Coveted meat judging program alumni to meet at Beef 21
Alumni of the Australia Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association (ICMJ) program will meet for a reunion at Beef Australia 2021.
The program aims to inspire and develop future professionals and careers in the global red meat industry through its annual national intercollegiate competition at Wagga Wagga, schools events in regional centres, and most recently through its Northern Beef Conference, which provided professional development training to undergraduates and young industry professionals.
ICMJ Australia has trained almost 3000 people over the past 32 years, including industry leaders such as Meat & Livestock Australia chief executive Jason Strong.
Among those heading to Beef Australia 2021 to join in the ICMJ reunion ‘Dusk Drinks’ – to be held at the Boathouse Restaurant on Wednesday May 5 – is this year’s Zanda McDonald Award winner Rozzie O’Reilly, who credits a large part of her success and rapid career trajectory to ICMJ training and networks.
“I went to Wagga just to have a go and I absolutely loved it,” she said.
Rozzie showed such aptitude for meat judging she qualified for the Australian team to tour the United States.
“When I was at school it wasn’t broadcast that there are so many amazing jobs in the red meat industry – in America they really put that across to their students and get school kids involved in meat judging early,” she said.
“The meat companies over there, chase college students like they’re star football players.”
A key focus of ICMJ is connecting young people with career opportunities through its industry expos in Wagga and Rockhampton.
“At my first ICMJ Wagga careers expo I tried to get everyone’s contact details I could,” Rozzie said.
“I then went and did work experience at quite a few feedlots, all because of the opportunities presented by ICMJ.”
One of the doors that opened through ICMJ for Rozzie was a month of work experience at Stockyard’s Kerwee Feedlot on Queensland’s Darling Downs.
This paved the way for a position on Stockyard’s Graduate Program at Kerwee after she finished her university studies, where she was recruited by former ICMJ president and then Kerwee feedlot manager Brad Robinson.
At the end of 2016 Rozzie was recruited by LAMBPRO, a prime lamb seedstock business.
Rozzie’s role with LAMBPRO allows her to draw on the knowledge she has gained in genetics, animal nutrition and meat-eating quality from ICMJ, UNE and Kerwee.
“From ICMJ I’ve learnt the importance of understanding meat quality in terms of addressing consumer pain points,” she said.
“We’re so caught up in producing the product, that we sometimes forget to ask what the consumer actually wants.”
Throughout her career, Rozzie has continued her involvement with ICMJ, volunteering to the national committee in 2014 and managing the Wagga ICMJ Careers Expo since 2015.
“We’re gaining more and more industry recognition each year. In 2015 we had 18 companies at the careers expo; by 2019 it was 45,” Rozzie said.
“It goes to show companies know they can get good graduates through ICMJ.”
The ICMJ National Committee has been committed to improving the quality of the training it provides to both coaches and students.
“There’s now so much more to ICMJ, than just the meat judging competition,” Rozzie said.
“The culture around the training program and the networking that you gain, is what I believe is most valuable.
“I’ve never had to apply for a job all because of ICMJ.
“People who I first met through ICMJ in 2012 I still call and work with today.
“There’s not many places I go now where I don’t bump into someone who participated in ICMJ and I can’t wait to catch up with a large group of ICMJ alumni all in one place at the Beef Australia Dusk Drinks.”
The ICMJ Alumni Dusk Drinks will be held from 4.30-6pm at The Boathouse, Quay Street, Rockhampton, on Wednesday May 5.