Saturday, December 9, 2023

Agricademy appoints new WOMOlife manager

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Hawke’s Bay farmer Carmen Smith to oversee woolshed training needs.
Carmen Smith – who was offered the WOMOlife role while dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle – has won many awards for her wool handling, pressing and shearing.
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Agricademy has appointed Carmen Smith manager of its WOMOlife brand to oversee the ongoing training needs for the shearing and wool handling industry.

For the past couple of years, Smith has been the head trainer of WOMOlife’s wool handling courses and features as the host of its online wool handling videos. 

The Hawke’s Bay farmer has won many awards for her wool handling, pressing and shearing, and brings over 25 years’ experience in the sheds and more recently in training to the role.

Agricademy’s managing director, Alister Shennan, said Smith has the respect of industry and trainers.

“Her ability to build a team and build strong partnerships with schools, contractors and the industry will launch many successful careers,” Shennan said.

Smith and her partner Gavin run a 340ha sheep and beef farm in Waipukurau.  

The farm, like many others in Hawke’s Bay, was hammered by Cyclone Gabrielle.

“Our house was spared because it’s on a hill but our farm took a hit. We lost about 5km of fencing through slips,  floods, and quite a bit of track damage, plus no power for three days,” Smith said.

“We’re resilient, we’re moving on and we will keep going!”

Almost at the same time, Smith was offered the WOMOlife manager’s role and took it on as she is passionate about training the next generation and ensuring upskilling for those already working in the industry.

Her first task was to launch Agricademy’s new offering for schools in which all its online training content is made available to any student at a school that takes up the deal.

She said it’s an opportunity for schools to provide a pathway into agriculture.

“What’s on offer is for a school to pay one annual fee and they can enrol an unlimited number of their students who will have access to all the online content of both Get Milking and WOMOlife. You could enrol 10 or 100 students.”

Students can access Get Milking’s online Relief Milker course and three of WOMOlife’s online courses in crutching, wool handling, and shearing gear and grinding.

As a trainer, Smith is keen to see new entrants to the agricultural sector do well. 

“They’re really ambitious and want to climb to the top really fast so it’s about getting them to concentrate on quality first, doing our online courses, and getting an understanding of what they need to do.”

She said the students idolise some of WOMO’s trainers.

“They’ve seen them on telly, heard about how amazing they are, as we have both record holders and country representatives in wool handling and shearing, so they can be starstruck and hang off every word of our trainers.”

Smith also sees the impact of the WOMOlife upskilling courses. 

“They learn and improve their daily work habits, change bad habits that they’ve developed so you see that lightbulb moment where it’s like ‘Whoa, I wished I’d learnt that a long time ago’.”

Disclaimer: Dean Williamson, CEO of AgriHQ, is an Agricademy shareholder

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