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Beyond the Bale : March 2019
57 ON FARM The 2019 National Merino Challenge (NMC) is heading to the Sydney Showgrounds on 25 and 26 May to encourage the next generation of the wool industry. Now in its seventh year, the annual event has provided more than 600 secondary and tertiary students with the basic skills involved in the wool industry – both traditional and modern methods – as well as an understanding of the career opportunities within the industry. Run by AWI, the two-day NMC involves presentations and demonstrations from industry professionals. Students participate in seven ‘mini-challenges’, testing their knowledge of Merino fleece, production, breeding and selection. Techniques from several well- known industry initiatives, such as MERINOSELECT, Lifetime Wool, Bredwell Fedwell and Visual Sheep Scores, are used throughout the NMC, giving students an insight into tools available to growers to make more informed decisions. The NMC has two sections – late secondary and tertiary – and is open to years 11 and 12 and tertiary students, Australia-wide. The tertiary sector includes university students and those studying through TAFE or another RTO. An NMC Industry Dinner will also be held enabling the students to spend an evening with a range of wool industry participants, from woolgrowers to wool brokers and researchers. Emma McCrabb, who competed last year as part of the University of New England team, said she found the NMC to be a very informative and rewarding experience. “The event is a fantastic opportunity for all students. I loved the producer focus, it’s exciting and we all learnt really practical skills, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to network,” she said. “At the end of the weekend, students don’t just end up walking away with a career path, they walk away with about several different options. The wool industry is such an exciting place to be, particularly at the moment.” MORE INFORMATION www.awinmc.com.au 2019 NATIONAL MERINO CHALLENGE REGISTRATIONS OPEN SOON Registrations open in April for this year’s National Merino Challenge which is being held in Sydney. The National Merino Challenge is an AWI initiative designed to allow young people to engage with the Merino industry by developing their knowledge, skills and networks. Networking amongst fellow agriculture students and wool industry professionals is a major part of the National Merino Challenge; pictured are last year’s participants. As part of the planning process for the 2019 NMC and to maximise interest in the event, the NMC has been promoted at regional workshops, resulting in an increasing number of contacts with schools, colleges and teachers, especially in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Train the Trainer sessions are also being held for teachers at ag schools and colleges, to generate renewed interest in Merino sheep while students undertake their studies, and also to ensure the colleges fit the 2019 NMC into their programs. Through continued liaison and webinars with the schools and colleges, AWI has linked training discussions with the commercial sheep environment. The use of lifetime ewe concepts, AWI dry feed cards and commercial scenarios of wether lamb and wool markets were well received by young people as it provided clear examples detailing how management decisions can increase production in commercial operations. GENERATING INTEREST IN SHEEP
In the Shops - March 2019