Jacqui Palk's love for country shows has continued to gain momentum ever since she first attended her local show as "a little tacker" about 15 years ago.
That continuing passion was one of a number of factors leading to the 19-year-old from Eden Valley being crowned 2021 Young Rural Ambassador state winner at the Adelaide Showground on Friday night.
Ms Palk said it was "amazing" to have received the accolade, having finished in top spot ahead of four other finalists.
"I was nervous, I was up against four great competitors, but even if I wasn't to win, I was going to do my absolute best," she said.
"You have to go in with a positive mindset, without that you don't get anywhere."
Representing the Central region, Ms Palk first put her hat in the ring for the YRA award in 2019, and was named runner-up in the Central region. Following the cancellation of the YRA program in 2020 due to COVID-19, she was determined to improve for this year's competition.
"I put a lot of effort into fixing up the things that I needed to, like public speaking and being able to think on my feet, and have come back bigger and better and it's all paid off," she said.
Ms Palk first got officially involved in the Mount Pleasant show society in 2019, joining as a committee member, with an intent to lead by example to get "next-gen input" into the show, at both a committee and competitor level.
I know that this can take me to wherever I want it to.
As a competitor, Ms Palk has competed at her local show, as well as at Manuum, Mount Barker, Kapunda and Gawler, Royal Melbourne and Royal Adelaide Shows, being involved in handler and young judges competitions. She has also shown cattle from her Square Meater stud Marne Valley, and her family's Square Meater stud, Willows Rest.
"Livestock has always been a big part of my life, it's a big part of who I am and who I want to be," Ms Palk said.
She is in her first-year of tertiary study at the University of Adelaide, undertaking a veterinary technology degree and hoping to be involved in large animal work into the future.
Looking ahead, Ms Palk is excited for the coming 12 months as a YRA state winner.
"I used to do talks at my high school (Birdwood high school) encouraging people to do the YRA program, and I'm hoping to continue to get more young people involved," she said.
"I'm keen for new experiences and new events - I know that this can take me to wherever I want it to."
Like Ms Palk, YRA state-runner up Kayla Steinborner, hailing from Eudunda and representing the northern region, has been involved in her local show from an early age, and has always loved agriculture.
I have met a lot of people in the ag sector - they are always so encouraging, and willing to give you a go.
"I studied ag in high school (Eudunda Area School), and I was the only year 12 ag student, so I got to go to lots of things which were tailored to me and my interests," she said.
"I have met a lot of people in the ag sector - they are always so encouraging, and willing to give you a go."
Ms Steinborner is in her third year of uni studying agriculture, and is hoping to study a Masters of teaching following her degree, to become an ag teacher.
"My ag teacher (Ann Rowett) was really influential and inspired me to go into agriculture, I want to continue that on and inspire more young people to go into ag," Ms Steinborner said.
Having been on the Eudunda show committee since 2018, Ms Steinborner has been instrumental in setting up a Young Judges competition at the show, which will run for the first time this year.
"I have been involved in Angora goat judging and Sheep judging at the Royal Adelaide Show since 2017, and I'm pretty excited to be involved and get that off the ground.
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"Our show committee is going well, since I've joined we've got three or four younger people having joined up too, and they are all very willing to help out."
SA Country Shows committee member Amanda Lock, Naracoorte, was one of three YRA judging panelists, and said choosing a winner from the impressive finalists had been "a tough gig."
"I would like to congratulate all of this year's finalists on their volunteering work in their respective communities, and their work with their local show societies," she said.
"The future aspirations of all participants are very impressive."
Other YRA finalists included Braden Turner, Gawler (northern region), William Gillett, Loxton (Murraylands region), and Jessica Eastwood, Penola (SE and border region).
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