By ABC Tropical North, 
Being born the week of Queensland’s biggest agricultural event was a sign of what life would hold for Sophie Laycock.

From being propped up on the back of a stud bull at a showground as a baby, to showing animals, cattle have played a big part in her life.

Now the 23-year-old has taken over the reins of one of the biggest jobs in the rural show circuit — cattle stud steward.

“I’d often thought about it and when I was living in the south-east I was asked multiple times if I wanted to do it,” she said.

“But I always turned it down because I was doing year 12 and I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself.”

After years of showing cattle from her grandparents’ Simmental stud in the Brisbane Valley, Ms Laycock moved to Clermont in 2018 to manage a station.

It was in the former gold-rush town that she met Rosie Robertson, the long-term steward, who was looking for a change of pace.

“When she told me that she was looking for someone to take over, I thought, why not?” she said

“It’s an industry I’m so passionate about and thought I may as well jump in.”

Changing of the guard

For more than four decades, Rosie Robertson has been involved with cattle showing in Queensland and is a familiar face at the Clermont Show.

After being involved with the first show in Ridgelands in 1977, where she sewed and made all the ribbons and showed cattle, Ms Robertson decided it was now time to retire.

“I wanted to be able to show my own cattle and I knew Sophie and worked with her quite a lot and she’s passionate also about stud and showing,” she said.

“And I said, ‘I’ll be right there behind you, to help you, guide you and then it’s yours. Go for it.'”

Ms Laycock said knowing she had the support of Ms Robertson and her daughters, made it an easy decision.

“There are definitely lots of younger people stepping up, which is awesome, because we are the future of the industry,” she said.

“If we don’t start to step up now, we never will. Especially while we’ve got other people helping us and being there to support us.”

A passion for rural communities and youth

While decades separate Rosie and Sophie, they both share a love of the country and introducing young people to the cattle industry.

Ms Robertson used to run camps at Charters Towers each year to introduce children to cattle showing.

“We’d camp the weekend and start with a green animal and have it actually leading a couple of steps on the first weekend,” Ms Robertson said

“They’d come back and then do the show and did very well. That’s one thing we were very passionate about.”

It’s something Ms Laycock hopes can be started around Clermont.

I’ve often thought about doing a weekend where we get the kids that don’t have a lot of experience and get the distance- ed kids that are on properties. They could come in and have a go,” she said.

Ms Laycock said she’d also like to see more young people involved in the committees.

“Without the younger generation we’re not going to have a future, so if we can teach them some new things, it would be really good.”