Thomas Andersen has taken out the junior judging competition at the South Coast Beef School Steer Spectacular.
The two-day event kicked off on Tuesday at Nowra Showground.
The St Gregory's College, Campbelltown, student was placed ahead of runner-up Tsering Choedon, Nowra High School, by over-judge Stuart Glover, Moss Vale, in what was described as a close contest.
Thomas, who is from Yass, made the final four based on his written judging observations before giving an oral presentation on a class of South Devon heifers.
He said he enjoyed "meeting people and making industry contacts for the future" at youth competitions.
"I have a sheep background, and I've done a fair bit of sheep and cattle judging at shows," he said.
"Once I started speaking, I felt confident. It was just about getting started. Those initial comments are always a bit jittery, but once you get going, it is fine."
Agriculture teacher Hayley Mahoney said Thomas' success came down to years of practice.
"Thomas is getting out there and having a go no matter what," she said.
"Sometimes he has stumbled on things, but he has picked himself back up and kept going."
Mr Glover said the competition encouraged students to make decisions and back themselves.
"It is one thing to put them on the ring and write what they see on a piece of paper, but they have to take it to the next level where we get the top four on the microphone," he said.
"It is really important that the kids understand how to speak openly about something they saw.
"It's easy to talk about the animal in isolation, but it's important to be descriptive about what you see."
Mr Glover enjoys watching the students' natural abilities shine through.
"I love watching the kids listen, look, and absorb," he said.
"The reserve champion, Tsering Choedon, has not come off the land. She is keen enough and driven to know more and watch it on YouTube, and she was the only one in the whole group who compared the animals.
"Thomas was the only one to thank everyone, and he had good structure in his talk.
"He had confidence and he broke the animals down well."
More than a dozen schools are competing in the event.
Narooma High School students have taken part in the competition for six years.
Agricultural teacher Kylie Maher said the school breeds the majority of their cattle, as well as working with steers donated by local breeders.
"A big part is breaking the steers in and getting them used to the school environment; then we focus on the nutrition, feeding and weight gain.
"It's a really good youth show for them where they can hear from different professionals in the field. It's not only good for their learning, but it also shows them career choices in the ag industry."
Year 11 students, Olivia Shipton and Kirra McCaughtrie, have been preparing their Limousin and Limousin cross steers for 70 days.
"I came to this show two years ago, it was a great experience, and it taught me a lot," Olivia said.
"We've just finished doing the workshops. They are really interesting and go into depth about what you need to know and do to be able to show cattle really well."
Kirra made special mention of their teacher, Mrs Maher and her husband, Nathan, who assists with the school farm.
"She does everything she can to help us," she said.
"She's a massive role model. She has presented us with so many opportunities."
For the first time, St John the Evanglist Catholic High School, Nowra, students took part in the competition.
They prepared two South Devon steers bred by Lee Pippard, Tannoch South Devons, Willow Vale, for the event.
Year 10 student Benjamin Speer has also been working with their steers for 70 days.
"I've enjoyed clipping them today and seeing how they grow and transform over the 10 weeks," he said.
"Halter training has been the hardest part."
Year 11 student Charli Butler said the steers were fed DDG pellets to meet their protein requirements.
"It's been great working with the steers and making the connection with the animals when you're working with them," she said.
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