I HAD a wonderful childhood, growing up on a farm, enjoying the open space and clean air.
There's nothing more I could've wanted - or so I thought. I've started to think I might've missed out by either being born about 20 years too early, or developing my passion for agriculture too late.
It turns out I'm rather envious of today's school students, specifically those who get to participate in the vibrant and engaging agriculture programs run at many of our country schools.
I'll admit I wasn't the best agriculture student, and I probably didn't take all the opportunities on offer to learn or build my skills. Truth be told, agriculture didn't capture my interest the way other subjects did. If only I knew then what I know now!
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But while the highlight of my agriculture lessons was growing a great crop of broad beans and a few radishes, today's students are getting hands-on, practical experience across a huge range of agricultural sectors. It's something the industry as a whole is certain to benefit from in years to come.
The school-based competitions at the Royal Adelaide Show are a real highlight, and are the culmination of months of work in and out of school hours.
By all accounts, the sight of the Schools' Merino Wether Competition entries lined up along the mat had to be seen to be believed. With 67 teams from 37 schools involved, there was even speculation about whether it was the largest sheep class assembled anywhere in the world.
Scores of students were also involved in the led steer competition, led goats and young judges events, with success stories to be found across the board.
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Take my old school for example - Karoonda Area School - which had the three most valuable fleeces in the wether competition.
The school even won the best presented prize in the dairy junior show - an impressive effort for students from a region not associated with dairy production.
It's clear that students get a real thrill from competing - even more so if they win - and get to learn the importance of thorough preparation and hard work.
Many will go on to pursue careers in agriculture, having been bitten by the bug in their school years. Those who don't end up in agriculture will still walk away better informed about the sector - what it's all about, what it takes and why livestock production isn't as bad as many are making it out to be.
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