A WIMMERA wool producer, who grew her business up from five pet lambs, hopes to use a new scholarship to expand her knowledge of the agriculture industry.
Longerenong College student Amy Jackson was awarded the 2019 Fox and Lillie scholarship, but her love for the wool industry is one that has been ingrained in her for many years.
Amy, 20, grew up on a farm at Maroona, south of Ararat, and was always around sheep and wool growers.
"I've been on the farm since day one basically and we always had sheep growing up," she said.
From the age of 12, Amy started to build her own sheep enterprise.
"Working on the farm with sheep, I soon realised I had a passion for them - I loved them and wanted to start my own mob as soon as I could," she said.
"So I started with five pet lambs that were crossbred, and I bred them up to about 60 sheep.
"I then sold them all and got into merinos.
"I have always grown up around sheep, it's what I know and what I've come to want to do with my life," she said.
"I really enjoy working with them as they are live animals, rather than crops that don't really do anything - you can see the different behaviour in them and the different features of each sheep.
"I find it very interesting."
Today, Amy has more than 110 merino ewes.
She said it was tough starting off at such a young age, but she soon found her feet.
"It was hard at the start knowing what rams to put with what ewes, but I got the hang of it," she said.
Since heading to Longerenong College, Amy's parents have stepped in to help manage her enterprise.
"Mum and Dad do most of the managing work while I'm at Longy, but when the sheep need drenching or vaccinations I go home and do them on weekends."
Amy is studying an Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management at Longerenong College.
She said she wanted to expand her agricultural knowledge as much as she could.
"I want to keep growing my business and eventually get into cross-breeding merinos to produce a crossbed ram," she said.
Fox and Lillie specialises in wool export and brokering.
The company has been awarding student scholarships at Longerenong College since 2016.
The two-year $5000 scholarship provides students with financial assistance towards their tuition fees for the duration of their course.
Amy said she wanted to apply for the scholarship because she was from a wool background.
"Longerenong College has opportunities for students to apply for a range of scholarships each year, and Fox and Lillie seemed like the best fit for me," she said.
"So I applied, had an interview and I got it.
"It was a very nerve wracking experience, especially because I am passionate about wool and I wanted to try to get everything perfect in my application."
As part of the scholarship, students do a two-week industry placement at Fox and Lillie's two divisions - Fox and Lillie export and Fox and Lillie Rural, the woolgrower services division.
Amy said it was a great experience.
"I wanted to expand my knowledge of the wool industry and through the placement I got to see the pipeline of what happens to wool once it is sold from our wool shed," she said.
"I spent most of my time at auctions and I also spent time in the office at South Melbourne and toured the textiles dumping ground."
During her placement, Amy was able to see her own home-grown wool sold at sale in Melbourne.
"Fox and Lillie actually bought my wool themselves and it sold for a really good price, so I was really pleased with that," she said.
She said the wool, which weighed 187 kilograms and sold for 1623 cents a kilogram, would likely be batched and sent to India due to its micron.
Fox and Lillie merino trading manager Peter Maher said the placement gave students an insight from the early stages of the wool supply chain, to farm brokering, exporting and processing.
"Amy's wool came up in the catalogue while she was in the auction room and it suited the specs of an existing order, so it was the perfect timing," he said.
Amy said in the future, she wanted to learn more about all aspects of agriculture.
"I plan to keep expanding my knowledge of the industry, across all sections and then see what I love the most," she said.
She encouraged other young people to get involved in agribusiness from a young age.
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