SHEEP-FOCUSED students from across Australia have enjoyed a detailed introduction to the wool industry at the 2017 National Merino Challenge in Melbourne at the weekend.
The fifth annual NMC attracted about 110 students from seven secondary schools and eight tertiary institutions.
The two-day event has now introduced around 500 secondary and tertiary students to the basic skills involved in the wool industry and introduced them to a network of wool industry professionals.
The top performing secondary team in 2017 came from the Cummins Area School in South Australia and the Charles Sturt University team from New South Wales was the top point scorer in the tertiary section.
The champion secondary school competitor was Brooke Watts from the Molong Central School in New South Wales and the University of Melbourne’s Emily Attard outscored all other tertiary contenders. Emily Attard won the tertiary production and wool sections and team mate Annika Alexander was top point scorer in the breeding section.
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The aims of the NMC are to give students an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries, and to offer basic skills involved with the sheep and wool industries through traditional and modern appraisal methods.
Australian Wool Innovation said the NMC has quickly established itself as a leading education program for young students interested in a career in the wool industry.
NMC project manager Ben Watts said the NMC had grown rapidly since its inception because it met the demands of a new generation.
“Young people are very keen and optimistic for the wool industry. It is these young minds that will be taking the industry forward in years to come with fresh ideas for this industry in a digital age.
“It’s exciting to see and great to be involved and the engagement via twitter using #awinmc shows just how engaged they are,” he said.
Over the two-day event students are introduced to and then assessed on their skills across a wide range of areas such as feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives, wool harvesting together with the commercial assessment and classing of animals and fleeces.
Australian Wool Innovation manager of extension, Emily King said the NMC fits well with the strong focus on education within the current AWI Strategic Plan which aims to not only train the next generation of woolgrowers and wool specialists but the next generation of textile professionals who wish to work in the wool industry.
AWI thanked the following partners of the 2017 NMC without whom the event would not be possible: Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, Australian Wool Education Trust, Australian Wool Network, Landmark, Rodwells, Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders, Elders, Fox & Lillie Rural, Michell Direct Wool, Techwool Trading.
Click here for the NMC secondary school results
Click here for the NMC tertiary results.
Click here for 2017 NMC participating institution details.
Editor’s note: Unfortunately due to data error, La Trobe University was initially incorrectly announced as the tertiary teams winner and the team’s top performer Lillie Jarratt scored outside the major placings.