Over the past quarter of a century, Finley High School’s stellar agricultural program has consistently propelled them to success in many arenas at the prestigious Melbourne Royal Show.
Most recently, the school reached the summit of their showing career as they clinched the championship prize in both the Interbreed Ram and Ewe competitions.
“It’s a bit of a pinnacle of our career,” said Finley High School Agricultural teacher, Robyn O’Leary.
“To back up a fantastic Show last year with the winning ram and ewe was amazing, we were pretty stoked,” she said.
Finley High School’s dedicated teachers took 31 students from years 7-11 to the Show, where they participated in three major sections: Sheep, Beef Carcase and Beef Cattle. In addition to parading livestock, students also competed in the School and College Paraders competition.
“We love that the Melbourne Royal Show is a very youth-oriented Show, because it means the kids have the capacity to be fully involved in all aspects of the Show,” said Robyn.
“Our kids got to be involved not only in parading, but in stewarding different events as well as participating in youth classes, so it’s very inclusive and the staff are always very patient with us,” she said.
Competing in their own right since 1998, the school’s agricultural program has been a hallmark of their curriculum, and their sheep program has become a focal aspect of this since 2002.
“We started our sheep stud in 2002 and obviously it takes a long time to move down the genetic highway to get the quality of stock that you need to compete,” explained Robyn.
“We’ve probably only competed with our sheep three or four times, but we’ve been getting some fantastic results, not the least of which was winning the champion ram last year as well.”
Robyn attributes the school’s success with their sheep stud to the great partnerships the school has built with other sheep studs, and the tiresome work put in by the agricultural staff.
“Garry Webb, another ag teacher here at Finley puts in a lot of work with the sheep, and liaises with the people that provide our semen, who we’ve had a great partnership with now for eleven years,” she said.
“Without that partnership we wouldn’t be able to breed the quality of sheep that we’ve got.”
Taking a busload of students and their animals to the Melbourne Royal Show each year is no easy feat, but Robyn says that the benefits the competition provides to their students is immeasurable.
“It’s a great experience to be able to expose the kids to something different and to put them into a new cultural environment,” she explained.
“Finley’s a small town of about 2000 people if you’re lucky, so taking the kids to see what’s going on at the Show is pretty special.”
“The capacity for every kid to be involved in the competitions is also very important to us. We know that at the Melbourne Royal Show every kid will get the opportunity to parade an animal and that just does wonders for their skills and confidence.”
After such significant achievements, Finley High School is well on its way to clocking another twenty-five years at the Melbourne Royal Show.