Prospective veterinarians and future sheep industry participants gained greater understanding of the wool sector last week thanks to Esperance wool broker Vicky Hempsell.
Ms Hempsell, who works for Primaries of WA, hosted visits to Primaries’ wool store in Bibra Lake, Perth, and the nearby Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) laboratory and Western Wool Centre, where wool is sold at auction, for university students studying animal science.
Students from Curtin University and University of Western Australia took the tour Wednesday and five Murdock University students joined Ms Hempsell on Thursday.
Most of them hope to graduate as veterinarians, or to work with stud sheep and genetics or in animal research fields.
But mainly Perth based, few have practical experience with sheep and even fewer knew much about wool before their tour.
Ms Hempsell, a revelation herself as a bright 26 year old woman working in an industry primarily populated by middle-aged men, explained the idea of hosting tours arose during last month’s Sheep Industry Business Innovation Sheep Camp.
Organised by agVivo events and held annually at Rylington Park, Boyup Brook, the Sheep Camp weekend aims to teach city-based students looking to work with sheep, but with little hands-on experience, practical applications of sheep handling, husbandry, biosecurity and welfare, as well as outline career options.
“For students who came off farms a lot of it is simply knowledge they grew up with, but for city-based students sometimes the reason why farmers do certain things at certain times with their stock is not immediately obvious,” said Ms Hempsell who was a group leader at sheep camp.
“Some of the students were asking me about what I do so I thought the best way to explain the career options in wool was to show anyone who was interested.
“It took a bit of organising to fit in around their study schedules but it came together (last week) with two groups of uni students,” she said.
Murdoch student Tessa Williams, who had previously studied at WA College of Agriculture Denmark, said she had worked as a roustabout in shearing sheds but knew little about wool and career opportunities before taking Ms Hempsell’s tour.
“I’ve worked in lots of wool sheds but I never really knew much about what happened to the wool after it left the shed,” she said.
Another Murdock student Jamie Nykiel said she found the tour “fascinating”.
“I really didn’t think it would be that technical,” she said of the wool industry.