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AWEX EMI 1107 -
Micron 17 1610 -2
Micron 18 1454 -11
Micron 19 1357 -4
Micron 20 1301 +3
Micron 21 1284 +8
Micron 22 1281n +6
Micron 26 551n -13
Micron 28 368 -17
Micron 30 333 -7
Micron 32 290n +2
MCar 677 -13

In another AWI initiative to attract and retain wool harvesting staff, a new Wool Ambassadors Program has been rolled out in all states across the country. The young shearing and wool handling ambassadors are tasked with promoting the wool harvesting industry at school and college workshops, shearing competitions and in the media.

The state-based ambassadors in the program are positive role models for the wool harvesting industry, thereby helping to attract a quality workforce, raise wool harvesting standards and improve the culture in shearing sheds.

The program is an extension of the training initiative that has been run for several years in South Australia and Victoria by SCAA Shearer Woolhandler Training Inc (SWTI) with support from AWI. The new program has seen wool harvesting ambassadors introduced into New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania as well as in South Australia and Victoria. They are selected annually by expert shearer and wool handler trainers.

AWI National Manager, Wool Harvesting Training & Careers Development, Craig French, says the ambassadors have been selected as role models in the industry.

“They have been chosen due to their leadership qualities, outstanding talent and potential to excel, and their high standard of presentation and conduct in shearing sheds and also out of hours,” Craig said.

“They are mostly second- and third-year entrants to the wool industry, are team players, have a great work ethic, and have a willingness to learn and better themselves.

“As ambassadors for the wool industry, they will visit school and college workshops and industry events to highlight the successes and benefits of the working in the industry – and will be able to demonstrate to students a range of career pathways. During the year, they will also compete in a minimum of three Sports Shear competitions in their state.”

Each state team of ambassadors is provided with clothing and personal mentoring from AWI or SWTI trainers; the shearer ambassadors are also provided with shearing equipment from Heiniger.

The ambassadors will receive from AWI a trip to New Zealand to compete at the Golden Shears and attend the pre shears course.

South Australia

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The 2023/24 South Australian ambassadors Ethan Tomney (shearer, Cleve), Hayley Brown (wool handler, Mannum) and Dylan Birmingham Lowe (shearer, Mannum) being presented with their awards at the Adelaide Show by AWI Chairman Jock Laurie, also pictured with Heiniger’s Rick Chilcott and SWTI’s Paul Oster and Glenn Haynes. The awards were presented in front of the crowd of young people at the South Australian School Merino Wethers Competition at which the ambassadors did the wool harvesting. This year’s South Australian program is a joint industry effort between SCAA SWTI, AWI, Heiniger, Prime Super, and Shearing World.

Victoria

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The 2023/24 Victorian ambassadors Megan Etherton (wool handler, Bendigo), Jack King (shearer, Kaniva) and Joseph Knoll (shearer, Wimmera), pictured here with AWI Victoria Industry Relations Officer Holly Byrne (left) and SWTI trainer Sam Mackrill (right). This year’s Victorian program is a joint industry effort between SCAA SWTI, AWI, Heiniger, Fox & Lillie, and Shearing World.

New South Wales

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The New South Wales ambassadors of Jalen Ballard (2022, shearer, Cootamundra), Tess Woods (2023, shearer, Parkes), Charlie Baker (2023, wool handler, Armidale), Brent Hickey (2022, shearer, Yass) and Will Maguire (2023, shearer, Leeton). The ambassadors are pictured at the New South Wales School Merino Wether Challenge in Dubbo. This year’s New South Wales program is a joint industry effort between AWI, Heiniger, and NSW WoolTag.

Western Australia

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PHOTO: Bob Garnant

The Western Australia ambassadors Ethan Gellatly (shearer, Boyup Brook) and Ethan Harder (shearer, Bruce Rock) being presented with their awards at the Perth Royal Show in September, pictured with AWI WA Industry Relations Officer Jodie King, WA WoolTAG Committee chair Chris Patmore, WA Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer, Heiniger’s Todd Wegner, and AWI National Manager, Wool Harvesting Training & Careers Development, Craig French. Ethan Harder won the open shearing title at the Perth Royal Show (see opposite) while Ethan Gellatly came second in the intermediate competition. This year’s WA program is a joint industry effort between AWI, WA WoolTAG, WA Shearing Industry Association, Heiniger, and Westcoast Wool.

Tasmania

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The 2023 Tasmanian ambassadors are Cally Spangler (wool handler, Brighton), Emily Spencer (shearer, Perth (Tas)) and Tom Pitchford (shearer, Flinders Island). They are pictured here with trainers Steve Rigby (far left), Petrisse Leckie (second right) and AWI Industry Relations Officer Shannon Donoghue (far right). The program this year is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Primary Employers Tasmania, SCAA SWTI, AWI, Heiniger, IO Merino and Next Level Elite Mentoring.

Queensland

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The 2023 Queensland ambassadors are all from the fantastic Schoff family of Chinchilla: Grace Schoff (shearer), Alexander (Slim) Schoff (wool handler) and Karl Schoff (shearer). They are pictured here in October at the National Shearing and Wool Handling Championships, at which Grace won intermediate shearing title, Alexander won the open wool handling title and Karl won the novice shearing title.

 

Gun shearer and role model Ethan Harder

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Ethan Harder after winning the open shearing title at this year’s Perth Royal Show, pictured here with Luke Harding (2nd), Richard Sturis (3rd), Damien Boyle (4th), Mark Buscumb (5th) and James Kirkpatrick (6th).

Western Australian Ethan Harder is not just a great ambassador for the wool harvesting industry, he is a gun shearer that broke a world shearing record and also won the top shearing title at the Perth Royal Show – all in the space of six days in September.

On the day that Ethan Harder was presented with the WA Wool Harvesting Ambassador Award (see above), he also beat a host of very talented WA shearers to win the open shearing title at this year’s Perth Royal Show. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the top gun shearer had six days previously broken the world record for shearing Merino lambs in eight hours, shearing 624 Merino lambs and exceeding the previous record by 20.

That’s three exceptional achievements for the talented 24-year-old from Bruce Rock.

Ethan attributes his success to surrounding himself with good, positive people.

In addition to being inspired by his partner Regina and young daughter Leilah, Ethan credits his parents Paul (Boof) and Suzie who run Harder Shearing Contractors based in Bruce Rock, plus his brother Gauge, friends and workmates.

Ethan discovered his love for shearing as a child, thanks to his parents, and pursued it with unrelenting passion. Growing up in the shearing shed, he spent countless hours learning a great deal from his father. At the age of just seven, Ethan shore 100 Merino lambs in a day for the first time, followed by 200 at the age of 12, 300 at the age of 14, 400 at the age of 16, 500 at the age of 17, 600 at the age of 18 and 700 at the age of 19.

His parents’ guidance, encouragement and support have played a significant role in shaping him into the person he is today. Ethan says he learned from his father the old-school ways of being compassionate, generous and respectful, as well as the importance of hard work. Equally, his mother has had a profound influence on him – Suzie is a former school teacher who successfully balanced homeschooling her sons along with her career as a shearing contractor and a wool classer.

For the world shearing record in September, Ethan and his support team are very appreciative of farmers Stephen and Binda Schulz from ‘Woolakabin’ in Williams for their warm welcome, invaluable assistance, and generous provision of access to their shearing shed, brand-new sheep yards and other facilities, and especially their meticulous care and attention to detail in preparing the sheep. Thanks also go to shearing contractors Mark and Sarah Buscumb of Crackers Contracting, who worked hard to make the record attempt a success.

With his love for shearing, his successful career, and his appreciation of teamwork, Ethan is the ideal person to be involved with the Wool Ambassadors Program, where he can be a role model and inspire others to join the wool harvesting industry and excel as he himself has done.

This article appeared in the December 2023 edition of AWI’s Beyond the Bale magazine. Reproduction of the article is encouraged.

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