Seven south west WA schools are taking part in a national interactive science project connecting them to the dairy industry.
The Department of Agriculture and Food has been involved with this project which highlights the importance of the dairy industry and promotes career opportunities in the sector.
As part of the Cows Create Careers Program run across the country by Dairy Australia, more than 250 WA students in years 7 to 10 are working with industry advocates to learn about the dairy industry whilst caring for calves.
Students worked in teams to feed and monitor the health and growth of two calves. They combined the data collected with research into the production aspects of the dairy industry to present as part of a national competition.
In Western Australia, the learning is extended ensure the schools meet the ownership and traceability requirements of the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). The NLIS underpins the disease management and product safety of our beef and dairy industries.
Beth Green is a development officer who works in the Animal Product Integrity project for the department. Ms Green visited the schools recently to highlight to students and teachers the biosecurity measures designed to protect the farming industries.
“The program provides the department with a fantastic opportunity to make students and teachers aware of the systems we have in place to help protect the safety of our animals and our food,” Ms Green said.
“It is a great medium to improve the knowledge of students and also strengthen the relationships between schools, students and opportunities in agriculture.”
As part of the program, students assisted with the scanning of the calves’ tags, transferring them on the national NLIS database and preparing the documentation required to maintain lifetime traceability of the calves.
“NLIS is vital because if a disease outbreak occurs, affected cattle — and all of those they have had contact with — need to be rapidly identified and located,” she said.
Cornerstone Christian College teacher Jill Wright said it was the fourth year that the school had participated in the program.
“It is fantastic to see the variety of work conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food and for students to meet people involved in farming industries,” Mrs Wright said.
The value of the program can be seen with schools participating year after year, thanks to the efforts of dedicated teachers and local dairy farmers. Georgiana Molloy Anglican School has even used prize money from last year to build a special enclosure to house the calves in future years.
Other south west schools competing this year include Georgiana Molloy Anglican School, Eaton Community College, Nannup District High School, Cape Naturaliste College, Mt Barker Community College and Margaret River District High School. The south west finale will be held on Tuesday, 3 July at Abbey Beach Resort.