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Peter Westblade Scholarship encourages the younger generation

Now in its eleventh year, the Peter Westblade Scholarship delivers practical, hands-on training and mentoring to young people pursuing a career in the sheep and wool industry.

As one of the sponsors of the Peter Westblade Scholarship, AWI is supporting the next generation of leaders in the Australian sheep and wool industry. The Scholarship aims to identify, train and develop young people aged 18 to 30 who are enthusiastic about the industry and want to make a difference.

Established in 2010, the annual scholarship honours the late Peter Westblade, the Lockhart sheep producer who was passionate about breeding profitable sheep and was a strong supporter of young people interested in agriculture.

The winners of the 2023 scholarship, announced at the Peter Westblade Scholarship Ball at Wagga Wagga in June, are Gabbie Horton (24) and Georgia McMaster (25).

Originally from Tasmania, Gabbie is currently working as farm manager for Monmot Farming at Stockyard Hill in Victoria where she is managing a 3,000 head, non-mulesed Merino ewe flock.

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Young participants learning from industry leaders at the Peter Westblade Wyvern Training Weekend in February.

“I am continuously amazed by the generosity and support that industry members have shown me throughout my time working with sheep and wool,” Gabbie said. “The culture of mentorship is something that we are incredibly lucky to have within our ag community, and with the attitude that there is room for everyone to succeed, the sheep and wool industry will continue to grow and prosper.”

Georgia is originally from Goondiwindi in Queensland and is a veterinarian working for Central West Genetics near Dubbo, NSW.

“I am always hungry for any opportunity to work with other young people and improve myself,” Georgia said. “I have a strong family history within the industry which I am very proud of – and I resonate with the morals and values the sheep and wool industry strive for.”

The scholarship provides practical training and mentoring from industry innovators and leaders, and the ability to develop a wider network of key contacts in the industry. The scholarship also provides opportunities to be involved in projects to promote new technologies within the sheep and wool industry.

Chairman of the Peter Westblade Scholarship Committee, Ben Patrick, was the scholarship winner back in 2014, which he says allowed him to expand his knowledge of Merino breeding operations.

“The 12-month scholarship opened many doors and I developed a strong network within the sheep and wool industry, which I still call upon today. The opportunity to learn from the best in the industry is invaluable to a young person starting out,” he said.

Wyvern training weekend

A key element of the Peter Westblade Scholarship program is the annual training weekend, established to encourage, educate and mentor young enthusiasts with practical training for the sheep and wool industry.

The training is held at the state-of-the-art facilities of Wyvern Station, a 50,000-hectare property owned by T.A. Field Estates at Carrathool in the Riverina of NSW. T.A. Field Estates has been a long-term supporter of the Peter Westblade Scholarship and generously hosted the event again in 2023 which was attended by 38 keen youngsters aged 18 to 30.

The weekend in February consisted of hands-on workshops and mentoring sessions to improve the participants’ skill sets and build their industry networks. While the individual attendees gained a lot from the weekend, the benefits will also flow through to their employers and the wider industry.

There were 17 leading industry professionals, in addition to previous Peter Westblade Scholarship winners and committee members, in attendance to pass on their invaluable knowledge to the next generation. Topics covered included sheep selection, stockmanship, business skills, animal health assessments, professional development and wool marketing.

More information: www.pwscholarship.com.au

 

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

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