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The Zanda McDonald Award was created in 2014 with a simple, yet powerful goal.

To find young people in Australia and New Zealand’s agricultural industries with the drive to thrive. Supported by a community of exceptional mentors around them to help them reach new heights.

Although humble in concept, the award provides an unmatched opportunity to accelerate the careers of young people in ag and, in turn, help to shape a better future for the trans-Tasman agricultural industry.

So, if you’re passionate about making a difference in agriculture and you want to further develop your skills, taking your career to the next level – apply for the Zanda McDonald Award!

Our vision for our finalists and winners is simple: To learn, network, experience and grow.

  • Learn – from successful leaders and peers

  • Network - with the best in trans-Tasman agriculture

  • Experience – first-hand through a tailored mentoring programme

  • Grow – your capabilities, for personal and professional development


To be eligible for the award, you must be between the ages of 21 - 35 years (as of 31 August 2024), and working in agribusiness in Australia or New Zealand. 


Before applying, make sure to read and understand the terms and conditions associated with entering.


Past finalists and winners of the award have come from a variety of agricultural backgrounds including vets, cattle station managers, livestock consultants, beef, sheep, and/or dairy farmers, and self-employed agri-entrepreneurs.  Applicants (and past finalists and winners) have also included those who've worked in the agribusiness corporate sector, such as Fonterra, Pamu Farms, Baker Ag in NZ; and LambPro, QLD Depart. of Agriculture in Australia.

Regardless of their role in ag, what all of our finalists and winners share is the drive to succeed, the desire to make a positive difference within their industry and to make the most of the opportunities presented to them along the way. If this sounds like you, then why not take the leap and apply?

Our Award winners become Zanda McDonald Award ambassadors during their term and may be invited to represent the Award at industry events, field days, or industry conferences.



  • Application Open 1st-31st October – Click here to register your interest in applying

  • Shortlist judging will take place in November

  • Five people from each country will be selected to be interviewed during the first week of December. Exact date TBC

  • After the interviews, three finalists from each country will be announced and invited to attend the Impact Summit in March 2025 (location and date TBC).

  • The announcement of the winner from each country is to be made during the Celebration Dinner at the Impact Summit.




Zanda McDonald was a prominent identity in the Australian beef and livestock industry and was proud to be a farmer who worked tirelessly to encourage young people to work in the industry that he loved. He died in April 2013 at the age of 41, following a tragic accident on his Queensland cattle property.

Zanda was a founding member of a trans-Tasman agricultural networking group, which was formed in 2005 and comprised a handful of like-minded farmers who came together to spin yarns and solve a few industry problems. As part of his role in the group, Zanda led a number of initiatives to promote his industry to the next generation. 

In 2014, in honour of Zanda, the networking group led by Shane McManaway launched The Zanda McDonald Award.

The group, now known as the Zanda Mentoring Group (ZMG), has evolved into a collective of over 250 of Australasia's top rural leaders. 


This impressive network of top industry mentors throughout Australia and New Zealand is accessible to award finalists and winners.

The Award recognises young people working in the primary industry sectors in New Zealand and Australia and supports their future career development. 

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