FOUR WA agriculture and veterinary sciences student teams acquitted themselves well in the National Merino Challenge (NMC) competition at the Adelaide Showgrounds recently.
Murdoch University School of Veterinary and Life Sciences student Madison Carter third in the tertiary division, behind champion Lauren Rowlands and second placed Rebecca Owen, both from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.
The Tasmanian institute also won the tertiary section champion team award, winning trainer award and Ms Owen was top performer in the production section.
WA College of Agriculture’s Cunderdin, Harvey and Narrogin campuses also each entered teams in the Year 11 and 12 secondary schools division.
South Australian Eyre Peninsula schools and Tasmanian schools cleaned up all but one of the awards in the secondary division.
More than 120 students from five States learned and competed over two days at the sixth NMC organised by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) to give young people an understanding of career opportunities in the sheep and wool industries and to allow them to engage with the Merino industry to develop knowledge, skills and networks.
The program involved presentations and demonstrations by industry professionals, as well as an industry dinner and students participated in seven mini challenges over the two days testing their knowledge of Merino fleece, production, breeding and selection.
Students were introduced to and then assessed on skills across a range of areas such as feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives, wool harvesting, together with the commercial assessment and classing of animals and fleeces.
AWI makes education materials available to teachers and students at schools, universities and TAFE colleges interested in competing at the NMC.
NMC project manager Ben Watts said the competition continued to grow because it delivered what enthusiastic young people wanted.
“It was great to see the eagerness and energy of the students so keen to learn about wool, which is a credit to them and their teachers,” Mr Watts said.
“The NMC is also fortunate to receive tremendous support from this great industry.”
AWI sheep industry specialist Stuart Hodgson said the NMC was an example of AWI’s strong focus on education which is helping train the next generation of woolgrowers and wool specialists.
“It takes an enormous effort from a large team of people to run the NMC, we have a great NMC organising committee supported by AWI staff to make this a success,” Mr Hodgson said.
The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia, the SA government, Landmark, Elders, Australian Wool Network, Rodwells, Bank SA, Merino SA, Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders, Australian Wool Education Trust, Techwool Trading, Michell, Fox & Lillie and Career Harvest were also involved in running the 2018 challenge.