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Beyond the Bale : March 2017
Aweek-long shearing and wool handling school held in December at Tenterfield in the New England region of NSW taught 19 local high school students the key aspects of wool harvesting. AWI shearing industry development coordinator Jim Murray said the course at Tenterfield was supported for the second year in a row by AWI to help attract new entrants into the industry. “The aim of courses such as this one is to have the students come out of the week ready to be safely engaged in shed work during their school holidays, with some of the students able to be employed as crutchers. It also provides good grounding for a career in shearing,” Jim said. “The course teaches how to identify different types of wool and practical wool handling skills. It also teaches handpiece skills and how to safely handle sheep – imperative skills for crutching and shearing. “It’s important to have people entering the industry job ready. Shearing contractors ATTRACTING THE NEXT GENERATION AW I is undertaking hands-on practical courses for school students to help attract them into the wool harvesting industry and make them job ready for shed work. are more likely to employ a youngster if they already have good skills – the higher the better.” The sheep that were shorn by the students from Tenterfield High School were supplied by woolgrower Hughie McCowen who is also the Agriculture Assistant at the High School. “Tenterfield High is committed to providing its students with every opportunity to be prepared and equipped for employment,” Mr McCowen said. “The AWI shearer and wool handler training has been a strategic addition to what the school offers its students. The hands-on approach and methodical training by Karl and Mel has allowed many students to grasp the techniques required and really shine. This has been evident by many students asking local woolgrowers if they can help out or work in sheds during holidays.” The shearing and wool handling initiative at Tenterfield High started with a conversation between Phil Jones who is the Tenterfield High School Agriculture Teacher and Hughie McCowen when Phil commented about a shearing school that a local man Jim Koch used to run many years previously. Phil asked if there was anything like that still available as he thought it would be great to get a shearing and wool handling school going as part of what Tenterfield High offered students. Hughie immediately thought of the shearer and wool handler training offered by AWI, and so contacted Jim Murray at AWI. “After speaking with Jim it just all fell into place,” Mr McCowen said. “AWI, Jim, Karl and Mel have been great to work with and nothing has been a problem as we have coordinated the training. “The training provided by Karl and Mel Goodman was through AWI’s Independent Coaching Program. Karl is a very holistic trainer, in that as well as teaching how to improve shearing technique he also talks about the importance of things like diet and how a positive mental attitude can help the youngsters achieve their goals in the industry and life in general. “Karl also talks to the students about how the shearing industry can be a useful and flexible way of earning money through their careers, from helping put them through university, to buying a home or putting a deposit on a farm. You can still have a very rewarding career in the industry well past 40.” Karl himself first got started in the shearing industry 32 years ago when he had just turned 16 and left school, and he is still going strong. “So it’s great to give back to the industry that has provided me with a career, and help give these youngsters a step up in shearing and wool handling,” Karl said. “When I left school, I got a job as a wool handler through a friend that knew a shearing contractor, and I learnt to shear through many of the friends I knew through the shearing industry. But if I had my time again I would certainly attend a shearing school, and I’d continue to do schools throughout my career because there are always opportunities to hone your technique. “Shearing schools are one of the best things that have been created for the shearing industry. Good quality shearing is all about professionalism. I teach my students about the responsibilities of their work; care about what they do; don’t just treat it as a job, treat it as a living. The course was held in the Shearing Complex at the Tenterfield Showground, with shearing equipment provided by woolgrowers Peter and Lou Holley. Tenterfield High School is very thankful for the community support and assistance it has received to help run the training. AWI’s funding of hands-on practical training in the shed aims to not only attract and retain new entrants into the wool harvesting industry, but also build the capacity and longevity of existing staff, Trainer Karl Goodman flanked by Tenterfield High School students Erica Hickey and Michael Benstead at an AWI-funded shearing and wool handling school. PHOTO: Tenterfield Star 48 ON FARM
In the Shops - March 2017