Deniliquin local Erika Heffer has been named as a finalist in the 2018 Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Rural Achievers program.
Now in its 28th year, the program recognises the positive contribution young people make to their local rural communities and the agriculture sector more broadly.
Having been working with the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia since 2015, Ms Heffer said she had enjoyed her role as a local Landcare co-ordinator.
‘‘My biggest passion is doing things for the public good and it’s really what I believe in. Any opportunity to help local farmers, I’ll jump at it,’’ she said.
‘‘I just love sharing the story of agriculture.’’
Having attended secondary school more than 330km away in Gundagai, the 25-year-old said she had little experience in agriculture and did not grow up on a farm, but found herself inspired by her agriculture teacher.
She later completed a degree at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga and accepted a graduate position with RAA.
‘‘At the time (getting into the rice industry) was about the opportunity to do the graduate program, I hadn’t seen anything like it before,’’ she said.
‘‘I spent 12 months with 10 different organisations that mentored and hosted me and that really meant that it wasn’t an issue that I wasn’t from that rice background because I learned everything I needed to.’’
The Rural Achievers will participate in a 12-month program which provides a range of networking and professional development opportunities, including a seven day behind-the-scenes experience at the 2018 Sydney Royal Easter Show and a number of official functions.
One Rural Achiever will also be selected to represent NSW at the 2018 National Rural Ambassador Awards.
The overall winner will be announced during the 2018 Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Ms Heffer said she was pleased just to be named a finalist.
‘‘I was so excited when they called,’’ she said.
‘‘Basically it’s quite hard to find leadership programs where it’s based on your passion, but with this program it doesn’t matter what industry you’re from,’’ she said.