Country to Canberra ‘Power Trip’ builds the capability of future rural leaders


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Country to Canberra winners

Life is a road trip with twists and turns. How can we support one another to navigate the road to gender equality?  This was the driving question for 18 rural high school students who attended the Country to Canberra ‘Power Trip’ in November and experienced four days of personal and professional development in the nation’s capital.

AgriFutures Australia is a diamond sponsor of the Country to Canberra empowerment program which aims to inspire young rural women to reach their leadership potential and create their own impact in rural communities.

Country to Canberra program founder and AgriFutures™ Rural Women’s Award Alumni, Hannah Wandel established the initiative in 2014 to ensure rural and remote teenage girls have equal access to education and leadership opportunities.

“In Australia, we still have a 14.6% gender pay gap and women are significantly under-represented in leadership positions across politics, business and primary industries. Even more shockingly, research from Plan International shows that when girls are 10 years of age, 56% feel self-confident, but by the time they finish high school, just 27% feel confident within themselves.

“When combining geographical and gender issues, I saw a niche group of girls in rural Australia that needed additional support, so I created Country to Canberra,” said Ms Wandel.

The winners participated in a range of leadership development workshops including an AgriFutures Australia workshop facilitated by Jo Burston and Liz Jackson from who ran an enthralling session on seeing and thinking like an entrepreneur. Winners also had the opportunity to meet with prominent leaders including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 2018 AgriFutures™ NSW/ACT Rural Women’s Award Winner Jillian Kilby and National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson.

The AgriFutures™ Ignite Network also offered two members the opportunity to attend components of the ‘Power Trip’; the personal perspectives panel discussion and the Powerful Women’s Breakfast.

Ignite Network member Jennifer Zappia valued the opportunity to connect with the Country to Canberra participants, influential leaders and mentors.

“Having grown up in a rural community, I not only understand but have experienced the challenges young women in rural communities face in accessing education and career development. I applaud Hannah Wandel’s inspiring efforts in providing young rural women with the opportunity to challenge their views and values in order to return to their community with the skillset to grow the long-term prosperity of Australian rural communities,” said Ms Zappia.

The 10 young women sponsored by AgriFutures Australia come from diverse backgrounds:

  • Sarah Recklies, Year 12 student, Kununurra District School, WA
  • Taylor-Jade Glover, Year 12 student, Cummins Area School, SA
  • Shekinah Taderera, Year 12 student, Mossman State High School, QLD
  • Isabel Blundell, Year 11 student, Nhulunbuy High School, NT
  • Emma Angstmann, Year 11 student, Nhulunbuy High School, NT
  • Chloe Quillerat, Year 11 student, Smithton High School, TAS
  • Kate Perrett, Year 11 student, Nanango State High School, QLD
  • Hannah Whytcross, Year 11 student, Mercy Regional College, VIC
  • Grace Mudge, Year 10 student, St Johns College, NSW
  • Nayani Navaneethan, Year 10, Marian Catholic College, NSW

Emma Angstmann from Nhulunbuy, NT said the opportunity to meet and network with some of the most influential women in politics and agriculture was an inspiring highlight of the trip.

“These women were able to share their personal leadership stories about taking initiative and overcoming adversity, offering to mentor and give advice that we could also put into practice. It was so inspiring to hear about such a diverse range of journeys and have a chance to sit down and speak with these women,” said Ms Angstmann.

AgriFutures Australia strives to attract capable people into careers in agriculture and build the capability of future rural leaders. The Country to Canberra initiative forms part of the AgriFutures Australia People and Leadership arena. For more opportunities and initiatives supported by AgriFutures Australia visit

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