Nine high school students from across the region have been selected to participate in a new program aimed at boosting the aspirations and leadership capabilities of young people in rural and regional schools.
Last month Cordelia Lloyd from Guyra Central School; Lachlan Hampton from Inverell High School; Abigail Cheetham and Lily King from Macintyre High School; Jordan Briggs and Natalija Stanjoveic from Moree High School; and Rachel Coulton and Jackie Woodward from Warialda High School all met their fellow Rural Youth Ambassadors members for the first time.
Encompassing locations from Bourke to Ulladulla and from Singleton to Finley, these young people joined their peers in a virtual orientation forum.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the inaugural NSW Rural Youth Ambassador 2020 Pilot Program would immerse the Year 11 students selected from his electorate in six months of leadership development, advocacy and learning.
"As these young people enter the final years of school this is a golden opportunity for them to build positive leadership skills which will take their peers and communities forward," Mr Marshall said.
"Rural towns offer a range of fantastic opportunities for young people to exercise leadership and develop public speaking and citizenship skills like Lions Youth of the Year or Rotary Youth Exchange.
"This pilot program builds on those experiences by offering young leaders the chance to share ideas, engage with successful business and thought leaders, explore youth programs with key decision makers and most of all energise each other.
"Each of the Rural Youth Ambassadors will emerge with enhanced leadership skills and knowledge, plus stronger confidence in their future and a network of peers with whom they share interests and aspirations.
"I congratulate all nine students and wish them every success in the program."
Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell welcomed the initiative, which is a collaboration between the government, Aurora College and the Country Education Partnership.
Aurora College is the NSW Department of Education's virtual school, providing students in rural and remote communities with the opportunity to connect locally and learn globally.
"Through this pilot program these student leaders will become a voice for their schools, their communities and the areas where they live," Ms Mitchell said.
"They will also have a greater engagement in shaping rural and regional education by contributing reflections, feedback and comments about their own schooling."
Since joining the NSW Rural Youth Ambassador 2020 Pilot Program the young leaders have been participating in online forums, discussions and working groups ahead of a planned three-day conference in Term 4.