Cows Create Careers Program

I inform the House that once again the Cessnock electorate is representing New South Wales and doing the State proud. I am not talking about famous luminaries from my area like Casey Stoner, Chad Reed or Jennifer Hawkins. Rather, I refer to a group of year 10 agriculture students from Cessnock High School who have been chosen from the Cows Create Careers program to represent New South Wales at the Australian Dairy Conference. I pass on my best wishes and the best wishes of this House as they travel to Phillip Island this week to show off their work. The Cows Create Careers program involves agriculture students from around the country who have been selected to compete in their school team against other school teams from their region. The competition requires the students to care for three dairy calves for almost a year and put together a power point presentation, letter and poster about career opportunities in the dairy industry.

After almost an entire year’s work, research and preparation, not to mention caring for their little calves, the students presented their work, along with other Hunter schools, at Tocal College and were judged the best team in the region. Cessnock High School has now won both junior and senior divisions in the competition for the third successive year—an extraordinary achievement given that agriculture is such a popular course in our region and especially when it is sometimes suggested in this House that this local member has no agricultural background. It is clearly a credit to the teachers in the agriculture program at the school. But that was not the end of it.

The Cessnock High School team of Lauren McGowan, Madison King, Natalie Lasky, Jenna-May Ryan, Courtney Scott and Abby Noone were then selected by the Dairy Industry Association to represent New South Wales at a national conference in the Moo’in Transfer competition—a different challenge altogether. With six weeks’ notice the girls put together a television advertisement to convince consumers to buy milk at $3 per litre in recognition of the energy, effort and time involved in preparing a litre of milk—a tough challenge given the current circumstances. Only two of the girls will speak for thirty seconds each: One before and the other after the presentation. Along with parents and staff I was fortunate enough to watch a mock run of their presentation.

I applaud their application and the effort that has gone into their work. They demonstrated a careful analysis of and care for the industry. I am sure they have a good chance of winning the competition. In fact, they left for Victoria today, accompanied by their teacher, Mr Greg Matthews, and will return on Thursday. Greg is a teacher of high regard and long standing, and imminent retirement. It is a testimony to Greg’s love and passion for agriculture and for his students that these students from little old Cessnock will be on the national stage. This success is an endorsement of the whole electorate of Cessnock. People refer to statistics—and I include myself in that—and bemoan the low levels of education and tertiary education in my electorate. Achievements such as these may be small in the scheme of all that we do in this place, but they are big in showcasing the skills, abilities and overall potential of our area. I am proud of the members of this team; they should be even prouder of themselves. I commend them to the House.