The Young Ones

Woolorama 2013 – Proud of The Young Ones

In an era when it’s hard to secure commit from younger ones for volunteering, Wagin Woolorama is very proud of the younger ones who give by committing themselves to the Committee or just making the show happen.

It is exciting that 33% of the Committee is under 35. This speaks volumes for the long term viability of the Wagin Agricultural Society and Woolorama.  They don’t all attend every monthly meeting but they do make Woolorama happen, giving hours of their time to ensure its success. 

Here are their stories of why they volunteer, what drives them and their advice – if only we’d listen.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, their insights endearing and their wit charming.

Melanie Ball -

Mel describes her occupation as Mummy, wife, BFF, daughter, teacher and gives her age as 21+14.  The centre of her world is her two beautiful boys.  She loves transforming things and spaces and wants to complete her home and garden renovation some time this century.  Mel is responsible for the Wine Baa at Woolorama.

Mel believes every country town needs an event that generates interest and attracts outside visitors.  Woolorama is exactly that for Wagin.  Woolorama, she believes, is an opportunity to both showcase our town and the wonderful people who live in it, and is an important avenue for community groups and businesses to benefit financially.

In giving to Woolorama, what does Mel get in return? “I get a sense of satisfaction in creating an enjoyable space for all, and being active in shaping the community in which my family and I live and will do for many years to come. I also see it as my volunteering contribution.  In small towns people need to give back, roll up their sleeves when they can and make things happen; it makes up for the shortfall of resources that country communities receive.”

The beautiful sunsets, great vistas, open skies, unique wildlife, friends and family close by and easy access to the city are what Mel loves about living in Wagin.

She has many local heroes – each and every committee member, secretary, treasurer, president, busy bee worker, tea maker, tree planter, kitchen hand, BBQer, raffle ticket seller, raffle ticket buyer, umpire, coach, volunteer clean up hand, co-ordinator, cake donator, cake eater, participant and positive supporter – all of the people who make great things happen in our town.

“Everyone has an interesting story to tell”, says Mel. “Take time to listen.”  Her second piece of advice is: “Change is good – everything is evolving and must stay relevant.”

Xavier White -

29 year-old farmer Xavier is married to Hayley, and his ambition is to run a successful and sustainable farm.  Xavier is head steward for the working sheep dogs at Woolorama.

Xavier gives volunteer time to Woolorama because he believes the event is an asset to the Wagin Community and none of it would happen without volunteers.  He sees himself as trying to help in the continued success of the event. 

In Xavier’s words, “The best thing about volunteering as a head steward is that I don’t have to volunteer on the Woolorama gates!”

What does Xavier like about living in Wagin?  The peace and quiet, the work of a farmer, the people in the community and the way they pull together to get things done.

The ambulance volunteers are his local heroes.  They do a job he says he couldn’t do … but he’s glad they are there.

The best advice he has to give is, “Enjoy life and always try to do the right thing.”

Londa Finlayson -

26 year-young Londa has husband Troy and three sons, Logan, Hunter and Taine.  She’s the co-ordinator of the Wagin Community Resource Centre and her ambition is to bridge communities  at local and regional levels.  Londa, a past Woolorama Rural Ambassador (going on to win the state title and runner-up in the national competition in 2008 – the only Wagin candidate to do so), gives her time to Woolorama ensuring the incumbent RA is comfortable in the role.

Londa says she gives her time to Woolorama, which she views as a worthy community cause, because it gives back more than she has to offer.  “Each year Woolorama is so iconic that it attracts ample amounts of people from Australia wide, just to see what our little town has been tinkering away at …”  Each year she thinks, “Yep, the Ag Society has pulled off another awesome Woolorama.”

Londa thinks Wagin town has plenty to offer, especially in terms of community spirit, knowing your neighbours and a sense of security.  She values the opportunities she has for input into community facilities and assets.

Her local hero is one of the “Young Ones” – Sally Thomson. “She inspires me to do things from a unique perspective,” said Londa.  Sally has taught Londa to have a cool, calm and collected attitude to any situation, but to push barriers to create new and improved ones.  Sally has given Londa zest to remain on the Woolorama Committee looking for what more could be done.

Advice from Londa to anyone listening is to GET INVOLVED … possibilities, opportunities and excitement lay ahead.

Bryan Kilpatrick -

Of undisclosed age, Bryan has been a local farmer in Wagin for eight years and has a young family. In January 2013 he accepted nomination to the Woolorama Committee.  He’s looking for where to commit his energy and flattered to be called a “Young One”.

Bryan thinks the Wagin community has offered a lot to him and his family and believes it’s time to give back.  He wants to lead by example, saying that the next generation of volunteers need to step up and be more actively involved in Woolorama.

Thinking Woolorama is a great event that achieves much for the town, Bryan sees the show as a celebration of all things agricultural.  He admits farming has been through some hard times recently but argues that it’s good to recognise the achievements of the agricultural community.

It’s the sense of community and their friends that make Wagin special to Bryan and wife Jane; they are pleased to call it home.

When asked to identify his local hero, Bryan said that as a “blow in” he was very aware of the sense of community, evident by the number of service clubs in the town.  “Many senior members of the community carry out volunteer work without fanfare and genuinely enjoy it. A person who I really admire in how they provide hours and hours of volunteer work is Raymond Edward. There are many just like Raymond in the community.”

The old wisdom “Don’t be afraid to ask questions” is Bryan’s best advice. “No matter how silly you think it may be or if it has been asked before.  In many cases the questions haven’t been asked before .. or asked so long ago, the answer is not so clear.”

Tim Scott -

Local farmer and agronomist, Tim’s the father of two (4 year-old Penny and 2 year-old Jack). He works in the New Release and Display Awards sections of Woolorama.  There’s nothing quirky about 37 year-old Tim, answering that question with “N/A”.

Tim volunteers to help continue the long proud history that Woolorama has developed over the past 40 years.  He wants to do his small piece along with all the other volunteers to make Woolorama an enjoyable show for locals and tourists.  He enjoys working with others from the community, people he may not otherwise socialise with, and the real sense of community spirit gained by participating.

He likes living in Wagin because it lacks city traffic and delivers the Albany Doctor. His local hero is his grandfather John (Jack) Scott.

Mandy Harrington -

Mandy, 35, and husband Michael have three “gorgeous and patient” kids – Georgia, Ella and Oscar.  They farm and Mandy in September joined the Woolorama staff as the Trade Fair Secretary.  Understandably her short term goal is for a successful Woolorama 2013. Now that her youngest is in school Mandy has some time on her hands and glad to give a portion of it to Woolorama.

“Wagin Woolorama is an important asset to the Wagin community,” says Mandy. “It puts Wagin on the map and generates income not only for Wagin but the surrounding towns too.”

A people-person, Mandy enjoys the interactive contact of the Trade Fair role.  She gains satisfaction from helping the show’s commercial exhibitors and facilitating the Committee’s organisation of the show.

The best feature of living in Wagin, according to Mandy, is being part of such a great little community and knowing that her kids are growing up in a safe, friendly and exciting environment.

Asked to single out her local hero, Mandy voiced admiration for the St John Ambulance and Fire Brigade volunteers.  She appreciates the amount of personal time they put into our community to ensure the safety of all.  From her perspective, what they sometimes have to deal with makes them deserving of hero status.

Her best advice is “Listen to your mother.”

Natala King -

Mum and business partner, 30 year-old Natala, is another young mum juggling husband (in this case Mal), family (in this case 18 month old Spencer and another buddle of joy due in April), career and volunteering. Natala would like to be successful in everything she puts her mind to.  She loves the pressure and adrenaline that comes from being involved in Woolorama and, an artist herself, is head steward of the art section.

Thinking everyone should give back to the community they belong to is the reason Natala volunteers at Woolorama.  The bonus is she can do this with her family.  She gets a real buzz out of talking with the public about the art works entered and on display.

Now a resident of Capel, Natala says it’s just like Wagin – you know the IGA ladies, the post master and the library staff all by name.

Her local heroes are her parents, Chris and Jenny Moffatt, for showing her it isn’t hard to be a productive member of your community, to give back.

Natala’s advice is “Be yourself and smile … it’s easier than frowning!”

Lee Bessel-Browne -

Farmer and shearer, 32 year-old Lee is the head steward of Woolorama’s shearing competition.  He’s married and the busy Dad of three. 

Lee brings solid commitment to Woolorama and he’s there because he thought it a good community thing to do.  He wanted to lift the profile of shearing in agriculture.  What he gets out of it is a headache.  He also sees the improvement in competitors, enjoying the rise of novices improving over the years to become really good shearers.  And he loves to see the quality of the work the shearers do.

Lee likes living in the Wagin area for all the fun things you can do that aren’t expensive and because in our community everyone helps out everyone else.

His local hero is his dad, Peter, admiring him for how hard he works and for being successful in sport (hockey).

Lee’s advice is “You get what you work for”, believing it’s possible to achieve your goals with hard work.

When asked what his ambition was, Lee said, “To pay off farm debt; to be a successful farmer.  No, I want most importantly to be a great father.  My kids are everything to me. I want to be a good Dad to them.”

Tristan Moffatt -

Farmer Tristan, 28, is married to Sandra and the father of two youngsters.  Since the inception of the ute competition in 2004, Tristan has been the head steward.  I recently sat on the edge of my seat as Tristan started a conversation with “At 11 o’clock one night, after a few beers, my mates and I decided to cut the Cortina down to a ute ….”

Before getting involved in the Woolorama utes, Tristan had served an apprenticeship for 6-8 years helping his Dad in the British and Australasian sheep shed, shifting straw and sheep around.   Father Chris was head steward and “the kids helped out because that’s what you do.”  So Tristan came into Woolorama through his family and finds himself enjoying it.  Every year he enjoys meeting up with people he sees no-where else.

He is of the opinion that Woolorama brings a lot to Wagin and that it’s a great thing for the town, bringing lots of dollars into the community.  He sees Woolorama as a “giver” to the community of Wagin.  It promotes both agriculture and the town of Wagin.

Tristan likes Wagin because it’s a small community.  He has two local heroes.  He admires his dad for starting farming in his 30s not having come from a farming background.  And he admires his wife for stepping out of her comfort zone and into Wagin.  She joined the clay target club, learnt to shoot and now competes successfully all around Australia.

On advice, Tristan admits to receiving a fair bit over the years.  His own favourite advice is to “Make like concrete – harden up” or “Dry your eyes, princess” believing people shouldn’t whinge but get in and make change for the better.

Sally Thomson -

Sally, 32, was Woolorama’s Rural Ambassador in 2003, she opened the Show in 2006, she was elected to Committee in the same year and has served two three year terms, she has been employed in the trade fair office and for 6 years she has voluntarily arranged the entertainment.  So she’s seen Woolorama from a lot of angles and has the knack of sourcing big sponsorship dollars for the Society.  She is auntie to five, has her own consultancy business (in rural development) and has the ambition to have fun, live long and be useful.

Her connections to the Society began in 2003 when she was Rural Ambassador, where she gained a glimpse of all the behind the scenes work and great energy of being part of Woolorama. She stays involved because she likes it and gets more out than she puts in. Sally admits to being passionate about having fun on this planet – and having happy people producing and eating good food from a healthy landscape is part of that. Giving energy to showcase agriculture and community well-being, to participate in driving the business of farming in a way that makes us feel connected and prosperous, are important to Sally personally.

She remembers being super nervous when having to speak at Committee meetings, so through her involvement she’s learnt a lot of skills – confidence, how to organise and deal with stuff, develop and run budgets, work with people, and turn ideas into realities.  And she says she’s met loads of brilliant people – interesting performers with passion who share their insights – and she gets to dress up as a sheep and run around the show getting high fives from everyone!

To Sally the attraction of living in this area of the state is having the freedom and space to do what you want.  “If you can dream it, you can do it,” declares Sally.  The people here have passion, they are robust and they care.  We have four beautiful and distinct seasons.  “Geographically, we are in the middle of everywhere, not nowhere!” is a quote from Sally.

Ever generous in her attitudes, she appreciates many local heroes because rural communities provide plenty of great characters with a range of great qualities.  And ever with a unique angle on things, Sally thinks we’d ALL look great with undies on the outside.  Move over, Superman!

Finally, her best advice is “The rules are made by those who show up!”

The Sum is Greater than the Parts

The Young Ones, collectively, bring a unique perspective to Woolorama.  They are a tapped resource greatly appreciated by the “Establishment” and staff.  Without them we’d be poorer and lacking a future.  Their fervour reminds us of ourselves 40 years ago and needs to be both nurtured and harnessed.  Please, give them a pat on the back when you see them at the show.