Dione Howard, realises her dream and is recognised for her commitment to agriculture in RAS Rural Achiever Awards

Dione Howard 2021 RAS of NSW Rural Achiever Photo Source The Land

A long-held dream was realised on Sunday April 11 when Dione Howard was named the 2021 RAS Rural Achiever at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The RAS Rural Achiever Award is a “state-wide leadership program run by the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW to recognise future young leaders (20-29 years of age) who are committed to making a significant contribution to their community and to rural Australia.”

We are thrilled the rest of the world is finally seeing the brilliance we at Picture You in Agriculture have known for the last six years when Dione joined the Young Farming Champions program as a wool industry representative.

Dione is a sixth-generation sheep grazier who grew up on her family’s 80-year-old Merino stud at Milbrulong, near Wagga Wagga, and it is where her commitment to agriculture began. After completing a degree in veterinary science from Charles Sturt University Dione commenced work as a District Veterinarian for the Riverina Local Land Services, but this is but the tip of a very large ice-berg. Dione’s achievements as an advocate for the Australian wool industry include:

  • Young Farming Champion since 2015
  • Current Chair of the Youth Voices Leadership Team
  • Participant and volunteer for the AWI Merino Challenge
  • 2016 AWI Young Wool Growers Study Tour
  • Inaugural WoolProducers Australia Youth Ambassador in 2018
  • Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation student internship in 2017
  • 2017 address at Australian Farm Institute Round Table Conference
  • Host of Leadership is Language series 2020 and 2021

Dione believes it is imperative the voices of young people in agriculture be heard so the sector can acknowledge and work through its challenges, attract the best and brightest minds and contribute to the vibrancy of regional, rural and remote Australia.

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General Manager of Riverina Local Land Services Ray Willis said the award demonstrates her outstanding achievements.

“We are very proud of Dione and her dedication to rural communities and championing rural youth leadership programs such as the Picture You in Agriculture program. Dione is an outstanding young professional and a real asset to our region and Riverina Local Land Services — she thoroughly deserves this award.” Ray Willis

This was not the first time Dione had applied for the Rural Achiever Award but she has mindfully cultivated persistence throughout her leadership journey.

“I’ve put my had up for opportunities, got knocked back and tried again or tried other avenues. It’s about finding ways to complete tasks, cope when things are tough and look at the bigger picture and the outcome at the other end. When I first applied and missed out on a Rural Achiever spot I thought that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be for me. However, I attended the show in 2019 and had the BEST couple of days, and thought ‘I’d better give this another go!’ I had also finished university by this time and felt more grounded with where I was in my career and life’” she says.

This persistence held Dione in good stead when named as a Rural Achiever in 2020 only to have COVID cancel the Sydney Royal Easter Show. But patience once again had its rewards.

“We were treated to an absolutely jam-packed program in 2021 complete with crowds at capacity for a meticulously planned COVID-safe event. The eyes of the world were on Sydney for the duration of the show, and it was wonderful to be involved in such a successful event,” she says.

Dione was in competition for the Rural Achiever title with some of NSW’s brightest young agricultural minds including Ryan McParland from Jamberoo, Kory Graham from Sutton Forrest, Sally Gavin from Cumnock, Mitchell Dwyer from Cowra, Josie Clarke from Bellimbopinni and Allister Clarke from Finley. Read the full story here in The Land.

As part of her Rural Achiever experience Dione led the affirmative team in a debate on the topic of “Are the best of Australia’s rural days ahead of it?” To Dione this topic may have seemed like a no-brainer as each day she and her fellow Young Farming Champions share the positive stories of our agricultural industry. Read about the debate here in another story from The Land.

Dione will represent NSW in the national Rural Achiever finals (including New Zealand) to be held at the 2022 Sydney Royal Easter Show and she foresees a busy year ahead.

“I can’t wait to showcase all that it means to be a part of rural and regional communities, and to have a career as a young woman in agriculture. The Rural Achiever program has inspired me to continue to build my networks and to make the most of opportunities as they come along. Who would have thought I’d have led an alpaca in the Grand Parade, or been interviewed by the announcer for the main arena? Two things to tick off the bucket list!”

Congratulations Dione. The world is just beginning to realise the brilliance we have known for years. We are honoured to be a part of your success and look forward to watching your ever-evolving story.

and you can watch the 2021 RAS Rural Achievers Debate here

 

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