The Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association is continuing in its quest to build the skills and capabilities of the next generation of red meat talent through its professional development program for meat judging coaches.
The 2022 ICMJ National Conference and meat judging competition in Wagga Wagga this week has attracted more than 100 students from universities around Australia and the US, as well as almost 20 coaches who are former ICMJ participants.
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Mentored by ICMJ's Australian team coaches Nick van den Berg and Mel Smith, the university coaches also gain valuable professional development skills through a series of small group workshops.
"Coaching their teams in the meat judging competition is just one component of what they do - far greater is that facilitation role," Mr van den Berg said.
"We have coaches-only sessions that are designed to mould them into better leaders by developing their soft skills in communication, identifying learning styles, and conflict resolution."
Mr van den Berg said coaches were an invaluable asset to the ICMJ program but also a highly attractive prospect for red meat industry employers at the careers expo.
"A lot of our industry partners have hired former ICMJ coaches and held them in high regard, seeing them as some of the best acquisitions they've had," he said.
Previous ICMJ coaches include industry leaders such as Jason Strong, the managing director of Meat and Livestock Australia.
Mr Van den Berg said ICMJ's coaches development program also effectively acted as succession planning for ICMJ itself.
"It's no surprise that often some of our highest achieving, most passionate ICMJ participants take up coaching roles within their university and then positions on the ICMJ committee, because they are so excited by the red meat industry that they want to share that with others," he said.
"Even though being a coach comes with lots of opportunity and development, it attracts the type of people who are also looking to give back to the red meat industry."
Marcus Oldham University team coach William Sylvester said he enjoyed the challenge of having to teach others about meat judging but also valued the extra 'soft skills' that he learned along the way.
"The hardest thing is the time management, I've found," he said.
"Trying to engage 60 students in meat judging class after they have done a full day at uni has also been a really good experience for me."
The ICMJ National Conference runs over five days and attracts university students and recent graduates from around the world.
Other elements of the program include seminars, panels, interactive workshops, social events and the 2022 National Meat Judging Contest to be held at Teys Australia.
The top performers in the national competition are selected to represent Australia on a tour of the United States red meat industry and compete in a US ICMJ competition.
ICMJ activities are supported by foundation partners Meat & Livestock Australia and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation.
It is also supported by conference partners including Teys Australia, Coles, Australian Pork Limited, NH Foods, Kilcoy Global Foods, AACo, Fletcher, Grad Link, JBS, Herefords Australia, Fulton Market Group, AMIST Super, Angus Australia and Allflex.
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