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Young Merino breeder wins 2014 scholarship

Merino breeder and livestock manager Ben Patrick, of Harden, has won the 2014 Peter Westblade Scholarship

OUTCROSS MEDIA | Kim Woods | March 10, 2014

Young Southern NSW Merino breeder Ben Patrick has won the prestigious 2014 Peter Westblade sheep and wool industry scholarship.

Mr Patrick, 22, was named as the 2014 recipient at a MerinoLink conference dinner held at Temora, NSW, last week, from a field of over 30 national and international applicants.

He works as the livestock manager at Yarrawonga Merino stud, Harden, and runs his own stud, Woollahra Merinos at Yass.

Runner-up finalists were Yanco Agricultural High School teacher Ellie Quinn and Junee livestock overseer Elise Walker.

Now entering its third year, the scholarship provides cash and in-kind support worth up to $10,000 over a 12-month period.

Mr Patrick will benefit from practical skills training, mentoring and the establishment of industry networks.

Open to young people aged 18 to 30, the scholarship honours the late Peter Westblade, a Lockhart sheep producer passionate about breeding profitable sheep, and a supporter of young people interested in agriculture.

MerinoLink chief executive officer Sally Martin said the conference dinner raised around $30,000 for the scholarship through donations and an auction of donated items.

Mr Patrick said the scholarship would enable him to develop his interest in innovative sheep breeding practices, technology and genomics.

He runs 150 stud and 300 flock ewes based on Grassy Creek and Avonsworth bloodlines, averaging 17.5 micron and with average fleece weights of 5kg.

“I established the stud when I was 19 and sell 25-30 rams a year privately – I aim to breed as commercially viable sheep as possible,” Mr Patrick said.

2013 scholarship recipient Annabel Lugsdin said it had provided inspirational mentors, practical industry knowledge and helped with the transition from study to employment.