Ben Neessen's sporting and community achievements have resulted in the Finley High School student being named Jerilderie's Young Citizen of the Year.
Ben has been described as a future community leader, and is involved in multiple organisations within the local community.
“Ben was introduced to community participation from an early age, which has helped him promote community spirit,” his citation read.
“He is kind, humble, always thinks of others, is respectful, works well with his peers, and leads by example.
“He is an inspiring young citizen, and his family and the Jerilderie community can be justifiably proud of him.”
Ben said he felt privileged to receive the award.
“I've lived here all of my life, so to get this level of recognition is great,” he said.
“It's very important to get involved and give back. I wouldn't be the person I am without the support I get from the Jerilderie community.”
Ben is involved in the Jerilderie Football Club and during his relatively short playing history, he has totalled 135 games for the club, including 10 games with the seniors side in 2019.
His playing ability has been recognised with many awards including the 2019 Picola & District League Under 17s football best and fairest trophy.
He has also been involved with both the Jerilderie and Finley cricket clubs and has represented Finley High School in cricket, soccer and Australian Rules football.
These involvements have developed Ben’s leadership skills and provided him with opportunities for sporting representation at higher-level competitions.
At school Ben represents his peers on the Student Representative Council and is active in the Aboriginal Education meetings.
“He is a proud Aboriginal student and is a role model to other Aboriginal students, and all students in general,” Ben's citation read.
In 2020 Ben will continue to provide a leadership role, through the Aboriginal Education program and as school captain.
“We run the Aboriginal classes at school ourselves,” he said.
“I've been involved in projects like creating indigenous murals and putting them around the school to help promote the indigenous community at the school.
“We also organised an excursion to Melbourne to learn about our history and look at various indigenous artifacts.
“I've helped out over the years but this year will be my first as a senior of the group.
“I look forward to carry on what previous members of the Aboriginal Education group have started.
“I'm also excited to represent the school as its captain.”