Over 160 students from across western NSW have furthered their young careers in the sheep and wool industry by attending an educational workshop recently.
Approximately 163 students from 28 schools were involved in the day-long course which covered sheep nutrition and production, breeding and selection, greasy wool assessment, an industry overview and career pathways within the wool industry.
The students came from Mudgee, Condobolin, Forbes, Dubbo, Gulgong, Orange, Molong, Warren, Yeoval, Hilston, Narromine, Tullamore, Dunedoo, Nyngan, Tottenham, Trangie and Wellington, to name a few.
The Dubbo Wether Challenge Education Day had some students travelling up to 10 hours to attend the event.
The wethers were provided by Egelabra Merino Stud and each student team has been given three wethers to take back to their school to help them prepare for the National Merino Challenge to be held in Adelaide in May.
The event was supported and organised by the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and the NSW Stud Merino Breeders’ Association.
Woolgrower Ben Watts, the co-organiser of the event with Matthew Coddington said the number of schools and students that were interested in the event surpassed their expectations this year.
“It was great to have more schools than ever participating in hands-on activities and join up to the program,” Mr Watts said.
“The school students ranged from years 9 to 12 and came from right across NSW.”
Kandos High School agriculture teacher Kim White said the Dubbo Wether Challenge was one of the main sheep events in Australia for high school aged students to get involved in.
Kandos High School joined the program last year and the school now has two teams that participate at the event.
“The students had limited knowledge of sheep before joining the program. There isn’t as many opportunities to get involved in sheep as there are in cattle and the Dubbo Wether Challenge has definitely sparked great interest among our students,” Kim said.
Using the knowledge that they acquired at the Dubbo Wether Challenge Education Day, the students will train the wethers for the show ring and teach them to lead, as well as use the nutritional knowledge they learnt on the day to put weight and muscle on their sheep so they are in the best condition.
This experience will help equip the students with the knowledge required to compete well in the National Merino Challenge. Kim said the event was a great networking day where students could make friends and connections throughout the sheep industry.
“There was a great positive atmosphere on the day and the kids are excited to get back to school and prepare for the National Merino Challenge,” Kim said.