Monique Radford is supposed to be sitting in a laboratory at Massey University learning about different types of grasses.
Instead, the 18-year-old is stuck on the Midhirst dairy farm where her parents Sam and Michelle Radford are 50/50 sharemilkers.
Her first year studying agricultural science in Palmerston North has been unexpectedly interrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Our lectures all shifted online prior to the official lockdown coming into force, so I came home,” said Monique.
“It’s great being at home, but it’s hard to learn certain aspects of my course when I can’t go to a lab and physically examine a plant.”
“One of my assessments this year involves being tested on my ability to identify different plants and grasses,” she said.
Monique’s lectures are due to resume online on 20th April, after the Easter break.
It’s unclear when the Holstein Friesian NZ member will be able to return to the halls of residence at Massey University.
“I have three younger siblings, so it’s great that I have been able to hang out with them and my parents while I’m here,” she said.
It’s been a busy few months for the Taranaki student, who competed in the youth challenge at International Dairy Week Australia in January.
Monique was part of a 10-strong group of teenagers from New Zealand who attended.
The event in Shepparton, Victoria, attracted 180 exhibitors, about 1000 dairy cattle from across Australia and more than 6000 visitors.
“It was such an amazing learning experience. The New Zealand team ended up finishing second in the youth challenge, which was so cool,” said Monique.
Despite competing as a team, the teenagers were split into three groups, tackling clipping, handling and judging.
“My sister Isabelle and I were part of the judging team. It gave us such a buzz when we found out we’d placed the cows in the same order as the main judges for the competition,” she said.
Prior to flying out to Australia, Monique was one of 23 people who attended the National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp in Stratford, which was organised by Holstein Friesian NZ.
Each person had their own heifer calf which they had to feed, groom, teach to lead on a halter and get show ring ready.
There were workshops on animal health, breeding and showmanship skills, and participants were taught how to use electric clippers to trim a heifer’s coat.
“It was my first time attending the event. I learned a lot about how to clip a heifer’s coat correctly. It’s a great skill to have,” she said.
Monique’s already a regular in the show ring, competing with her own calf at the Stratford A&P Show last December. The 18-year-old owns three Holstein Friesians.
Monique is still undecided on the career path she wants to take once she’s completed her degree.
“I like science, but I’m more interested in animals than I am in plants. All I know is that I want a career in the agriculture industry,” she said.