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Posted on Mar 31, 2017


Friends, fun, training and travel are core elements of Rural Youth and to John Pilcher are benefits that have stuck with him well after being a Rural Youth member. John joined the organisation in 1962 as an 18 year old. Just when he was about to turn 25 the organisation raised the age limit from 25 to 30, which was lucky because for John this meant another 5 years as a member. Being a member was one of the best things he has ever done.

For John, the biggest benefit of Rural Youth was the great mates he made. The friends he made in Rural Youth are still his mates to this day. It doesn’t matter if he hasn’t seen them in 10-15 years, when he does see them it’s like it was only yesterday. The organisation was/is a common denominator for people to connect, whether through planned social events or a working bee. One of the other biggest social advantages was the respect and principles Rural Youth taught everyone. The girls kept the boys under control when they had a few too many drinks and if any of the guys started anything there was always someone to step in.

The training through Rural Youth prepared John for later life. Public speaking and debating was a large part of John’s time as a member. These skills have helped him out for other volunteer roles as well as his career. He has been a part of APEX and show societies as a valued committee member. He has been involved with showing cattle for over 40 years and in 2016 the Royal Hobart Show made him a ‘Living Legend’. Rural Youth and the show societies complemented each other well.

John fondly remembers events such as dances where hundreds of people would show up and debates, where John had a respectful rivalry with another member. Friendships within the organisation were concreted through exchanges that were held between members in other areas of the state. He was billeted with members in the North (as he was from the South) where he explored different farms and agriculture businesses. He also benefitted from an exchange to the mainland as well as Flinders Island. Whilst he was Club Treasurer for a few years, it was the hands-on behind the scenes work that John enjoyed the most.

For 40 years John has worked with Elders (previously Websters and Farmer and Graziers Co-Op) and with his wife June operates a Santa Gertrudis stud. In 1975 he won a service award. “It was a real honour, something I never dreamed of winning” says John. John was also involved in politics, reaching the state executive level in his chosen party.

John has been a part of the Rural Youth Advisory Committee for over 6 years. He enjoys giving back to the organisation. It wasn’t just the 12 years he was a member that he benefited from Rural Youth. He still benefits now.

One piece of advice John has for Rural Youth members is “Treasure the friends you make in Rural Youth, they’ll turn out to be lifelong friends”.