The end of B&S balls

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

WA's original farm youth organisation has called it a day.

Agricultural education and social networking group Rural Youth has folded after 80 years connecting young people in rural and isolated areas.

The group has suffered a declining membership in recent years and has been overshadowed by groups like WAFarmers' AgConnectWA, which offers young people a modern forum to discuss the future of the industry in WA.

Rural Youth held its last hurrah at its sell-out 2015 historic pre-harvest ball, held at the organisation's last remaining branch in Katanning.

The organisation was formed in Harvey in 1935 as the Western Australia Junior Farmers Club, focusing on agricultural education by exposing young farmers to current farming techniques and the opportunity to explore new or developmental technologies of the day.

The organisation's name was changed to Rural Youth in 1973, which reflected the shift in objectives of the organisation.

_During its peak, the group boasted a branch in almost every country town where its more than 6000 members would take part in local and State farm competitions, agricultural workshops and, most importantly, a healthy dose of partying. _

Last month, with a handful of remaining members and declining resources, Katanning banker and president Mark Letter made the decision to wind up the group.

He said the group served a great purpose in a different time.

"In the earlier times of the group's history it was more difficult for young people to leave the farm and study," he said.

"In those days, people were getting farm education and a social life rolled into one."

Mr Letter said the group started to lose its attraction after it changed from Junior Farmers to Rural Youth.

"I believe that is when it was all about socialising and because of that it lost its definition," he said.

"But I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the group and have managed to make lots of friends.

"Transient workers like nurses and teachers coming to town really enjoyed the opportunity the group gave for them to meet new people as well."

Mr Letter said he felt bad about having to close the group.

"The paid positions stopped in 2009 and the closure has been on the cards every year since then," he said.

Mr Letter said it was important the legacy of the group was preserved.

"If anyone has trophies or documents from the group please forward it to the Royal Agricultural Society," he said.

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