo and the Murraylands.
Giles says he will be forever grateful for the opportunities the Pinnaroo Agricultural Society and the Agricultural Societies Council of SA gave him as he travelled to Perth to take part in the 2006 rural ambassador finals. The experience left a lasting impact and today, he still draws upon many of the benefits.
“It gave me the ability to be open to ideas and to seek different opinions, different ideas and to weigh them all up, particularly through the show and travel,” Giles says.
“I gained ideas to bring home and implement in our community and to implement and execute community events and the ability to bring people together. “
Being exposed to so many different shows and the unique way they all operated gave Giles an even greater appreciation in the value of bringing rural people together.
“The opportunity to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds was fantastic. They were people who had been through different things and when I’ve had roles with local shows I’ve been able to lean on the experience and discuss tricky situations and have the mentorship and value of their experience,” he says.
Giles is still heavily involved in the Pinnaroo community and is extremely passionate about agricultural shows in general – especially the Pinnaroo Show and Field Day – the number one show in South Australia. He’s a committee member and has held various leadership roles over the years – something he credits the rural ambassador program for.
“The ambassador program was a tremendous learning curve to developing leadership skills,” Giles says.