Joint winners have been announced for the sheep and wool industry’s prestigious Peter Westblade scholarship.
Young sheep industry professionals Harrison Mulquiny and Rachael Gawne were chosen from a field of applicants from NSW, Victoria and Queensland by a panel of industry judges.
Now entering its sixth year, the scholarship will provide opportunities and in-kind support worth up to $10000 over 12 months.
The winners will benefit from practical skills training, mentoring and the establishment of industry networks.
Rachael Gawne, 22, has an Animal Science degree from Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, and aspires to empowering producers to make management decisions to benefit flocks and increase returns.
She works part-time with Temora wool broking firm, Moses and Son, and with sheep industry consultant Sally Martin.
‘‘I have been helping with the research projects, and that can range from drenching to working in the shearing shed,’’ she said.
‘‘I do intend to apply for an internship in the future and enjoy working with Marty Moses and Sally Martin — they are so full of knowledge and eager to help young people.
‘‘I am not off a farm but have always had a love for agriculture and when I discovered the sheep industry, that was for me.’’
Harrison Mulquiny, 21, from Wooroonook in Victoria’s north-west, is interested in how different Merino bloodlines perform in varying environmental conditions.
Mr Mulquiny works on the family farm and helps manage the 500-strong Merino commercial ewe flock, with a micron average of 19.5 and average fleece weight of 5.5kg.
‘‘This will give me the opportunity to travel and network with industry members, and investigate new technology on pedigree tracking and genetics,’’ he said.
‘‘I like to get the best out of our sheep and am always striving for a better animal.
‘‘I aim to breed productive, easy-care Merinos with a high fleece weight and lower micron.’’
Scholarship chairman Craig Wilson said the committee faced a difficult decision in deciding the 2017 recipients.
‘‘The applicants were all outstanding as a whole,’’ Mr Wilson said.
The scholarship honours the late Peter Westblade, a Lockhart sheep producer passionate about breeding profitable sheep, and a supporter of young people interested in agriculture.