LOCAL members of the Australian Alpaca Association always highlighted the need to have young people involved in alpaca handling and care.
As part of the process, junior handling classes have been established at the Gympie Show.
To help juniors, some of whom have never touched an alpaca, a training day is held a few weeks before each Gympie Show.
This year, it was held on Dawn Perryman's Banyandah Stud at Southside and was attended by 18 juniors and numerous parents.
As might be expected, with only a few having attended previous handling training days, the first instructions were pretty basic.
But as Ms Perryman said, alpacas are used to being handled and are mostly well behaved. Banyandah hosts 'woofers' during the year and this also gives the animals exposure to a lot of different people.
For juniors, who did not have experience with large animals, Robyn Harrison gave a quick rundown of how to behave around the animals.
She said the keys were no loud noises, no sudden movements and to behave as if you were having fun, as the animals picked up on negative vibes and tended to misbehave accordingly.
While most children had to lead animals around the judging course, those 12 and older also had to 'teeth' the alpacas.
This was done so judges could see the animal's teeth were in good alignment.
As children became more used to the animals, it was easy to see their confidence grow and take on some of the harder tasks of the day.
A further junior training day will be held on May 11. Interested people are invited to phone 5482 9705.