University of New England student, Siobhan Smith, RAS Rural Achiever Award finalist

FINALIST: Siobhan Smith is in the running to win the RAS 2020 Rural Achiever Award.
FINALIST: Siobhan Smith is in the running to win the RAS 2020 Rural Achiever Award.

On Friday, December 6, the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) announced the finalists of the 2020 RAS Rural Achiever Award, and University of New England student Siobhan Smith was one.

Siobhan is now a finalist in a state-based leadership program that congratulates future young leaders aged between 20-29 years who make a significant contribution to their local community.

Born with a great passion for agriculture at Rockhampton in Queensland, she said the "Beef Capital of Australia" certainly set her on the right track.

"I went to school in Brisbane and spent every weekend going out to my grandparent's property in the Bunya Mountains, in the South Burnett of Queensland," she said.

"That was an awesome way to grow up.

"As a result, I love beef cattle and have a really big passion for that industry."

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Being a Queenslander, Siobhan said she was always going to attend UQ at Gatton.

"Until my grandparents, the ones who owned the farm, told me about this great university called UNE," she said.

"I was a bit sceptical at first, until I came down and had a look. I was blown away. It was incredible and everything I could have wished for."

She is studying for double Bachelor of Agriculture/Business degrees, inspired by the era of agricultural innovation she has witnessed.

"All farms are a business, so it was very important to do the double degree," Siobhan said.

RAS Rural Achievers will receive a share in $17,000 prize money, complimentary one year RAS membership, official rural achiever uniform and an embroidered Akubra with the chance to be selected to represent NSW at the National Rural Ambassador Competition.

Siobhan firmly believes it is the most exciting time to be a young woman in agriculture and hopes to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

"We're living in the time of Greta Thunberg and Emma Watson giving their UN speeches and really standing up for the changes that are being made," she said.

"Emma Watson with her campaign for gender equality and Greta Thunberg with climate change.

"I think these two things are genuinely impacting the agricultural industry."

Siobhan said while the industry was still male dominated, she was shocked by the number of female agriculture students studying at UQ.

"There's definitely a shift in the dynamics," she said.

"Going into this as a young woman, there are so many opportunities that are being opened up that weren't available for my mother, or my grandmother."

The 2020 overall Rural Achiever will be announced at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April next year following an eight day all expenses paid behind the scenes experience.

This story UNE student a rural achiever award finalist first appeared on The Armidale Express.