A southern NSW wool producer standing on the cusp of her career has been named the Australian Wool Innovations Emerging Leaders scholarship winner for 2022-23.
Florance McGufficke, who grew up on a sheep and wool enterprise near Cooma, and who recently completed a double degree of Bachelor of Agriculture and Business at the University of New England, said it was her father that taught her what success was all about.
"I have always had a connection to the land, growing up on a sheep and wool enterprise in southern NSW," Ms McGufficke said.
"I never went to day-care, I went to 'daddy day-care' spending my time out in the paddock with dad.
"When I was in primary school if we were shearing at home I would go straight to the shed after school, uniform and all."
Ms McGufficke said over the years on-farm she had involved herself in sheep husbandry activities, data analysing and genetic data collection.
And the scholarship, she believes, will help her navigate a future in a fast and progressive world with some added self-confidence and resilience.
"In the last five years I have appreciated the value in breeding highly productive and profitable sheep and the benefits of using top genetics to create a superior product," Ms McGufficke said.
"Throughout my studies my attention was drawn to the need to increase sustainability in agriculture and to take a more market-oriented approach in the supply chain.
"I have a passion for wool focusing on this incredible fibre I believe my roles in leadership have equipped me with the skills to engage consumers in conversations about the sustainability of this superior fibre."
Ms McGufficke said she was incredibly passionate about agriculture and becoming an ambassador for other young people and she believes wool is the solution to the future of sustainable fashion.
"I am looking forward to building relationships and networks to promote the benefits and potential of wool; an industry full of opportunity," she said.
"Consumers today are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint and their impacts on the environment.
"They have increasing concerns about their purchases, questioning the sustainability of apparel fibres and demanding transparency and traceability of products...... future of fashion is heavily dependent on sustainable fibres.
"The characteristics of the wool fibre make it highly sustainable and environmentally friendly."
The characteristics of the wool fibre make it highly sustainable and environmentally friendly- Florance McGufficke
The scholarship, presented by AWI, in conjunction with Action4Agriculture, will allow Ms McGufficke to participate in the prestigious Cultivate - Growing Young Leaders program run by Action4Agriculture.
The two-year training package will expose her to some of the country's top media and communication specialists and equip her with skills to accelerate her journey in agricultural leadership.
Acting AWI CEO John Roberts said they were delighted that Ms McGufficke had been chosen to receive the 2022 AWI scholarship and be trained to become a local face of sustainable wool production.
"The program is a great way to not only communicate the positive messages of the wool industry to the wider public, but also encourage youngsters into the industry," Mr Roberts said.
"Through Action4Agriculture, the program continues to not only help build the capability of young rural people to farm with resilience and confidence, but also provides a great platform to spark the next generation's interest in an agricultural career."
As part of the scholarship Ms McGufficke will hone her skills by engaging with school students as part of The Archibull Prize and the Kreative Koalas - Design a Bright Future Challenge.
Once graduated from the Cultivate program she will join the Young Farming Champions (YFC), a network of early professionals advocating and leading for agriculture.
"The YFC have the ability to empower young people to embrace rural and regional Australia," Ms McGufficke said.
"To explore the supply chains and diverse agricultural enterprises and share this information with various audiences to increase transparency and reduce the amount of misconception between the producer and consumer."
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