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Beyond the Bale : September 2013
25 SELLING MORE WOOL 25 ON-FARM September 2013 BEYOND THE BALE agriculture because I took a leap of faith and followed my dream of working with sheep. If I can inspire school children by telling my story so far, that would be awesome.” Fellow Young Farming Champion Bessie Blore has a similar story. A journalist by trade she’s happy to admit she does not come from a farming background. But five years ago as she sat on a bus in Darwin she probably had no idea her life was about the change forever. “Isatnexttoa devilishly handsome man – Shannan – who I ended up falling in love with,” Bessie said. “Shannan grew up on 50,000 acres of sheep grazing country in far-western NSW where his family still live and work. Eventually, his family bought up a few more properties and Shannan and I moved to one of them in 2011.” Since then Bessie has embraced all aspects of living remotely and everything involved with running a wool and prime lamb enterprise. She said that coming from a city life meant she had little knowledge about how meat and wool were actually grown. “I now work full-time beside my husband Shannan on our 70,000 acre slice of outback paradise and have developed a huge passion to try and bridge that divide in a way that relates evenly to both city and country.” It is that city-country divide which both Jo and Bessie are so passionate about addressing, and can put the wheels in motion via the Young Farming Champions program. This next generation of wool champions shows the industry that its future remains prosperous and bright. It also allows for city school children to be exposed to regional life – agriculture – in an interactive learning environment. Both Adele Offley and Cassie Baile were born and raised on woolgrowing properties, so whilst they may have had a more traditional entry into the wool industry, both fully appreciate the skills and knowledge gap which divides city and country. Hailing from the southern tablelands of NSW, Adele’s interest in wool started at a young age when she would help out in the shearing shed. “I learnt more about wool every year and with the current skills shortage I would love to get the word out about the many occupations available throughout all sectors of agriculture,” Adele said. “I strongly feel we need to educate the younger generation, so there is at least some level of praise and acknowledgment for our Australian farmers.” As a fifth generation farmer from NSW’s northern tablelands, Cassie – who now works as a wool technical support officer for Elders - says her upbringing fuelled her interest in the many agricultural industries, particularly wool, within Australia. “I believe that wool is a very important natural fibre and through education and spreading awareness, this knowledge of the need to support the wool industry is very important,” Cassie said. “Educating and involving younger generations to recognise the importance of supporting the agricultural industry is key to the success and continuation of each field of production.” More information: http://www. art4agriculture.com.au/yfc/yfc2013.html Bessie Blore hasn’t given up her passion for writing, check out her blog ‘Bessie at Burragan’ here: http:// journobessatburragan.blogspot.com.au/ As a Young Farming Champion, Jo is one of four young advocates for the Australian wool industry. She is joined by Bessie Blore, Adele Offley and Cassie Baile in a network of young people who share a passion about teaching others the pivotal role that Australian farmers play in feeding and clothing the world. Co-sponsored by AWI, Young Farming Champions is a program initiated by Art4Agriculture which pairs students participating in Art4Agriculture’s school programs with a young farmer. The young farmers promote positive images and perceptions of farming, providing a pathway to get these messages across to their audiences. The young farmers demonstrate enthusiasm for their industry while providing real life examples to young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Because they are young they can relate to students and are adept at breaking down stereotypes of farming and agricultural careers. “I am a real life example that you don’t have to live on a farm, or even be from the country, to get involved in farming,” Jo said. “I hope to increase awareness of the wool industry in schools and make people stop and think where their food and natural fibres are from. I am living and breathing “I HOPE TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF THE WOOL INDUSTRY IN SCHOOLS AND MAKE PEOPLE STOP AND THINK WHERE THEIR FOOD AND NATURAL FIBRES ARE FROM.” JO NEWTON 2013 Young Farming Champions sponsored by AWI: Jo Newton, Bessie Blore, Adele Offley and Cassie Baile.