Myalup horticulturalist Lauren Patane was named the Royal Agricultural Society of WA (RASWA) Rural Ambassador 2023 at a dinner function held during the Perth Royal Show.
The 25-year-old, fourth generation vegetable farmer, who works in her family's Patane Produce business, was representing her local Brunswick Agricultural Society - which had not had an entrant in the event for almost 20 years - as well as the South West zone.
The South West zone also produced last year's State runner-up Holly Snell, from Waroona.
As well as being a Brunswick Agricultural Society committee member, Ms Patane is the treasurer of her local Myalup bushfire brigade and captain of her local Harvey Brunswick Leschenault Football Club, AFL women's team.
She said she was honoured to be representing her region, which was home to an incredibly diverse range of farming businesses - perhaps more so than many other areas - including horticulture, beef, dairy, viticulture, orchards and more.
Surprised and thrilled to have been named the 2023 Rural Ambassador, Ms Patane said she would be using the platform to educate people about their food sources from farm to fridge, food security and in particular food waste - something she was very passionate about.
"I really want to educate people about where their food comes from and the effort that goes into growing that food," Ms Patane said.
"They need to know 7.6 million tonnes of food is wasted annually, 25 per cent of which has never left the farmgate and this is getting worse."
Ms Patane made the analogy of the bent carrot to get her point across - that being the one that would be thrown out because it didn't look quite right and didn't fit in with the rest, but it needed to be viewed as an equally nutritious source of food and not a reject item to be discarded.
Chloe Blight, whose family runs the Seymour Park Merino stud at Highbury, was named runner-up.
The 23-year-old, an agribusiness banking manager with Westpac bank based in Narrogin, was representing the Wagin Woolorama Agricultural Society and the Great Southern zone.
Ms Blight said she was passionate about agriculture and wanted to educate people about the benefits of regional living and the educational pathways available regionally.
"From my own experiences, ATAR and university are not the only options," Ms Blight said.
"You don't have to relocate to have a successful job or a career.
"I also want to talk to young people about life outside of school, about buying houses and making investments to set themselves up and about women in farming, the role they can play and changing stereotyped thinking."
The other finalists were 27-year-old Yuna farmer and new mother Jess Grove representing Chapman Valley Agricultural Society and the Mid West zone, 29-year-old engineer Elyse Hudson representing Swan View & Districts Agricultural & Arts Society and Swan View region and 20-year-old wool handler and shearer Tameka Baker, representing Toodyay Agricultural Society and the Central region.
The event also provided an opportunity to hear from the 2022 national rural ambassador, veterinarian Dione Howard, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales and WA's 2022 State finalist Reece Jerrett, who will be contesting the national final at the Launceston Royal Show in Tasmania, with the winner to be announced at a gala dinner on Friday, October 13.
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