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Community Cattle call

Posted on : 13 January 2017

WORDS: Nicola Conville
Article first appeared RAS Times November 2016

A 19-year-old university student is seeing her hard work come to fruition after being awarded a Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RASF) Community Futures Grant in 2015.

The RASF Community Futures Grants provide financial assistance for community projects to encourage rural youth leadership. Since the program’s inception three years ago a $510,000 in funds making up 23 grants has been awarded to help community projects come to life.

Helen DeCosta applied for funding to replace the show cattle yards at her hometown of Braidwood in the Southern Tablelands. The local cattle yards were in dire need of repair, which limited the number of animals that could be housed and the number of events that could be held there.

Helen grew up on a farm and has been showing cattle for around 10 years, so the project was very close to her heart.

“I felt that if we could rebuild the yards that it would help everyone in our community,” she says. “But I knew it was a big project to take on and that I would need a lot of help.”

Once the funding was granted, Helen worked closely with the S355 Committee, organised a group of volunteers, and revised the plans for the yard before embarking on the six-month project.

“We had to tear down existing buildings, but we kept the original gates and latches to keep the heritage feel as much as possible. It was amazing to see the community come together,” Helen says. “I’ve spent my whole life at Braidwood and the people there have helped me go further in the agricultural industry than I ever thought I would, so it’s a really good feeling to give something back.”

Helen plans to continue showing her cattle and eventually wants to have her own property one day.

“The biggest accomplishment and the most satisfying feeling was walking onto the showground and seeing the amount of cattle we have back in the show,” she says. “I can’t thank the RASF enough, and have already encouraged others to apply for the Community Futures Grant – there is nothing to lose and so much to gain.”

In 2015 David Ryan and Katie Rowe were also awarded Community Future Grants achieving excellent results for their communities.

Learn more about RASF’s scholarships and grants