SOME 18 Curtin and Murdoch University students - as well as two WA College of Agriculture, Denmark, students - took part in demonstrations and practical components at the weekend's agVivo Events sheep camp.
The two-day camp at Rylington Park Institute of Agriculture at Mayanup, near Boyup Brook, featured a jam-packed program of low stress sheep handling tactics, working dogs, sheep husbandry, welfare and biosecurity, feed on offer, apps and technology, faecal worm egg counts, breeding and genetics, business and office management, as well as shearing and wool handling sessions devised to give the students an insight into the workings of an average WA sheep enterprise.
Created and executed by agVivo Events principal Erin Gorter, the inaugural camp was designed to arrest the decline of young people taking up careers in the sheep industry, encourage participants to see it as an interesting and fulfilling career option and build the skills of those already keen on working with sheep.
With the highly subscribed annual WA youth cattle handlers camp having been rolled out for more than 10 years, it was thought appropriate to also create a camp for those interested in sheep.
The practical experience gained from the weekend will be credited to the participants' studies in the agribusiness, animal science, animal health and veterinary science fields.
Students benefited from the wealth of knowledge on offer thanks to concurrent sessions run by Chirniminup Dohne stud principal Rachel Browne, Nyabing, WA College of Agriculture, Denmark, student supervisor Leanne Grant-Williams, South West Institute of TAFE managing director and sheep dog aficionado Duncan Anderson, Capel, industry trainer and livestock farmer Chris Wyhoon, Bakers Hill, Rylington Park farm managers Marc and Erlanda Deas, Livestock Biosecurity Network regional officer Carey Hobson, Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) senior development officer Mandy Curnow and Landmark wool area manager and local shearer Matt Chambers, Boyup Brook.
During his presentation to camp participants DAFWA sheep industry development director Bruce Mullan also pointed to an exciting future in the WA sheep industry.
"It is a billion dollar a year industry and many people don't realise that," he said.
"It's an industry where many of the players have been involved for a long time, so they have a great deal of experience but it also means there are good opportunities for young people entering the sector.
"It's important for these people to have the passion but they also need the skills and training to match."
Given the large majority of the participating student group had no on-farm experience - including a couple which had never stepped foot on a farm before - camp organiser Erin Gorter said the weekend was a huge success.
"We received a really positive and eager response to the point where we want to offer more of these camps in the months and years to come," she said.
"There was great support from industry and it was such an amazing opportunity to foster the interest of those who took part.
"Overall, we've been really blown away by the success of the whole experience."