by Seona Cremasco, Country Education Foundation
As featured in The Country Web 2017 Annual.
Living in the country you find so many connections weaved into daily life that sometimes are overlooked, underestimated and even forgotten. A friend helps you load the groceries, chop some wood or recommends you for a job. You shake hands and shout them a drink and it’s never spoken of again. This weave of helping hands can be put down to country life and that’s just the way people look after each other, or it can be thought of as something else. It can be put down to investing time and effort in your own community, no matter how big or small this effort is.
Anna Ingold is living proof of the country connection that is alive and well in the younger generations of rural and regional Australia. She is 24, living back in her home town of Cootamundra, working in the ag industry and giving back to the community that has helped her out. She is actively helping to better the lives of young people in her community through the @cootamundraanddistrictcountryeducationfund.
This fund awarded Anna a community scholarship back in 2010 for her agriculture science studies at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga NSW. The Fund is one of 43 in the Country Education Foundation (CEF) network that spans four states.
CEF works to foster further education, career and personal development opportunities of rural youth through community based encouragement, support and financial assistance.
For Anna, her involvement within the CEF family stemmed from her own experiences. She wanted to show school leavers that community scholarships aren’t only about money, it’s also about networking and mentoring opportunities with other recipients and members from the organisation.
Anna says, ‘It gives the student a leg up into their future, and it creates a network between the recipients.
‘When I go into the schools I tell the students to look at it as a networking opportunity. I’ve got jobs not because of what I know, but who I know. I think the networking is the most valuable thing.’
For Anna, she has worked hard in her role, as a committee member and now secretary, to be approachable and accessible to Cootamundra’s youth.
‘I’ve made a Facebook page,’ Anna laughs.
Anna’s informal mentoring of the current students has seen some of the applicants reach out for advice and help.
‘I’ve had some of the students Facebook me and ask what’s the best thing for me to wear and what kind of questions are we going to be asked. Without giving too much away I tell them to simply be themself and to be open with what they are trying to do.
‘We also had a lot of older people on our committee going into the schools, however, the students weren’t listening saying it was boring. So they asked me to go in to the schools, and over the past two years the feedback from the students has been positive.
‘The students seem to relate to me and appreciate that I have recently gone to university, lived away from home and that I knows the ins and outs of the new life stage they are about to enter.’
Anna said the most rewarding thing about her role with the Cootamundra & District Education Fund is seeing school leavers bolstered by the confidence and belief the committee and community has in them.
‘It’s definitely a worthwhile thing to pursue. My favourite meeting of the year is when we choose the students. We give not based on how smart a student is or how sport they are—but on their needs and want of a good education. So I always tell the students to apply even when they may not think they will get it.’
Anna’s investment in her community and the future generation of CEF recipients is one many wouldn’t take so early in their careers, but her enthusiasm and passion for creating education and learning pathways for school leavers is evident. Her commitment to helping youth achieve their dreams and career goals strengthens not only her ties to Cootamundra, but the youths’ belief that their community backs and supports them.
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