Since its inception, the Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation has strived to achieve its goal of a thriving confident rural Victoria, driven by inspiring young leaders. To this end, MSRF has successfully developed and administered a number of initiatives, including their scholarship program, mentoring program, residential leadership programs, professional development opportunities, and various other start up projects. As of 2017, more than 500 young people have had significant involvement in at least one of these programs (often more), and this number continues to grow.
To keep participants connected the MSRF Alumni was officially launched in early 2017. Since that time, the dedicated 7-member committee has been working hard to establish the Alumni as a sustainable organisation that can further the MSRF cause, and foster the growth and development of young rural leaders.
The Alumni’s activities this year can broadly be split into two categories, namely “social activities” and “governance/ strategic planning”, both of which are considered by the committee to be two of our current priorities.
The committee believes social events are an integral part of what we do, as they allow members to reconnect with friends as well as make new friends from other MSRF programs – ultimately these events all help to strengthen the growing network that is the MSRF Alumni. To this end, the social events that occurred have all been hugely successful. Each gathering has been held in a different location, allowing as many Alumni members to attend at least one event as possible. Each event has also had great ‘intergenerational’ attendance, meaning our newest members have been able to meet some of our older members. The committee plans to increase the number of events held next year, and again to hold these events in new locations.
This year has also seen the committee dedicate a considerable amount of effort to strategic planning and governance. The committee has been working closely with MSRF to understand the optimal function and position of the Alumni within the organisation. These discussions will continue into 2018, and will be guided by the changes occurring at MSRF.
As the President of the Alumni Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow committee members, Cassi de Lacy-Vawdon, Chris Dempsey, Ben Gebert, Kate Maddern, Rebecca Postlethwaite, and Tyler Trevaskis, for their efforts over the last 12 months. At our first meeting, I remember discussing a huge list of things we wanted to deliver this year, including social events, networking opportunities, leadership development opportunities, and an online Alumni platform. We have managed to achieve a great deal, and perhaps most importantly, we’ve managed to get the ball rolling. This can be one of the hardestparts of any project, and I appreciate the efforts of every committee member in working to build and maintain the momentum required to get this project off the ground. I know that next year we’ll be able to build on the solid foundation we have established over the last 12 months, and I look forward to seeing the Alumni become the amazing network that it is destined to be.
Jake Bray-ButlerMSRF Alumni President 2017