After cancelling the event in 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions, South Coast Beef (SCB) is proud to announce that the School Steer Spectacular is going ahead this year.
The event will be conducted in the newly completed and refurbished cattle facilities at Nowra Showground from May 2-6, 2023.
This event allows school students in south-east NSW to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of the beef industry through involvement in a hoof and hook competition and cattle rearing, husbandry, and preparation.
Participating schools prepare steers provided by local beef producers to compete for awards based on the merits of the live steers, carcase, and the knowledge and skills gained by the students throughout the project.
There are 17 schools confirmed for the competition, encompassing 900 students and 35 steers.
"This year, to make things interesting, we have also opened a new commercial steers section to SCB members, with steers being unled and judged in pens," SCB media and communications officer David King said.
"This will enable beef producers to enter their cattle to assess their herd breeding and management programs."
The students will ensure steers are fed, groomed and trained to the halter for 90-100 days.
Moss Vale High School agriculture teacher Georgia Matheson-Gee participated in the School Steer Spectacular while at Vincentia High School.
She said it gave her and her peers hands-on opportunities with more cattle.
"As a senior, the program allowed me to develop my leadership skill through mentoring younger students," she said.
"For me, my passion for ag really took off at high school, where I was given multiple opportunities and was taught by passionate teachers."
A team of eight students are working directly with two Angus steers from Target Creek Farm, Kangaroo Valley, to prepare them for the competition. Plus, another 50 or so ag students are assisting in getting feed and equipment ready, cleaning paddocks and checking stock daily.
"Both steers have settled in well, and our students have been dedicating every lunch to calming down and halter training their steers," Ms Matheson-Gee said.
"The students have made great progress, gaining the trust of the steers and have built bonds with both steers.
"We still have a lot to do and a lot of learning to engage in, but I know the dedication of these students will ensure their steers are prepared for the spectacular."
Ms Matheson-Gee said her students were from diverse backgrounds, including those with no cattle knowledge and those living on cattle farms.
"We hope this program encourages more students to branch into agriculture and connects our students with many industry leaders and further employment and agricultural studies opportunities," she said.
Ms Matheson-Gee said she loved so many aspects of teaching agriculture.
"My favourite part of ag teaching would have to be providing a safe, welcoming, and educational area for students to come to and providing a range of opportunities to my students that I was lucky enough to be provided throughout my schooling," she said.
"You really can't put a price on opportunities and engagement in industries. As a teacher, I strive to provide various options to students in multiple aspects of agriculture, including but not limited to livestock, horticulture, aquaponics, and hydroponics.
"The biggest reward as an ag teacher is seeing your students achieve their goals and feel a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
"A bonus to teaching agriculture is spending time around animals and plants and being able to pass on my passion to youth in agriculture starting at a school level."
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