Wauchope High School student Cameron Lloyd is advancing on to the district finals of the Lions Youth of the Year in Tamworth, after cruising through a regional round in Taree.
The year 11 student busted through the regional round on March 14 with a speech about the NSW drought conditions. Hastings competitors Kingslee Marks of Port Macquarie and Phoenix Nincsics of Lake Cathie also attended the round but are not progressing.
All three were selected from the Taree public speaking competition at the 2019 Tacking Point Lions Club Youth of the Year Quest on November 20 last year.
Mr Lloyd said he was quizzed with questions about social media, nuclear energy and Australia's biggest challenges in 2020, on the night.
"It's all pretty similar between the different levels and I'm just focusing on improving as I go from each level. Learning from my mistakes and getting feedback," he said.
"I continued my speech about the domino effect that drought is having on the community. Compared to last year it doesn't look like we are in as much of a drought as we were back then and I had to justify of why I kept the speech. The fact is that we are all still in drought.
"I'm hoping to use the same speech in Tamworth and it's a different environment out there, they are definitely still in drought.
"I'm excited to go to the next level just to see what I can do."
Mr Lloyd said he hopes the public speaking will help earn him a place as school captain in Wauchope.
"Representing the state would be fantastic but at the moment I'm just thinking what is ahead of me and striving for as high as my potential can take me," he said.
"I hope this competition would help me out in fulfilling my ambitions to become school captain. I'm already definitely more confident in my speaking skills after this.
"The whole process is unique because you don't have to be a sports star, you don't have to be first in the year academically and you don't have to volunteer everyday. It's a mixture of the three.
"My tips are keeping eye contact with the audience, keep them engaged and flowing with you, take your time and just tell them what you know."
Wauchope High School head teacher of English, year 12 advisor, science and biology teacher Tahlia Stewart said the program has been hugely beneficial for Cameron so far.
"I'm very impressed and proud of Cameron's achievements particularly considering he started the competition when he was in year ten," said Ms Stewart.
"He's younger than the majority of the competitors and he's made it to this level, which is very impressive.
"His involvement in Lions Youth of the Year will definitely translate well into his ability to speak well in class. There is a lot of emphasis in year 11 and 12 English on that ability to communicate verbally.
"I think his chances of becoming school captain are fairly high. He has put himself out there in terms of leadership and extending himself to other opportunities."
Local youth of the year chair Mal Murray said Cameron would now represent Wauchope Lions Club and the region at district level at Tamworth in the next few weeks.
Mr Murray said the 2020-2021 Lions Youth of the Year competition will be seeking new candidates for the Hastings area in July this year. A combined local competition will be held in late November.
Each state winner and their school receives a prize of $1000, a $5000 prize is awarded to the national overall winner and the national public speaking winner receives $5000.
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