South Australian Deanna Lush believes building trust in Australian agriculture and its producers is vital to its continued success and longevity.
Ms Lush will be one of seven finalists in the running for the AgriFutures Rural Women's Award, set to be announced at a gala dinner at Parliament House on Wednesday.
The Palmer-based local was named the 2019 SA winner for her project that aims to establish a network of ag specialists who have the tools, knowledge and confidence to engage with non-agricultural audiences.
Ms Lush wants to increase awareness of the need to build trust and provide training and mentoring to producers, helping them to engage and communicate with these audiences.
"Australian agriculture needs to be more strategic and change the way it engages, particularly with those who don't understand or share a connection to agriculture," Ms Lush said.
"It's about ensuring Australia's agricultural industries are recognised as professional and tech-savvy, and ensuring the vital role of producers is understood, valued and trusted by the Australian community."
As co-founder of specialist primary industries communication, marketing and events business AgCommunicators, Ms Lush's project was sparked by her time in the United Kingdom, Canada and United States as part of a Churchill Fellowship.
"I believe a network of 'trust in ag champions' across rural Australia will help to build trust and change the discussions in agriculture sectors about the importance of engagement," Ms Lush said.
"It's about generating whole of industry change, and giving people all along the value chain new skills in how to have honest conversations with people outside of our industry."
Ms Lush is also a former editor of Stock Journal.
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The other finalists in the running for next week's national award are Belinda Lay (WA), Zoe Malone (NT), Claire Moore (Vic), Anh Nguyen (Tas), Jo Palmer (NSW/ACT) and Natasha Roebig (Qld).
AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey said the Rural Woman of the Year Award was about acknowledging and supporting the essential role women play in rural business, industries and communities.
"The event is an important step in acknowledging the contribution of these outstanding and inspirational women," he said.
"The night is a celebration of their hard work and commitment and we are looking forward to showcasing their stories to the nation.
"In 2019, the award turns 21, and will see an Alumni of more than 300 women who continue to support each other, their communities and industry."
Applications for the 2020 AgriFutures Rural Women's Award open Thursday, 12 September 2019.
To find out more visit agrifutures.com.au/people-leadership/rural-womens-award/.
The Rural Women's Award is proudly supported by Platinum Partner, Westpac. The official media partner for the event is the publisher of this masthead, Australian Community Media's Agricultural Publishing and Events.
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