They have one thing in common a passion for the rural communities they call home - meet this year's The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition zone winners who are heading to Sydney.
Kempsey Showgirl Elizabeth Jackson's involved with her local show society where she raised more than $18,000 for drought-affected communities, won admiration from the judges. She impressed them with her maturity and composure under pressure, but garnered particular interest with her vision for helping vulnerable people deal with every day difficulties. Her job as an engagement and complaints officer with NSW Fair Trading has already allowed her to help people in need. She is studying for a law degree with the University of New England and hopes to use her talents to reduce cyber bullying.
Kyogle showgirl Ashleigh Little, who comes from a Kyogle dairy farm and works locally as an accountant, impressed judges with her vision for a more caring community, particularly for the elderly. The 23-year-old's plan involves helping the rural sector forge a path towards success through better financial planning. Her active involvement in the Kyogle Show Society as well as with neighbouring show committees won admiration from judges.
Camden Showgirl Nicole Sandrone, 24, was raised on her parents' Cobbitty property. After high school, she was accepted into Western Sydney University, where she studied a Bachelor of Business and Commerce. In 2016, Nicole commenced full-time work for Pinnacle Tax and Accounting located in Camden. To further her career, in September 2016 she commenced a Graduate Diploma of Chartered Accounting with Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ). By July 2018, Nicole had successfully passed her final unit and completed three years of practical experience. As of February 1, she was able to call herself a chartered accountant.
Kiama Showgirl Sarah Young, 21, has been attending the Kiama Show her entire. Her involvement has changed over time from entering in pavilion exhibits, working on the entry gate, selling raffle tickets and helping with the set up and pull down of the event. She is now a pet show steward with her grandparents, who helped position her where she is today. She is at the University of Wollongong, studying for a Bachelor of Primary Education. She was selected to participate in the Rotary Youth leadership award in 2018.
Crookwell Showgirl Lauren Selmes hails from a small town of just 2000 north of Goulburn that has produced a line of top Australian sportspeople over the decades including several Hockeyroos players. Lauren loves hockey herself and has coached a junior hockey team. She is a dedicated student at Charles Sturt University in Albury and wants to pursue a career in speech pathology and to work in regional and remote areas to help people with speech problems. The confident speaker has strong ideas on how to enhance the experience at country shows. Lauren's parents Michelle and Anthony Selmes, Franita, run a Merino and mixed breed sheep operation near Crookwell.
Tenterfield Showgirl Keely Mooney, is studying a Bachelor of Education at the University of Emerald Queensland, which she obtained a scholarship for her community involvement, leadership and volunteer work. Keely is in her third year of study, while working full-time at The Sir Henry Parkes Memorial Primary School in Tenterfield as a student learning and support officer, and is currently sharing the secretarial role for the Tenterfield Show Society. She entered the Showgirl competition to be a positive role model for young women in her community and for her own personal development.
April Squire is a Narrabri local, born and bred, and has followed in her mother's footsteps as the second generation to have become Narrabri Showgirl. She has spent the last year working as an early education provider and has just commenced her Bachelor of Education at the University of New England in Armidale. Her passion and advocacy for youth in the community has been demonstrated through her volunteer work at the local Youth Shack, and as an active member on the Narrabri Show committee. She intends on returning to Narrabri once completing her degree, so she can continue to give back to her community.
Dunedoo Showgirl Effie Fergusson is in her final year of a Bachelor of Agriculture and Business at the University of New England and is passionate about working in a rural area when she finishes her studies. Effie hopes to one day return to the family farm and run it in partnership with her brothers, however in the meantime she aims to gain employment in the financial and animal management industry. To help get her foot in the door to a rewarding career, Effie also works part-time as a customer support officer for Practical Systems in Armidale.
Merriwa Showgirl Sarah White is studying Bachelor degrees in Veterinary Science and Veterinary Biology at Charles Sturt University. Sarah is passionate about animal health and welfare and hopes to work as a mixed practice vet with large animals. At university, Sarah was the Veterinary Students Association events co-ordinator in 2017 and 2018. Earlier this year she travelled to India to participate in animal spaying and vaccinating clinics. Sarah said a highlight of the trip was visiting the more isolated rural areas of India. Sarah is also helping organise the Merriwa Show Ball.
At just 20-years-old, Sally Downie has already founded the soon-to-be-registered not-for-profit organistion, Grassroots Blueprint. This initiative has the aim of engaging with and empowering farmers, while also promoting agriculture and the real story of farming to the wider community. She developed the concept in late 2017 and started working on implementing the idea in 2018, including holding free morning teas and barbecues for farmers at Condobolin, Forbes, Grenfell and Eugowra. This led to her also being employed as her local council's drought co-ordinator.
Josie Anderson, 23, is a FoundX ambassador, an organisation which provides local entrepreneurs networking opportunities. She said the FoundX concept was about networking and learning from other successful businesses and professionals. Josie is also a regular guest of local radio station Zoo FM. Outside of her more public roles, she is working on refining her millinery and textile skills to develop a business around offering racing fashion and is learning the ropes of show treasurer.
Emily Ryan, 23, a former Rural Ambassador at Sydney Royal in 2017, was also the Coonamble Rotary Club president, Coonamble Royal Far West branch committee member and former president, is completing a bachelor of education (primary), Coonamble Show Society secretary, has established a local gym, and is the merchandise co-ordinator for the ASC Next Gen program. A focus of her teaching is to provide a secure, stable environment for students who come from low socio-economic and high trauma situations and she was part of the Coonamble community's push for increased support to deal with the high rate of drugs and delinquency.
Griffith Showgirl Sarah Cudmore says: "I am so ecstatic to be heading to Sydney - I've already seen the kinds of women who are going to the show, there is so many more who will be announced. "I am looking forward to hearing their stories." Tackling questions relating to foreign investment, and her thoughts on Australia's response to climate change and coal export, she strongly challenges those thinking being a Showgirl is about fashion and beauty. "This is really the essence of the showgirl - having a broader understanding of Australian politics and agriculture, and how those elements work together," she said.
Stephanie Clancy, a territory manager for Pacific Seeds and a steward at the Walbundrie Show, impressed judges with her coal-face approach to, and passion for, her clients and community. A student of Mandarin, Sarah's appreciation of Australia's largest agricultural market put her at the vanguard of entrants. She wants to promote her area to NSW, Australia and China. In her down time, Stephanie's dedication to netball as a player and coach and touch football showed she was heavily involved with her local community.