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Articles and stories about the RAS Foundations and its grant and scholarship recipients

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27 Mar 2018

Six bright leaders from regional and rural NSW will share $98,000 in funding via to the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RAS Foundation) Community Futures Grant Program. Elizabeth Munn from Leeton, Claire Johnson from Crookwell, Megan Coyle from Walbundrie, Rob Witts from Gunnedah, Katrina Thomas from Condobolin and Naomi Kauter from Gresford will each receive a grant from the RAS Foundation, up to a value of $25,000, to help fund a community project within their local area. RAS Foundation Manager, Cecilia Logan, said that although this grant once carried an age limit of 35, it had since been lifted, however the Foundation remains committed to fostering youth leadership and earmarks a portion of the available grant funding each year to projects driven by young people. “The RAS selection panel was impressed with how passionate our current batch of young rural people are in embracing the opportunity to bring their ideas to life through this program,” Ms Logan said. “The program allows young individuals to take on a role of leadership within their community. “Through sales of the Foundation Ag Bag at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the RAS Foundation can champion young Australians as they rise to meet challenges and shape the future of regional and rural NSW,” Cecilia Logan said. Since the RASF Community Futures Grant program began in 2010, more than $700,000 has been invested into rural and regional communities across NSW .   RAS Foundation Community Futures Grants Recipients for 2018 are: Elizabeth Munn - Leeton Partner: Leeton Show Society Project: Young Farmer’s Challenge Trailer Elizabeth Munn’s project will see her build a Young Farmer’s Challenge trailer for use by the communities in her zone so that more shows can compete in this event. The ultimate test of skill and ability, the Young Farmers Challenge gives young people the chance to showcase their expertise in a series of on-farm tasks. This can be anything from animal handling to fencing, driving tractors, putting out fires, first aid, heavy lifting and transport challenges. Elizabeth is very keen to get young people involved at community level and is positive the Leeton Young Farmer’s Challenge Trailer will get well used in the Leeton and surrounding areas.   Claire Johnson - Crookwell Partner: Crookwell AP & H Society Project: New Cattle Shed   Cattle committee member Claire Johnson knows that the new cattle shed she and her committee build will be of great benefit to the Upper Lachlan Shire cattle producing community.  With an increase in entries in the stud cattle competition this new facility will be more than adequate to accommodate these numbers and host a variety of other events throughout the year, bringing further economic benefit to the wider community. Megan Coyle - Walbundrie Partner: Walbundrie Show Society Project: Multi-purpose Equestrian Arena The Walbundrie Show is a popular event within the Walbundrie community and has a very well patronised horse section.  Megan Coyle’s application to improve the facilities for horse events at the showground will see her hardworking group of local volunteers building a purpose-built arena with proper drainage and fencing which can be used for other events outside of Show. Rob Witts - Gunnedah Partner: Gunnedah Show Society Project: Upgrade of Showground Kitchen and Servery Local farmer and Gunnedah Show Society President, Rob Witts, acknowledges that with over 50,000 patrons attending the various events held at Gunnedah Showground the current facilities are far from adequate. Rob and his team of skilled volunteers plan to upgrade the makeshift facilities so that they can better cater for the many events held at the Showground and provide a workable space for those working in the kitchen. Katrina Thomas - Condobolin Partner: Condobolin High School P & C Association Project: CHS Agriculture – Rebuilding to Learn for Tomorrow Condobolin High School agricultural science teacher Katrina Thomas and her fiercely determined colleagues are focused on improving the ageing agricultural facilities at Condobolin High School. Katrina wants to create a positive and safe learning space for students with an all-purpose shed, chicken enclosure, hot house and aquaponics set up. Ultimately Katrina and her students hope to set up two small enterprises, a chicken breeding and vegetable/plant seedling enterprise. Naomi Kauter - Gresford Partner: Gresford District Agricultural Society   Project: Stable Block Restoration The deterioration of the Gresford Showground stable block has meant that the facility is not being used to its full potential. Naomi Kauter plans on changing this by replacing the rafters and roof and installing water tanks to collect water for reuse. Naomi is sure that the new stable block, in conjunction with existing facilities, will attract out of area organisations who wish to host horse related events in Gresford. Naomi has a well-thought-out project plan that will make use of local volunteers on weekends to complete the project over sixteen weeks. The RAS Foundation is a charitable foundation that encourages educational opportunities and helps build strong and sustainable rural and regional communities through a range of targeted community grants and scholarships.   For further information, interview and high-res image requests please contact Roger White Manager, Public Relations M: 0478 092 425 E: Read more

RAS of NSW to support Herd of Hope Bondi Beach cattle drive

13 Feb 2018

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) is proudly supporting Herd of Hope (HoH) in its unique cattle drive to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation in Australia and is urging other businesses and organisations to join the cause. Read more

All creatures great and small

13 Nov 2017

In the words of one of the most famous country veterinarians, James Herriot,  “Animals are unpredictable things so our whole life is unpredictable. It’s a long tale of little triumphs and disasters and you’ve got to really like it to stick to it.” With high hopes and aspirations, ten Rural Scholarship recipients will be enjoying the triumphs and experiencing the disasters of life as a veterinarian with thanks to the RAS Foundation ( RASF ). Universities offer 1029 students the opportunity to enrol to study Veterinary Science in New South Wales each year, with a total cost in excess of $250,000 for a degree with a starting salary of $44,053 upon graduation. It is a massive commitment, financially and time-wise, and more often than not requires a shift from home (two universities in NSW offer the course – Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga and the University of Sydney). The RASF is assisting students relocating from hometowns including Wollomombi (864 kms), Narooma (433 kms), Cobar (530 kms), Kandos (468 kms) and even Penrith (456 kms) to study at Charles Sturt University. Apart from distance, all have one other thing in common –the determination to contribute to rural NSW and regional communities as a country vet. With fifteen percent of the RASF Rural Scholarships awarded to Veterinary Science students, and thirteen percent going to Medical Science students, it is fair to conclude that many did pay attention to Dr James Herriot when he advised, “I hope to make people realise how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs.” Read more

Scholarships reopen to NSW VET students

8 Nov 2017

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation is again supporting education in rural NSW throughscholarships of up to $6,000 for students studying Vocational Education Training (VET) courses. Read more

Going home to help

27 Oct 2017

In 1818 John Oxley first passed through the regional area now known as Dubbo. In 1840, Dundullimal Homestead was built, recognised as the oldest surviving slab hut house in Australia. In 1851, the census in Dubbo revealed a population of 28 males and 19 females. The Post Office was established in 1862, the first Dubbo Pastoral & Agricultural Show took place in 1873, and Dubbo was proclaimed a City in 1967. In 2017 four outstanding students from the region received Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RASF) Rural Scholarships to help them achieve their educational goals. Harriet Amey is studying physiotherapy at university in Sydney but is going to return home to the ‘hub of the west’ with a plan to address the shortage of physiotherapists in regional hospitals. Harriet is incredibly aware of the need to bridge the gap and thanks to the assistance she has received from the RASF she is one giant step closer. The Rali Foundation donated Harriet’s Scholarship. Australia is the world’s leading supplier of red meat, and Australians eat more red meat than anyone else does around the world. Red meat plays an incredible part in Australia’s economy and the industry is vital as a major employer. Fortunately, Tyla Comerford has moved from Dubbo to New England in order to study Agriculture/Business and will return with a focus on producing a more feed-efficient line of cattle. Tyla believes better genetics in cattle production is the way forward in order to feed ever-growing numbers demanding Australian red meat. Tyla received a RASF Rural Scholarship with thanks to Moghul Brahman Stud/UNE Foundation. Promoted as an evocity (Energy, Vision & Opportunity), Dubbo is calling for new residents to boost its 51,000 population. The ‘treechange’ from city to regional living has many benefits but issues including loneliness and a sense of isolation can sometimes arise. A RASF Rural Scholarship donated by the Christopher Cuffe Foundation is going to assist Caitlin Maginnis to help people facing grief, loss and crisis in regional areas.  Studying Social Work at university in Dubbo, Caitlin wants to empower families and young people with better choices and support. Life on the land has difficulties and financial problems can go hand-in-hand with rural living. Samantha Smart is studying Agricultural Production with the hopes of demonstrating this doesn’t have to be the case. Samantha is receiving assistance with her studies thanks to a RASF Rural Scholarship donated by the Rali Foundation, and would like to settle in Dubbo with a mixed farming enterprise that is both environmentally and financially sustainable. Read more

A good news story

25 Sep 2017

Three little letters can change a life and they certainly did for Hannah Southcott. Read more

Calling all scholars

4 Aug 2017

RAS Foundation Scholarships provide a financial helping hand to assist students achieve their education goals. Over the past seven years 371 Scholarships - for a total of $1,721,500 - have been awarded. Students with a passion for rural issues and a commitment to playing a part in shaping the future of rural and regional NSW are encouraged to apply. Thanks to the donations from our generous supporters, Rural Scholarships are open to students of any age and embrace a diverse range of tertiary or vocation education and training studies. Amongst the 64 recipients of the 2017 Rural Scholarship recipients are the following four outstanding applicants: Bridget Bennett - studying a Bachelor of Medical Radiation Science at the University of Newcastle. “In completing my course I wish to move back out to a rural area such as Orange, or even Dubbo (if a cancer clinic is approved and built before I've finished my course) to work as a fully qualified Radiation Therapist.” Thomas Tsang - studying a Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. “There is always a divide between rural and urban healthcare, therefore I would like to contribute to narrowing this gap. Growing up in Taree, I understand the challenges a country town faces in getting fair and quality medical services. I am keen to return to regional/rural areas, to contribute to narrowing the gap between the rural and urban healthcare.” Tamara Heir - studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University. “ I represent part of the future of science and agriculture in rural and regional NSW and this is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I am working my very hardest to study and learn all I can.” Katherine Reid - studying a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England. “My reason for studying this course is to improve the standard and quality of production, to facilitate further research and learning into different methods of producing agricultural goods. I hope this degree can give me the skills to strengthen the industry.” Read more

The White Stuff

1 Aug 2017

According to a study jointly conducted by the CSIRO and University of Adelaide, one in six Australians have stopped drinking milk and consuming other dairy products – often in the misguided belief that dairy is bad for their health. Of the 1184 adults surveyed, it was found that the majority of those avoiding dairy (74 per cent) were doing so because they were keen to relieve gastrointestinal problems such as cramping, bloating and wind, while fewer participants admitted avoiding dairy because they believed it was fattening. It’s concerning, but the figures all come down to misinformation, says Blake Robinson, Accredited Practising Dietitian at Dairy Australia (, who adds many of those limiting dairy for health reasons are self-diagnosed. “There’s clearly a lot of noise and confusion out there because we know that only one in ten Australians is meeting the daily dairy serve recommendations,” he says. “However I don’t know that there’s any reason to panic about what this study means for our dairy industry – fresh milk consumption has been stable over the last few years and we’re proud to be able to say we’re the only market globally to maintain that.” While dietitians are concerned about what a decrease in dairy consumption could do to our health, what does the CSIRO study mean for our $13 billion dollar dairy industry? At first glance, the figures look great. According to Dairy Australia, Australian milk production increased by nearly 360 million litres (or 3.8 per cent) in 2014/15, and a paper by the Department of Primary Industries recently showed that global demand for Australian dairy products is steadily increasing and expected to grow, driven by demand in China, South East Asia and the Middle East. “Dairy farmers supply a 40/60 split to domestic and export so domestic consumption really is half the story,” says Robinson. One person who is certainly not worried is Country Valley ( dairy farmer, John Fairley whose family has been in the industry on and off for over 160 years. While alternative milk and juices have enjoyed what Fairley calls ‘stealth marketing’, they’ve failed to make a dent in the market nation-wide, and it’s been his experience that the numbers of those who enjoy conventional dairy products are only continuing to grow. “From my personal experience, I can tell you Country Valley continues to do well, and nationally we know the fresh milk market goes up by an average of 1.5 per cent each year,” he says. Similarly, South Coast Dairy ( has recently reported a 54 per cent jump in demand for local milk over a one-month period, after social media campaigns demanded a boycott of cheaper milk. But what of the figures released by research company IBIS, which showed that the growth rates for alternative milk such as soy and almond at an average of 5.9 per cent are eclipsing that of traditional dairy? What do we make of new milk products such as Made by Cow ( Cold Pressed Milk (a happy medium between totally raw and pasteurised milk), which has just hit the market at $5 for a 750ml bottle? Happily, a 2011 report for Soy Australia Ltd shows Australians, on average, only drink three litres of soy milk per capita, per year – a far cry from the 106.8 litres of cow’s milk we consume. And as for the new milk products, there’s every chance they’ll take those turning their backs on dairy to come back to moo, says Made by Cow’s founder, Saxon Joye. “Since we hit Harris Farm shelves in June, we’ve been told that the volume in their milk category has actually increased,” he confides. “And it’s not that our product is cannibalising others, but that our presence is perhaps pointing to other products on the shelves and increasing those figures – it’s really quite exciting.” Read more
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