02 August 2012
Tocal Challenge steering Hunter Valley students towards agriculture
Pictured: (l-r) Cessnock High School students Beth Hall, Kate Gillard and Ashley Hunter with their steer.
Local high school students are gaining hands on experience in the cattle and agriculture industry by looking after a steer thanks to a partnership between Tocal College and Coal & Allied.
Eight high schools in the Hunter Valley each received a steer from Tocal College in May.
Students are now in the final stage of preparing their steers to compete at the Tocal Steer Challenge show day later this month.
At the show day, students will be judged on how well they set up the cattle yard, their knowledge of the health and nutrition of their steer and how well they lead the steer.
The challenge took place for the first time last year with Cessnock High School coming out on top.
Cessnock High School Year 10 student Ashley Hunter said that the challenge opened her eyes to how much work goes into cattle production and the agriculture industry.
"Last year's Tocal Steer Challenge taught me a great deal about farming and working animals and was such a great learning experience that I signed up to do it again this year," Ashley said.
"The challenge is a lot of fun and I have learned about responsibility and improved my ability to work in a team with other students."
Cessnock High School Agricultural Teacher Rebecca Northey said the school's team this year is made up of more than 20 students from years eight to 11 who are looking forward to defending their title.
"The challenge is a great learning experience for students as it not only relates directly to the curriculum but teaches students about all aspects of agriculture including the husbandry of cattle, providing care, ethics, training and parading or showing cattle," Ms Northey said.
"It was a very fulfilling experience for the school to win the challenge last year and was a great reward for all the hard work and many hours put into the preparation.
"The Steer Challenge is also improving the self-confidence of our students and gives them something to look forward to as they enjoy working with, training and showing the steers."
Coal & Allied Principal Community Investment Stephen Sneddon said the Coal & Allied Community Development Fund was proud to partner with Tocal College for the first time to help create strong and diverse communities in the Hunter Valley.
"The Tocal Steer Challenge is a highly practical, fun, and engaging learning opportunity for students interested in agriculture, farming, and raising livestock," Mr Sneddon said.
"It also helps promote beef production as a viable and important industry in the region as well as provide engaging training and education opportunity for young people to consider agriculture as a possible career.
"The Coal & Allied Community Development Fund supports projects that deliver sustainability to its local communities in skills, education and training, employment, economic development, health and wellbeing, art and culture and the environment.
"Since its inception in 1999, the Coal & Allied Community Development Fund has invested more than $11 million in the Hunter Valley with another $4.5 million available over the next three years from 2012."
About Coal & Allied
Coal & Allied has been part of the Hunter Valley community for more than 165 years and today manages three open cut coal mines. We aim to achieve shared value with members of the communities in which we operate. Our operations create not only economic value - but value for society by addressing communities' needs and challenges.
In 2011 our operations employed more than 2500 employees and over 1500 contractors, and spent more than $1.7 billion with close to 1300 businesses across NSW. To date our community development funds have invested more than $11 million into 100 NSW community projects and partnerships, of which $3.6 million was directed towards education initiatives, to build stronger, smarter and more sustainable communities around our operations.