AN inspiring shearing school in New South Wale’s New England region introducing rural youth to a career in the wool industry is looking for new students.
The Regional Development Australia Northern Inland facilitated Wool Works Shearing School is held at the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station.
The school introduces high school students to the skills of shearing and wool handling and the political leaders recognised it as a measure of inspiration that the industry needs.
Project co-ordinator and RDANI executive director Nathan Axelsson said that there are three more shearing schools planned for 2019, with one locked in for October.
“We want to hear from any interested high school teachers or students from years 9 to 11.”
The school recently received welcome encouragement during a visit from the state’s deputy Premier John Barilaro and Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall.
Mr. Barilaro said the school is about introducing young people to the skill of shearing and a possible future in agriculture.
“I saw kids here who were smiling, they were engaged and they wanted to be there.
“I think this particular program, with all the stakeholders coming together, has touched on something that gives us hope for the future of agriculture and our kids in the bush.”
Mr. Barilaro commended the approach of inspiring young students by giving them practical rural skills early on.
“This is really hands-on; they can see, hear, smell, feel, experience and respect the shearing and wool handling skills in the shearing shed.
“We know skills like these are being lost in agriculture across regional NSW, but this a great way to inspire the next generation and we might just see some of these teenagers catch the bug and stick with it,” he said.
Mr Marshall came to the school for the first time in 2018 and wanted the deputy Premier to see it.
“I don’t think this is being done anywhere else. Even if only one or two of these high school students go on to work in the sheep industry, shearing, then it’s been successful.”
“It was great to see the number of girls turn up,” he said.
“That is reflective of the trend in agriculture, generally.
“Women are playing an increasingly important role in our agricultural industries and I think that is brilliant.”
The visit followed their announcement of $1.25 million in funding for a revamp of the Glen Innes Livestock Selling facility, the first grant from the $170m State Government Instructure Projects fund, designed to stimulate regional economies impacted by the drought.
The June 2019 Wool works Shearing School was attended by three students from Glen Innes, three from O’Connor Catholic College in Armidale and 18 from Inverell’s Macintyre High School. With support from Australian Wool Innovation, experienced shearers Ross Thompson and Leo Fittler instructed and supervised. Experienced TAFE trainers, Pauline Smith and Kim Jenkins showed what working the shearing shed floor entails.
RDANI chair Russell Stewart said Macintyre High students have been selling raffle tickets so they can travel to the Australian Sheep and Wool at Bendigo and the deputy Premier made a donation of $5000.
“We are producing great young people in our region and it is on us and our industries to show them they are and will be valued,” Mr. Stewart said. “Let’s help them to get relevant skills that enhance career paths and address our regional skills needs.”
The Wool Works Shearing School is made possible through collaboration between RDANI, NSW DPI, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, AWI, TAFE New England, Glen Innes Severn Council, GLENRAC, Prime Super and Heiniger. Sheep were supplied by John Newsome of Elders Glen Innes.