Charles Sturt wins National Merino Challenge

28 MAY 2019

Charles Sturt wins National Merino Challenge

Charles Sturt University students have out-classed the competition to be named the top tertiary team in the 2019 National Merino Challenge.

  • Charles Sturt named top tertiary team in a national competition testing skills in merino production, breeding and fleece assessment
  • The AWI National Merino Challenge is an annual event that aims to engage young people in the sheep and wool industry
  • Veterinary science student Patrick Crawley was also awarded first place in individual tertiary section

Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) students have out-classed the competition to be named the top tertiary team in the 2019 National Merino Challenge (NMC).

The NMC is an initiative of Australian Wool Innovation to provide young people with an understanding of the career opportunities within the sheep and wool industries.

Over two days in Sydney more than 160 students took part in events to test their skills in areas such as feed budgeting, condition scoring, breeding objectives,  wool harvesting and commercial classing of animals and fleeces.

Fourteen Charles Sturt students took part in the competition, with the highest four scores taken into consideration in the tertiary challenge.

The four highest scoring students, Ms Kayla Kopp, Mr Mitch Rubie, Mr Patrick Crawley, and Ms Karissa De Belle (all pictured left to right), claimed first prize. Mr Crawley was also named the individual tertiary student champion in the competition.

Charles Sturt PhD candidate Ms Kayla Kopp said it was an honour to be part of the winning team.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our knowledge of the sheep industry, talk with other university and school students, and network with people from the industry,” Ms Kopp said. “Winning was a bonus.”

The team was trained by Charles Sturt lecturer in animal production and science, and member of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Dr Susan Robertson and Ms Lexi Cesnick from Moses and Son.

“One of the key benefits of the National Merino Challenge is that it gives students from all backgrounds and levels of experience the opportunity to learn more about sheep and wool, and to be able to participate in a very supportive environment,” Dr Robertson said.

“Those students who involve themselves demonstrate a commitment to learning and enthusiasm for the industry, and Charles Sturt was proud to have 14 students wanting to test themselves this year.”

The students representing Charles Sturt in the competition: Ms Joanna Balcombe, Mr Jake Bourlet, Mr Patrick Crawley, Ms Karissa de Belle, Ms Kayla Kopp, Ms Johanna McAuliffe, Ms Hannah Metcalfe, Ms Rachel Moon, Mr Liam Norrie, Ms Bridget Parkman, Mr Josh Robinson, Mr Mitchell Rubie, Mr Baylee Stapleton and Ms Lisa Suzuki. The Charles Sturt team was sponsored by the Graham Centre, the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, the Charles Sturt School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Lachlan Merinos, Moses and Son, the NSW Stud Merino Breeders Association, TA Field Estates Pty Ltd, The Rural Centre Orange-Molong-Manildra, and Riverina Wool Testers.

Media Note:

The Charles Sturt NMC team will be available for interviews at 11am on Wednesday 29 May, contact Graham Centre Communications officer Emily Malone on 0439 552 385 or email

More information about the 2019 AWI National Merino Challenge

Photo caption: Ms Kayla Kopp, Mr Mitch Rubie, Mr Patrick Crawley and Ms Karissa De Belle.

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