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Media Release: Youth focus attracts high entry numbers for Royal Melbourne Show competitions

The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) says a strong focus on attracting youth to the 2015 Royal Melbourne Show, through its livestock competitions and agricultural awards, has proven successful with high numbers of young participants.

With a significant increase in exhibitors for the Beef Carcase competitions, strong candidates for the newly introduced Dairy Youth Handlers Scholarship, high level of schools engagement and a record number of teams for the Young Farmer Challenge, RASV CEO Mark O’Sullivan said the organisation was delighted with the response in all youth programmes.

“RASV has a commitment to highlighting the industry to youth, providing opportunities for development and growth and recognising and rewarding the future leaders in agriculture and we are truly encouraged by the increased engagement at this year’s Show,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Seven schools will participate in this year’s Schools Sheep competition, including Woodleigh, located on the Mornington Peninsula, who earlier this year experienced success at Sheepvention in Hamilton and Tintern, Ringwood East, who won the main prize at the Royal Melbourne Show in 2013.

“The schools competition is an invaluable way of inspiring youth and providing them a clear pathway for a career in the industry.

“Many of the students involved in the program are from urban non-rural households, whose first experience with livestock is through the schools competition.  A number of those participants are now genuinely considering or pursuing a career in agriculture”

Mr O’Sullivan said the revised dairy programme for the 2015 Royal Melbourne Show, including the Dairy Youth Handlers Classic and Dairy Youth Handlers Travel Scholarship open to participants aged 21 years and under, had received strong interest.

“We have some outstanding applications for the Dairy Youth Handlers Travel Scholarship, which will provide an incredible opportunity for a young participant to travel to emerging dairy regions in South-East Asia- a truly once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

With a $10,000 travel bursary on offer, finalists have submitted written applications and will participate in interviews on Wednesday 23 September, during the Royal Melbourne Show.  Their entries will culminate in participation in the Dairy Youth Handlers Classic on Thursday 24 September, with the winner to be announced that same day.

The Young Farmer Challenge, which is conducted at the Royal Melbourne Show each year in partnership with Victorian Young Farmers (VYF), has attracted a record-high 14 teams to compete in the state final on Saturday 19 September.

The competition attracts next generation farmers to demonstrate their agricultural skills, in a fast-paced, entertaining event, for the chance to represent Victoria at a national level.

“The Young Farmer Challenge not only celebrates the contribution of young people to our industry, but also gives consumers a light-hearted, but informative insight into the day-to-day tasks of a working farm,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“Thanks to VYF and the team at RASV, this year the competition has 14 teams competing in what will be a very exciting showcase as part of the Royal Melbourne Show and we look forward to seeing who will take out the Victorian title.”

Mr O’Sullivan expressed the importance of attracting youth to the industry through the various competitions and awards on offer, as a way of recruiting exceptional talent to long-term careers.

“These competitions provide a lot of excitement, enjoyment and a great sense of achievement on the day, but are also about a much greater long-term plan to continually inspire young people with the opportunities a career in agriculture presents.”

The Royal Melbourne Show runs from Saturday 19- Tuesday 29 September at Melbourne Showgrounds.