Five Sydney-based Australian Wool Innovation staff found out how physically demanding work in a shearing shed can be when they visited AWI chairman Jock Laurie's property Deloraine at Walcha in late March for one day of crutching.
Mr Laurie said he wants the office-based AWI staff to understand better what happens on-farm and the challenges woolgrowers face.
"AWI works for Australian woolgrowers, so the people who work for AWI must know what goes into growing and harvesting the world's best natural fibre - Australian wool. "It was great to see staff from the Digital, Business Development and Measurement and Evaluation team visit our shed and help, so they get a better connection and appreciation of wool," Mr Laurie said.
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"One of the biggest benefits for the staff involved is to see why shearing, crutching and finding better ways of harvesting wool are essential and why the Board is so focused on investing in programs to improve the situation. "It's one thing to read about something or to see a video but to pick up a handpiece and try it yourself brings home the challenge of the work".
The five staff who drove up from Sydney to have a day in the shed were John Reed, general manager, digital and IT, Ron Regan, measurement and evaluation manager, Tony Nhek, IT support administrator, Gintare Venclauskaite Woolmark business development coordinator; and Kate Rice, an AWI graduate.
Mr Reed found crutching is far removed from the tangled ether of the digital and IT support world. "Crutching is hard, back-breaking work that also requires much knowledge and care," he said. "I was glad to make the trip up from Sydney to improve my knowledge of wool."
Measurement and evaluation manager Ron Regan commented on the relaxed approach of the woolgrowers and handlers he met. "All the people at the farm helping us were so committed and passionate about every part of what they were teaching us, which was fabulous to see," he said. "This confirmed what a great industry wool is and that working in a shearing shed is hard work."
Tony Nhek, an IT support administrator, said: I've had some exposure to agricultural work in my job with AWI, including a farm visit out at Broken Hill when the board met there last year, but to work with the sheep "hands-on" really opened my eyes to just how difficult the physical aspect of it all is, which is something I hadn't appreciated until now.
Woolmark business development coordinator Gintare Venclauskaite was equal to the challenge of crutching, Mr Laurie said. "It was fantastic to have the opportunity of doing something completely different from my normal office job and be on a working property to experience what is truly involved in the crutching process."