A long-held dream came true for young Limousin breeder Phoebe Eckermann last week at the SA Junior Heifer Expo when she was named the senior champion herdsperson.
"When they read out the (entrant) number and then I realised it was mine I couldn't believe it, she said.
"It is such an honour, it is incredible to think that my name will be up on the board with people that I have really looked up to like Nick (van den Berg) and Nat (Hann)."
The major prize which provides a significant beef industry scholarship sponsored by Nutrien Ag Solutions and the Show Society Foundation is judged over the four days on a range of skills including junior judging, marketing, clipping, public speaking and stockmanship.
It was a remarkable feat by the 23-year-old who first attended the Expo a decade ago at the encouragement of a friend of her Dad, Peter, when Phoebe's family were living in Adelaide.
The first year she participated in the education program but sitting ringside watching the other entrants leading their animals she knew she had found her passion.
"I think my passion has come from a love of animals and nature but lots of people have supported me and brought me into it," she said.
"I admire a lot of the values they have like hard work.
"It (Showing) also connects me to my heritage with my poppa showing pigs with my Dad when he was younger."
That life-changing moment led to Phoebe's parents moving about six years ago to Korunye in the Lower North to enable her to start Aruma Limousin stud which now has 15 breeding females.
"I loved the temperament and now I really admire the carcase qualities of the Limousin breed," she said.
In her acceptance speech, Ms Eckermann thanked her parents for being a big part of her journey and also her "show family" including many of the other entrants and helpers at the Expo.
"I have dreamed about this moment for a long time so it is crazy that I am here," she said.
Earlier this year Ms Eckermann graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours in Animal Science from the University of Adelaide.
She is working for an AgTech company on a virtual herding project and hopes to head to North America in November to take her scholarship.
Her plans include spending time at some major shows and also learning more about their ag education.
She is particularly keen to visit Canadian charity, Agriculture in the Classroom which has programs connecting children with agriculture and building trust in primary production.
"I am just really passionate about making a difference in the beef industry and educating everyone about the high standards we have," she said.
"With the background I have coming from the city to the country I really want to help bridge the gap and I also enjoy working with young people and engaging with them about ag.
"We have some big challenges and to overcome them we will need lots of good young people working in ag."
Nutrien SA stud stock manager Gordon Wood said every year it was a pleasure to sit on the judging panel interviewing the senior entrants.
"When we left the interviews on Monday afternoon I was discussing with the other panelists that if these young people represent the future leaders of the industry it is in good hands," he said.
"I commend their confidence, industry knowledge and passion for the ag industry, it is just fantastic."
The reserve senior champion herdsman was Thomas Fogden, Loxton.
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