GIRL POWER: From left - Ashleigh Brown, Karlie Macdonald, Brittany Keogh, Shannen Macdonald and Hayley Roche.
GIRL POWER: From left - Ashleigh Brown, Karlie Macdonald, Brittany Keogh, Shannen Macdonald and Hayley Roche. Toni Somes

Future stars of agriculture

THIS week the Bush Tele talked with a group of teenage girls about their love of agriculture and their dreams for a rural future.

The girls are part of the Warwick State High School sheep, goat and cattle show teams and are currently combining their love of animals with a week in the city as they test their skills at the 2013 Brisbane Ekka.

She might only be 17, but Karlie Macdonald is already determined to forge a career in agriculture.

She said five years studying agricultural science at school and five years as part of the school show team had taught her a lot about live-stock and about herself.

"It's been a really good experience for me," Karlie said.

"I love working with animals but you don't have to know a lot or have a lot of experience to get a lot out of being part of the show team."

She signed up with the school show team in Year 8 and has been an active member since.

Last year she triumphed at the Ekka in the Angora goat junior judging classes, securing a place in the Queensland team to compete at the nationals in Adelaide.

The teen describes the experience as "incredible" and something she'd like to replica again in Brisbane this week.

"What I like about the Ekka, aside from the experience of competing, is it brings you in contact with industry producers," Karlie said.

"And it gives you a chance to see other sides of agriculture."

Ironically some of Karlie's toughest competition this Ekka will come from her older sister, 18-year-old Shannen.

The pair are both in Year 12 at Warwick High and confess to being a "maybe a little competitive".

Like her sister, Shannen has been part of the school show team for five years and shares a love of animals.

"I have learnt so much about sheep and goats being part of the team that I would really recommend it to other students," she said.

"Being part of the show team has definitely been a highlight of school for me."

Tannymorel student Hayley Roche is another local schoolgirl with a love of live-stock.

The 14-year-old is a relative newcomer to the WSHS show team and looks forward to her first trip as a competitor to the Brisbane Ekka.

She said being with older students, who had experience at the high level competition, made walking into the RNA main arena a little less daunting.

"Although I still get a bit nervous but I think having some experience with cattle at home helps a bit."


Brittany Keogh is only 13 and a little uncertain of exactly what she'd like to do after school but, at the moment, one of the highlights of student life is being on the show team.

She won the junior judging class at Gatton Show recently and attributes her early success to years spent watching her old brother compete.

"I use to spend a lot of time watching at shows," she said.

"Now what I really like is working with animals and I think I would eventually like to do something after school with horses and cattle.

"This is only my first year doing it myself and I definitely get really nervous, especially before the junior judging."

In many ways Ashleigh Brown is a seasoned competitor on the regional show circuit, even if she is a newcomer to the Warwick High team.

She has been showing dairy cattle from her family's Hillside dairy farm, west of Allora, for almost as long as she can remember.

This year she started in Year 11 at Warwick High and signing up with the show team seemed a smart way to broaden her knowledge of the agricultural sector.

It's also another way to boost contacts for a young woman with her sights set clearly on a long-term career in the rural sector.

"I still have a lot to learn about showing beef cattle, it's definitely different from dairy in some ways," she said.

"I am looking forward to a week at the Ekka though; you see a lot of the same people on the show circuit, so it's a good way to develop contacts."

For WSHS teacher Amanda Cox, the enthusiasm of her young charges to embrace knowledge and be responsible for the livestock makes supervising them for a week in the city a job worth doing.

"We find more and more students want to be involved with agricultural and the show team," Mrs Cox said.

"What limits us in the number of animals we have to take away, but that's increasing all the time now.

"I think regardless of their gender students really gain something in terms of confidence and skills from being involved with animals, especially at RNA level."

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