TASMANIAN sheep and wool students swept the competition aside in their first appearance at the recent National Merino Challenge in Adelaide.
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture student Lauren Rowlands was the individual tertiary champion and fellow team member Rebecca Owen was runner-up.
Tasmanian secondary school teams came from St Patrick’s College and Launceston Church Grammar and TasTafe also fielded a team. Tasmanian team members contributed to the state’s overall tertiary second place, wins in the tertiary production and secondary wool sections, best secondary team and best tertiary team.
Australian Wool Innovation said more than 120 students from 10 tertiary and 12 secondary institutions from five states enjoyed a weekend of wool industry education, skills and introductions at the 2018 National Merino Challenge.
Now in its sixth year, the NMC has introduced more than 600 secondary and tertiary students to basic wool industry knowledge and skills while also introducing them to a network of wool industry professionals.
The NMC gives young people an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries and delivers basic skills of appraisal using both traditional and modern methods. The challenge has established itself as a leading education program for students interested in a career in the wool industry, AWI said.
NMC project manager Ben Watts said the NMC continues to grow strongly 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.
“The NMC is also fortunate to receive tremendous support from this great industry,” he said.
During 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 Sheep Industry Specialist Stuart Hodgson said the NMC is an example of the strong focus on education at AWI 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.
“It’s been a great team effort all round and a big thankyou to Ben Watts for this,” he said.
AWI thanked the following partners of the 2018 NMC: Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA, Landmark, Government of South Australia, Australian Wool Network, Rodwells, Bank SA, Merino SA, Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders, Elders, Australian Wool Education Trust, Techwool Trading, Michell, Fox & Lillie, Career Harvest.
2018 secondary division awards
Champion – Laura Hall, Cummins Area School
Second – Caitlin Watts, Molong Central School
Third – Angus Tomney, Cleve Area School
Champion team – Tasmania; George Booth, Olivia Lawson, Brittany Hine, George Gray, trainer, George Darby
Top performer wool section – Brittany Hine, St Patrick’s College
Top performer production section – Angus Tomney, Cleve Area School
Top performer in breeding section – Mackenley Harradine, Cleve Area School
Winning trainer – George Darby, Tasmanian schools team
2018 tertiary division awards
Champion – Lauren Rowlands, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, UTAS
Second – Rebecca Owen, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, UTAS
Third – Madison Carter, Murdoch University
Champion team – Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, UTAS; Lauren Rowlands, Rebecca Owen, Annick Wick, Olivia Cripps, trainer, Andrew Bailey
Top performer wool section – Kieran Smith, University of New England
Top performer production section – Rebecca Owen, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, UTAS
Top performer breeding section – Damien Goodman, The University of Melbourne
Winning trainer – Andrew Bailey, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, UTAS
For details on NMC 2019 in Sydney, please view www.wool.com/NMC for more information.