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Beyond the Bale : June 2016
50 ON FARM More than 140 students from 21 schools, colleges, universities and TAFEs from across Australia last month came together in Sydney for the National Merino Challenge (NMC), now it its fourth year. An AWI initiative, the NMC involves presentations and demonstrations from industry professionals to enable young people to develop their industry knowledge, skills and networks. Students participated in seven ‘mini-challenges’ across two days, testing their knowledge of Merino fleece, production and breeding and selection principles. The mini challenges were: 1. AWEX typing 2. Wool valuing 3. Visual score assessment 4. Condition scoring 5. Nutrition and feed budgeting 6. Ewe selection 7. Ram selection Techniques from several well-known industry initiatives, such as MERINOSELECT, Lifetime Ewe Management and Visual Sheep Scores, were used throughout the NMC, giving students a realistic and practical insight into the tools available to growers to make more informed decisions. Other highlights of the NMC program included a shearing demonstration from shearer Dayne West, a presentation by Australian Wool Network on the importance of effective woolhandling techniques for good clip preparation, and a careers session in which students were provided with advice on entering the agricultural sector from a panel of seven young professionals already in the industry. Students enjoyed the NMC Industry Dinner and said they relished the opportunity to spend the evening with a range of wool industry participants, from woolgrowers to wool brokers and researchers. The keynote speech was delivered by AWI director David Webster. With a growing list of sponsors and continued growth in participants every year, the NMC has quickly established itself as a leading education program for young students interested in a career in the wool industry. Nearly three times the number of students participated this year’s NMC compared to its inaugural year in 2013. AWI manager of woolgrower extension and adoption Emily King said the NMC had grown rapidly since its inception because it met the demands of a new generation. “There is a strong wave of young people coming through who are increasingly enthusiastic about the wool industry,” she said. “These are the young minds that will take the industry forward with new ideas and new leadership. It’s exciting to see and great to be involved.” Participating schools and tertiary institutions this year included 20 students from Western Australia. Kristy Walters from Murdoch University won the Tertiary Division. “It was a privilege to be able to travel over east and compete in the 2016 National Merino Challenge. What a fantastic opportunity for young people interested in the Merino industry to directly engage with industry professionals and meet others studying similar courses across the country, at the same time competing to develop skills and knowledge. “It’s great to see the event growing each year and inspiring such enthusiasm and passion in the future generation. For myself, it was an inspiring opportunity to begin the transition from my last year of studying Animal Science at Murdoch University, WA, to entering the workforce and beginning my part to play in the agricultural industry next year.” Participating secondary schools were: • Burra Community School, SA • Cummins Area School, SA • Hay War Memorial High School, NSW • Molong Central School, NSW • Mulwaree High School, Goulburn, NSW • New England Girls' School, Armidale, NSW • WA College of Agriculture – Cunderdin, WA • WA College of Agriculture – Harvey, WA • WA College of Agriculture – Narrogin, WA • Woodleigh School, Langwarrin South, Vic • Yanco Agricultural High School, NSW • AWI’s recently held National Merino Challenge (NMC) was a success, with more than 140 students from across Australia heading to Sydney to compete in the educational initiative. • The NMC connected the future of the wool industry with industry professionals, highlighting an array of careers which involve working with wool. • Yanco Agricultural High School was the Champion Team in the secondary school division, whilst the University of Melbourne was the Champion Team in the tertiary division.
In the Shops - September 2016