Young people passionate about the sheep and wool industry can now apply for the prestigious 2016 Peter Westblade Scholarship.
Entering its fifth year, the scholarship provides cash and in-kind support worth up to $10000 during a 12-month period.
Open to young people aged 18 to 30, the scholarship honours the late Peter Westblade, a Lockhart sheep producer passionate about breeding profitable sheep.
The strength of candidates was so strong in 2015 that two joint winners were announced from a field of 29 finalists.
The first recipient, Casey Annetts, studies a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management at Wagga Wagga and heard about the scholarship when industry professionals shared a link on social media.
‘‘I applied for the scholarship to show that someone from a non-farming background can achieve things in the sheep industry, to share my passion for sheep and to stimulate an interest among younger people in the industry,’’ she said.
Second recipient Jayden Harris is principal of the Brimanna Poll Merino stud in Yeelana, South Australia, selling around 60 rams a year at his on-property sale.
He runs 700 ewes and aims to produce dual-purpose rams in the 19-21 micron range to give clients an opportunity to turn off wether lambs.
‘‘I applied for the scholarship to explore new technology to make the sheep industry more efficient, such as electronic identification, walk-over weighing, juvenile in-vitro fertilisation and improvements in AI programs,’’ he said.
Co-ordinator Sally Martin said the scholarship aimed to deliver hands-on experience to young people aspiring for a career in the sheep and wool industry.
‘‘It provides practical education and mentoring for young participants, while promoting, demonstrating and adopting new technologies within the sheep and wool industry,’’ Ms Martin said.
The 2016 recipient will receive mentoring from industry leaders, involvement in the industry’s largest commercial genetic trial, practical training, travel opportunities, resource books, and the opportunity to develop wider networks of key industry contacts.
■Applications for the 2016 Peter Westblade Scholarship are now open and will close on January 2 with the recipient announced at a dinner in Wagga Wagga, NSW, on March 2.