In an award first, the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, will have not one, but two winners – one from each side of the Tasman – for the 2021 award.
Eight passionate and talented young individuals in the primary sector have been named in the shortlist for the prestigious trans-Tasman award – four from Australia, and four from New Zealand.
The award, now in its seventh year, recognises talented and passionate young professionals working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package. The shortlist have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making in the primary sector.
The change for 2021 comes as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, which prevents the award judges from being able to interview the usual shortlist of six together in one place, to determine the overall winner for Australasia.
The four Australian finalists are Hugh Dawson, 22, head stockman at Barkly Pastoral Company in the Northern Territory, Oli Le Lievre, 28, consultant at KPMG in Melbourne and founder of Humans of Agriculture, Rozzie O’Reilly, 28, breeding manager at Lambpro in New South Wales, and Tim Emery, 35, a technical officer with Tropical Beef Technology Services at the Agricultural Business Research Institute in Roma.
The four finalists from NZ are Genevieve Steven, 26, a farm enterprise consultant at KPMG in Ashburton; Jenna Smith, 34, chief executive of Pouarua Farms in the Hauraki Plains, Sam Vivian-Greer, 31, a farm consultant at Baker Ag in Masterton, and Becks Smith, 33, director of The Whole Store and veterinarian at VetEnt in Ranfurly.
Richard Rains, award chairman and member of the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) – the Australasian networking group supporting the award – says the judges felt it was important to adapt the award to fit the current climate, since the interviews would need to take place separately in Australia and NZ.
“Covid-19 has created an exciting opportunity for us to look at things differently. As judges, we’ve been blown away by the talent and capabilities of this years’ applicants, and to maintain the integrity of the award, we want to continue interviewing the shortlist face-to-face if we can.
“So this year, our Kiwi judges will select a New Zealand winner, and our Aussie judges will select an Australian winner, through face-to-face interviews when domestic travel allows.
“It will provide the best outcome for our finalists, who can spend time with the judges during the interview process, and also means we can invest in the future of two winners, and help with their future career and personal development, for the wider benefit of the agriculture sector.”
Each winner will 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 an all-expenses paid trip to the 2021 PPP Conference.
Interviews will take place over the coming months, and the winners will be announced in March 2021, and will be invited to attend the PPP Conference in Christchurch.