An initiative of Merino SA, the School Merino Wethers Competition was born out of the desire to engage more young people in the Merino industry, including those who may never had previous access to livestock.
The year was 2009. Mr Francis Andrews, then president of the SA Stud Merino Sheepbreeders’ Association, chaired a School & Resource subcommittee comprising Wes Daniell, Roger Fiebig, Carolyn Johnson, Ian Rowett, Ian Michael, Joe Dahlitz, Stephen Kellock and teacher Margy Whittlesea.
Together they created a proposal to the RA&HS Pastoral Committee, that a school competition for Merino wether ‘lambs’ be instigated at the earliest opportunity.
The concept was embraced by both the Society and the Agricultural Schools curriculum. In September 2011, fifteen schools presented 21 teams of 3 wethers. That’s at least 63 students learning about and working with young Merinos throughout the year.
These fifteen schools have been regular participants since the first year: Booleroo, Bordertown, Burra, Clare, Cummins, Faith, Gladstone, Karcultaby, Karoonda, Keith, Lucindale, Murray Bridge, Tintinara, Trinity and Urrbrae.
Ten years later, school numbers and entries have grown substantially. The 2020 competition is likely to be the biggest yet, with 70 teams entered from 37 schools.