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Beyond the Bale : June 2017
Having completed Year 12 at Yanco Agricultural High School last year, Georgie is the third generation on her family's sheep and cattle property at Nimmitabel, south of Cooma. She plans to study Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga next year but her focus this year remains closer to home on the Monaro Farming Systems (MFS) traineeship gaining invaluable practical skills working on a variety of farms across the Monaro. The MFS Agricultural Traineeships Program was initiated in 2012 by woolgrower Craig Mitchell of 'Gaerloch' at Numeralla, east of Cooma, to address the growing concern of retaining and attracting local young people to choose a career in the agricultural industry as well as the increasing age of the average farmer. Craig was a major driver of the program in the first few years. The trainee is 'shared' across a group of 8-9 host farmers on the Monaro and spends 12 months learning not only the practical side of farming like fencing, stock handling, worm control, machinery use, pasture improvement and budgeting, but also the diversity of farming practices across the region and their business success strategies. "It's often very hard for youngsters straight out of school to build up the experience needed to get them their first job," said MFS Executive Officer Nancy Spoljaric. "MFS believes investing in the traineeship will provide young people with invaluable experience during a gap year between school and work or further education, as well as promote the profile of agriculture as an attractive, prosperous and long-term career option. "The traineeship also includes a formal qualification. Georgie will receive a Certificate IV in Agriculture after completing her year." AWI has supported the MFS traineeship program for four years by contributing to the cost of trainees attending a shearing and woolhandling school. AWI funding put MFS trainees Emma Tangye (Cooma, 2016), Kelsey McDonald (Bunyan, 2015), Cameron Johnson (Cooma, 2014) and Kate Connolly (Bredbo, 2014) through the AWI shearing school at 'Coolringdon', Cooma. This year for the first time, MFS funded their trainee to attend the Hay Inc Rural Education Program (a program that AWI supports -- see story opposite) as part of the MFS traineeship. Georgie joined 14 other agricultural focused youths on rural properties in the Hay district, learning skills in sheep handling and yard work, pregnancy scanning, fence construction, livestock water repairs, motorbike maintenance and many other areas. Through the MFS trainee program, AWI supported Georgie to attend the shearing and woolhandling portion of the Hay Inc program. This was held in March at Paraway Pastoral's 'Steam Plains' station under the guidance of AWI trainers Brian Sullivan and Sam Walker. "Farming has been my passion since I can remember. While I'm interested in working in the fields of AI embryo transfer and animal reproduction, in the long term I aim to follow in my father's and grandfather's footsteps and eventually take over the family farm," Georgie said. "I've loved the Hay Inc program; the different trainers and mentors have been amazing. I have learnt a broad range of practical skills in areas such as water infrastructure maintenance that I haven't been exposed to before. I'll be able to use these skills in This year's Monaro Farming Systems trainee, Georgie Constance from Bombala, joined young people from the Riverina in the Hay Inc Rural Education Program. This is an example of AWI's training investments in two important wool-growing regions working well together. MONARO TRAINEESHIP LINKS WITH RIVERINA the MFS traineeship program and later in my career. "At Steam Plains, we learnt how to crutch which I'd never done before, and we really got back to basics learning things like loading the handpiece. I'd previously received some shearer training from AWI while at Yanco Agricultural High School, and after my time at Steam Plains I'm keen to undertake further training at 'Coolringdon'. "Although I'd already got shed experience at home, at Steam Plains I was able to learn woolhandling and classing tips to fine-tune my skills -- such as the importance of removing stain before it gets to the table. There's no substitute to getting taught by experienced professionals like the AWI trainers Brian and Sam." Brian and Sam say they are extremely grateful to be given the chance several times a year to run shearing schools at Steam Plains. "AWI along with Paraway Pastoral jointly enable us as trainers to use the great facilities and pass on our industry skills and knowledge," Brian said. "These skills can be taken and used for a long time and in some cases used as a stepping stone to get into one of the oldest industries in Australia." MORE INFORMATION www.monarofarmingsystems.com.au Georgie Constance gaining experience on one of the host farms during her Monaro Farming Systems traineeship. ON FARM 55