The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
A journalist, a PhD student, a budding auctioneer and a qualified wool classer.
The latest crop of talented Art4Agriculture Wool Young Farming Champions (YFC) prove variety is the key to engaging the next generation.
Sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation, these young people are a living proof that there is nothing boring or conventional about the future of their industry.
Former television news journalist, Victorian-born Bessie Blore has been farming in far west NSW with her husband for two years. Approaching agriculture with fresh eyes, she admits to learning on the run.
Her number one lesson?
“There is really no such thing as a stupid question or action,” she said. “That’s the only way you can learn about something you know nothing about. Ask, ask, ask. And give a big cheeky grin when you make a mistake, say sorry, and move on.”
“There is room for fresh blood in our farming future, and there are new, inspiring, exciting stories to be started from today,” Bessie said.
A thirst for learning and a passion for sheep took city-girl Jo Newton to Armidale in NSW to study agriculture.
Photo Matt Cawood
Now studying a PHD focusing on the environmental and genetic factors influencing early reproductive performance in sheep, Jo proves that studying agriculture can lead to a world of opportunities and she shares her story at any opportunity.
“As important a job as farming is, there are many different jobs in our sector,” she said. “That’s something many people don’t fully understand.”
“I am proud of the agricultural sector and my small role in it and am happy to share my story with as many of city friends as I can.”
Rounding out this year’s YFC’s are Cassie Baile, a fifth generation sheep farmer from Bendemeer in the New England region of NSW and Adele Offley from Crookwell in NSW.
Twenty-two-year-old, Cassie now lives and works in Sydney, employed by Elders as a wool technical support officer at Yennora Wool Selling centre.
Qualified Wool Classer Adele has a lifelong passion for wool stemming from the fascination of watching the sheep being shorn and the wool sorted in the shearing shed growing up on the family farm.
Dr Jane Littlejohn, Head of On-Farm RD&E at Australian Wool Innovation agreed that the wool industry is in good hands.
“AWI is proud of the achievements of the younger generation and believe that their stories will inspire other young people about the wool industry and its opportunities,” she said.
“The industry needs young advocates who are passionate and can relate to students. AWI is delighted to be involved again in the Young Farming Champion program for 2013.”
Young Farming Champions will start visiting the 42 schools participating in the 2013 “Archibull Prize” in coming days.
The 2013 Wool Young Farming Champions caught up with Wool YFC 2011 Melissa Henry at the recent workshop at NSW Farmers
Want to connect with our Wool Young Farming Champions
Todays guest post is by 2011 Young Farming Champion Melissa Henry who is crazy about wool and her flock of sheep and living and working in rural and regional Australia
This is Melissa’s story
I’m Melissa Henry from Boorowa in South West NSW.
I’m a Young Farming Champion representing the sheep and wool industry. I’m not from a farming background, I grew up in the Hawkesbury District of Western Sydney.
My ram “Mr Wright” – Grand Champion Ram Royal Canberra Show 2013
My first introduction to agriculture was at high school showing sheep and beef cattle and I loved it! Agriculture has opened more doors for me than I ever knew existed. I have been very fortunate to travel and look at the diversity of agriculture both in Australia and overseas. I’ve seen farming systems in Canada (Quebec and Alberta), South Africa and New Zealand.
I completed a Bachelor of Animal Science (Hons) at the University of Western Sydney (Hawkesbury) and a Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Consulting at the University of New England.
At home I have my own flock of naturally coloured Corriedales which is very much a niche market. I established Quebon Coloured Sheep in 2004 which gave me the opportunity to learn first hand what it takes to be a farmer – even if it is at a small scale.
Quebon Coloured Sheep, Boorowa NSW
My fleeces are sold to hand-spinners and textile artists. My wool colours range from light to dark grey, fawn to chocolate. My ram and ewe lambs are sold to other breeders of coloured sheep, and the wether lambs are sold into the meat market.
There are so many people out there who are willing to help you learn – joining a breed or show association is a great starting point
No matter what size your flock is – the management requirements are the same
I wear another hat and that is Catchment Officer for the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority. My role is to deliver natural resource management projects, such as revegetation, waterway protection and farm planning to farmer and rural landholders in the Boorowa and Upper Lachlan region. I also work with community groups such as Landcare and the local fishing club to run local events and field days. The most rewarding part of the job is to work with farmers to achieve their production and sustainability goals by helping them along the way with matched federal and state funding. This funding assists with on-farm works such as fencing and tree planting as well as formal and in-formal training opportunities.
Best part of the job – Boorowa NSW
As a Young Farming Champion going into Sydney schools for the Archibull Prize and talking with others in the city community, a common question I am asked is “what is it like to like in a country town?”
Melissa with students from St Michael’s Catholic School in Baulkham Hills
I have found there are a lot of negative misconceptions in the city about what life in a rural community is like.
I love the open spaces, the quiet, the birds, seeing wildlife almost daily, recognising people when you walk down the street, watching the weather fronts as they move across the landscape.
I admire the values of country people: genuine, friendly, open, family focussed, dedicated, innovative, passionate about what they do and their communities.
I am inspired by the community spirit, particularly in times of extreme weather events such as floods and fire. Individuals pull together at the drop of a hat to help others in need, from moving stock to making sure that there is food in the fridge.
Jo Newton, Bessie Blore, Melissa Henry, Adele Offley and Cassie Baile
This year I am excited to have the opportunity to visit rural schools in both my hometown of Boorowa as well as Junee. You can visit the Boorowa Central School blog here
Meeting with the Junee High Art4Agriculture Archibull team – what a fantastic group that are so keen to share the positive story of sheep and wool.
Our Australian sheep and wool producers hold a special place in my heart. They care for some of our most diverse farming landscapes and our scarce natural resources. They also underpin our wonderful rural communities like Boorowa. It is an honour to be able to utilize my project management and communication skills to support sustainability within rural businesses and ensure our sheep and wool producers have a profitable future.
Melissa and her oldest ewe ‘Baabra’
I am also very grateful for the opportunity to live in a location where I can fulfil my passion – owning a small sheep stud. I am also grateful for the lifestyle that I am now living. I have previously blogged about why I love Life in a country townhere
And this winter when you are putting your scarf on, think of me and my girls.
My name is Cassie Baile and I am a fifth generation sheep farmer from Bendemeer which is a village of 485 people on the Macdonald River in the New England region of New South Wales.
The road to Bendemeer
I am 22 years old and lucky enough to have grown up on a farm with the wide open spaces of paddocks and the familiar surroundings of horses, dogs and sheep
I have many fond memories of running around in the shearing shed, helping to draft, drench and watching the shearing. We always had few pet/poddy lambs at the house after lambing. It was a great joy to care for them and watch them grow into sheep.
One of my most memorable recollections was heading with Dad to check on and/or muster the sheep. I would have been happy to do this every day, 365 days of the year. It is all the wonderful memories and farm life experience that have fuelled my passion for agriculture and in particular the Wool Industry.
Following my successful selection for an Elders Traineeship in May last year, I have been provided with on-going support and training from my mentors and the Elders team and this has allowed me to progress to my career pathway in the Wool industry.
I now live and work in Sydney, for Elders as a Wool Technical Support Officer at the Yennora Wool Selling Centre. I really love my work and look forward to each day, as there is always something happening.
That’s me in the middle at the Yennora Wool Centre
My Elders Traineeship has given me incredible exposure to the many and varied facets of the Wool Industry including
Ram Sales and Bull Sales, on property and regional sales
Attending sales both on property and regionally, has enabled me to gain extensive knowledge and skills, interact with clients, improve upon my networking skills and also learn how to process sales and complete buyer registrations.
Throughout the past 11 months, I have travelled the state to towns including Newcastle, Dubbo, Cooma and Walcha. Each of these have been a great opportunity to learn more about Ram and Ewe selection, wool characteristics and selling options and also to meet and interact with existing and potential clients.
This year, I was also fortunate enough to attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show to network with sheep breeders and take in all that the Sheep and Wool pavilions had to offer. The Sydney Royal was a great experience, which enable me to see some of the highest quality sheep and wool from all over the country on display.
Farmer Interaction and Networking opportunities
Meeting dedicated and committed wool growing families is an inspiration to me as I know it is to the wool industry and wider community.
My job with Elders allows me to travel meet and network with farmers in either a hands on way through face to face meetings such as attending on-farm shearings and assisting with ram selection at Studs and over the phone conversations. I particularly enjoy meeting and speaking with wool growers at events like the Newcastle Wool Sales and Industry Functions. The positive atmosphere at each of these functions is amazing, with like-minded farmers and employees able to interact in a friendly and supportive environment and build upon as well as share their own knowledge of the wool industry.
It has certainly helped build my confidence and enabled me to become a more outgoing person.
Elders team at Newcastle Client Night 2013
Most recently, I have begun auctioneering at the weekly Sydney Wool Sales. This has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn the new skill of being a Wool Auctioneer and also to improve my communication skills.
Me Auctioneering with Craig Brennan, Yennora Wool Technical Manager
Presentation is very important when you are trusted to sell a client’s wool clip. They are trusting you, as their broker and auctioneer, with their annual income and therefore it is very important to know the client and their product well. Its is very important to present the clip and yourself well, to achieve the best possible price for your client and their product. I also help to prepare for the weekly sale through firstly the lotting of the client’s wool specification, the valuing of the samples located on the show floor and by interacting with buyers in order to gain an idea of how the market may perform that week and over coming weeks, depending on supply and demand at that time. The opportunity to become an auctioneer has been another, very exciting step facilitated by the help and training provided by my trusted mentors within Elders and the industry. Each week I challenge myself to improve my previous weeks’ performance and believe with the amount of support of my mentors, lots of practice and commitment, I have the potential to become a highly valued Wool Auctioneer in years to come.
The Wooltrade selling system is an internet-based system trading 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Wooltrade provides woolgrowers with an alternative marketing system for their wool that is complementary to the traditional auction system. The very nature of the Wooltrade system has opened up the Australian wool market across all states, allowing buyers to purchase wool nationally rather than just regionally.
Wooltrade is based on computer technology, but it is also a managed system providing personal support to assist users. The technology used by Wooltrade enables ease of access for buyers who are able to cost-effectively and efficiently buy wool and secure future supply. Source http://www.wooltrade.com.au/
I have been involved with all of these processes, including selecting suitable lots of wool and listing them for sale on the computer system. These systems assist in both the marketing and selling of wool clips, and help woolgrowers have the flexibility to optimise prices for their wool clip and potentially avoid market volatility and the vagaries of prices on traditional sale days. See footnote
The wool industry has a proud history and plays a pivotal role in providing high quality fibre and clothing to countries all around the world.
My career in the Wool industry is allowing me to surround myself with inspirational people who are generously giving their time to mentor me. It is opening so many doors and I am committed to giving back by sharing my story with next generation and hopefully inspire other young people to join me and ensure a bright future for the Australian wool industry
About 85% of wool sold in Australia is sold by open cry auction. ‘Sale by sample’ is a method in which a mechanical claw takes a sample from each bale in a line or lot of wool. These grab samples are bulked, objectively measured, and a sample of not less than 2 kg is displayed in a box for the buyer to examine. The Australian Wool Exchange conducts sales primarily in Sydney, Melbourne, and Fremantle. There are about 80 brokers and agents throughout Australia
About 7% of Australian wool is sold by private treaty on farms or to local wool-handling facilities. This option gives wool growers benefit from reduced transport, warehousing, and selling costs. This method is preferred for small lots or mixed butts in order to make savings on reclassing and testing.
About 5% of Australian wool is sold over the internet on an electronic offer board. This option gives wool growers the ability to set firm price targets, reoffer passed-in wool and offer lots to the market quickly and efficiently. This method works well for tested lots, as buyers use these results to make a purchase. About 97% of wool is sold without sample inspection; however, as of December 2009, 59% of wool listed had been passed in from auction.] Growers through certain brokers can allocate their wool to a sale and at what price their wool will be reserved.
Sale by tender can achieve considerable cost savings on wool clips large enough to make it worthwhile for potential buyers to submit tenders. Some marketing firms sell wool on a consignment basis, obtaining a fixed percentage as commission.
Forward selling: Some buyers offer a secure price for forward delivery of wool based on estimated measurements or the results of previous clips. Prices are quoted at current market rates and are locked in for the season. Premiums and discounts are added to cover variations in micron, yield, tensile strength, etc., which are confirmed by actual test results when available.
Another method of selling wool includes sales direct to wool mills.