Judges of the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia's agricultural badge of honour, have announced eight finalists, and will crown not one but two winners for 2022 - one from each side of the Tasman.
Now in its eighth year, the prestigious award recognises future young leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around a tailored trans-Tasman mentoring program.
The publisher of this masthead, ACM Agriculture, is a proud sponsor and media partner for these awards.
The eight talented finalists - four from Australia and four from New Zealand - have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they're making in the primary sector.
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The four finalists from Australia are Charlie Perry, 35, manager and partner at family-owned wagyu beef farm Trent Bridge Partnership, from Gurya, Northern NSW; Kate McBride, 23, fifth generation farmer and station hand at Tolarno Station, and researcher at The Australia Institute, from Western NSW; Gavin Rodman, 28, District Manager Far North, Sugar Research Australia, from Cairns; and Jeremy Cummins, 34, owner and manager for feedlot and backgrounding business Bottlejac Trading Company in NSW and Queensland.
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 Program Manager for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, from Mossburn Southland; and Rhys Roberts, 34, CEO of market garden and farm operation Align Farms, from mid-Canterbury.
Richard Rains, award chairman says whilst COVID-19 travel restrictions drove the change to two awards, it has also created an exciting opportunity.
The award also adapted last year in the face of 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," Mr Rains said.
"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.