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Youth Camp gives an insight into dairy

They came from cities and even beef farms, but all 35 participants in the new-look National All Breeds Youth Camp have left with a better appreciation of the dairy industry.

The youth camp in Tatura has been hailed a success that will inspire more people to think about careers in the dairy industry

While many participants used the camp to hone their existing dairy skills, some came to the January 3-7 event from different backgrounds.

Camp organiser Lucy Galt said it attracted a big spread of people aged 16-20 from across Australia.

“We had one young person from Melbourne who didn’t have any background in dairy,” Lucy said. “By show day Jamie’s cow looked fantastic and she had the biggest smile on her face. She excelled and won a scholarship to come back next year.”

“Being from the city, I didn’t know what to expect,” Jamie said. “But I had such an awesome time, met some great people and my Jersey heifer had a huge personality. It was just such a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to going back next year.”

Lucy said the camp aimed to encourage people into dairy careers while giving existing young dairy farmers valuable learning and networking opportunities.

“Some people came from beef farms to look at what dairy is about, we had an international backpacker and one person who hadn’t been off the farm for six months.

“We want to give more exposure to the careers in dairy and to promote the industry, but dairy can be quite isolating and the camp gives kids who live and work on a farm an opportunity to network with other people,” she said.

The camp was re-launched this year in a new format and at a new venue in Tatura, the home of International Dairy Week.

It started nearly 20 years ago as a local activity in northern Victoria before moving to the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Originally the camp was for young local people who would go home for the morning and evening milking. Now it’s a full-week, on-site camp with accredited training through the National Centre for Dairy Education where participants get hands-on experience and complete five units of the Certificate III in Agriculture.

“A lot don’t have an opportunity at school to do agriculture; hopefully this will encourage them to keep going,” Lucy said.

This year the camp had a focus on job-ready skills and featured a number of presentations from young dairy industry professionals.

The National All Breeds Youth Camp was supported by Dairy Australia’s Young Dairy Network and Legendairy to raise the profile and reputation of the dairy industry. 

Lucy said the camp was a great success and several participants want to return next year. “Everyone had fun; without a doubt,” she said. “Some participants say they had the best week of their lives.”