Five motivated rural leaders are a step closer to achieving their goals of advancing their local communities thanks to a share in $96,000 from the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Foundation (RAS Foundation) Community Futures Grant Program.
Michael Kelly from Dungog, Elizabeth Clark from Kyogle, Alastair Marshall from Burren Junction, Caitlin Warner from Coonabarabran, and Russell Hallaran from Walgett will each be awarded a grant from the RAS Foundation, up to the value of $25,000, to fund a community project that addresses a need in their local area.
Collaboration was a common theme in the winning grants with each project utilising local volunteers and networks to help deliver enhanced economic and social outcomes for the recipient’s local area.
2017 saw the grant age limit lifted, enabling all enthusiastic community members the opportunity to gain important grant funding for their town, not just those under the age of 35.
RAS Foundation Executive Officer, Kate Ross, said the program gives people living in rural areas the opportunity to take on leadership roles in improving their community by addressing local issues.
“Our selection panel was very inspired by the range and diversity of projects we saw and it was clear that passionate rural people are embracing the opportunity to bring their ideas to life through this funding channel,” Ms Ross said.
“With the support and generosity of our donors, the RAS Foundation can champion and support rural Australians as they rise to meet challenges and shape the future of country NSW.”
Since the Community Futures Grant was established in 2010, more than $600,000 has been invested into rural communities through 34 grants.
RAS Foundation Community Futures Grants 2017
Partner: Dungog High School
Project: STEM in Agriculture
Michael Kelly’s project will see him partner with Dungog High School to harness the potential of agricultural technology by introducing a FarmBot into its classroom. The fixed-position robot is capable of autonomously planting, monitoring, watering, and weeding food gardens. Michael’s goal as a secondary teacher is to empower students through this technology and inspire them to pursue careers that are vital to the future of Australian agriculture.
Partner: Kyogle Pony Club
Project: Fencing for the Multipurpose Arena at Kyogle Showground
Elizabeth Clark will work with the Kyogle Pony Club to fence the arena boundary to provide a safe and versatile area at the Kyogle Showground. The project will facilitate greater community involvement and expand opportunities for new and larger events resulting in economic gain for the district. It will also provide local youth with a safe place to participate in community activities that foster leadership and teamwork.
Partner: Burren Junction Hall Junior Sub Committee
Project: Renovation of Burren Junction School of Arts Supper Room
Local farmer, Alastair Marshall, will join a young and energetic committee to see the Burren Junction Hall restored to its former glory. This isolated village currently has no functioning community space and locals are eager to see the hall offer cultural, sporting, and entertainment opportunities. Renovations will include a new kitchen enabling on-site catering for a vibrant program of local events.
Partner: Coonabarabran Pastoral Agricultural Industrial & Horticultural Association
Project: Cattle and Horse Pavilion, Coonabarabran Showground
Caitlin Warner will see a new pavilion built and used for youth-focused events that will also inject much-needed funds into the local community. Recently their 1940’s pavilion was dismantled due to its unsafe structure and the Showground is in desperate need of a new building for their upcoming annual show. As head steward of the cattle section at her local show, Caitlin is passionate about her showground’s facilities.
Partner: Walgett Jockey Club
Project: Transformation of Gordon Pavilion Community Hall
Russell Hallaran is thrilled to be driving the restoration and renewal of The Gordon Pavilion’s roof as he recognises its value to the Walgett community. As the only sizable public hall of its kind in the area, the pavilion is home to many diverse groups in the township and shire. These groups have thrown their spirited fundraising efforts into the project and are welcoming the assistance of this grant in the next phase of the pavilion’s ongoing development.
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.