Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga is taking an innovative approach to creating opportunities and interest in agriculture by establishing the first university based show team.
But, showing a steer at the Sydney Royal Show is only a minor goal for the new livestock show team. Aimed at creating a link between agriculture programs within high schools and tertiary education, the group hopes to facilitate learning and encourage people within the wider community to step into agriculture.
Club president Janet Cantwell said the team behind the club is all about giving back, by using the skills they have to help educate others.
Many high schools that offer agriculture as a subject don’t have the facilities, funding or connections to run a show team whether it be cattle, pigs, sheep or poultry, she said.
“We hope to extend what we are doing to the greater community to run clinics and events accessible by high school students to allow them to learn and gain all the knowledge needed to help drive them forward,” Ms Cantwell said.
CSU lecturer in farming systems Michael Campbell said he has always thought of showing livestock like a carrot – “it brings everyone together and helps draw students into agriculture”.
“A vision I hope to see is individuals within this group help mentor students from schools that do not have a show team, to allow them to show livestock of any species at events,” he said.
Students that have access to a show team at school as their extra curricular activities may come to university and have nothing to do, therefore Michaela Glasser said they aim to bridge the gap between high school and university, to provide students with the opportunity to pursue their interests, which might not be possible on an independent level.
The club offers students to extend their involvement in activities or networking opportunities that are not just set on events, such as balls or university nights.
Club vice president Brenden Lydford said the biggest aspect of the group was to link both university and high school students to industry.
“We wanted to offer a social and hands-on opportunity to students, to allow them to apply what they were learning in some of their classes to bring it back to an industry level and why it is important,” he said.
PhD student Tom Williams said whether it was nutrition or animal handling, students would be able to see how their classroom teachings translated into some form of agricultural product.
Leading the way
THE Charles Sturt University Livestock Show Team will create a link to course curriculum by integrating aspects where possible.
PhD student Tom Williams said the CSU farm manager James Stephens had suggested the club send lambs to the Dubbo Show hoof and hook competition or put university steers into the NSW Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial.
Club vice president Brenden Lydford said they had access to artificially inseminate 30 cows to produce potential show steers from bulls they had sourced.
“All semen has been donated from YavenVale Herefords, Adelong, and Ben Toll from Toll Cattle, Dubbo,” Mr Lydford said.
“Its all linked because the cows will go through the vet program where they will all be caesarean delivered by students as part of the vet pracs.
“We will get access to all the calves to take to shows or there is the potential to have a steer sale to allow schools that don’t have access or know where to source animals to come in and buy their own.”
The program not only accommodates for agriculture, veterinary or animal science students, it opens the door for others to try something new and gain understanding and skills related to food and fibre production, animal welfare and ethics and personal development areas.
CSU lecturer in farming systems Michael Campbell said he hoped the establishment of the group sparked interest from other universities.