2023 Zanda McDonald finalists announced

First published in The Land, Australia, September 21 2022

The 2023 finalists in the Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have been announced.

Six passionate young professionals from Australia and New Zealand have taken out the honour.

Now in its ninth year, the coveted award recognises future leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around tailored mentoring and education.

The six talented finalists – three from Australia and three from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills and the contributions they’re making to the primary sector.

One winner will be chosen from each country.

The New Zealand finalists Harriet Bremner, Jacques Reinhardt and Monica Schwass.

The New Zealand finalists are Harriet Bremner, 33, author and health, safety and wellbeing advocate for Rural New Zealand, and farmer at Jericho Station, Southland.

Alongside Harriet is Jacques Reinhardt, 34, station manager at Castlepoint Station Wairarapa.

Monica Schwass, 31, Future Farming Manager at The NZ Merino Company, based in Christchurch is also an NZ finalist.

The Australian finalists include Charles Vaughan, 29, Queensland operations coordinator/group veterinarian for Australian Cattle Enterprises and director of Charles Vaughan Veterinary Services Pty Ltd.

He is accompanied by Mitch Highett, 33, founder and managing director of farm management company Bullseye Agriculture, from Orange NSW

Sarah Groat, 34, development officer for government Agtech programme Farms of the Future at the Department of Primary Industries, who lives on the family farm near Rankin’s Springs NSW, is also an Australian finalist.

Richard Rains, award chairman, says the judges were thrilled with the variety and calibre of applicants for this year’s award, from across the broader agricultural spectrum.

“Going through the applications is always such an exciting process for us, as we get to see the level of passion and talent that lies within our next generation of ag leaders,” he said.

“It’s been a tough job narrowing this year’s applicants down to just six individuals, but we’re delighted with the capabilities of those we’ve selected. They’re dynamic, and full of drive and ambition.

“We’re looking forward to meeting the finalists face-to-face for interviews, and to get to know them a bit better.

“The absolute highlight is being able to provide our finalists with unparalleled opportunities to learn, network, experience and grow. We’re very grateful to our fantastic partners for their ongoing support, who enable us to make this happen.”

The Australian and the New Zealand winner will each pick up an impressive personal development package, including a fully personalised mentoring trip in both countries, $10,000 worth of tailored education or training, media coaching, and other mentoring and industry opportunities.

Face-to-face interviews will take place towards the end of the year, and the winners will be announced at the Zanda McDonald Award Impact Summit, alongside industry leaders and award partners, in Brisbane in March 2023.