Around the States
McWilliams Garners AwardThe recipient of the 2015 Washington State Sheep Producers Golden Sheep Hook award is an individual who has been involved with the sheep industry since he was a young boy. When he was in the ninth grade, he had the opportunity to attend a three-day shearing school. Mike McWilliams “took the opportunity so that I could get out of school for three days.”
Many that have attended the Washington State Shearing School would say that three days of school would be a lot easier than three days of sheep shearing.
However, this school created a passion for shearing. From there, the Myrtle Point, Ore., resident followed his desire to become a better shearer and went to New Zealand to train and work to perfect his trade. McWilliams traveled between the U.S. and New Zealand shearing sheep during the two different shearing seasons. He became so proficient at the skill of shearing, he represented the U.S. shearing team at the world competitions in the 1990s.
His skills excelled to the level where he became recognized by New Zealand shearing instructors training shearers at schools in the U.S. McWilliams began mentoring as an instructor, fine tuning his shearing and instruction skills. In 1996, he began his tenure with the Washington State Sheep Producers Association as the primary instructor for the state’s shearing school.
McWilliams quickly established himself as an excellent instructor. It was well established that he had excellent shearing technique, but his real strength as an instructor was his ability to train a difficult skill that can be both physically and mentally challenging to learn.
Through the years, he has excelled as an instructor by allowing the students to learn by doing, realizing that he just can’t tell or show someone how to shear and expect them to be proficient. Students have to learn by doing, but instructors need the skill and patience to know when to step in and give advice. This is the only way to foster successful learning without students becoming discouraged or learning bad habits that take away from efficient and good shearing skills.
McWilliams is a man of few words, but when he did speak, the advice was at the right time and in just the right manner to encourage his students. He has instructed almost 400 students at the Washington State Shearing School through the years. The Golden Sheep Hook is awarded to McWilliams for his countless hours of service and dedication to ensuring the success of the Washington State Shearing School the past 20 years.
New Scholarship AvailableThe Ohio Sheep Improvement Association and the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, in coordination with the Dr. Jack Judy Family, have created the Dr. Jack Judy Memorial Scholarship Fund to support future sheep farmers.
The fund is offering a minimum of one $1,500 scholarship to a deserving young person who is at least a second-year undergraduate student pursuing an agricultural degree. In an effort to assist OSIA in growing the fund, memorial contributions may be sent in the name of Dr. Jack Judy to the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, PO Box 182383, Columbus, OH 43218.
Applicants for the scholarship must be a member (or their parents must be members) of OSIA. The scholarship can be used at any school, even those outside the state of Ohio.
Dr. Judy was a member of the Ohio State University Department of Animal Science and specialized in the study and teaching of sheep production and management for 33 years. He retired in 1984 and passed away in April of last year.
To learn more, visit OFBF.org/foundation. Qualified students can apply through June 30.
Annual Ram SaleThe California Wool Growers Association will host their 96th Annual California Ram Sale at the Porterville (Calif.) Fairgrounds on April 9.
Barns will open for viewing at 8 a.m. and be followed by a barbecue lunch at 11:30 a.m. The sale will begin at 1 p.m. More than 400 range rams from California, Oregon, Idaho and Utah are included in the sale. New this year, ultrasound carcass measurements and a Range Ram Index will be provided on all sale rams.
For information, visit CAWoolGrowers.org/sale/ramsale.html.
Scholarship deadline is May 1The Washington State Sheep Producers are now accepting applications from high school seniors for their annual college scholarship. The deadline to apply is May 1.
Applicants must be members of WSSP and scholarships will be awarded solely for proven leadership abilities and academic potential. Financial need is not a requirement.
To learn more, visit WSSP.org.