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Beyond the Bale : June 2018
imagine that this would lead her to winning her state’s 2016 Merino Fleece Young Judges Championship and then go on to compete at the National Finals in 2017 at the Royal Melbourne Show. The competition, for people aged between 15 and 25, involved judging two lines of four Merino fleeces (eight in total) on style, uniformity of length, staple strength, handle, colour, crimp formation, density and fleece weight. She competed against the other state champions and the New Zealand champion. Using all the skills and experience she’d learnt wool classing, Caitlin expertly continued an unbeaten run of six wins from six fleece judging competitions by winning the title ahead of Amy Hoogenboom of New Zealand and Tessa Runting of Victoria. AWI helps fund the National Finals (along with the corresponding National Merino Sheep Young Judges Championship) to further young people’s skills through visual selection and appraisal of wool and sheep. By providing the opportunity to broaden their experiences and knowledge base through competition, the finalists become ambassadors for the wool industry. And Caitlin has certainly become a stellar ambassador for wool. Read on... PROMOTING THE WOOL INDUSTRY Caitlin selflessly instigated – and sponsored – a Merino Fleece Junior Judging Competition at her local Mount Pleasant Show in March, encouraging young people interested in agriculture to step up and “have a go”. Caitlin is also generously sponsoring prizes at this year’s State Championship in Adelaide in September. “I wanted to give back to the industry from which I have benefited and love so much,” she said. Last year, Caitlin also became one of six new Young Farming Champions sponsored by AWI, to help promote the wool industry to students participating in Art4Agriculture’s school program who might never have considered a career in agriculture. Young Farming Champions provide a network of enthusiastic young professionals who share a passion about teaching others how Australian agriculture is a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry. “Essentially my aim is to close the gap between producers and consumers and create a better understanding and appreciation of what really happens in the wool industry,” Caitlin said. “I am only 19 years old, but while I know that my future lies with wool – I hope to continue as a wool classer and eventually run my own Merino stud – I am also very keen in helping and encouraging more youth into the wool industry and helping bridge the gap between the producer and the consumer.” YOUNG CHAMPIONS PROMOTE WOOL AT THE SYDNEY SHOW Deanna Johnston, a shearer and wool classer from Longreach, and Lucy Collingridge, a biosecurity officer with Local Land Services in Narrabri, teamed up at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary Preview Day to present 15-minute sessions about wool to students and teachers. The two Young Farming Champions are part of a network of young agricultural professionals, developed by Art4Agriculture, who have a passion for sharing the good news stories of their industry and teaching others about the pivotal role Australian farmers have in feeding and clothing the world. 2018 represents the sixth year AWI has been involved with the program, to help educate the broader community on the importance of the Australian wool industry and develop young industry talent. Held prior to the official opening of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the Primary School Preview Day invited students from Years 4-6 to meet the faces of Australian agriculture. The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness of the unique and diverse properties of wool as well as an appreciation for the high quality of wool that is produced on Australian farms. “We had a quick slideshow to show the kids where we were from and explained what we do in our day jobs,” Lucy said. “We then had an interactive questionnaire game where we were able to improve students’ knowledge Two AWI-sponsored Young Farming Champions recently shared the story of wool with more than 1,000 school students at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. of the Australian wool industry and wool products. Then we had a few activities using wool products. Students were able to handle examples of greasy wool, wool top and lanolin. “We had a 100% wool jacket with four kids holding a corner each. Deanna poured water on it to show its water repellant properties. It was a fun game. The students were confident the jacket would absorb the water and of course were fascinated when the water went everywhere. We also had Sam the Lamb and material sample books from AWI for the kids to take home, which they loved.” With more than 1,000 students passing through their presentation, Lucy and Deanna were exhausted by day’s end, but also inspired by the students (and teachers) and their willingness to learn. “The kid’s enthusiasm was great,” Deanna said. “They were so excited and so happy to learn, and amazed wool could make soft garments that can be worn by everyone from babies to people playing sport, as well as insulating and carpeting your house. For me it was a massive learning curve. I didn’t realise how hard it was to get a primary school kid’s attention and keep it!” “We had a very special moment with some school kids with disability who were mostly non-verbal but we were able to use the samples of greasy fleece, wool top and wool clothing for a very tactile experience,” Lucy adds. More information www.wool.com/YFC AWI-sponsored Young Farming Champions Deanna Johnston and Lucy Collingridge promoting wool to school children at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. ON FARM 37