UniSchools Steer Challenge inspires future leaders in agriculture

Macarthur Anglican School  

Photo: Macarthur Anglican School after being named 2017 UniSchools Steer Challenge Champions. Credit: Monica Pronk 

After thousands of hours of handling, feeding and grooming Macarthur Anglican School has been named the 2017 UniSchools Steer Challenge Champion.

The competition — which involves high school students across Western Sydney caring for a Hereford steer for 100 days — aims to educate students about beef production.

Co-ordinator of the challenge and Adjunct Fellow from the University's School of Science and Health Stephen Blunden says it's important for young people to develop a better understanding of where their food comes from.

"It's especially important in this age of urban sprawl, where fewer young people have easy access to or knowledge of agricultural practices," he says.

Beyond simply teaching students about the food on their plate, Stephen Blunden also hopes this year's challenge has inspired some students to explore a career in agriculture.

Like first year Bachelor of Natural Science (Animal Science) student at Western Sydney University Alana Wade; one of a dozen participants from last year's challenge who are now either studying or working in the industry. 

"I was involved in the UniSchools Steer Challenge for my entire six years at Colo High School. For me, the most enjoyable part of the challenge was having the opportunity as a young person to gain knowledge in a field I really enjoyed while further developing my skills and confidence," she says.

"After being a cattle team leader in last year's challenge I realised my passion for agriculture, and was inspired to pursue a career where I could teach young people about our land and how it is used."

The competition, which started in 2000, involves students competing with their steers in both parading and judging competitions where things such as live weight gain, parading and herdsman skills are scored. In 2017, 14 high schools and more than 195 students participated.

Class Winners for 2017

  • Champion Junior Judge: Emily Spiranac, Elizabeth Macarthur High School
  • Champion Senior Judge: Brooke Chandler, Richmond TAFE
  • All Ages Judging Teams: Elizabeth Macarthur High School
  • Junior Champion Parader: Grace Jansen, Macarthur Anglican School
  • Senior Champion Parader: Shania Munro, Elizabeth Macarthur High School
  • Champion School, Best Presented Steer: Bede Polding College 

    Students Choice (Display): Bede Polding College
  • Champion School, Led Steer: Bede Polding College
  • Champion School, Herdsman: Bede Polding College
  • Champion School, Combined Beef Appraisal Team: Mount Annan Christian School
  • Champion School, Steer Weight Gain: Oakhill College
  • Champion Carcase School: Mount Annan Christian School
  • Champion School UniSchools Steer Challenge: Macarthur Anglican School