The 2020 Peter Westblade Scholarship recipients, Murray Smith and Brodie Carpenter, are proving you don't have to pick one pathway to carve out a career in the sheep industry.
The scholarship, which honors the late Peter Westblade, is now in its ninth year and aims to give young people the skills, knowledge and networks needed to become leaders in their field.
The program also runs a training weekend at Wyvern Station, Carrathool, which the scholarship finalists and other young people in the industry can attend.
One of the two 2020 scholarship recipients, Murray Smith, grew up on a small, family farm at Gundagai.
When he left school he landed a traineeship with Elders as a territory sales manager.
"I went right through Victoria, up into Alice Springs and back into South Australia with the traineeship program, it was a really great experience," Mr Smith said.
He then cut his teeth in the stud industry, working for Valley Vista Poll Dorsets at Coolac for close to three years before becoming a stockman at Romani Pastoral Company's Garangula property.
"They run about 22,000 sheep and close to 900 Angus cows," Mr Smith said.
"There's around 14-15,000 Primeline ewes and the rest are Merinos."
He said his experience at an agency, stud and now large-scale commercial operation had cemented his passion for the sheep industry and Merinos in particular.
"I grew up with Merinos and have always had a soft-spot for them," Mr Smith said.
"The more I had to do with them, the more I became to appreciate what they were."
Mr Smith said his long-term goal was buy and run his own farm, as well as getting into sheep classing.
"I really like the classing side of things, well structured sheep that grow quality wool are hard to go past," Mr Smith said.
Third generation shearer and farm manager
The second Peter Westblade Scholarship for 2020 is Brodie Carpenter.
Mr Carpenter grew up on Connorville Station, which his father manages, in the Northern Midlands of Tasmania.
He is currently a full-time shearer and is also leasing two properties near Swansea, running fine wool Merinos and first-cross ewes.
He said both his father and grandfather were shearing contractors and farm managers and he hoped to follow in their footsteps, looking to eventually buy his own property and run a shearing business.
"I would like to produce a dual-purpose Merino, a heavy wool cutter but a sheep you could also get a prime lamb out of, something that will work in the East Coast Tasmania climate," Mr Carpenter said.
He said shearing enabled him to learn from what other producers in the region were doing and get a feel for the different wool being grown.
"I have a shared passion with the farmer, I'm just as interested in the sheep we're shearing and the wool we're getting off them," Mr Carpenter said.
Mr Carpenter is also a competitive shearer, representing Tasmania at competitions around the country. In 2018 he won the novice section of the National Championships.
Yarrawonga's Ben Patrick is the new PWS chairman
This year's scholarship was the first overseen by new chairman, Ben Patrick of Harden.
Mr Patrick is the manager of Yarrawonga Merino and Poll Merino stud and has taken over the role from Craig Wilson.
He became involved with the Peter Westblade Scholarship Committee after being the 2014 scholarship recipient.
"I wanted to continue to grow the networks I'd gained and give back to the scholarship since it had a big impact on my career," Mr Patrick said.
He said he would like to see the scholarship gain more exposure across Australia.
"We are getting applicants from all the states now and I would like to see big sheep operations and businesses from across the country get involved with the program," he said.
The 2020 PWS Finalists
Tom Boyle, QLD
Jacinta Bradley, NSW
Brodie Carpenter, TAS
Courtney Cheers, NSW
Mitch Rubie, NSW
Murray Smith, NSW