Meet Lauren Crothers proud to help produce your woolly jumpers

Another inspiring young Australian chooses to produce food and fibre for the world.

My name is Lauren Crothers and I am crazy about sheep. I even know how to shear them

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I bet if you knew just how impressive our wool industry is you would be just as proud of Australia’s sheep as I am

Australia supplies almost 90% of the wool used in the global apparel market and produces more than a quarter of the world’s wool. Approximately 24% of wool produced belongs to cross-bred sheep with the other 76% belonging to merinos. Australian merino wool is especially suited to apparel end-use due to it fine texture and clean, white appearance. Check out what our clever Australian designers do with our magnificent wool here

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“It’s an important initiative to remind us of the wonders of wool. The natural fibre that looks beautiful, feels beautiful, that breathes and cools, that flexes with our bodies, heats and insulates and is environmentally sound.” – Governor General, Quentin Bryce

There are around 55,000 woolgrowers spread right across Australia, who pay wool levies and as you can see I’m very proud to be one of them!

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Lauren and her dad in the shearing shed

I grew up on the family property at Dirranbandi located in South West Queensland. “Booligar” is a mixed farming and grazing property, however in recent years the business has been leaning more towards the farming side. The property is 24 000 acres and when I was younger consisted of commercial self-replacing merinos, breeding cattle, irrigated cotton and wheat. When Dad and my Uncle decided that it was more economical to grow irrigated cotton, the sheep side of the business was let go, much to my disappointment.

Farm Photo

This however didn’t stop me; I was constantly visiting my Uncle and Aunt’s property at Tara where I could always be found following a mob of sheep or helping in the yards. Shearing time was my favourite, where the smell of lanolin drifted around the shed and embedded into my clothes. This is where I believe my love for the sheep and wool industry started.

At the age of twelve I was trucked off to boarding school on the Gold Coast, whereby I learnt numerous skills, however it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I would much rather be doing physical work than sitting at a table with pad and pen. It was much like the old saying, ‘You can take the girl out of the bush, but you can’t take the bush out of the girl’. Agriculture wasn’t taught as a subject which I expected and consequently I undertook a Certificate II in Agriculture in Years 11 and 12. Although I didn’t enjoy school I made the most of my opportunities and consequently I was awarded the position of School Sports Captain in my final year.

 

Lauren Crothers Photo

At the end of Year 12 I decided to take a working gap year as a jillaroo. I managed to get a position on a commercial sheep station 150kms North West of Warren. Working alongside the manager and another jillaroo on a 35,000 acre property running 7000 merino breeding ewes was certainly an experience. After around five weeks the other jillaroo left, leaving an enormous amount of responsibility on the shoulders of my then 17 year old body, but I loved every minute of it.

Throughout the 13 months that I was there, I worked alongside a second jillaroo for approximately 9 weeks. The rest of the time it was just me and the boss! It became apparent that it was increasingly difficult to find young people interested in the sheep and wool industry. One particular day I was working beside my boss in the workshop when I posed the question, ‘Why don’t young people want to get involved with wool or sheep anymore? Why would they rather cattle or cropping?’ He didn’t have any answer to it, probably because he is so passionate about the industry!

At times it was lonely, tiresome and very physical, but I absolutely loved it! It taught me a number of key things including responsibility, independence and an enormous amount about sheep and wool. I entered sheep judging competitions and I was constantly asking questions so that I could gain more knowledge. At school I was never a morning person, however when my alarm sounded (usually while it was still dark) I was eager to get up knowing that I would learn something new every day and do something that I am passionate about.

Throughout my time working on “Womboin Station” I decided that I would go to Uni and study a Bachelor of Agribusiness at the University of Queensland. Although I was hesitant I knew that it would be best to acquire business knowledge if I wanted to run my own business. It was also at this stage that I decided to go into partnership with my twin sister and another good mate. We purchased a mob of sheep and they are currently lambing. I learnt how to shear (I managed to shear 50 for the 2 days – but couldn’t walk properly for 2 weeks after!) And we are aiming to increase our mob and produce high quality merino wool as well as breeding with merino rams.

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Lauren and click go the shears

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The fruits of the labour

Although I’m studying full-time, managing sheep and have a weekend job I still maintain involvement in the Agriculture Industry. I applied for a Horizon Scholarship,which I was honoured to receive. With this I aim to attend as many field days and conferences as possible along with gaining a wealth of knowledge from industry leaders. I also hope that my story is able to inspire the younger generation to become involved in the agriculture industry and in particular the sheep and wool industry.

Every family needs a farmer. No matter who you are, your gender, your background or where you live you can become involved in this amazing industry. There are a number of corporations that are committed to fostering opportunities for helping people into this industry. The key to getting people involved is in education.  One  program which I aim to be involved in is the Jackie Howe Festival of the Golden Shearsbeing held at Jondaryan Woolshed. The festival will let people experience the lives of pioneers and a chance to live and breathe life as an Aussie and understand what it is that made our culture and grew our spirit as a nation.

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I know that without a doubt my future lies within the agricultural industry and I hope that by sharing my journey with you I can inspire others to travel in my footsteps.

Woolly Jumpers

Thanks Lauren Art4agriculture is indeed looking forward to you joining us as an Australian Wool Innovation Young Farming Champion

The Voice of the Future

Art4agriculture has a big picture vision for Australia. We want a vibrant, dynamic and innovative food sector that is seen by next gen as a career of first choice.

Art4agriculture is on a crusade to do whatever it takes to create a culture of change at industry level and make investing in our young people the number 1 key performance indicator. We are finding exciting, inspiring young people in agriculture everywhere we look and we love it.

Today’s guest blog comes from Horizon Scholar Ashley Hobbins who is currently undertaking a  Bachelor of Applied Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania

Wet day checking for new calves

Ashley was a PICSE student and has been associated with farming all her life. She would like to work as a teacher in Agriculture, inspiring students to undertake a career in primary industries.

Here is Ashley’s story …….

Agriculture is at the core of everybody’s life but for some people it runs a little deeper, it’s a way of life and an industry which inspires. You don’t have to run a thousand head of cattle or grow hectares of crops to have a passion and drive for this amazing sector which is worth so much but unfortunately unnoticed by so many.

My story begins on a cattle and sheep property in the country side of Victoria where as a child I spent my days following dad around when he fed out hay to livestock or penned up sheep in the shearing shed.bobby calf and me

It is however the city where most of the chapters to my story are written. I love living in the city and being able to walk down to the shops to grab a bargain or getting dressed up for a Saturday night out on the town but to me there is nothing like putting on a pair of old jeans and work boots and spending the day out in the paddock. I am currently in my final year of a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Tasmania and am working towards gaining my Masters of Teaching. It is no secret that the field of agriculture needs more workers and I personally believe that programs such as well-run school farms in high schools create knowledgeable and skilled students ready to enter the workforce or continue further education in agriculture. After working in the industry it is my intention to become a teacher and hopefully inspire students to forge a career in agriculture.

Brooks High School was a major stepping stone for me as it was here that I was introduced to the science behind agriculture and motivated me to pursue the career I am. There are also great programs available such as the Tasmanian Farmers and Grazier’s Discover Agriculture program where I was shown some of the many industries within agriculture and given the opportunity to have a week’s work experience in the dairy industry. I have also been lucky enough to have work experience in the poppy and wine industries as well as government research. There are so many chances for travel within the industry as it is everywhere you go and whilst being involved in the Primary Industries Centre for Science Education program I travelled to Western Australia. I also travelled to Warwick on a Charolais Society sponsored trip where I participated in cattle handling, preparing and judging and was awarded the husbandry award.

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Many people disregard university as an option as it is too expensive but the fact is that there are so many scholarships out there to help budding agricultural scientists. Through the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s Horizon scholarship I have been provided with not only financial support but also a mentor who is there to help me through my degree. I have also had the opportunity to travel to Canberra every year of my degree to build my skills in leadership and meet some great people. This year I also travelled to Sydney on a sponsored trip to participate in the Charlie Arnot workshop.

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Ashley and fellow Horizon Scholars at FFAgOz workshops in Sydney with Charlie Arnot

Winning the Greenham Tasmania scholarship in 2011 saw me having lunch with the Governor of Tasmania and my acceptance speech for the ACAS/Coca Cola scholarship boosted my confidence considerably. The reason why I mention these accolades is to highlight that if you get out there and discover the possibilities there is every chance you can be offered a way and means of getting where you want to be. University is not the only option and I have enjoyed going through the more practical pathway, completing a VET II Certificate in Agriculture before attending college.

Grinding soil samples

There are so many great people in the industry and being involved in extracurricular activities has allowed me to meet some of these people. I’ve been able to talk to students during recent PICSE and TFGA camps as a guest speaker and co-facilitator at the 2012 TFGA Hobart camp, as well as running a workshop at the Growing Your Future 2011 event. Getting involved in our university’s Ag Science Society as secretary has allowed me to interact with industry members.

In addition to work experience I’ve also worked in a shearing shed, cutting vegetables, packing and preparing vegetables and working with beef cattle as well as selling fruit and vegetables. My passion for beef cattle started with showing at high school where I showed Murray Greys, Angus and Charolais cattle. I was then asked to show for a Belted Galloway stud and now show for a Murray Grey stud as well as being involved in the Murray Grey Youth.

There are so many prospects in the agriculture sector and my story is just a snap shot of what opportunities are available. The industry is full of enthusiastic workers from all walks of life and is waiting for even more people to enter the industry and make a difference. So why not take a leap of faith and explore the interesting and amazing sector that is agriculture?!

Back to me. There is no denying that Ashley is a superstar. She sees opportunitities for professional development and she grasps them with both hands and makes life happen for her. Ashley is obviously special but she isnt a one off nor need she be. I get phone calls from young people in agriculture from all around Australia with obvious potential to be another Ashely everyday.

They are out there industry. You just need to invest in them.

A big shout out to Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation for investing in Next Gen though Ashley