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NSW shearing and wool school for secondary students to expand

by Sheep Central, 20 October 2017

TAFE New England instructor Leo Fittler instructs Guyra Central School students.

A NEW shearing and wool handling program for secondary school students in New South Wales’ northern tablelands region will be expanded after a successful trial.

Wool Works is a new shearing and wool handling program for secondary school students that has just been trialled by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland at the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station.

The one-day intensive school was a team effort between RDANI, NSW DPI, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, TAFE New England, Glen Innes Severn Council, Australian Wool Innovation and Heiniger, with funding from the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.

In the Wool Works trial, Year 9 and 10 students from Guyra Central School learnt about animal husbandry, biosecurity, workplace health and safety, wool and sheep handling, and shearing.

RDANI executive officer Nathan Axelsson said the plan was to run up to 4-6 week-long schools per year at the Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station for high school students, job seekers, improvers and anyone interested in learning how to shear sheep or handle wool.

“It is unique for secondary students,” he said.

Organisers and students declared the trial a success there is hope that the concept could become the most consistent and ongoing shearing school approach in northern NSW, RDANI said.

RDANI chair Russell Stewart said the Wool Works Shearing School trial was a great opportunity to showcase this exciting industry to the region’s up and coming workforce.

“Keeping quality young people in the bush, providing them with opportunities to learn and work where they live should be top priorities for all communities across the region.

“The students that participated in this trial today are a real credit to their school, community and their families,” he said.

Experienced shearers supported by AWI

Guyra Central school students and Wool Works collaborators.

Supported by AWI, experienced shearers Ross Thompson and Leo Fittler instructed, supervised and also commended the attentive local students.

“If you can shear a sheep and do some crutching, you’ve got handy skills for the rural industry. It’s also a great profession to consider for travelling and even students going on to university can use shearing shed skills to pay their way.

“Providing introductory skills in shearing and wool handling to high school students and nurturing their interest is a unique approach and one that is important for the future of the industry,” Mr Thompson said.

“AWI and TAFE have done a lot, but what we’re trying to get going is more consistent, reliable training for the north of the state.

“Shearing is a trade; just like if you’re a builder, sparky or plumber, you’re looking at four years before you know what you’re doing and six before you’re hitting your peak,” he said.

“The shearing school is a great introduction,” he said.

Wool Works was an important experience

Guyra Central School student Stephanie Cameron throws a fleece.

Guyra Central School agriculture teacher Scott Miller said that Wool Works was an important experience for his students, like Year 9 Agriculture student Steph Cameron.

“This shearing school is a really great idea for kids who want to have a career in shearing, wool handling or anything like that,” she said.

“I grew up on a property. My Dad’s a shearer and I roustabout with him. Yet, I learned a lot.”

Taylor Brennan from Year 10 appreciated having an experienced shearer supervising him as he sheared a sheep.

“He told me all the angles and techniques that I had to use. It was really good,” he said.

Mr Axelsson said the event showed us just how effective rural and regional communities can be when industry and community leaders work together with schools and government agencies to achieve a common goal.

“We particularly appreciated the contributions of NSW DPI, Nigel Brown LLS District Veterinarian, Pauline Smith at TAFE New England, John Newsome of Elders Glen Innes who kindly provided the sheep, the Lions Club of Glen Innes for catering and especially Guyra Central School.”

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