The Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) have signed on to partner with the prestigious Zanda McDonald Award.
Now in its eighth year, the award recognises future young leaders working in agriculture, and provides a prize package centred around a tailored trans-Tasman mentoring programme.
The eight finalists, four from Australia and four from New Zealand – have been selected based on their passion for the industry, leadership skills, and the contributions they make to the primary sector.
The four New Zealand finalists are Adam Thompson, 35, director of Restore Native Plant Nursery, beef farmer and mortgage broker from Cambridge; Katie Vickers, 28, head of sustainability and land use for Farmlands, from Christchurch; Olivia Weatherburn, 33, national extension programme manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, from Mossburn; and Rhys Roberts, 34, chief executive of market garden and farm operation Align Farms, from mid-Canterbury.
The four Australian finalists are Charlie Perry, 35, manager and partner at Trent Bridge Partnership from Gurya, New South Wales; Kate McBride, fifth generation farmer and station hand at Tolarno Station and researcher at the Australia Institute, from Western New South Wales; Gavin Rodman, 28, district manager – Far North for Sugar Research Australia, from Cairns; and Jeremy Cummins, 34, owner and manager for Bottlejac Trading Company in New South Wales and Queensland.
Richard Rains, award chairman, says while Covid-19 travel restrictions drove the changes to the awards, it has also created an exciting opportunity.
The award was also adapted for the 2021 round, due to Covid, crowning two winners.
With the increase to eight finalists and two winners, the award can have a positive impact on more future leaders in Australia and New Zealand.
“We’re thrilled to be able to invest in the future of all eight finalists, and our two winners, and help with their future career and personal development. Our judges have again been overwhelmed with the level of talent and capabilities of this years’ candidates, who have come from a broad range of backgrounds in the primary sector. They display a deep-seeded desire to make a difference, along with ambition, personality and drive. We can’t wait to meet the finalists face-to-face for interviews, and provide them with mentoring and media training as part of the process.
“We’re very grateful to our fantastic partners for their ongoing support, who enable us to recognise and support the next tier of young agri-leaders.”
The Australian and the New Zealand winner will each pick up an impressive personal development package, including a fully personalised mentoring trip in Australia and New Zealand (when travel allows), up to $10,000 worth of tailored education or training, media coaching, and other mentoring and industry opportunities.
Following face-to-face interviews in their respective countries, the winners will be announced in November 2021.