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.

There’s not many weeks that go by where Courtney Ramsey won’t find herself on the phone to one of the many mates she made during the national rural ambassador program. Whether she’s got a burning question or just wants to chew the fat, the friendships have remained strong since Courtney’s win in 2014. 

Courtney says it’s those great personal and professional skill building opportunities the program afforded her that have led to where she is today – a Grower Relations Manager – South for the Grains Research and Development Corporation, based at Horsham, Victoria. 

“The program gave me so many opportunities to engage with community leaders, thought leaders and innovators, and provided a platform for me to talk about issues affecting rural and regional communities, and become part of the discussion for solutions for the future,” Courtney said.

“In my current role I seek to understand constraints to grower profitability and build business cases to support investment in research to address those gaps.”

Courtney moved to Horsham two years ago, having previously lived in the Riverland of SA where she was working for a State MP as a Research Office and Executive Assistant.

Along with her much-valued work, she’s found plenty of adventures along the way. 

“I have spent a bit of time exploring the Grampians with friends now that I live on its doorstep and I still play community sport in tennis and netball, and enjoy many of the region’s arts and culture events,” Courtey said. 

“COVID hit less than a year into my time in Horsham, so I am still exploring all the things Horsham has to offer but so far it has been a fantastic and really welcoming place to live with really a strong sense of community and ties to agriculture.”

She says the incredible, driven people she met through the ambassador program have contributed to so many aspects of her life, along with the wonderful experiences she had during the year.

“There were so many incredible experiences that gave me so much exposure to thought leaders, innovators and community contributors and go getters that influenced my career and life,” Coutney said.

Some of Courtney’s highlights included networking at a range of State Government functions, being emcee for a ministerial launch for a ‘Women in Ag’ initiative, undertaking a study tour to Muradel biofuels facility in SA, participating in the RASC Agriculture Conference of the Commonwealth in Singapore, and being invited to write a monthly opinion column in the Stock Journal. 

Courtney has the Kimba AH&F Show Committee and her parents to thank for encouraging her to enter the rural ambassador program. 

“I was volunteering with the show at the time and I ended up entering as a bit of a mix up, that turned out to be incredibly fortuitous,” she said. 

“I will always be grateful to the committee members who believed in, and pushed me to participate, in particular Marina Clifford and Kerri and Trevor Cliff.”

Courtney also made special mention to Peter Angus, a past ambassador who organises the competition and program in SA, John Rothwell and Richard Fewster who are the CEO and the then President of the RAHS of SA, as well as Keith Colyer and Janet King from SA Country Shows for providing strong mentorship and guidance. 

Courtney has a long show history, starting out as a competitor and commercial stall holder as a child, to becoming a steward and volunteer when she moved back to the Kimba community after 11 years in Adelaide studying and working. 

Following the rural ambassador competition she became involved with the SA Next Generation which saw stints in various executive roles including Vice President and President. 

During this time she also spent some time on the SA Country Shows committee and after doing plenty of relocating in the coming years, she spent some time in the Riverland where she volunteered with the Loxton show society as a steward and judge, before moving on to Canberra for work.

COVID has meant she’s yet to establish a connection with the Horsham Show Society but that’s something she’s looking forward to in the future. 

There’s plenty of time though because right now, Courtney can’t imagine going anywhere else. 

“I love living back in a regional community and the fact that everyone in town can ‘talk ag’ to you. I love the connectedness of a regional community and the sense that everyone is looking out for each other,” she said. 

“One of my friends recently had two friends from the UK come to stay and it was a stark reminder of how lucky we are to live in rural communities, when they commented frequently about how weird it was that random strangers on the street would smile and say hello! “