AUSTRALIA and New Zealand were represented at the biennial reunion of the Australian Rural Exchangees Association (AREA) in Echuca last month.
Members of the association are former Young Farmer and Rural Youth Exchangees, who were winners of travel awards interstate or overseas.
This program involved being hosted by members of affiliated organisations such as International Farm Youth Exchangees in the USA, Young Farmers in the United Kingdom and New Zealand and Junior Farmers & 4H in Canada.
The program operated mainly between the 1950s and 1980s.
Association president Elaine Lees said interstate exchanges were for several weeks and international trips for several months.
‘‘The P&O state winners through the 1960s travelled together as a group to and from the UK by P&O ships, with the voyage taking about four weeks each way,’’ she said.
‘‘Worldwide friendships formed and continue to be maintained and renewed.’’
The Northern District Council of Victorian Young Farmers included clubs from Rochester, Lockington, Kyabram, Echuca, Elmore and Nanneella.
Ms Lees said many families in the local area with members in Young Farmers also hosted visitors from other clubs as well as interstate and overseas guests.
‘‘Many of the participants in the exchangees program went on to become community leaders in organisations, business and politics, after returning home,’’ she said.
‘‘AREA reunions are hosted by states on a rotating basis, and the organising group for the recent weekend included Bruce and Heather Lloyd, Noel and Dorothy Maughan, Ron and Shirley Johnson, Jenny Hann, Glennys Gillingham and myself.’’
The next AREA reunion will be held in 2020 in South Australia.
Former Young Farmer and Rural Youth exchangees interested in receiving information regarding future activities can contact Wendy Lungaard at [email protected]