Camaraderie the key

Oliver Cresswell of Nudgee College leads an Angus heifer into the ring at the Toogoolawah Show.

By Fiona Gowers

The St Joseph’s Nudgee College Show Team is busy preparing 19 cattle to exhibit at the Royal Queensland Show (the Ekka) this year.

Consisting of 25 country and city-based boys, the team represents the Brisbane day and boarding school at 10 shows annually in southern and central Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The Ekka, however, is their biggest highlight.

Nudgee College cattle manager Troy Reynolds said due to wet weather, this year had been particularly challenging to prepare the cattle and attend team training.

But he said the school had still placed well at major cattle showing events, with students achieving consistently strong results.

“The boys generally place third or fourth in young judges’ competitions and normally our cattle place in the top three to five,” Mr Reynolds said.

“I mean, the Ekka itself is going to be much harder competition obviously because it’s the best of the best and a lot more numbers. “But, I have some hope.

“We have a little Angus heifer who won Junior Champion at Warwick Show and I have hope that she might get us a second or third at the Ekka, which would be huge for the school.”

At the Ekka, students are entered in young paraders’ and young judges’ competitions, with their stock in various classes including school-led steers and the prime cattle beef auction.

Mr Reynolds and Nudgee head stockman Lewis Cammack will remain on-site for the duration of the Ekka, alongside a rotating roster of 25 to 30 students.

Mr Reynolds said the level of camaraderie among the Show Team “is outstanding”.

“I mean, when we go out on the road, I have got to trust the boys with the animals and with the public,” he said.

“There’s a huge amount of trust that goes into it all. And I think the boys are experiencing a totally different way to compete in modern society.”

Members of the Show Team are drawn from the wider Nudgee College Cattle Club, which in 2022 involves 80 students aged from 10 to 18 years.

The club meets at the school cattle yards for 90 minutes twice weekly to learn branding, judging, parading, ear tagging and “so much more”.

And, Mr Reynolds said, it also operated as “a fitting service” for various southern Queensland cattle studs, with students breaking in, prepping and showing cattle.

He said Cattle Club members took great pride in the animals and, in doing so, learned essential animal husbandry and welfare expertise, as well as teamwork and communication skills.

“I think the authentic nature of the team work, the authentic part of being involved in something bigger is so beneficial for the students.

“And the animals, I feel, are quite calming, they bring the boys down-to-earth and the connection between the animal and the child is there.

“The Cattle Club offers such a broad range of activities and they all find their niche. Students from Years 6 to 12 all find each other as they strive towards a common goal.”

Mr Reynolds also manages the Nudgee College farm, which covers 4.8 hectares of the College’s 136ha campus, and carries 25 cattle.

It boasts a registered droughtmaster stud and also runs Angus, Red Angus Brahman and Braford cattle, as well as crossbred market steers.

Mr Reynolds, raised in Zimbabwe on a mixed farm, has worked at Nudgee College for two years.

Keen to return to the land after school, he gained a Bachelor of Animal Production Science at the University of Queensland and, later, a training and assessment qualification.

So, as well as coordinating the Show Team, Cattle Club and managing the farm, he teaches Certificate II and III in rural operations through the vocational education pathway.

And, he loves it all.

“What’s that saying? Find someone who will pay you for what you love doing and you won’t work a day in your life,” Mr Reynolds said.

“Well, that’s me!“