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Beyond the Bale : September 2013
24 24 24 FAST FACTS l Four hard-working and dedicated young women have been selected by AWI to represent the wool industry as 2013 Young Farming Champions. l The four Young Farming Champions educate their generation about the wool industry and aim to bridge the gap between city and country. l Two advocates have grown up on sheep farms, living and breathing agriculture since they were born; the other two come from the city, but for various reasons have loved and embraced the Australian wool industry. The wool industry’s Young Farming Champions are breaking the stereotypes of the conventional farmer, as well as helping to bridge the gap between city and regional areas across Australia. Take Jo Newton for example. Growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne she was more often than not surrounded by soy lattes rather than sheep. In fact, it wasn’t until high school that Jo got her first taste of agriculture with her school’s on-campus farm. It was here as a young student she developed her interest in sheep, which led to her eventual tree change. “During school I got some of the best career advice I have ever received,” Jo said. “I got told to work out what I loved doing and then work out how to turn it into a job.” Jo’s fascination with sheep and the agricultural industry saw her move to Armidale in the New England region of NSW and study Rural Science (with Honours). “To me it made sense to study an ag-related degree at a regional university and I can honestly say moving to Armidale was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am now undertaking a PhD, looking at some of the factors influencing early reproductive performance in sheep. I love asking questions and I have a desire to keep learning. I hope to pursue a research career in sheep genetics when I finish my studies.” Jo said that upon her move to Armidale there was a host of local graziers who were quick to offer advice and work experience opportunities to a young girl with a thirst for learning as much about sheep as possible. “In particular Tim Bower of ‘Stanley Vale’ taught me how to work sheep in the yards and took me under his wing by showing me what it was like to work on a property. Tim made the decision about 12 months ago – probably after listening to me talk on and on for the past three years – to get into ASBVs (Australian Sheep Breeding Values) for his sheep. Now the shoe’s on the other foot. After spending years learning stuff from Tim, now Tim’s learning from me.” September 2013 BEYOND THE BALE YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS BRIDGING THE RURAL-URBAN DIVIDE Jo Newton moved from Melbourne to Armidale to study Rural Science – and hasn’t looked back. Bessie Blore outside the shearing shed on her 70,000 acre slice of paradise.