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Zanda McDonald Award unveils six impressive finalists for 2024

The award that recognizes and nurtures excellence in agriculture, The Zanda McDonald Award, has unveiled six exceptional young professionals as finalists for the coveted 2024 accolade.


This Award, now entering its 10th year, has a commitment to fostering future leaders in agriculture, offering unparalleled opportunities for growth, mentorship, and education. The finalists, a stellar mix of talent from both sides of the Tasman, hail from diverse backgrounds.


The Australian finalists are Caitlin McConnel, 33, Agribusiness Lawyer at Clayton Utz, Chair of the Future Farmer Network and farmer based in Southeast Queensland; Nick Dunsdon, 33, Manager of Coban Pastoral Co and Rural Property Agent at GDL based in Cunnamulla, Southwest Queensland; Tessa Chartres, 32, General Manager Business Development for Murray Irrigation Ltd and Chair of the Southwest Music Regional Conservatorium, based in Deniliquin New South Wales.


The New Zealand finalists are Carla Muller, 31, Agricultural Economist and Principal Consultant for Perrin Ag and former President of NZIPIM, based in Whakatane; Nancy Crawshaw, 27, Extension Officer for Angus Australia and part of the GenAngus Future Leaders Program cohort in 2022, based in Nuhaka Northern Hawkes Bay; and Tim Dangen, 31, beef farmer in Muriwai West Auckland, and 2022 recipient of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Award.

Shane McManaway, award Chairman, says the judges were really impressed with the calibre of the latest crop of applicants, and in particular the finalists, as they approach the awards’ 10-year anniversary.


“It was wonderful spending time with our shortlist through the interview process. As our industry faces more challenges than ever before, it’s extremely heartening being able to shine a spotlight on those with the skills and talent to help navigate and lead us in the future.”


“We’re thrilled with our 2024 finalists. They’re the cream of the crop and possess the courage and passion that this Award stands for. We’re delighted to welcome them all to the Zanda McDonald Award family,” he said.


Finalists become part of the Award Alumni, and receive ongoing access to mentoring, networking opportunities and support. The six will head to Queenstown in March 2024 for the Awards’ annual Impact Summit, where an Australian and a New Zealand winner will be crowned at a special celebratory evening with industry leaders and award partners.


The winners will each pick up an impressive personal development package, including a fully personalised mentoring trip in both countries, $10,000 worth of tailored education or further training, media coaching and ongoing networking opportunities.


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