‘Experience of a lifetime’ — WA College of Agriculture - Harvey students proud to win Future Breeders comp

Email Shannon Verhagen
WA College of Agriculture students Blake Johnston, 16, Jack Byrne, 16, Kimberley Mannion, 17, Breanna Macdonald, 17, Sarah Woods, 16, and Alyssa Rijkers, 16, stand proud with their shield for winning the AWI Future Sheep Breeders competition.
Camera IconWA College of Agriculture students Blake Johnston, 16, Jack Byrne, 16, Kimberley Mannion, 17, Breanna Macdonald, 17, Sarah Woods, 16, and Alyssa Rijkers, 16, stand proud with their shield for winning the AWI Future Sheep Breeders competition.

The young guns at the WA College of Agriculture — Harvey have called their podium finish at the Perth Royal Show’s Australian Wool Innovation Future Breeders' Challenge the “experience of a lifetime”.

The team of six — guided by the school’s head of sheep Steve Adams — have spent the past six months meticulously tending to six wethers ahead of the Statewide competition.

The animals were selected from Gnowangerup’s Barloo Stud back in February, where each of the State’s seven agricultural colleges attended to get their animals.

A team from each college was then required to care for their six sheep until the Perth Royal Show in September, where they bring their best four for judging.

Preparation, presentation and handling of the wethers by the teams is judged, as well as the structure of the animal, and once shorn, the wool measurements, yield and classing.

The points from each section were tallied into two final categories — preparation and measurement — with the team from Harvey taking out both.

WA College of Agriculture students Blake Johnston, 16, Jack Byrne, 16, Kimberley Mannion, 17, Breanna Macdonald, 17, Sarah Woods, 16, and Alyssa Rijkers, 16, and head of sheep Steve Adams stand proud with their shield for winning the AWI Future Sheep Breeders competition.
Camera IconWA College of Agriculture students Blake Johnston, 16, Jack Byrne, 16, Kimberley Mannion, 17, Breanna Macdonald, 17, Sarah Woods, 16, and Alyssa Rijkers, 16, and head of sheep Steve Adams stand proud with their shield for winning the AWI Future Sheep Breeders competition.

It was a proud moment for former Kukerin sheep farmer Mr Adams.

“I’m actually pretty stoked, I’m really really happy,” he said.

“It’s just wonderful for the kids to experience something like this — it makes your job worthwhile.”

The win takes the shield from the Great Southern to the South West, after the WA College of Agriculture — Denmark won the competition back-to-back in the previous two years.

This year’s competition also marked the return to its origins, with teams last year travelling to WA College of Agriculture — Narrogin for the Royal Agricultural Society of WA event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The team of six Harvey students — from both farming and metropolitan backgrounds — undertook weekly checks of the animals to ensure they were gaining weight and their health was maintained.

They said they were “proud” to have got the win for their school and were thankful to Mr Adams, as well as everyone involved in the competition.

Student Sarah Woods, 16, said the win meant a lot to them all and they loved standing up together to receive the award.

“We know how important it is to (Mr Adams), to us and to our school as well,” she said. “We have a lot of support from everyone at the college so we just wanted to do them proud.”

“We’ve learnt so much, all of the older shearers have given us tips, everyone’s supportive.”

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