Sheep Expo – Registrations now open!
By Ian Turner
The bold and long overdue step to instigate the SA Sheep Expo in 2016 has proven to be a real winning move, with great support over the first 2 years and registrations now open for the 2018 Expo.
To again be staged at the Royal Adelaide Showground from April 18th to 20th, this fantastic event caters for anyone aged from 12 to 23 years who has any interest in sheep and the wider industry.
Even though Australia owes so much of its success over the last two centuries to the sheep industry, providing sheep industry targeted educational opportunities and encouragement for our country’s youth has been somewhat lagging in the past.
Based on the highly successful SA Junior Heifer Expo, the SA interactive three-day Sheep Expo has a fresh and stimulating program each year; this year’s theme being “The year of the Ram”. Topics to be covered under this theme at the 2018 Expo include Wool (on and off farm), Sheep Assessment and Handling, Commercial Ram Selection, Nutrition, Marketing, Reproductive Technology, Genomics, Farmers’ Challenge, Breed Options and Industry Careers and Pathways.
Participants compete in age groups to maximise learning outcomes: Juniors (12-14 years), Intermediates (15-17 years) and Seniors (18 -23 years), with many major incentives for the young sheep enthusiasts to aim for.
The major prize is again a study tour to New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud and many sheep! Last year’s winner of this major award was Tess Runting from Victoria.
“The Expo is unique and a very valuable experience that anyone with an interest in sheep is lucky to have available to them,” Tess said.
“I loved learning from the many industry professionals, exploring more deeply into the world of sheep, making heaps of new friends and mostly being granted opportunities and challenges that really only come along once in a lifetime,” Tess added.
Previous experience in the sheep industry is not a requirement; just an interest will suffice. For example, Rina Haraguchi, a Melbourne University student who was born in Japan and having moved to Australia when 12 years old, only had very limited experience with farm animals on work experience and placements through school and university. She emphatically rated her 2017 Expo experience as 10/10!
“The experience gained in handling sheep and meeting new people with a similar mindset was a highlight as they were new experiences for me; things you don’t often get an opportunity to learn at University.”
As a result of her 2017 Expo experience Rina is now considering taking a course in wool classing sometime this year.
“Last year’s exposure to this definitely helped in that I now have a basic understanding of how to class wool and have developed a desire to learn more about it,” Rina said.
“I would highly recommend the Expo to others and stress that you don’t have to come from a farming background or be an expert in sheep. You get to learn about everything and there is no judgement on those wanting to learn!”
As a junior level participant but with more sheep industry experience gained from her family property at Spalding where sheep are run for both wool and meat, Nikita Morgan is just as effusive about her Expo experiences.
“I have loved my time at the Expo over the last two years and would one hundred percent recommend this to all. It is a great experience for everyone,” Nikita said.
“Segments on pregnancy testing and training dogs were the highlights for me last year as it greatly increased my knowledge in something I would like to do in my career, but we also got exposure to many other subject areas.
“It has got better each year and I am very excited about this year’s event,” Nikita said.
Besides the education bursaries and many other incentive prizes for each age group, there are also four significant scholarship opportunities open to applicants this year. More information is now available, and registrations can now be completed on-line on the SA Sheep Expo website; (www.sasheepexpo.com.au).
Last year’s major prize winner, Tess Runting, Victoria with the Polwarth wether she had to work with during last year’s Expo. She believes the Expo granted her opportunities and challenges that really only come along once in a lifetime.
Melbourne University student, Rina Haraguchi entered last year’s Expo with very limited sheep experience but is enthused through the wonderful opportunities it presented.
Junior participant Nikita Morgan, Spalding concentrating during one of the numerous subject and participation segments during last year’s Expo. She recommends it to everyone.