Something for everyone

The SA Sheep Expo offers valuable learning experiences for every young person aged between 12 and 23 who is at all interested in the sheep industry, whatever their experience.

With three age groups (senior, intermediate and junior), plus a buddy system where seniors oversee and assist the youngest group members, a valuable and hands on learning environment is created.

With a fresh program each year, industry experts are assembled on a multitude of sheep industry subject areas to explain important aspects for future success, but another huge benefit is the networking opportunities available, with both experts and peers.

This latter aspect was emphasised as a huge benefit by three of last year’s participants, one from each age group, and all with previous sheep industry experiences.

Junior participant Harrison Wall, aged 12 and from Braidwood, NSW whose family run a 200 ewe White Suffolk stud, said, “I really enjoyed last year’s SA Sheep Expo.”

“Everyone was friendly and there were kids from all over the country who were great to hang out with. I am really looking forward to catching up with them all at this year’s Expo,” he said.

At the other end of the age spectrum is Royce Pitchford, a senior last year from Echunga has been involved with sheep since he was 12 and started his own Corriedale stud when just 14 years old.

Royce said, “I found the networking between students of great benefit; getting to learn more about the sheep operations of others and to build a network of industry contacts.”

Intermediate group member, Jack Walker from Lucindale, where his family runs 2000 commercial ewes mainly for prime lamb production said, “The highlights for me from last year’s program were the new people I got to meet, along with the interesting lessons I participated in.”

“I found these so beneficial and enjoyable because I got to network with industry workers and learn many new things that I can apply on the family farm.”

For Harrison, sessions on artificial insemination, drafting and yard handling techniques were his highlight subject areas.

“I didn’t know much about artificial insemination as we simply put the rams in with the ewes, and the drafting and yard handling sessions gave me some good ideas on how we could improve our yards at home,” Harrison said.

Jack Walker’s highlights were much broader based, saying he gained valuable information and learnt many new things across all subject areas.

“Overall, I would rate my Expo experience highly because of all the skills I have learnt and the new people I have met,” he said.

Royce Pitchford, who has had widespread industry experience said, “Having been to other events such as the National Merino Challenge, I had already experienced a lot of the content before, but I still found the Expo great as it covered and reinforced a lot of valuable information and was an enjoyable few days.”

“However, the topics such as low stress stock handling and dog training were highlights as I hadn’t covered them before,” he said.

The longer-term objective of the Expo is to give the sheep industry’s youth more exposure to valuable learning experiences to enhance their base knowledge for a sheep industry career, or to open up doors so that such a career becomes a probability rather than a remote possibility.

Royce Pitchford has already taken that step, having finished University last year with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and now has a job with Rural Directions in Clare as one of their consultants, assisting farm businesses in ways to increase productivity and profitability.

“The Expo, along with other extra-curricular activities certainly helped me gain the necessary experience to achieve this position,” he said.

While the new job constraints will probably restrict Royce’s participation in this year’s Expo, he said, “I would certainly recommend the Expo to others, especially those who don’t know that much about the sheep industry.”

Jack Walker said he was looking to pursue a career in the industry, possibly as a shearer or stock agent.

“I believe the Expo has helped me; and will continue to assist me in pursuit of a sheep industry career because of the skills I have learnt as well as the networking I have achieved. I would recommend the Expo to others who want a career in the industry, or are just interested in livestock,” he said.

Harrison Wall has many years ahead of him yet before he has to decide on a particular career path, but his Expo experience has already had him focussing on possibilities.

“I really enjoy design and machinery, so I am hoping I can combine these two interests to assist Australian farmers, plus I’m hoping to continue to be involved in the family’s White Suffolk stud.

“I definitely recommend the Expo to others, especially the practical hands-on sessions. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed hanging out with other kids interested in sheep,” Harrison said.

With such a wide range of sheep industry subjects there is something for everyone at the SA Sheep Expo. There is also the opportunity to apply for any of the four scholarships being offered by the Expo’s highly valued sponsors.

The theme for this year’s Expo at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds from the 18th to 20th April, is “The Year of the Ram.”

If you want to gain valuable experiences like Harrison, Jack and Royce did last year, to find out more, or to register, simply go to the SA Sheep Expo website.

Harrison Wall, Braidwood, NSW learning first-hand about laparoscopic artificial insemination at the SA Sheep Expo last year, this being one of his highlight sessions. He is looking forward to catching up with many of them again this year.

Jack Walker, Lucindale thoroughly enjoyed his SA Sheep Expo experience last year and highly recommends it anyone with an interest in the sheep industry. Here he is giving his assessment on the qualities of the 4 sheep in one of the educational and hands on sessions.

Royce Pitchford has taken the transition from a senior age group participant into a career with Rural Directions at Clare. He recommends the Expo to all young people with an interest, especially those who do not have that much experience.