Macintyre High School Year 11 students Lily King and Abby Chetham look forward to having an input on the future of education after being chosen as NSW Rural Youth Ambassadors.
Developed by the Country Education Partnership (CEP), the program provides youth in rural communities with the opportunity to develop leadership skills and provide important information to government and education sectors.
Lily saw the opportunity to become a youth ambassador fitting, and described herself as a "good rural candidate" for the program.
"I am hoping to make a real impact. The program focuses a lot on education in rural communities. I want to help close the gap between advantages city kids are offered compared to rural kids," she said.
Excited to network, learn and grow her skill-set, Lily has already been chatting with the 27 other NSW ambassadors and planning has begun to meet.
"I found that all the participants are super nice, they're all lovely people and we are like-minded as well," she said.
As a student who has previously participated in leadership programs, Abby felt applying to be an ambassador was in her comfort zone.
Excited to have an opportunity to put forward her ideas to better education for rural and remote students, Abby wants to create a better balance.
"I'd like to see more of a balance between students who live in cities and the experience they get. I think more funding is required for rural students so that they same experiences and opportunities can be offered," she said.
Both local students looked forward to having their ideas dissected by the group.
"It's not something experienced in everyday schooling, to have your ideas challenged by a group, so it will be a good, real-world experience," Abby said.
Ambassadors will be split into small groups to bounce ideas off of each other before coming together to decide what the group will be advocating for.
With virtual catch-ups scheduled once a term, there are plans to meet in person throughout the year- if COVID-19 restrictions allow.
"As teenagers we don't often get taken seriously when it comes to topics such as climate change and rural education, so this will give us a good opportunity to be heard," Lily said.
"I think being able to take a hold of our own education and have an influence to change where education is headed for rural kids is exciting," Abby added.