COMMENT: Learning about agriculture in school is valuable

INDUSTRY FOCUS: Kye Everingham and Noah Tasker of Wagga Christian College and Pops the steer. Picture: Supplied
INDUSTRY FOCUS: Kye Everingham and Noah Tasker of Wagga Christian College and Pops the steer. Picture: Supplied

A HIGH-pressure hose and a heifer can be a valuable pairing on an early morning before a show.

Add to that some icy weather conditions and several other kids with hoses and perhaps cantankerous or unruly cattle and you have a pretty good introduction into agriculture.

This is how it starts for many school children. They join the show team. Learn about beef breeds. Make halters, get their toes trodden on (several times) and hopefully gain enough courage to talk in a microphone and have a shot at junior judging competitions.

It's a great start and creates memories that last a lifetime. Joining the show team was also a foundation for many of the leaders in agriculture today. Ask around. You will find people who have washed that heifer or clipped a steer.

If they are brave enough they might tell you about their hoof and hook steers and the tales of woe when those animals were loaded up onto the truck destined to the abattoir.

The people who prepared the steers probably cried real tears and had valuable bonds with their beloved cattle. But let's link this directly to the industry.

Aside from the educational aspects of learning about carcass attributes and the specifications of the meat industry, there are other lessons.

Children gain resilience. They learn about team work. They learn about the importance of having a valuable and safe food chain.

They learn about husbandry and caring for animals.

This year, the landscape looks different though. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have resulted in royal and agricultural shows being called off in the interest of public safety.

However, it is heartening to learn about how young people are tackling their agricultural studies.

This week Wagga Christian College has shared insights into what happens in the classroom, and outside, for students who are enthusiastic about the rural industry.

Pupils are learning about White Suffolk Sheep, they also have Merinos entered in a wether trial and their steers will head to the hoof and hook competition, organised by Royal Melbourne Show, at Yea.

Crops and poultry are also part of the mix. Meanwhile, St Paul's College at Walla Walla is leading the way with a virtual junior judging competition.