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Over 80 students partake at AWI National Merino Challenge
May '14
More than 80 students from 13 schools, colleges, universities and TAFEs from across South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria came together in Melbourne for the 2014 National Merino Challenge (NMC) over the weekend.
An Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) initiative, the NMC involves presentations and demonstrations from industry professionals, allowing young people to develop their industry knowledge, skills and networks. Students participated in seven ‘mini-challenges’ across two days, testing their knowledge of Merino fleece, production and breeding and selection principles.
The mini challenges were: 
1. AWEX Typing 
2. Wool Valuing 
3. Visual Score Assessment
4. Condition Scoring
5. Nutrition & Feed Budgeting
6. Ewe Selection
7. Ram Selection
Techniques from several well-known industry initiatives, such as MerinoSelect, Lifetime Ewe Management, Bredwell Fedwell and Visual Sheep Scoring were used throughout the NMC, giving students a realistic and practical insight into the tools available to woolgrowers to make more informed decisions.
Competition was strong in both the secondary and tertiary divisions, with Nicola Wright from Cummins Area School in South Australia winning the secondary school division and Jordan Hoban from Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga NSW gaining the edge on her tertiary peers.
“The NMC was a really valuable experience, but the activity I got the most out of was the ewe and ram selection, as it was interesting to select animals based on a specific breeding objective which had been tailored to different enterprises. Winning the NMC was a great feeling, and I feel as though my ambition of making a career in the livestock production industry is now more real as a result of participating in the NMC this weekend,” Tertiary Champion, Jordan Hoban said.
A highlight of the program was the National Merino Challenge Industry Dinner, held on Saturday night at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV), and attended by over 150 people. Students enjoyed the opportunity to spend an evening with a range of wool industry participants, from woolgrowers to wool brokers and researchers.
AWI would like to thank the 2014 NMC volunteers and sponsors for their generous support – Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, Australian Wool Network, Future Farmers Network, Bralca and Dyson Jones. Their donation of time, expertise and sheep for the event made NMC 2014 possible.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited

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