Diana Wood’s first memory of Angus Youth is Roundup 1996, which began a long association with the program. We checked in with Diana to see where she is now!
What is your earliest memory participating in Angus Youth activities?
My earliest memory of Angus Youth was attending a Roundup in Armidale in 1996. This was most memorable for me because I was beaten by little sister in the paraders, something I had to get used to over my parading career.
But in all seriousness, I also remember this event as the catalyst that really drove my interest in forging a career in the beef industry. It also showed me the friendships and connections that could be formed in attending events such as Roundup.
It was also at this time that I realised the commitment that Mum and Dad had to ensuring my sister and I were afforded all the opportunities that the Angus Youth program had to offer. I would hate to think what the kilometres they covered over the years add up to!
What activity/event stands out to you the most (eg Roundup, leadership clinic, scholarships etc)?
Other than the fun and education that I had at the many Roundups I attended, winning the National Judging Competition and attending the University of Illinois for a semester was one of the biggest highlights from my involvement in the Angus Youth program.
Being given the opportunity to be exposed to the north American cattle industry and to learn at one of the best agricultural Universities in the world, was an experience that I will always cherish and has certainly further my connections in the beef world. This is an experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking at the overseas scholarships on offer.
I was also very lucky to have been the first child of a past recipient to have also won the Illinois Scholarship, with my dad Ewen McLeish winning the scholarship in 1988 (before there was an age limit), so I had always had the drive to win this award.
In terms of opportunities that you received for being part of Angus Youth, how did your involvement positively influence your development in the beef cattle industry?
The opportunities I received were endless, apart from the friendships and connections I developed the Angus Youth program provided me with countless experiences and leadership development opportunities, in 2002 I was awarded the Ebony Hills Encouragement Award heifer and became an Angus Youth Ambassador and got to attend the Leadership Clinic in Armidale, after this time I had various roles on the Management Committee and was I on a number of Roundup organising committees. The pinnacle for me was winning the University of Illinois Scholarship.
Being a part of all of this helped to develop my career in the beef industry, by not only cementing my love of the industry, but by providing me with the mentors and connections that would ultimately shape the path I would take.
I remember sitting down to dinner at the Blazing Stump Hotel in Wodonga during the judging of the 2006 National Judging Competition and asking Erica Halliday how I could utilise my Economics and Marketing Degree to get a job in agriculture (at the time I was working for Balmain Leagues Club in Sydney). Her advice was that I had a lot of contacts in the industry formed over many years and that they should be my first point of call, advice I have never forgotten.
What were the key learnings you developed as a member of Angus Youth, through the program?
I have to credit the program for the confidence it instilled in me and that the workshops and leadership clinics, junior judging and scholarship interviews I was involved with helped to build my ability in public speaking and put me in good stead for the first job interview I went to.
The program also further developed my overall understanding of the beef industry as a whole and opened my eyes to the whole supply chain. It showed me that there are a wealth of opportunities available to anyone who wants to forge a career in the industry.
How are you involved in the beef cattle industry now/where are you now?
After finishing Uni, spending some time at the University of Illinois and a brief stint in Sydney, I moved to Armidale in 2006 to work as a TACE processor at ABRI, incidentally working on Angus TACE. Following this I became the Executive Officer for the Murray Grey Beef Cattle Society and in 2014 I came full circle and began working with Angus Australia in the marketing team and I am now the Marketing and Communications Manager.
I still maintain an active role a role with mum and dad at Outwest Angus in a marketing role and my husband and I and our three children run a commercial Angus and a super fine Merino operation.
I have also been fortunate to judge cattle at a number of Royal Shows including, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.
Why would you encourage others to become involved in the Angus Youth Program?
Fun, friendships and career path development!
The Angus Youth program provides innumerable opportunities for its participants and continues to evolve to ensure that the best scholarships, awards and programs are available to ensure skill building for the future leaders of the beef industry. You only have to look across the many varied roles available across the beef industry and you will find Angus Youth Alumni.
The connections that are established will last a lifetime and you can always guarantee that you will see a friendly face at any event you walk into!
Diana Wood (nee McLeish) and Bindi Marshall (nee McLeish) at the 1998 Roundup in Bathurst NSW 1998 Roundup in Bathurst NSW.