Celebrating achievements: Congratulations Matt Richardson
What better way to get back at a mate who nominates you for a competition, then to embrace the opportunity, excel at it, and be awarded Runner Up.
Enter Matthew Richardson, Runner Up Queensland Rural Ambassador of the Year.
Many of you will know Matt as one of the Beef Extension team based in Rockhampton, where he primarily focuses his attention and enthusiasm on assisting graziers through the Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions and Grazing Futures Livestock Business Resilience projects.
Passion for reconnection
Representing Ridgelands from the Central Queensland Show Society sub-branch, Matt demonstrated passion for agricultural advocacy through reconnecting consumers with the sources of food and fibre. “Living in a rural area, there wouldn’t be one person in my community who doesn’t know someone involved in agriculture,” Matt said. “However, through the Rural Ambassador competition and my experiences at the Ekka, I’ve come to learn that this isn’t the case for everyone. In fact, as one of my fellow competitors pointed out, as many as 42% of the Australian population don’t know anyone in agriculture; a pretty scary thought,” Matt continued.
“Through my involvement with the show societies and the Queensland Rural Ambassador program, I aim to at least provide people the opportunity for a glimpse of agriculture. Most importantly, I want to promote the good work we are doing to improve productivity and sustainability, and the role we play in environmental care and stewardship.”
Competition provides development opportunities
Participating in the Rural Ambassador program provided the participants many personal development opportunities, including a half-day public speaking workshop with voice coach, Sally Prosser. Matt said, “I’ve undertaken presentation upskilling previously; however, I really got a lot out of this intensive workshop, focussing solely on meaningful communication to a large number of people.”
His public speaking skills were put to the test on the final Friday of the Ekka where he, and winner of the competition, Cassandra Wortmann, spoke to over 20,000 people during the night-time entertainment.
Other opportunities the finalists were provided included a tour of an algae farm in the Lockyer Valley, a tour of the Australian Country Choice meat processing facility, breakfast with AgForce, and networking with numerous influential members of the agricultural industry, just to name a few.
Rural Ambassador ‘agvocacy’
When asked of his greatest learnings from the Queensland Rural Ambassador experience, Matt said: “I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the agriculture industry, but through the experiences we undertook as part of the program, for example, when we went to the algae farm, I was amazed. It was completely unfamiliar to me, but an exciting and emerging area of agriculture.”
“Every day, the agricultural industry is pushing to improve,” Matt continued. “Nowadays, you don’t need to have an agricultural background to be involved in food and fibre creation. Yes, we do need people on the ground but we also need analysts, scientists, biotechnicians and more; it’s all part of the paddock to plate pathway. If someone is keen to be more involved in agriculture and don’t have an agricultural or rural background, I’d tell them not to be scared, and to follow their passion.”
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Regional Manager, Pieter Conradie was quick to congratulate Matt on his achievement. “Matt Richardson is part of the new generation of Beef Extension Officers in Queensland,” Pieter said. “As a young person with abundant initiative and the ability to learn quickly, he has already distinguished himself as a great asset to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and to the northern beef industry at large. We celebrate Matt’s achievement and wish him well in his career.”
In conclusion, Matt said he was grateful for the opportunity, the connections he made through the multiple networking opportunities, and thankful to his mate and colleague, Ryan Honor, who nominated him for the competition.