Meet Wool Producer Katherine Bain who loves the magic of white wool from red soil

As part of our series on Young Women in Wool meet today’s guest blogger Katherine Bain

Growing up surrounded by agricultural history has instilled in me a passion to ensure agriculture, and particularly wool, is a valued industry for the future.

I am a 6th generation farmer. Old family photos and the physical remains of my ancestors’ homes have shown me how important this land has been to people, and has helped me decide I want my career to be in agriculture.

Shearing time at home is always an important time of the year, with most events and holidays being discussed as pre-shearing or post-shearing. In my early days, I would often be found shadowing dad as he filled pens up with woolly sheep, and I would then count them out freshly shorn. Living on very red soil I always thought this colour transition from red to white in the sheep quite magical. At smoko time, I would often run off and have a quick nap in the wool bins before getting back on the bike to bring in the next mob.

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I’ve never been one to hang back and watch from the sidelines so whenever an opportunity presents itself I take it with two hands. I’ve always been Dad’s right-hand woman on the farm but when I was 14 I became more invested in agriculture when, after much discussion, we bought 50 Coopworth ewes and a ram and I started the St Enochs Coopworth Stud. The Coopworth is renowned for its maternal instinct and high weaning percentage (not so much its wool), which were the genetics the farm was missing at the time.

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Delving into the world of sheep genetics was very new to my father and me but it opened my eyes to the wider world of agriculture. It’s not all just driving around paddocks, drenching and shearing. Since founding the stud I’ve been able to expand my knowledge of the sheep industry by attending sheep judging workshops (where I learnt what to look for in terms of sheep confirmation) and volunteering at ram sales.

It wasn’t until 2012, when I did a Rotary Exchange year to Japan, that I really began to understand the global interest in Australian wool. My time in Japan was fascinating. I found a society with similar technology to Australia, but with a strong sense of tradition and appreciation for quality. Wool clothing is a staple in their wardrobes – they wear it almost daily and value its warmth and comfort.

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As a girl from an Australian sheep farm the Japanese people were excited to speak to me about wool and learn about what I did on the farm. It was a great conversation starter. I learned what our Japanese consumers value in the end-product and so came to understand the importance of ensuring our Australian products meet consumer expectation.

Since Japan I have worked hard to understand the different facets of the wool industry. I have worked with a wool brokerage firm to gain insight into how wool is traded on the global market, seen the scouring process and toured the Australian Wool Testing Authority, and completed my wool classing certificate so I can work in sheds, which I feel is a great grounding for a career in the wool industry. Heading into my second year at Marcus Oldham College I am directing my study towards a career in commodity trading with my main interest being in wool.

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I am excited to be a part of the rapidly expanding and evolving wool industry. It allows me to pursue my passion, gain knowledge and share my experiences of Australian wool production on a global level.

Meet Deanna Johnston the rookie wool producer

If daycare consists of riding shotgun with Dad in the tractor when sowing and harvesting; sleeping in the tender wool bin during shearing time then this has been the best start to my rural career. Hi I’m Deanna Johnston and I’m a rookie farmer.

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I had already started shearing, doing the long-blow on our Coolalee rams before I was going to primary school. My Dad worked as a shearing contractor before settling back down to the farm. Dad had always had an interest in sheep, especially Merinos and he began to get more serious about the sheep enterprise on the farm in the year 2000. We turned to the SRS strain of Merinos and started breeding dual purpose merinos. After the recent big wet we currently have 2000 breeding ewes with 500 with lambs at foot.

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The next step to continue my agriculture career pathway was Yanco Agricultural High School. Right from year seven I was part of the sheep showstock team which led to an introduction to the McCaughey White Suffolk stud where we started to implement Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer into the breeding program.

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I completed my Certificate IV in Woolclassing and Certificate II in Shearing by the age of 16 Since then, shearing competitions and wool handling competitions have become my weekend hobby. In March this year I came out in fourth position in the State Final Fleece judging competition in Sydney.

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More recently I competed at Culcairn Shearing and Woolhandling competition where I was awarded the Phillip Memorial Trophy in recognition of my shearing expertise.

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These competitions  help refine skills and emphasise the importance of the smaller details taught in the TAFE Certificates. You also meet other young people who share your passion for the wool and sheep industry.

In 2014 I was runner up in the National Young Guns competition at LambEX in Adelaide which was attended by over 1000 people. This competition consisted of writing an essay on the topic: “attracting young people into the prime lamb industry “and creating a poster to go with it as well as giving a speech on the topic.  The competition is judged on the essay, poster, speech and the answers to the questions posed by the judges. This was an incredible experience for me. I met many industry leaders, producers, overseas producers and professors who had the same passion: the future of agriculture not only in Australia but in the world.

2016 was also an exciting year for me. My school team won the Champion Secondary School at the 2016 Australian Wool Innovation National Merino Challenge in Sydney and I was  third overall in the Secondary school division.

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The competition attracted over 140 participants from WA, SA, VIC and NSW. Students competed in six activities relevant to Merino Sheep production, including visual scoring of sheep, condition scoring, use of Australian Sheep Breeding Values in ram and ewe selection, wool typing and valuing and feed budgeting. We also attended the Industry Dinner, where we networked with Wool Industry Professionals, university students and other secondary students.

Australian Wool Innovation manager of woolgrower extension and adoption Emily King said the NMC had grown rapidly since its inception because it met the demands of a new generation.

“There is a strong wave of young people coming through who are increasingly enthusiastic about the wool industry. These are the young minds that will take the industry forward with new ideas and new leadership. It’s exciting to see and great to be involved.”

With the end of my HSC year nearing I have been fortunate enough to have to have met some amazing industry professionals including Dr. Jim Watt, Errol Brumpton (OAM) and Charlie Massey (PhD). When I finish school my ambitions is to have a gap year and work in shearing sheds or on a Merino sheep property and then study a double degree in Agriculture and Business at the University of New England in Armidale with a long term view to come back on the farm and take over our sheep enterprise (I haven’t told Dad yet I might tell him about this a bit later).

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Daycare gave me a great passion for the wool industry and a dream to be part of it. I am a dedicated to promoting the sheep and wool industry in the community and as an exciting career. Young people are the future of a successful wool industry through the whole chain from the sheep’s back to yours. The future is exciting and I am lucky I will be a part of it along with many other young and enthusiastic people.

Expressions of Interest Open for 2017 Wool Young Farming Champions

 

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There is strong evident the Young Farming Champions program is having a positive effect on agriculture  

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is calling for expressions of interest from young people in agriculture to apply for a place as a Wool Young Farming Champion in the 2017 Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions program.

Art4Agriculture and AWI are recruiting Young Farming Champions who:

  • Are passionate about the Australian Wool industry;
  • Want to share stories with urban Australians to improve understanding of sustainable food and fibre production, and in turn improve their own understanding of urban consumers;
  • Are interested in being trained to speak confidently and charismatically to school students, the public and peers;
  • Want to become part of a network of vibrant, young rural people who are encouraging consumers to value, be proud of and support the Australian farmers who feed and clothe them.
  • Are aged between 19 and 35 years

If you believe you have the potential to be the face of the Australian wool industry in schools AWI would like to invite you to submit your Expression of Interest to be a 2017 Wool Young Farming Champion

Contact Lynne Strong for EOI requirements.

E: lynnestrong@art4agriculture.com.au

M: 0407 740 446

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2016 Wool Young Farming Champion Chloe Dutschke talks about what she has taken away from participating the YFC workshops 

ABOUT THE YOUNG FARMING CHAMPIONS PROGRAM

The Young Farming Champions (YFC) are identified youth ambassadors and future influencers working within the agriculture sector. The YFC promote positive images and perceptions of farming and engage in activities and innovative programs under the Art4Agriculture banner, such as The Archibull Prize. The YFC demonstrate passion for their industry, while providing real life examples to young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Because they are young they can relate to students and are adept at breaking down stereotypes of farming and agricultural careers.

Taking part in the YFC program involves undertaking two mandatory weekend Sydney based workshops, under the mentorship of some of Australia’s finest communication, marketing and professional development experts.

The program’s focus is developing confident, independent, reflective thinkers who can share their story and their personal experiences, while voicing their own opinions about agricultural issues in their industry and more broadly.

The program equips and prepares the participants for that often very daunting experience of standing up to be counted, even in difficult circumstances. The YFC leadership development model is providing the rock-solid foundation and pivotal stepping stones as part of a journey to lead agriculture’s next generation.

Through these workshops and the program’s lifetime mentorship opportunities, the YFC are also equipped with unique insights into all aspects of the agricultural supply chain as well as consumer attitudes and trends.

Being a YFC also comes with the opportunity to be part of The Archibull Prize, one of Australia’s most exciting school programs connecting agriculture and students. The YFC take their own agricultural stories into the classroom and mentor students and staff as they complete their Archibull research.

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Wool Young Farming Champion Dione Howard visited Hurlstone Agricultural High School in 2016 as part of The Archibull Prize  

Please note

To qualify for the program applicants must be actively involved in the Australian Wool Industry

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Wool Young Farming Champions are changing the way consumers think about natural fibres 

To see what the Young Farming Champions have been up to in 2016 read the annual report here

Meet Deanna Johnston proud rookie farmer

Today’s guest blog post comes from Deanna Johnston who is very proud to be a rookie farmer.

Another great story from the inspiring new generation of farmers

With my Kelpie pup I trained

If day care consists of riding shotgun with Dad in the tractor when sowing and harvesting; sleeping in the tender wool bin during shearing time then this has been the best start to my rural career. Hi I’m Deanna Johnston and I’m a rookie farmer.

Our breeding ewes with their lambs

I had already started shearing, doing the long-blow on our Coolalee rams before I was going to primary school. My Dad worked as a shearing contractor before settling back down to the farm which gave him invaluable insights as to how  other farmers run successful farm. Dad had always had an interest in sheep, especially Merinos and he began to get more serious about the sheep enterprise on the farm in the year 2000. We turned to the SRS strain of Merinos and started breeding for a purpose – dual purpose merinos. Currently we are experiencing an  extended dry period  and are grazing  2000 breeder ewes with another  800 little mouths in the feedlot.

After primary school the next step for me to broaden my knowledge  and an early start to my career calling to the agricultural industry was to attend Yanco Agricultural High School. Right from year seven I was part of the sheep show team in which I was able to become part of the McCaughey White Suffolk stud where we started to implement Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer into the breeding program.

Supreme Ewe at Holbrook

Completing my Certificate IV in Woolclassing and Certificate II in Shearing by the age of 16 proved to me that this was the industry I wanted to be part of. Since then, shearing competitions and wool handling competitions have become my weekend hobby.

Competiting in Fleece Judging

In March this year I came out in fourth position in the State Final Fleece judging competition in Sydney. These competitions are great for refining the skills that are taught in TAFE Certificates. An added bonus is you meet other young people with the same passion for the wool and sheep industry.

4th in State Final Fleece Judging

In 2014 I was runner up the National Young Guns competition at LambEX in Adelaide which over 1000 people attended. This competition involves writing an essay on the topic: “attracting young people into the prime lamb industry” and creating a poster to go with it. When in Adelaide I had to speak on my topic, answers questions posed by the judges who also adjudicated on the essay, poster and speech component. This was an incredible experience for me as I met many industry leaders, local and overseas producers and scientists and academics who all had the same passion: the future of agriculture  in Australia and the the world.

The PETA campaign against the shearing industry was released while I was attending the LambEX conference. It hit me hard as I was very disappointed that industry my family was part of was being portrayed in this negative light   This made me even more determined to share the positive stories far and wide about the wool industry I love and the farmers I know who care deeply about their animals.

Shearing competition at Yanco (1st place)

Having been lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by the sheep and wool industry I know it has a lot of offer. I want to share this message with other young people who haven’t had the same opportunities. The Australian wool industry provides thousands of jobs both in Australia and overseas. No matter where your interests lie, the wool industry has a career path suited to you. Careers in the wool industry can be divided into two main areas — on-farm and off-farm. By attracting young people into the sheep and wool industry, it will only grow and become more successful, not only focusing on the producing side but through the whole chain from paddock to plate and in this case clothing.

With the end of my HSC year nearing I have been fortunate enough at my age to have to have met some amazing industry professionals including Dr. Jim Watt and Errol Brumpton (OAM). When I finish school my ambitions are to study a double degree in Agriculture and Business at the University of New England in Armidale with the prospects that I will come back on the farm and take over the sheep enterprise (I haven’t told Dad yet I might tell him about this a bit later).

So how I spent day care wasn’t so bad at all as it left me with a great passion and a dream. Being in this agricultural industry is where I want to stay as the world is going to become more reliant on what the industry can offer. The future is exciting and I am lucky I will be a part of it along with many other young and enthusiastic people.

Breaking news – The 2016 National Merino Challenge results are in and Deanna has taken out 3rd palace in the secondary school division and her school Yanco Agricultural High School have won Champion Team

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Well done Deanna and Yanco

Meet Chloe Dutschke who found her calling on a sheep station in South Australia

Today we welcome guest blogger Chloe Dutschke a young girl who loves her job working on a sheep station in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Chloe is committed to showing the world that there are career pathways in the wool industry that welcome creative individuals with a diversity of knowledge.

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Hi Guys, my name is Chloe Dutschke and I’m 22 years old. I sometimes wish I was raised on a family farm, but truthfully I’m a country girl who grew up on 8 acres in The Clare Valley wine region of South Australia. Growing up we had an assortment of pets including chickens, sheep and of course horses, but my favourite was our pet pig Sid. I have always had a love for animals (yes I’m the soppy kind who cries in the movie Red Dog) which has led me on an amazing journey, and got me a job that I love, on a sheep station in the Southern Flinders Ranges, SA, developing my newly discovered passion for wool production.

My story starts on a family friend’s white Suffolk stud in the Riverland, SA. My sisters and I spent many weekends in the ute checking on the sheep, especially at lambing time. I loved driving through the mallee scrub, watching the ewes feeding small white lambs, and seeing their happy little tails wiggling while drinking. I soon turned from the passenger to driver, and on visits from Clare, would zoom through the sand dunes rounding up the sheep or catching lambs for marking. Ram sales were another favourite.

Merino Ram Sale

Merino Rams Sale Source 

I’d spend all day watching the farmers choose their bids and cross check their programs as the next ram entered the ring. Listening to the auctioneers chaotic spiel, engaging the crowd and seeing them pick up on the smallest flick of a card was always exciting and would send me into a panic each time I raised my hand to shoo a fly, scared that I’d make a bid!

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Lamb marking

It was in year 7 that I started to develop my interest in agriculture. I loved ag class and only doing a semester each year was not ideal, but I worked really hard and enjoyed every moment of being out in the veggie garden, cleaning out the pig eco shelter or feeding the layer chicks. The highlight for me was definitely attending the Royal Adelaide Show. Every year Clare High School takes goats and steers to the show and participates in the led and carcass competitions; this is highly competitive amongst students and the best fun! I was a part of the goat team in year 10 and the steers in year 11.

Clare High School at Adelaide ShowI loved every moment of being a part of this team; it was a great way to learn responsibility around animals and obviously got you 4 free days at the Royal Adelaide Show. By year 11 I had decided I was going to study Animal Science at university and had to give up my beloved ag class to pursue my prerequisites of maths, chemistry and biology. What a drag those subjects were, but it all payed off ,and in 2012 I packed my bags and moved to Adelaide to start my Bachelor of Animal Science at The University of Adelaide.

When I started university I had a real passion for wildlife. I wanted to be a zoo keeper that saved endangered animals. Throughout university, my passion for wildlife took a back seat as I developed more of an interest for livestock production. I studied a mixed bag of subjects including nutrition, welfare and ethics, anatomy, health, genetics, reproduction, livestock and many more. Whilst each subject opened new thoughts to what I could do in the agriculture industry, I could never quite make up my mind, about which area I would like to pursue as a career.

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Wool of a sheep in Indonesia

My last year of university was the best by far; I participated in The Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition, where I was part of the team that came 4th in the placings category. We competed against other universities in Australia as well as international teams such as America, Indonesia and Korea. This was a great week long program where I learnt so much about consumers and got a real idea for what I could do in this industry. In November I was also lucky enough to go to Indonesia for a 2 week study trip, primarily looking at the live export industry. We visited feedlots, abattoirs, community projects, and The Bogor Agricultural University as well as many other interesting places. Going to Indonesia helped me understand the live export industry and it really hit home the amount of consumer misconceptions within the Australian public. For me, I went to Indonesia with my own unrealistic views of the industry and it has been worthwhile to see the industry first-hand and now be able to generate my own opinions and views on the topic.

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Throwing a fleece

Fresh out of university and still unsure of exactly what career path I wanted to take, I successfully landed a job on a sheep station north east of Orroroo, SA. My first day on the job was on January 5th 2015, I was thrown straight into shearing and crutching, the busiest times for a sheep producer. I was asked to roust-a-bout, and was well and truly in over my head trying to throw fleeces, skirt and press. As I stood at the table skirting the wool, running my fingers along the fleece, I really began to appreciate the wondrous fibre that wool is. I love the feel of wool between my fingers and how each fleece can differ in length, micron, colour and strength between breeds and even ages of sheep. It’s amazing to think that a burr covered sheep which has been grazing only on pastoral land can produce such a soft clean fleece. Since my first day I have been furthering my knowledge about wool and how to breed and grow sheep to produce the best wool possible. I’m not really sure where I‘m heading in this industry, whether I would like to become a wool classer or continue on stations, but the opportunities are endless and eventually I know I’ll find the right fit for me. For now I am super excited to develop my passion and continue to educate myself as much as possible about this remarkable fibre that many generations have developed before me.

Check out this great from Farm to Fashion video and like Chloe you will be fascinated by wool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Dagwood Dogs and Prize Dahlias, Sheep Shearing and cattle judging the local show movement is still at fever pitch in Crookwell

I have spent most of my time at local shows either showing cows or horses.

The upper Lachlan Catchment Landcare group was a great supporter of the 2014 Archibull Prize and Crookwell being part of this region their local show was a great opportunity to celebrate their local Archibull Prize 2014 entries, tell the great stories of our sheep, cattle, wool and dairy farmers and meet the locals

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So I jumped in the car last Saturday to join the wonderful Mary Bonet and the Upper Landcare Group in their tent at the Show

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 The delightful Mary Bonet

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Seeing these wonderful books at our stand created for the Cattle and Sheep industry by the Kondinin Group was blast from the past by showgoer Scott Boyle who help collate them whilst working at Kondinin in WA 

Having had quite a walk to get in the gate I was thrilled to meet Dr Rod Hoare who is the Chief Ground Steward and has access to this great little golf cart- the perfect vehicle to tour the show sites for this little black duck

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 Chief Ground Steward Rod Hoare enjoyed the traditional dagwood dog whilst touring the showground in this wonderful little buggy

First up was the local sheep shearing competition an iconic part of livestock agriculture in Australia. Competitors are judged by the quality of their shearing as well as the speed of the shear. Visit True Blue Australia to find out more

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I took this little time lapse video of the intermediate class won by the shearer at Stand 2

Next up was the pavilion. The photos share the kaleidoscope of colour of the arts and crafts and vegies, produce, flowers, cakes and everything that says the finest of rural Australian local show culture

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I caught up with some ladies working and supporting rural mental health through the Rural Adversity Mental Health program and we had our picture taken for the local paper.

Then Mary introduced me to local member for Goulburn the Hon. Pru Goward who was very impressed with the Archibull artworks of the local schools

Prue Goward and Lynne Strong

Pru was keen to see the 2014 Champion Archibull Prize Winner “Ni-Cow’ and I was only too happy to show here but we seemed to be in a Tony Abbott black spot

Then we had a little tour of the cattle sheds and the cattle judging

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Where we met Ernie Stevenson an early and influential member of the Murray Grey society.

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Back at the tent I met local cattle farmer Ken Wheelwright who is part of the KLR Mastermind Group.

Ken and Lynne

More about Rod, Ernie and Ken in my next post on Clover Hill Dairies Diary

Then it was time to catch up with local Young Farming Champions and former Crookwell Show girls Jasmine Nixon and Adele Offley

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Ah the local show so much to see so little time but thanks to Rob and all the wonderful locals I think managed to fit most of it in

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Then the two hour drive home in the fog and the rain but it was all worth it

Archibull Prize judging goes south of the border to ‘Mexico’

Week 2 Day 3 of  Archibull Prize 2014 judging saw Wendy fly from Newcastle to Melbourne where she visited Kilbreda College and the Emerson Special School

This is what Wendy had to say about the schools she visited in Melbourne

First up was Kilbreda College

“Hidey” has nothing to hide! She has a very simple and subtle story – showing a pictorial of different grains an1d their textures. It is her vibrant bands of eye-popping colour overlaid with the intricate patterns of the grains which give her visual appeal. The balance of colour, pattern and texture is very well done. Her living grain base is a nice contrast and adds to the sense of balance.

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Follow Kilbreda College Archibull journey via their blog here  and their video

From Kilbreda College Wendy travelled to Emerson School.

Each year with the support of a different organisation Art4Agriculture is able to support a school who isn’t able to undertake the full program but are passionate about sharing the great stories of farmers and farming with their students. This year Emerson Special School was chosen to be that school and wow what a special group of people they are ( students and teachers)

Emerson School is a specialist school located in Dandenong, Victoria, catering to students with mild intellectual processing difficulties. From an initial enrolment of less than 100 students in 1973, Emerson has grown to be one of the leading providers of specialist education in Victoria, with 100 staff now supporting 400 students to achieve their potential.

A proud and vibrant member of the local community, Emerson prides itself on being a school of first choice – not a school of last resort.

The Emerson community exists to provide a first rate education to all who walk through its doors. Emerson School is comprised of our Junior School (students aged 5-11 years), Middle School (12-15 years) and Senior School (16-18 years). Class sizes range from 8 students per class in the Junior School to 16-19 in the Middle and Senior Schools. These small classes ensure that programs are able to be tailored to individual students’ requirements. Source

This is what Wendy had to say about Emerson Public School

“Daisy” is very well named. She is cosy and comfortable and warm. Her knitted coat has loads of texture and appeal, with the felted daisies being the standout feature. Her stylish hat and gorgeous eyelashes complete the picture. Her story of wool is simple and thorough and perfectly encapsulates the breadth of the learning done by the students.

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Watch the wonderful video they have made of their  journey with Daisy to learn about wool