Encountering the bison
by Ann van Engelen
Kayla Calder experienced seeing bison wandering through the woods at Yellowstone National Park as part of her international exchange through TeenAg to the United States with five other kiwi students.
“It was great to experience farming in other parts of the world,” said Kayla Calder.
Yellowstone National Park is home to almost 5,000 bison and has 10,000 hydrothermal features.
“I was surprised by how big bison are. They were everywhere, and one day we drove around a corner and had to slam on the brakes because there was a bison in the middle of the road. The animals are wild, but they are used to tourists and traffic.”
The TeenAg members attended the 4-H Congress in Bozeman, Montana, which attracted 350 students. Kayla took part in a livestock judging workshop and visited a farm with several hundred alpacas.
“I found that field trip really interesting. I haven’t had much to do with alpacas — I’m from a sheep and beef farm,” she said.
“We watched the animals being shorn and learned about their fibre and how they are farmed.”
Kayla also visited the renowned Montana cattle stud Thomas Herefords at Gold Creek. The stud was started in 1957 and began using artificial insemination in the 1970s to advance its genetics faster. They have 250 registered Hereford cows and sell 75 bulls and more than 50 registered females each year.
“That was an awesome experience. One of their bulls was named supreme champion Hereford at a national stock show. I made a number of connections in Montana, and I would like to return to the state to work and grow my knowledge one day.”
Kayla plans to study a Diploma in Agriculture at Lincoln University.