More than 20 steers and between 200 and 300 students are expected to converge on Nowra next week for the School Steer Spectacular.
Organised by South Coast Beef Producers Association the two day event will be held at the Nowra Showground next Tuesday and Wednesday (April 10-11).
Association executive officer Rob Stafford said 12 regional schools, including five from the Shoalhaven would be taking part in the event.
Nowra, Shoalhaven, Bomaderry, Vincentia and St John’s Catholic High are all taking part in the event, competing against schools from as far north as Picton, south to Narooma and west to Yass.
“The competition is hoof and hook,” he said.
“Tuesday will be an big education day, where we will have a number of workshops and presentations to the children about the beef industry. We aim to provide them an insight into all aspects of the industry.
“Wednesday will see the steer judging, with the champion steer announced.
“The competition will then turn to the Milton District Meat Works on Saturday morning for the judging of the carcasses.”
After gaining initial funding through the ABC’s Haywire program, the local beef association launched a pilot program in three schools last year.
“It proved to be very successful so we expanded it into 12 South Coast schools this year,” Mr Stafford said.
“We’ve had a really good response.”
Participating schools have each been provided with two steers by association members.
With feed provided by Manildra Stockfeeds, students have to raise and train the steers to a standard to be shown.
“Next week all that hard work comes to fruition,” Mr Stafford said.
“As well as raising and training the steers the children have to also present us with a report on their project and that plays a major part in deciding the overall champion school.”
Mr Stafford said the South Coast Association has been in existence since 2009.
“It is not only in place to promote the beef industry across the South Coast, members also run educations programs to engage the wider community in days and competitions like this,” he said.
“By attracting and letting school children experience the industry we ultimately hope some might join the beef industry.
“Last year we took 65 kids to the Sydney Show. A couple of those young students are now studying animal sciences at Charles Sturt University.
“We know locally the beef industry is secondary to the dairy industry.
“We are mostly small farmers who have taken over what were formerly dairy farms. The numbers of cattle are into the thousands and we employ people in a variety of roles.
“We also play a critical role in cultivating Shoalhaven and South Coast soils and looking after the environment, producing nice green pastures which our tourists also enjoy seeing - it is a symbiotic relationship.”
Supported by NSW Government and Shoalhaven City Council, with Mayor Amanda Findley officially opening the event on Tuesday at 10am.
“We have also had great support from many local business and supporters. And the public is welcome to come along,” Mr Stafford said.