THE prestigious Peter Westblade Scholarship has been awarded to three exceptional sheep and wool industry candidates for the first time.
Due to the high calibre and the passion of applicants in 2022 and generous support from sponsors and fundraiser supporters the organisers have been able to award scholarships to three young people from New South Wales.
The 2022 scholarship winners are Mitchell Rubie, 21, from Forbes; Baylee Stapleton, 24, from Jerilderie, and William Lyon, 26, from Boomey.
Scholarship committee Ben Patrick said the quality of the three applicants made it very hard to differentiate them and the program’s financial and resource position allowed it to support multiple winners.
“This gives three young people the opportunity to benefit from the scholarship.”
The winners are given assistance and support to the value of $10,000 for their individual programs.
“We sit down and work out what they want out of the scholarship and basically fund it.”
Mr Patrick said the scholarship had multiple sponsors and its recent fund-raising had been successful.
“The majority of the support is coming now from other people in the industry.”
The scholarship honours the late Peter Westblade a true visionary, passionate about breeding profitable sheep and a strong supporter of young people interested in agriculture. It exists to promote the practical skills associated with the sheep and wool industry and aims to deliver hands on experience and mentoring to young people aspiring for a career in this dynamic industry.
Applicants are aged 18 to 30 years, have a passion for the sheep and wool industry, want to make a difference and sees their future in the sector.
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Winners expression passion and commitment to industry
Mitchell Rubie told the selection committee his keen interest and passion for the industry was fostered from growing up on a farm that his family has owned more than 40 years between Forbes and Condobolin, on the Lachlan River, in central west NSW. His parents have run the Lachlan Merino and Poll Merino studs for 19 years and have bred Merinos for more than 30 years.
Mitchell said his future is firmly set in the Merino industry. He was associate judge in the 2022 Condobolin Don Brown Maiden ewe comp and said he is extremely passionate about the dual purpose of Merinos and the sustainability of the products they produce. He is currently developing his own sheep classing run and holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management.
Baylee Stapleton completed a Bachelor of Animal Science at Charles Sturt University in 2019 and since then has been working for a Merino stud at Coleambally. In her third year at university, she was selected to attend the National Merino Challenge in Adelaide.
“This was my first experience in the Merino wool industry and I saw it as a great opportunity to find mentors and for career progression in this agricultural sector.
“From there I undertook in a two-week placement with Lexi Cesnik from Moses and Sons and where I realised the growing acceptance for livestock advisors to further on farm production,” she said.
Baylee is currently working at Pooginook Merino and Poll Stud alongside the manager and the ram sale manager in the selection of ewes for the ram-breeding program. She also works off farm with clients, classing ewes and helping them meet breeding objectives.
She hopes to be a pioneer in the new era of the Merino industry helping producers overcome modern day industry challenges.
“I believe it (the scholarship) is a great opportunity to find mentors and for career progression within the industry.
“It sets young people up with a range of contacts passionate about helping young people on their career pathway.”
William Lyon grew up in a family of graziers and after graduating from high school he worked for local contractors before securing a head stockman role on a 4572 hectare mixed enterprise farm in central west NSW.
He said the scholarship would give him exposure to industry best practices and would support and improve his skillset.
“This would then allow me to contribute to helping other young people in the industry.”
William said he is interested in exploring more efficient sheep handling and management practices to improve on-farm efficiency. He has a vision to make the industry more attractive and accessible for passionate individuals to engage and work in.