ABOUT 130 domestic and international students have descended onto Wagga's Charles Sturt University for an annual red-meat competition and conference.
Students will gain valuable industry experience when they put their skills to the test in the 30th Intercollegiate Meat Judging event.
The students are from 12 Australian universities, including the University of Tasmania for the first time, and four international universities from America, Japan, Indonesia and Pakistan.
The event is a chance for students to learn about the red-meat industry in Australia, with the aim of showcasing the industry to inspire and support students to become part of the industry after they graduate.
For University of Tasmania student Lauren Rowlands, it is her first time.
"It's fantastic, you see so many like-minded people in the one place learning so much together," the 22-year-old said.
"I do want to be in the livestock industry and this event does show me what opportunities are out there in this industry.
"It also helps me make those connections with other people who may guide me through the industry."
ICMJ president Peter McGilchrist said the conference helps develop young future professionals from a pool of agriculture and veterinary students to network, learn, showcase and communicate with others at the same level.
Mr McGilchrist said being able to celebrate the event's 30th year was a testament to the volunteer committee and industry professionals.
"Original alumni are getting quite influential in companies so it's getting a strong feedback loop," Mr McGilchrist said.
"It's been heralded as one of the most successful capacity and capability building programs in the industry.
"It highlights the different requirements that are needed in the red meat industry."
The four-day conference and competition started on Tuesday night with an introductory dinner followed by industry-focussed guest speakers on Wednesday and Thursday.
A careers exhibition with a record number of 44 companies will be held Friday morning before meat judging begins on Friday afternoon with small stock.
Judging will continue on Saturday morning with beef at Teys.
Workshops and conferences will be held on the Wagga CSU while Teys have also partnered with the event and offered the use of the abattoir for the last day of judging.
Students will use skills they have learned in their studies and during the conference to assess the quality and yield of the product, meat colour, fat cover and muscling.
The top 10, who will go to Brisbane for a training and development week, will be announced at a dinner on Saturday night.