AN AGRICULTURAL advocate who wants to help the next generation of farmers find their own place on the land has been crowned the 2012 Griffith Showgirl.
Claire Walker, a Commonwealth Bank agribusiness manager, was named the winner of this year’s Showgirl competition, ahead of runners-up Natalie Ford and Amanda Simpson.
Ms Walker, who grew up on her family’s farm at Rankins Springs, said she couldn’t believe it when she was awarded the sash on Monday.
“My heart skipped a beat and I stopped breathing,” Ms Walker said. “I’m so honoured to have been given the Showgirl title.”
As well as representing Griffith at the zone and state levels, Ms Walker said she had big plans to use her new position for the benefit of the local agricultural industry.
“I’m hoping with the exposure of the Showgirl competition I’ll be able to take a leading hand in the issue of helping young farmers buy their first property,” she said.
“The young farmer association is already working with the government to put something in place to help and with the Showgirl banner behind me I’m hoping to be a forerunner for the issue.”
Sydney Royal Easter Showgirl Jasmine Nixon, who helped judge the Griffith Showgirl competition, said it was a close contest but Ms Walker’s involvement in agricultural issues had put her one step ahead of the others.
“With the quality of the competition, the only thing we could do was give out two runner-up positions – it was very difficult to pick a winner out of the three of them,” Ms Nixon said.
“Claire identified an issue in the community and with her knowledge and expertise in regional issues, she stood out.”
Griffith Showgirl for 2011, Rachel Pisan, said she was sad her year had come to an end but she enjoyed her time as the town’s representative at both zone and state levels and helping guide the three entrants in the competition.
“I made sure they got involved with the show as much as they could because it gives them good experience before zone,” she said.
“All the girls we had this year were really high quality and no one could pick the winner until Yvette (McKenzie) read her name out.”
Ms Walker will next represent Griffith at the zone finals at Ganmain in February next year.
For more photos from the Griffith Show click here.