Pa steers Jade’s pet hobby
ALTHOUGH she's one of a kind in her circle of friends, and even among her siblings, Jade Thompson is pleased to have her Pa to share her passion with.
The 15-year-old Stanthorpe State High School student developed her love for the cattle industry on her grandfather Bruce Thompson's Mt Tully Road property as a child, where she is now building her own cattle show team with steers Prince and Big Mac.
"I catch the bus from school to Pa's place every afternoon after school to work with them and feed them," she said.
Her involvement in cattle showing goes back to when she first signed up for cattle club in grade 8.
"It has given me such good experiences, and opened my eyes to just how many opportunities there are in agriculture," she said.
"The first time I led was at the Inglewood Show where I led the grand champion-winning cow - it was a really cool introduction."
Mum Debbie said her daughter's interest came as a surprise.
"She's always loved animals but all through primary school she was very into music, right up until she hit grade 8," she said.
"Once she found cattle club though, that was it - she abandoned music."
At such a young age, Jade said it could be tough not having many friends to share in her love for the industry.
"I've tried to drag my friends along to shows before but it's just not their thing.
"They don't understand that a big part of showing is grooming. We have to wash and style them too," she said.
Debbie said many of Jade's friends struggled to match up the "girly-girl" Jade they knew with the "farm girl" she became after school and competing at cattle shows.
Since joining the Stanthorpe State High School cattle club and show team, Jade has experienced success both in and outside the judging ring.
Just last month at Rockhampton Beef Week Jade placed inside the top 10 junior paraders from a pool of 60 competitors from across the state.
"I couldn't believe I did so well; I didn't think I stood a chance to place at all," she said.
As for the junior judges' competition, while Jade always picks up a score card, she can't quite bring herself to hand it in.
"I always get the order right, but I don't hand it in because I don't like public speaking," she said.
"I don't want to judge cattle really, my goal is to breed them."
Jade said her success in the paraders' comp came down to one thing - keeping calm.
"If you're scared, (the cattle) pick up on it and they get scared too," she said.
While at Beef Week, Jade seized the opportunity to investigate what options were available for her to continue agriculture after her days with SSHS cattle club were over.
"I'm now in grade 10 so we're getting to that stage where we start to plan out what path we want to take," she said.
"I know I want to work in agriculture.
"I did want to be a vet but, since coming back from Beef (week), I'm thinking more along the lines of livestock nutrition."
The most encouraging thing Jade came away with was the reassurance that agriculture wasn't dead.
"There are way more jobs in agriculture than what I thought, so I'm not worried about getting myself into a tough industry," she said.
"There are so many pathways to take, and people are always going to need to eat."
Proud grandfather Bruce agreed.
"It's great to see her getting involved in the industry," he said.
"I've worked with cattle all my life and I still think it's one of the best.
"Sure it requires dedication but it gives you something to watch and grow. Even after 84 years, I still head down the paddock and just sit and talk with them."
When asked if he thought his granddaughter had what it took to make a go of the cattle industry, his answer was: "She will have."
"She's a good kid, she'll go a long way," he said.
In the meantime, Jade is focusing solely on finishing school and taking care of Prince and Mac.
"I guess the only secret to growing good cattle is love and attention," she said.