Chloe Dutschke is immersing herself in the world of wool

Young Farming Champion Chloe Dutschke who was recently named the joint winner of the 2019 Peter Westblade Scholarship along with Brett Stockings of Dubbo is certainly becoming a dynamo in the wool industry.

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Picture taken by Forbes Corby

After completing a Bachelor of Animal Science at the University of Adelaide in 2014 Chloe began her career in wool as a jillaroo in the Flinders Ranges. Today she is a contract musterer working anywhere from southern NSW to northern SA but, along the way, Chloe has taken every opportunity to immerse herself in the world of wool. For example, in 2016 Flinders Merino, a South Australian woolgrowers group, sent Chloe to Hong Kong to learn all about the wool supply chain. So it should come as no surprise that Chloe was amongst the six finalists for this year’s Peter Westblade Scholarship.

“The scholarship has a strong focus on young people and offers a large range of networking opportunities which I was drawn to,” Chloe says. “I self-nominated but was also nominated by David Rankin, manager of Tupra Station in NSW. I feel he nominated me because he can see the need to encourage and guide young people in agriculture and has seen first-hand the passion and dedication I have to the sheep and wool industry.”

For Chloe the win is not only recognition for her own dedication but recognition and thanks to people who have assisted her career and become her mentors. People such as David Rankin, Plant a Seed for Safety founder Alex Thomas, Peter Westblade committee members Georgie McGuiness and Craig Wilson, and our very own Picture You in Agriculture director Lynne Strong.

“I believe those who inspire you, giving you their time and leadership, are mentors. I try to surround myself with those types of people and hope to one day be a mentor for someone else.”

The Peter Westblade Scholarship comes with a $10,000 bursary, which Chloe is using to attend conferences such as MerinoLink, LambEx and EvokeAg, and to extend her corporate networks in order to promote her visions for the wool industry.

One of those visions is The Pastoral Network.

“I have developed The Pastoral Network for the pastoral areas of northern South Australia,” Chloe says. “I see it as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to share industry and community events and information, jobs, topical articles and general information.”

So committed is Chloe to her project that she has entered the ABC Trailblazer competition.

“I am hoping that being selected as an ABC Trailblazer means I can further develop this shared information idea into a website for other agricultural areas to use across South Australia and nationally as well.”

Congratulations on all you have achieved and all you aspire to Chloe. You are a credit to the wool industry and Australian agriculture.

 

Meet our new 2019 Wool Young Farming Champions

Picture You in Agriculture, in conjunction with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), is pleased to announce Tom Squires from Tasmania and Matt Cumming from New South Wales as the 2019 Wool Young Farming Champions. Young Farming Champions is a program that identifies youth ambassadors and future influencers working within agriculture who promote positive images and perceptions of farming.

Tom Squires grew up around sheep in Tasmania, owned his first mob by age sixteen, completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce in New Zealand and is now living his dream job as a shearer and a farmer. “There’s an incredible feeling of excitement as you hear sheep hooves trotting down the ramp into your stockyards, knowing they’re your sheep” he says. “But the true thrill comes when you stencil your name onto your first bale of wool. There’s that sense of achievement in seeing a fleece being packed into a bale, knowing someone will benefit from what you produced.” Tom wants consumers to understand the entire wool supply chain and to realise the true pride farmers have for their produce. “It’s a long road to this destination but I want to be a part of the change: One voice, one education, one person at a time.”

Matt Cumming owns and operates a shearing contracting business in Inverell in northern NSW, a one-stop shop for all shearing needs from mustering to wool pressing. He employees a core team of six under the age of thirty, and encourages them to reach for the stars. “I am very proud of my team for their workmanship and the pride they take in their work. I especially enjoy the moment when they reach personal milestones, which enables them build confidence in themselves and their work,” he says. Matt and his team compete in shearing and wool handling competitions and believe Australia’s reputation for high quality wool demands a high quality shearing and wool clip preparation. “I have been mentored by many Australian and World Champions and it is important I pass on my knowledge and experiences and continue to be an advocate for professional standards within the sheep and wool industry.”

Tom and Matt will participate in the Young Farming Champions leadership development program, a two-year package of support including media training, networking and mentorship opportunities to help them share their stories with the nation. In the first twelve months they will attend two immersion workshops and in their second year will visit schools as part of The Archibull Prize to raise awareness of the wool industry and the diversity of agricultural careers

Graduates of the Young Farming Champions Program include 2017 Young Australian of the Year finalist Anika Molesworth and 2018 AFR 100 Women of Influence Dr Jo Newton.

Read Matt’s story here

Read Tom’s story here

Welcome to the team Matt and Tom

#YouthinAg #WearWool #LoveWool #YouthVoices19

Meet Shearing Contractor Matt Cumming who was destined to work in the wool industry

Today’s guest post comes from shearing contractor Matt Cumming

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Hi, I am Matt Cumming and I am a 27 year old shearing contractor from Northern New South Wales based in Inverell. One of my favourite earliest memories is of going to work with my grandfather, being keen to take part in the action, sliding down the sheep chute at any given chance.  

I am a 5th generation shearer, who took a chance when I was 23 and started my own contract shearing run.  We work throughout northern New South Wales and south western Queensland.

I was always destined to work in the wool and sheep industry, despite my mum’s best encouragement to finish year 12 and complete my apprenticeship, as a boiler maker/metal fabricator which I started as a school based apprentice.  I went shearing full time when I was 20 and three years later CMAT Contracting was born.

CMAT Contracting offers a full contract shearing service, wool press and labour hire. It is important to me to offer a full contract shearing service, from mustering, drenching, lamb marking through to rolling out the last bale of wool for the season.  I am very proud of my core team of six, all aged under thirty, for their workmanship and the pride they take in their work.   Each member is able to work individually and as part of a team, which results in a happy client.  I especially enjoy the moment when they reach personal milestones, which enables them build confidence in themselves and their work.

CMAT Contracting employees, Ewan Winter and Nick Cumming, recording their personal best daily number shorn at Guyra, in the New England region, NSW.

I am passionate about the wool industry and competition shearing and wool handling events, who for me go hand in hand. I not only sponsor and compete in these events myself, but I also encourage my team to do so as well.  Competition is important to raise the bar within our industry, as it encourages mentoring from the older, more seasoned professionals to the up and coming, and those considering entering the industry.  Australia has produced world champion shearers and wool handlers, who showcase the professional quality within our shearing sheds.

Matt Cumming and Heidi Anderson (CMAT Contracting Wool Classer) competing at the Sapphire Sports Shear, Inverell 2019

I take pride in my small contribution within the Australian Wool Industry, as Australian wool has the reputation of being a high quality product, and as such it demands a high quality shearing and wool clip preparation.  I have been mentored by many Australian and World Champions and made some great friends along the way. It is important that the information I have had the privilege to learn and the experiences I have had, I pass on and continue to be an advocate for professional standards within the sheep and wool industry. I encourage all to try our industry, as it can be very rewarding!!

#YouthinAg #YouthVoices19 #StrongerTogether

Tom Squires inspiring pride in Australian farmers, one voice, one education,one person at a time

Our guest blog post comes from shearer and passionate wool industry advocate Tom Squires

 

This is Tom’s story …………

The sun sets over the wooden stockyards as the last sheep runs out the gate to join the freshly shorn flock. Tools are packed up and goodbyes are said before leaving the old tin shed and heading home. Another successful day.

Hi, I’m Tom Squires. I’m a 23-year-old shearer, born and bred on the coast of Tasmania. I grew up on a 600 acre sheep property which my family ran in-between other jobs. It was here I found my passion for agriculture. When I was young my teachers at school asked, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘A shearer’ I said. So, you could now say I’m living my childhood dream.

At 16, my father let be buy my very own mob of sheep. 10 merino ewes and 1 merino ram. I remember the stress of thinking ‘what if the wool price somehow managed to get lower than what it already was’. The thought disappeared when I shore them for the first time. The smell of lanoline in the air and the fleeces floating onto the table. It was that moment I realized there’s more to farming than money. There’s that sense of achievement in seeing a fleece being packed into a bale, knowing someone will benefit from what you produced.

 

After year 12, I worked in shearing sheds. It was a brilliant opportunity to travel to other farming operations and gain skills in the wool industry. However, I wanted to grow my knowledge in agriculture. So, I flew to New Zealand and undertook a 3-year, Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce degree at Lincoln University. The depth of knowledge in Agriculture and how broad the industry is, took my breath away. Yet, in some ways I think this is an issue in itself. If someone who has lived in the industry all their life still gets blown away by how much there is to learn, imagine the thought of the people who do not know the industry. The only answer is education and I want to help.

Since University, I’ve returned to Tasmania. Whilst I got accepted for an interview from the Ruralco Graduate program, I declined the offer. A great opportunity but not one for me. Instead, I took up the handpiece and returned to shearing. Not long after returning, an opportunity to lease some land arose. I pounced on it like a hungry dog. Now to buy sheep.

There’s an incredible feeling of excitement as you hear sheep hoofs trotting down the ramp into your stockyards, knowing they’re your sheep. But the true thrill comes when you stencil your name onto your first bale of wool. I slept with a huge smile on my face that night.

The agricultural industry needs to develop in a way which makes consumers aware of the whole process and to realize the true pride farmers get from what they produce. It’s a long road to this destination but I want to be a part of the change. One voice, one education, one person at a time.

“Success is not necessarily a single, awe-inspiring victory. Small, bite-sized victories are just as valuable as the major milestones that you set out to achieve.” John Sanei

#YouthVoices19 #YouthinAg #StrongerTogether

Here’s a good yarn -we’re raising the baa

For the second year in a row Wool Producers Australia is conducting their Raising the Baa Leadership Program, and for the second year in a row our Young Farming Champions are right in the spotlight.

The leadership course has two components, the first of which is the Youth Ambassador role. “The Youth Ambassador position exposes people aged 18 -35 years to policy within Wool Producers and gives them the opportunity to learn and understand the policy cycle and how a board works so they understand how many decisions that affect the wool industry are handled by Wool Producers,” Wool Producers Australia President, Mr Ed Storey says.

Dione Howard was the inaugural Wool Producers Youth Ambassador in 2018 and part of her role was to attend Wool Producers’ board meetings. “I had very little experience with policy prior to the Youth Ambassador role,” Dione says. “It has opened up a whole new world in the agricultural space and I feel that I now have a much clearer idea of how decisions are made that affect farmers and people like myself as a veterinarian.”

In 2019 Wool Producers has nominated two Youth Ambassadors, one of who is Sam Wan

” I saw this as an opportunity to gain insight into the organisation and actively learn in the role,  have a strong interest in learning the intricacies of identifying needs and key stages for policy development and to gain a working understanding of industry governance, achieving objectives and driving improvement within the bounds of shareholders, regulators and the wider community. I see an understanding of the processes behind regulations being able to positively impact my role and scope as a wool broker and day to day dealings with wool growers.” say Sam

There is no denying Sam’s enthusiasm for sharing the wool story far and wide as this video of her engaging with students at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show Primary School Preview Day shows

Dione will be continuing the program in 2019 with its second component – a fully-funded Company Directors Course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

“The Company Directors Course is a fantastic opportunity for future leaders from all sectors of the wool industry to develop and refine their leadership skills for positions on industry Boards,” Ed says. “The skills are very important to ensure good governance and leadership is understood before people contribute to a Board.”

“It is an awesome opportunity to finish the Wool Producers Youth Ambassadorship with the AICD Company Directors Course,I believe it will assist me to take the next step in my leadership journey. I have been fortunate enough to receive the benefit of immersive workshops through the Young Farming Champions program sponsored by AWI and these have enabled me to develop my skills for delivering outcomes for the wool industry on the ground, in schools and at industry events. I believe that by completing the Company Directors course I will expand my skill set to be able to deliver for the wool industry from a governance perspective.” ” Dione says.

Can you guess what our Woollies are up to for Woolmark’s Wool Week

The Woolmark Company’s Wool Week runs from May 20 to 26, championing the best wool and wool-rich apparel and home textiles in time for winter. So with all this woolly attention we wanted to know what our Wool Young Farming Champions were up to for Wool Week.

For Sam Wan wool has taken her around Australia and around the world. This time last year she was in Hong Kong as part of the International Wool Textile Organisation’s (IWTO) Young Professionals Program and this week she flies off to Italy for a study tour in conjunction with her Elders Employee of the Year 2018 award. But before she jumps on a plane this is what Sam is doing for wool:

  • Preparing for this (and next) week’s wool sale
  • Zooming in with the Western Sydney University team who are participating in this weekend’s National Merino Challenge
  • Organising presentations for her three Archibull Schools – Irrawang High School, Northern Beaches Secondary College and Burwood Girls High School
  • Attending an interview with WoolProducers for their Wool Ambassador Program
  • Wool sale day on Thursday
  • Promoting wool everyday through her blog: Wool for Every Day

Phew! This girl really loves her wool.

But Sam in not our only woolly.  Another YFC gearing up for a year of spreading the wool love into schools with The Archibull Prize is Lucy Collingridge. This week Lucy is organising google hang-outs and school visits for Greystanes High School and St Johns Park High School. That’s in her spare time. At work as a biosecurity officer with Local Land Services Lucy will be meeting with a wild dog baiting group to help wool producers to sustainably improve on-farm productivity and profitability.

YFC Peta Bradley lives and works in Armidale and will be wearing wool, especially as the temperatures start to drop. Around her neck will be her favourite Merino Wool Scarf, which is a divine blend of wool and possum fur. On the weekend she will be stewarding in the wool shed at the Dubbo Show and as that means standing around on concrete floors she will have Woolmark woollen socks on her feet. During her working week with Merinolink Peta will be assisting wool producers breed the best sheep.

YFC Bessie Thomas from Burragan Station in western NSW is recovering from last week when she took on the position of shearer’s cook at Burragan, where pulled lamb and gravy rolls were on the menu (along with quiche, fruit and chocolate muffins). According to Bessie the lamb and gravy pan was nearly licked clean! Not that life is going to slow down for Bessie – there are still 5000 merinos who need crutching and plenty of ewes to be pregnancy tested. Then Bessie needs to prepare for her own school visit with The Archibull Prize to Hurlstone Agricultural High School.

Showing our woollies come from all backgrounds we have YFC Chloe Dutschke who hails from the wine regions of South Australia and who is this week mustering sheep around the Hay plains. She is moving ewes to sheltered paddocks in preparation for lambing and classing young rams. YFC Adele Offley was born and raised on a sheep property near Crookwell on the southern highlands and today wool is still in her blood. She will be spending wool week working with wool growers in her job as a wool technical officer. And she is promoting this fabulous fibre across social media.

Dr Danila Marini is enjoying a Pint of Science , a global event that began in the United Kingdom six years ago, featuring University of New England’s scientists talking about their latest research and findings.

YFC Dione Howard is a woolly working as a veterinarian with Local Land Services and on a daily basis conducts disease investigations for wool producers. But adding to Wool Week, in her position as WoolProducers Youth Ambassador, she will be travelling to Melbourne to attend the Animal Health and Welfare Advisory Committee and the WoolProducers board meeting.

Wow. It may be Woolmark’s Wool Week with an emphasis on fashion but our woolly YFCs are all contributing to ensuring this remarkable fibre is grown in the best of conditions on the happiest of sheep, and sharing their stories in schools and across social media.

Our favourite woolimation

Happy Wool Week Woollies.

#LoveWool #WearWool #Thisflockinglyfe

 

Applications are now open for a new flock of Wool Young Farming Champions

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Picture You in Agriculture in conjunction with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), is seeking applications from early career professionals in the Australian wool industry to join the prestigious Young Farming Champions program. The Young Farming Champions (YFC) are identified youth ambassadors and future influencers working within the agriculture sector who promote positive images and perceptions of farming.

Young people aged under 30 who currently work in the wool industry are invited to apply for the leadership development program. Successful applicants will receive an incredible two-year package of support including media training, networking and mentorship opportunities to help them share their stories with the nation.

In Year One, participants will attend three, two-day immersion workshops and The Archibull Prize Awards Ceremony. In Year Two of the program, participants visit schools as part of The Archibull Prize to raise awareness of the wool industry and the diversity of agricultural careers.

Wool broker, Samantha Wan, is a graduate of the AWI Young Farming Champions program and credits it with taking her career to new levels. Using skills developed during the program and as an alumna, Sam has the confidence to present at conferences such as the Australian Sheep and Wool Show and has been accepted into the International Wool Textile Organisation’s (IWTO) Young Professionals Program. In 2018, Sam was named the Elders Employee of the Year.

Sam continues her association with the Young Farming Champions by mentoring students participating in The Archibull Prize.

Sam Wan

Other graduates of the Young Farming Champions Program include 2015 Young Australian Farmer of the Year and 2018 Young Australian of the Year Finalist, Anika Molesworth

Anika Molesworth Facebook post

2018 Australian Financial Review Women of Influence Alumna, Dr. Jo Newton also started her Young Farming Champions journey with the support of Australian Wool Innovation

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2018 Australian Innovation Farmer of the Year, Dan Fox has also benefited from being part of the Young Farming Champions network

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Through the ongoing support of AWI, costs are covered for the wool YFC participants including travel, accommodation, meals, workshop resources and mentoring. Expressions of interest for the 2019 AWI Young Farming Champions program can be made by contacting Picture You in Agriculture Program Director, Lynne Strong, at lynnestrong@pyia.com.au