Strong cultural message steals the show

Last Thursday was the 1st day of the Sydney Royal Easter Show 2013 and as has become a highlight of my year, once again I ventured to the show to judge the Schools  District Exhibits Display.

My goodness after judging this section for 3 years wow is the competition heating up. This year just four points separated 1st and 4th.

Firstly a bit of background. The competition has the dual purpose of showcasing talented young people and their team work from NSW schools as well as identifying, encouraging and mentoring young people to feed into the iconic District Exhibit Display teams.

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The Iconic District Exhibits in 2013

This year everyone agreed ( including a number of judges of the big displays) that all four schools had taken the competition to a whole new level.

It wasn’t just the quality of the design, creativity, artistic merit and innovation that caught the judges attention. Equally impressive was how the students engaged with the judges (and the general public) and their levels of energy. I was so impressed with the professionalism of the students. They energised me. They really knew their stuff. How to tell the story of the development of the big ideas, why they were so passionate about their theme and how well the teams came together. I could go on for ever they were all just mind-blowing         

Winner 

But we can only have one winner and this year’s winner of the Schools District Exhibits Display competition was Woodenbong Central School who bravely addressed a very powerful cultural issue through there very thought provoking display.

Woodenbong Central School District Exhibit

Building Respect in Our Communities

My two fellow judges Andrew Barnum and Nicole Punt are both well known in the art and design world and once again I benefited immensely from their broad experience and expertise.

As Andrew explained this was a “an artwork with a simple clear message that takes a viewer into the artist’s world and holds them there, makes a connection and leaves a lasting impression”

I approached the judging from a farmer perspective being highly appreciative that all of these wonderful young people were helping me tell farming stories to my urban customers – the lifeblood of every farmer’s business.

Tying for second place was Muirfield High School who reached out to the Art4Agriculture ethos in me with their display that showed how their school agriculture department was ‘opening the door to a green future by inspiring young people to take up careers in the agri-food sector’  

Muirfield High School

Agricultural education opening the door to a greener future

Equal second this year was Calrossy Anglican School whose display had a strong sustainability theme and an equally strong sense of community. You could even smell the Lucerne in their backdrop, their country region just wafted out to you

 

And a very close third was Menai High School who also had a strong focus on sustainability. Using a big foot as the central focus the display moved in the background from the drab colours of the smoke stacks and cooling towers of the mining industry to the bright green fields of produce and very clever examples of sustainable energy use

As you can see months of preparation and blood, sweat and tears goes into the displays and I am confident you will join me in saluting everyone involved

Giving next gen a voice at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

One of the major objectives of the Archibull Prize is to give students a voice through their artwork to not only promote the program and its key messages to hundreds of thousands of people, but to showcase the students’ opinions, learnings and values to the community.

Art4Agricultures partnership with the RAS of NSW (through the Sydney Royal Easter Show) and the RNA of Queensland ( through the Ekka ) gives us a wonderful opportunity to do this

This is how the clever team in the Food Farm have achieved this in 2013 at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Archibull Prize in the Food Farm

James Ruse Agricultural High School and Model Farms High School

De La Salle

De La Salle College

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Shoalhaven High School

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Hills Adventist College and Macarthur Anglican School

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Cranebrook High School

Wyong

Wyong High School and Muirfield High School

Tuggerah Lakes

Tuggerah Lakes Secondary School, Berkeley Vale Campus 

Caroline Chisholm College and Winmalee High School

Caroline Chisholm College and Winmalee High School

From the udder side of the fence

I would like you all to meet our latest Young Farming Champion – Jessica Monteith

How lucky is the dairy industry to welcome this young lady into our midst

Jessica’s story ………..

My life motto has always been “To live with Passion” and I have always focused on the words of Nelson Mandela – “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.

Nelson Mandela Quote

In other words I throw my self 100% whole heartedly into everything I set out to achieve. A life without goals is a life without passion.

Growing up my best friend lived on a dairy farm only a short push bike ride from my house. Right from the start I was always fascinated by the dairy and the cattle and we would follow her dad and grandfather around the farm pestering them with questions and always wanting to help, or more likely hinder their efforts when it came time to feed the calves. I never realised it at the time but these are the cherished memories that inspired me and determined my life goals

I have been lucky enough to meet many people over the years who have helped me achieve many accomplishments that I never would have thought possible, these people I see as mentors whom have shaped my understanding and fuelled my passion for Rural Industries in particular the dairy industry to which I am now devoted.

This passion began when Graham and Jane McPhee of Hillview Park Holsteins in Finley  asked me to join them to help prepare their cattle for International Dairy Week. This annual event  draws around 2000 head of cattle from across Australia. Not only are Jane and Graham the roots of my passion they have helped kickstart my own dairy herd by giving me the best gift ever – the pick of a calf from their calf pen. This calf Hillview Park AJK Eve was my first Holstein and foundation dam of my own Curramore Park Holstein stud.

AJK Eve First calf

I have found the dairy industry is full of people who are very keen to open doors and nurture new entrants and introduce you to others who share your passion.

One of these is Natalie Cochrane of Eagle Park who owns a dairy farm with her husband Tim at Terara just north of Nowra. After I began showing cattle with Natalie I began to fall in love with her signature breed – Illawarra cattle.

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Sydney Show 2012 and a gorgeous Illawarra Cow

Whilst I had not grown up on the land I found there are plenty of farming people like Natalie who will work with you and show you the ropes and support you to live your dream. My little herd of registered Holsteins and Illawarra’s which now live at Terara on Tim and Natalie’s property continues to grow slowly between breeding and purchasing new genetics from local breeders.

As part of my involvement in the dairy industry I have been lucky enough to compete and succeed in youth events and attend shows across 5 states of Australia meeting many wonderful people along the way who have become friends for life.

My first trip to Sydney show saw me come home with a blue ribbon from competing in the Youth Challenge. This team orientated event involves a group of young people working together in a range of activities that show how well the team can prepare a team of cattle for judging at the show. I came home with a renewed sense of accomplishment and next year went one further winning the  paraders class against others in my age group who had many more years  experience.

One of my biggest achievements was mentoring the South Coast and Tablelands Youth Challenge team to our first ever representation at International Dairy Week and coming away with success. The smiles and excitement of the team after beating some of the best dairy youth in the country will stay with me forever.

Youth Challenge Team

The IDW Youth Challenge Team

Whilst breeding and showing dairy cattle first spiked my interest in the dairy industry, it is the diverse range of opportunities that agriculture provides which keeps me actively involved now.

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Sydney Show 2009

My role in working with youth in agriculture is helping young people understand the important and pivotal role that farmers and agriculture play in our past, present and future. I also hope it is influencing them to realise the opportunities that agriculture and agricultural related fields can hold for them.

I am now completing a Traineeship in Financial services through Horizon Credit Union whilst also completing full time study for a double degree in Agricultural Science as well as Agribusiness Finance through Charles Sturt University. I am hoping to follow a career path in finance related to and working one-on-one with our farmers to develop their industries and operations to work to full capacity as well as continuing to work with the next generation. The fact that I don’t come from a farming background helps show that exciting agriculture related careers and opportunities are available to everyone.

Once I have all my qualifications I aim to specialise in Succession Planning and Share Farming in the hope of not only keeping the next generation of farmers on the land but also keep generations of farming history, skills and knowledge maintained by giving young people the opportunity to work on land without the need to buy the land they farm on.

The past 5 months have been a whirlwind of achievements and success for me. After winning the Berry showgirl competition, I then made the top 15 in the state out of 650 young women from across NSW. From there it was off to the Sydney Royal Easter Show where I was awarded First Runner up in The Land Sydney Showgirl Competition. This is a feat that still amazes me and when people ask me if I have come down yet I reply that I have no yet had the chance to go up!

Showgirl with Jane Mcphee

1st runner up Sydney Royal Easter Showgirl 2012 with Jane McPhee

From humble beginnings I honestly did not even expect to do well in the local competition and when I see the Runner Up sash stretched across my bed I have to pinch myself to make sure its real. Showgirl was always something I wanted to have a go at after seeing many inspiring young women from our area do well in the competition and witnessing how it helped them get to where they are today. I did not quite understand though just how many opportunities being involved in the competition held for me. The people I have met and networked with along the way will undoubtedly be further influencers in helping me reach my full potential and allow me to give back to the community that has supported me .

The Showgirl competition has inspired me to get even more involved by recruiting and inspiring other young women to step outside their comfort zone and have a go. I will also use my award as a vehicle to share the great story of Australian farmers and agriculture with the community.

Year of the farmer ambassador

But most of all I want to be a real life example of the doors that agriculture can offer to exciting career pathways and inspire other young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Sadly when I was at school the consensus was and it still seems to be that many students are deterred away from considering tertiary education options by careers advisers due a perceived lack of opportunities and lack of money in the industry.

I want to debunk these misconceptions and promote the many facets of agriculture and career options not just on farm but the many people and businesses who support agriculture in rural communities.

Not coming off a farm makes me even more driven to prove that you do not have to be born on a farm in order to pursue and succeed in an agricultural field.

Follow Jess on Twitter @jm458

 

Cows lay eggs don’t they? – Sydney Royal Easter Show debunking the myths

The Food Farm at the 2012 Sydney Royal Easter Show has a great new look this year and Food Farm coordinator Jenny Hughes and her team are discovering some bizarre food facts myth-conceptions as they talk to the children they are meeting and working with. One being it appears cows may lay eggs

Before we get into that Art4agriculture is particularly proud that a large number of the 2012 Archibull Prize cows are taking centre stage in the Food Farm.  Check them out is this very brief video I whizzed up with some Wiggles music ( thx Wiggles)

Now back to problem of food and where it does and doesn’t come from.

The  Food Farm is “the key education pavilion at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which tells the story of where food comes from and the importance of farmers to everyday life. Created for pre and primary school children, their families and showgoers in general, there is something for everyone to learn in the Food Farm. Children can grab a spade and dig in the garden to discover what vegetables grow underground or put on a blindfold and guess the variety of apple you are eating. You may go to the Grain Shed to mill your own grain and deliver it to the Bakery before putting on your apron and rolling-out some pastry for a pie. Inside the Egg Dome, children will learn about egg production and some of the amazing ways to cook with eggs or take a stroll through the virtual chicken farm to discover where our chicken meat comes from. Junior Farm Hands will love listening to the animal carers talk about how to care for farm animals in Livestock in the Round and allows children and their families to ask their own questions or pat large animals that are a feature of the Sydney Royal Easter Show.”

Now I visited the show very briefly to judge the School District Exhibits last Thursday ( see post here http://chdairiesdiary.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/judging-can-be-a-tough-gig/ ) and took these pix of the Food Farm the day before the show opened.

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As I mentioned the Archies take pride of place at the Food Farm entrances as does a very big orange tractor that kids can sit it in and heaven forbid blow the horn which they do quite a bit as you can imagine.The signage is magnificent

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and there are lots of great education tools to help the community learn more about where there food comes from including the Egg Dome

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You will note this board does not ask the question. What animal lays eggs? It is interesting the board does ask if roosters lay eggs. I remember having a discussion at a party where not one adult (who wasn’t a farmer) had heard of the word hen. Every adult at the party thought an adult chicken was called a chicken and hence all chickens laid eggs. Now I have chickens I know that isn’t true, but not everyone is as lucky as me to have the hands on experiences and this is leading to some bizarre knowledge gaps in the community

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These displays are pretty impressive stuff aren’t they?

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Lots of info on safety and storage

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and eggs and culture and there is more.  The last thing I thought when I looked at these impressive displays was that Jenny and her team would discover that kids are very confused about where eggs actually come from

Jenny said it appeared the kids go this impression that eggs and dairy products came from the same animals from learning about the Food Pyramid and eggs and dairy are on the same line. Mmh am I missing something here?

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I did a little Google research and apparently this is quite a common misconception amongst adults as well. Apparently some supermarkets aren’t helping by selling them with dairy items because they tend to group foods together by both storage and usage. In this case, both eggs and dairy must be stored under similar conditions, and are most often used with one another in recipes, so it’s apparently logical to locate them in the same part of the store for customers to find.

Another source says” eggs are often confused as both a form of dairy and of meat, but in reality, they are neither. Because eggs are an animal by-product, just like milk, many people categorize eggs as dairy. However, dairy is very specifically designated as the by-product of the mammary glands of mammals like cows or goats. Essentially dairy is any milk or milk-made product, such as butter or ice-cream. However, eggs are not meat either. Eggs are the foetal form of a mature animal, and are considered their own entity in and of themselves, than meat. Eggs are eggs and meat is meat.” But eggs are not a food group are they? They are protein, the food group with meat in it.

All I can say is its time to get back to the basics and give our kids some real hands on experiences and well done to the RAS team behind the new look Food Farm for giving next gen the opportunity to have fun and engaging true to life experiences. The research shows shows there is an 85% uptake rate when both theory and practice are combined compared with just the theory alone at 5%. ((Joyce and Showers 1995) 1.  Wow!

But lets not stop there – Come on government lets get agriculture embedded in the curriculum from K to 12. Lets make sure we have engaged, knowledgeable and science literate students making wise decisions for the planet going forward  because there is going to be a lot more more people to house,feed and clothe with less land, water and energy and its a tough ask to expect the dairy cows to produce not just milk but eggs too

BTW – Finding the Food Farm at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

PowerPoint Presentation

By the way if you came to this page for information on who lays eggs.

The term chicken is used to refer to the bird itself. The female chicken is called a “hen” and the male chicken is called a “rooster” . Therefore hens lay eggs which if fertilized by a rooster will hatch to become chicks.

1. Joyce, B., & Showers, B. (1995). Student achievement through staff development:
Fundamentals of school renewal (2nd ed.). White Plains, New York: Longman.

Camden Haven High School first Sydney Royal

Hi my name is Paige and I attend Camden Haven High School. I love my school and I want to tell you what makes it special. Agriculture that’s what!!!!.

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Agriculture is compulsory for years seven and eight. I think this is a great idea as it gives students who do not live rurally or who do not have the opportunity to live with animals and have agricultural knowledge the chance to experience and enjoy what agriculture has to offer young people of today.

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Our agricultural department focuses on a ‘paddock to plate’ experience giving the students in years nine and ten the option of electing two courses unique to Camden Haven High School; Vet studies and Agrifoods. From year nine to twelve, agriculture is also available for students to elect for study . In  years eleven and twelve we have the opportunity to do both primary industries and senior agriculture, along with a new horticulture course.

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The agricultural department not only has strong links with local farmers but also supports local businesses by buying their produce. The Camden Haven High School Agricultural Department has also formed a sub branch of the Camden Haven Show Society and we are are actively involved in preparing, organising, giving ideas and helping out with local events.

Agriculture has become so popular at our school the number of students who attend the agricultural plot before school, at recess and at lunch times has tripled in as many years. We have a very diverse range of animals that we care for including chickens, sheep, ducks, rabbits, turkeys, budgies, guinea-fowl, pigs, donkeys, cattle (including three breeding heifers), a water buffalo, guinea-pigs and two national park certified brumbies.

peter and friend

What is particularly special about the ‘ag plot’ is it is also a safe place for students who do not fit in with the rest of the school or are having a rough time or just enjoy the peace and quiet as there is always a great student/teacher support network to found in the agriculture department

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I am personally involved with the school cattle team. Being the leader/captain has helped with my personal development and taught me many life and team work skills.

It has improved my ability to speak publicly, organisational skills, give directions confidently and have learned that it is important to make the wisest decisions even if they are not the most popular.

Currently there are forty students actively involved in preparing and showing the school cattle for the Sydney Royal Easter Show. I must admit directing such a large team gives me a positive sense of satisfaction and confidence.

The animals we are showing come from our agricultural teacher Mr Hickson, he grows Limousin and Limousin cross steers and heifers. They are also donated to our school by our long-time supporter Robert Rule.

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We selected these animals as they both have the muscle development and fat coverage for their weight classes; they are also wide through the top line from the shoulders through to the rump. They are the pick of the animals from this year’s show team as they display the best attributes.

Students in the Sydney Show team this year are mainly year 10 students who have been constantly involved in showing cattle from year 7 onwards and they make up the bulk of the senior students in the team and basically run it.

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We have been preparing our animals since October 2011, when they were first brought in to be broken in. This involves daily walking, brushing, leading and feeding our animals.

They are also tied up daily to get used to long periods of being in one place; we also wash and blow-dry our animals to prepare them for cleaning at the show.

This is our first royal and it will be a new experience and all the students are so excited and highly appreciative of having this great opportunity.

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and to top it all off one of their students is a finalist in Cream of the Crop Competition with the winners presented with their prizes on April 14th at the Show in the RM Williams Stables 

BTW

How timely these photos came through late last night of Olympic Park preparations for the Royal Easter Show from an excited George Davey AM General Manager, Agriculture at Sydney Royal

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The Beef Cattle Ring Hocker

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The Beef Cattle Sheds