From the first time Cody Jones exhibited poultry and waterfowl as a five-year-old at the Clare Show he has loved attending SA country shows.
This enthusiasm has grown further over the years as he has also entered Young Judges competitions with considerable success and stepped up to be the convenor of the Clare Show wool section for the first time this year.
"Shows are the one time of the year in a town where everyone goes to the same spot and meets everyone," he said.
On Friday night at a dinner at the Adelaide Showground, the 20 year old who is a wool representative with Quality Wool and is completing a Certificate IV in wool classing, was announced the 2022 state Young Rural Ambassador.
The competition is run by the Agricultural Societies Council of SA and is a stepping stone for many to the older Rural Ambassador award which is open to 20-30 year olds.
Cody - who has represented SA twice in national finals after wins at the Royal Adelaide Show - says it was when he won his first title- the Merino Sheep- in 2019 and was invited to a dinner to be presented with his outfit that he learned about the Young Rural Ambassador award.
He was keen to give it a go and admits after being selected as one of the two Northern region representatives never expected to win.
"It is an absolute honour especially with the line-up of other Young ambassadors who were all an exceptional bunch of ambassadors for their shows," he said.
As well as convening the wool at the Clare Show in coming years he would like to establish several Young Judges competitions to give other young people the same experiences he has benefitted from.
He is excited about spending a few days with the state Rural Ambassador finalists at the Royal Adelaide Show as part of his prize.
"I am looking forward to getting to know their journey about how they have got to where they are, everyone has a different background," he said.
"It is all about networking, especially in the rural areas it is about who you know not what you know."
It was also a special moment on Friday night for runner-up- Eyre Peninsula representative Rebecca Clifford - who only came out of her COVID quarantine period at midnight on the eve of the competition.
Rebecca - who is currently working in an aged care traineeship - has been volunteering on the Kimba Show committee for the past four years .
In the past two years the 18 year old has been the entertainment coordinator and helping set up marquees and the running of the event.
"It is amazing for the community to come together in such a big way and out of town people joining in- it is a big family day," Rebecca said.
Agricultural Societies Council of SA executive member Amanda Lock- who was one of the three judges- said she had judged several rural ambassador competitions and this was the most tightly contested one.
She urged show societies to "snap up" the finalists for their show committees.
"When we interviewed them today they had some fantastic ideas about the future of their shows and about getting other young people involved," she said.
"If you lose these people here from your show societies you are doing yourselves a real disservice, they are fantastic."
Young Rural Ambassador Award coordinator Peter Angus said the program was giving young people aged 16-19 years of age, that may be either still in school, working in their first jobs, studying at university or completing a farm-based apprenticeship or trade a chance to meet other young people that are dedicated volunteers in their communities.
"A few of them mentioned in the interviews that it was great to meet like-minded people, it allows them to share ideas and meet new people," he said.
"One of the most important things is that these young people continue to network with one another, attend each other's shows and provide a sound board for great initiatives."
Mr Angus said the eight finalists were "very open and honest" in their interview responses which was refreshing and were all keen to remain involved in their country shows which was pleasing to hear.
"We should hold them all to staying involved because they said they would and make sure they get involved with the Next Generation Group," he said.
The Young Rural Ambassador Award is sponsored by PIRSA, The Show Society Foundation, Stock Journal, Gallagher, RM Williams and the Showmen's Guild of SA.
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