NEW England local Cory Nordstrom is challenging the norm and going from plate to gate, proving it is never too late for a career change.
When Mr Nordstorn left school at around 17, he spent four years working as a chef before moving from the kitchen to the shearing shed.
"Before cooking, while I was in school, I used to be in the shearing sheds as a rouse-about," he said.
"After chefing I first went back to rousing and then one day jumped onto the gear and really fell in love with it.
"It was really intriguing and I just wanted to keep learning."
Mr Nordstrom, who previously lived in Uralla but is currently moving to Coleambally, went back to school at TAFE NSW in August 2018 to study a Statement of Attainment in Wool Harvesting, and hasn't looked back.
"The first course I did was two weeks of a mix of theory and practical learning," he said.
"We took it right back to basics and learnt the 'how to' section by section.. the instructors watched you shear and pick up things you need to maybe fix and give you some tips. For example you may be in the wrong position to do the neck, so they give you tips to fix your technique."
Further adding to his skill-set, Mr Nordstrom returned after eight months and did an improvers course for a week.
"Studying at TAFE NSW helped me learn practical skills and in particular, patterns and positioning of shearing including footwork around the sheep," he said.
"These skills are vital in the industry and would need to become second-nature to succeed in the sheds."
Since then he has been working alongside his dad, Scott Nordstrom, who has been a shearer on and off since he was young.
"He took up a run in August last year, so I've been shearing with him in the main season here (in the New England) from August to October, then we went down to Dubbo in the end of October," Mr Nordstrom said.
"That is the excellent thing about shearing, there is always sheep to be shorn and always new people coming into the industry.
"Now I'm shearing 30 to 40 a run in Merinos, and 40 to 50 head per run in crossbreds, but he (Dad) is hard to catch.
"He sits on the 35 to 40 mark in Merinos and crossbreds around 50."
Scott Nordstrom couldn't be prouder of the direction Cory has taken with his career, following in his footsteps.
"I was so surprised when Cory chose to follow the same career path as me, I never thought it would happen. It has given me more of an incentive to keep shearing," Scott Nordstrom said.
"I could of taught him, but he would not have the advanced skills he has today if he didn't study at TAFE NSW.
"The industry is growing and changing rapidly, health and nutrition now plays a big role in the industry and shearing is now seen as a sport not just a job.
"Cory has a bright future ahead of him and I'm excited to see where it takes him."
Taking it as it comes Cory Nordstrom said he aims to keep shearing, with a few future goals in mind.
Shearing just the start for Cory
WITH shearing now respected as a sport rather than just a job, Cory Nordstrom has the future in mind and is aiming to improve his skills to work overseas and one day be acknowledged as one of the best in Australia.
"A goal for the future is to start doing the NSW sport shears and quick shears," Mr Nordstrom said.
"I want to shear in big competitions and up with some of the best in NSW or Australia in the future."
Mr Nordstrom said it was good to see how the industry had grown and developed.
"Everyone I talk to, and a lot of people I work with, say it's not just a job anymore - you're an athlete. You are eating healthy, training hard, going to the gym," he said.
"It's much different to ages ago when people were drinking and smoking.
"There is a big shift in dynamic and shearers are really starting to look after themselves."
Mr Nordstrom said working overseas was also a goal, with the hope of shearing in New Zealand later this year.
"I definitely want to shear overseas," he said.
"I was asked to go to New Zealand in June/July this year, but I'm currently moving so don't know yet, it is definitely on the cards."
With a firm focus on shearing at the moment, Mr Nordstrom said down the track he could look into wool classing.
"Maybe later on I will look at a wool classing certificate - you can only shear for so long," he said.