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CEF’s volunteers are the invaluable champions of what we do, what we believe in and how we connect to country youth – the future lifeblood of our rural and regional areas.

CEF’s 40-plus local foundations are all run by volunteer committees. Every year they decide which country kids get grants to pursue their ambitions, they go into schools to encourage kids to apply, and offer immeasurable reach in mentoring and offering networks to country people from all walks of life.

Without volunteers, hundreds of country students every year would be left without people who believe in them and their dreams.

Katie Walker Outstanding Service Award

Katie is a founding member and board director of Country Education Foundation of Australia  as well as an establishing member of the Yass and District Education Foundation. Katie understands that our volunteers are vital to CEF’s mission,  in providing wrap around support for the entire community, and the young people seeking further education.

This Award recognises the exceptional commitment of the over 430 volunteers from the 46 local foundations throughout Australia.

“This year continues to be a relentless challenge which has impacted all aspects of life,” Katie explains. “Despite this, CEF Foundations are creating ways to fundraise and support students aspiring to access further education.”

“Our volunteers inspire students, communities and each other. I encourage you to celebrate and honour their efforts by nominating outstanding members.”

Read more about our 2022 winner and the importance of volunteering in regional Australia

“Our volunteers inspire students, communities and each other. I encourage you to celebrate and honour their efforts by nominating outstanding members”
Katie Walker, CEF Director

Previous Recipients


Justin Fleming – Boorowa


Margaret Carey – Grenfell


Mary Browne – Great Lakes
Beth Hoskins – Goulburn


Jane McGrath – Griffith
Pierre Gregor – Kangaroo Island
Sam Flanery – Harden
Nic Carmody – Yass


John Trist – Edward River
Chen Gaul – Hastings
Ken Martin – Coleambally/Darlington Point


Anne Hornsey – Kapunda
Charlotte Middleton – Harden
Elaine Clarke – Coleambally/Darlington Point
Penny Sheppard – Coleambally/Darlington Point
Paula Heelan – Clermont
Sue Richards – Great Lakes


Trish McKenzie – Paroo
Patricia Jacka – Wool, Wine & Wheat Clare Valley
Trish Solomon – Braidwood
Virginia Taylor – Coonamble

This passionate CEF volunteer and Macleay Valley CEF founder knows first-hand that education is vital when it comes to unlocking opportunity for regional kids.

“I thought about my life and what a difference this kind of help would have made to me. I saw kids in our region who I knew had the potential to get qualifications if only someone believed in them and could give them a kick start.”

Terry WitchardMacleay Valley Education Foundation

As a former teacher and mum of three Jane knows the value of investing in futures – in a big or small way.

“I think it’s really important for these kids to have a connection. They touch base and let me know what they are doing or I contact them and just catch up.”

“(CEF is so valuable) at taking the pressure off the students. If it means we can help them pay their rent for half a term, that saves them. It also saves them having to commit to a lot of work while they are studying. A lot of them are in self-catered accommodation, they have got to do everything themselves as it is, they have to have a job, and have to study – it’s just really hard. It’s wonderful to be able to help them.”

Jane McGrathGriffith CEF

Anna is young, ambitious and what CEF is all about. She has gone from CEF recipient to committee secretary in a space of eight years.

“I always tell the kids to apply even though you don’t think you’ll get it. We’ve given grants to kids that don’t think they’ll get anything and then they get something from us. It encourages them more, even at uni. It’s great when they get a scholarship and they just weren’t expecting it. It’s not based on how smart you are or how sporty you are – it depends on need and want of education.”

“It gives the student a leg up into their future. And it does create a network between the recipients. That’s one thing I do tell kids when I go into schools – this is a networking opportunity. The networking is the most valuable thing, not the money at all. I’ve got jobs not because of what I know, but who I know.”

Anna IngoldCootamundra and District CEF