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Shear Delight - Shearing School Politically Impressive

Our Wool Works Shearing School that is held at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI),  Glen Innes Agricultural Research and Advisory Station, introduces high school students to the skills of shearing and wool handling. It provides an avenue for the young people in our region to be shown that they are and will be valued, by helping them to get the relevant skills that enhance career paths and address our regional skills needs.

When Deputy Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. John Barilaro and Agriculture Minister, the Hon. Adam Marshall visited the Wool Works Shearing School last month, their reaction was one of shear delight, and they recognised it as a measure of inspiration that the industry needs.

“This is fantastic! This school is about introducing young people to the skill of shearing and a possible future in agriculture,” Mr. Barilaro said. “I saw kids here who were smiling, they were engaged and they wanted to be there. I think this particular program, with all the stakeholders coming together, has touched on something that gives us hope for the future of agriculture and our kids in the bush.”

Mr. Barilaro commended the approach of inspiring young students by giving them practical rural skills early on. “If you plant a seed early, you can nurture their interest and see it grow. This is really hands-on; they can see, hear, smell, feel, experience and respect the shearing and wool handling skills in the shearing shed. We know skills like these are being lost in agriculture across regional NSW but this a great way to inspire the next generation and we might just see some of these teenagers catch the bug and stick with it,” he said.

As Agriculture Minister and Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall also praised the Wool Works Shearing School, after both politicians had rolled up their sleeves and had a go. “Look, it is tremendous. I came for the first time in 2018 and thought that this is such a wonderful initiative and I wanted the Deputy Premier to see it. I don’t think this is being done anywhere else. Even if only one or two of these high school students go on to work in the sheep industry, shearing, then it’s been successful.”

“It was great to see the number of girls turn up. That is reflective of the trend in agriculture, generally. Women are playing an increasingly important role in our agricultural industries and I think that is brilliant,” Mr. Marshall said.

The visit followed their announcement of $1.25M. in funding for a revamp of the Glen Innes Livestock Selling facility, the first grant from the $170M State Government Instructure Projects fund, designed to stimulate regional economies impacted by the drought.

The June 2019 Wool works Shearing School was attended by three students from Glen Innes, three from O’Connor Catholic College in Armidale and 18 from Inverell’s Macintyre High School. Thanks to Australian Wool Innovation, experienced shearers Ross Thompson and Leo Fittler instructed and supervised. Experienced TAFE Trainers, Pauline Smith and Kim Jenkins showed what working the shearing shed floor entails. When the Deputy Premier was aware of the fundraising efforts of the students from Macintyre High, who have been selling raffle tickets so they can travel to Bendigo, Victoria to compete in the National Sheep Show, he opened his cheque-book and announced a donation of $5,000.

Three more Shearing Schools are planned for 2019, with one locked in for October. Interested high school teachers or students from year 9 to 11 can contact our office on 67710700 or rdani@rdani.org.au.

The Wool Works Shearing School is possible through collaboration between RDANI, NSW DPI, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), TAFE New England, Glen Innes Severn Council, GLENRAC, Prime Super and Heiniger. Sheep were supplied by John Newsome of Elders Glen Innes.

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