Showgirl event has ID crisis

AN INTERNATIONAL dairy farming advocate from Jamberoo believes the Showgirl competition is suffering an identity crisis, and needs to be reinvented to better spread the message of agriculture.

Sixth generation dairy farmer Lynne Strong said a name change was integral to the competition's long-term survival.

Picture You in Agriculture is an entity which aims to provide professional and personal development for young people, including the Showgirl finalists for the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Mrs Strong, the chief executive and national program director, said equipping young females with the necessary confidence, skills and knowledge was vital.

"It's an organisation which aims to get out there and tell the great story of agriculture," she said.

"Showgirls play a significant part of that, [telling the public] that rural and regional Australia is an exciting place to be.

"They don't know how to tell the story, so we want to give them the tools so they can do it in their own communities, and build those networks.

"We want them to be out there talking about Kiama, and agriculture just happens to be part of Kiama."

In recent years, she has been helping mentor Showgirl regional finalists from throughout NSW as part of The Land Sydney Royal Showgirl Competition, as well as interstate competitions.

The state final presentation will be at the Sydney Royal Easter Show on April 13.

For the past few years she has also advised the Kiama Showgirl winner.

Mrs Strong has also been associated with Art4Agriculture's Young Farming Champions program, which trains young farmers from regional Australia to actively engage with students in their area's schools, as part of the Archibull Prize.

She said Showgirls acted as vital ambassadors for rural and regional communities, and were the ideal vehicle to relay key messages.

"It's important to show the rest of the world that young people are excited about rural and regional Australia, and there are opportunities.

"One of the many challenges facing us today is the lack of comprehension of the complexities of how our food is produced. What is happening with that disconnect is people have begun to value price over quality.

"We want to see agriculture taking its story out there, so now people in the cities can make the best decision they can around food."

Mrs Strong said before she got involved she thought the Showgirl competition was a somewhat antiquated notion, but now hoped to help make it sustainable.

She believed it had some negative connotations, and that Showgirls taking ownership of its profile would help ensure its viability.

"It's always a pivotal competition. We just need to change the name, so people can point at this competition and know exactly what it represents.

"It would be good to see that the name actually reflected that you are an ambassador for your community. If we are to attract young women to the competition, it's important it has a name that sells itself."

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