Merino Challenge attracts 161 students

Merino Challenge attracts 161 students


Wool
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A two-day event brought 161 students from years 11 and 12 at secondary schools and from tertiary institutions across Australia together to test their skills and knowledge in seven Merino wool and sheep industry focused areas, including fleece, production, breeding and selection.

THIS year's National Merino Challenge results, determined recently at the Sydney Showgrounds, were dominated by students from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

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The two-day event brought 161 students from years 11 and 12 at secondary schools and from tertiary institutions across Australia together to test their skills and knowledge in seven Merino wool and sheep industry focused areas, including fleece, production, breeding and selection.

WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, year 12 student Madison Crossen, Wongan Hills, inspecting a ram fleece at the National Merino Challenge in Sydney.

WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, year 12 student Madison Crossen, Wongan Hills, inspecting a ram fleece at the National Merino Challenge in Sydney.

WA was well represented with 17 students from the WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin and a team of six from the WA College of Agriculture, Narrogin, participating.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) Wagga Wagga, New South Wales and University of New England (UNE), Armidale, NSW, shared the tertiary awards.

Pat Crawley from CSU was overall champion in the tertiary section and he was also the breeding section winner.

Mitch Rubie, also from CSU Wagga Wagga, was tertiary champion runner up and Matthew McCauley from UNE was third and also the wool section winner.

Florance McGufficke from UNE was tertiary production section winner.

CSU's team of Pat Crawley, Mitch Rubie, Kayla Kopp and Karissa de Belle were the 2019 tertiary champion team.

National Merino Challenge winners in the secondary school section came from three States.

Megan Seis from Calrossy Anglican School, Tamworth, NSW, was overall secondary school champion and production section winner.

George Gray from Launceston Church Grammar School, Tasmania, was champion runner up and Jed Murnane, Cummins Area School, South Australia, was third and won both the secondary wool and breeding sections.

Flinders Christian Community College's team from Victoria – Erin Douglas, Cassie Goding, Caitlin Morgan and Kasey Shields was the champion secondary school team.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) general manager of operations Nigel Gosse said throughout the two-days of competition, students were introduced to and then assessed on their skills across a range of areas including feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives, wool harvesting together with the commercial assessment and classing of animals and fleeces.

"While AWI has developed valuable educational resources and projects for secondary and tertiary students, transferring best practice breeding skills and knowledge to future Merino industry participants is an important part of the future of our industry," Mr Gosse said.

"It was great to see the National Merino Challenge (in its seventh year) giving young people an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries and deliver basic skills of appraisal using both traditional and modern methods.

"The competition was strong and it was encouraging to see the energy and enthusiasm of the students as they developed their knowledge and learnt new skills."

AWI was supported by National Merino Challenge partners Stud Merino Breeders' Association, Department of Primary Industry NSW, Australian Wool Network (AWN), Fox and Lillie Rural, The Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders and TechWool Trading.

This year, apart from secondary school and university students, the first industry team also competed in the National Merino Challenge.

AWN, which has WA wool broker Dyson Jones as part of its network, provided five of its young employees from three States with the opportunity to attend and compete.

The AWN team consisted of David Mahilraj, Bathurst, Kate Methven, Horsham, Emma Turner, Launceston, and Ally Colwell and Luke Darby, Sydney.

AWN Central West New South Wales regional manager Brett Cooper was the team's trainer and mentor.

"This (National Merino Challenge) is a great learning environment and offers one component of our aim to expose staff to all facets of the sheep and wool industry as there are so many directions to aim for within the industry," Mr Cooper said.

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