The Poultry CRC is supporting Dr Susan Bibby from Aviagen Australia Pty Ltd and Dr Kylie Hewson (a former CRC PhD student) to develop a package for setting up and running university Open Day stands focussed on poultry. The recent Open Day at the University of New England (UNE) started the project. Attended by Dr Bibby, Dr Brendan Sharpe (a veterinarian and Poultry CRC supported PhD student), as well as staff from UNE’s School of Environmental & Rural Science and the Poultry CRC, the stand encouraged discussion of ‘all things poultry’. Open Days provide a great opportunity to speak directly with secondary school students, and the wider community, to dispel common misconceptions about the poultry industry and provide advice about people’s own backyard chickens.
The University Open Days project will see a poultry presence at the open days of:
- The University of Melbourne (Werribee and Parkville Campuses)
- Charles Sturt University (Wagga Wagga Campus)
- Deakin University (Geelong Campus)
- The University of Adelaide (Roseworthy Campus)
- The University of Queensland (Gatton Campus)
- The University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus)
- The University of Western Australia (Crawley Campus)
The primary objectives of the project are to raise awareness of about the world class poultry research performed in Australia and to highlight the diverse career opportunities available across all areas of the poultry industry. Susan and Kylie will attempt, at each venue, to include new researchers from the poultry industry, enabling them to gain confidence and experience in discussing their research with the general public. This was the case for Brendan at the UNE Open Day, as he fielded many questions from interested students. Throughout the day, a number of students approached the stand who plan to study Animal Production Science at UNE. After discussing their interests, some of those students will now be considering taking poultry units in their course.
One major draw card at the UNE Open Day was the inclusion of a live chick display. Most passers-by could not help but smile and be drawn in by the fluffy yellow chicks. While presenting some logistical challenges, the activity was well worth the effort in terms of student engagement. These displays have proven to be a very successful platform for engaging the community in positive discussions about the poultry industry.
“A large percentage of people that approached the display wanted to discuss their own backyard chickens and/or their previous experiences with chickens” said Susan. “The majority of people were unaware of the breadth of the poultry industry and were accepting of, and interested in obtaining more accurate information regarding common misconceptions about poultry production in Australia”.
The kit developed by Susan and Kylie for use in Open Days includes the chick display tank (and all accessories), a succinct ‘careers in poultry’ handout, posters, and a booklet containing easy to understand answers to the most commonly asked questions (e.g. ‘how do you know if it is a boy or a girl?’, ‘what about all the hormones in chickens?’, ‘are free range eggs better than caged?’). In addition, the kit provides advice on obtaining and re-housing of chicks for the displays, with clear guidelines to satisfy each university Ethics Committee, regarding the standards under which the chickens will be managed, prior to, during and following the display.
For the UNE Open Day, over 1,000 students and 80 plus school careers advisors were in attendance. “Schools travelled from the Central West, Northern Rivers, Clarence Valley, Mid North Coast, Western NSW, Upper Hunter, along with schools from Armidale and the surrounding New England area and North West NSW (e.g. Dubbo, Moree, Lismore, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Inverell, and Cessnock). Also, many small Central Schools attended UNE Open Day for the first time this year” said Simone Pearce, Event Coordinator at UNE.