Wool warrior

Washpool’s Sophie Reynolds, 20, competed in the New South Wales state final of the Merino Fleece Young Judges Competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show on the weekend.

Sophie qualified for the state final at the Walcha Show in 2019 while living in NSW and attending the University of New England in Armidale, where she studies animal science majoring in livestock production.

With the state final unable to be held last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was rolled over until this year’s Royal Easter Show.

Of the 16 state finalists on the weekend, Sophie progressed to the next round of the competition and the top eight, and despite not bringing home a win she said it had been a valuable experience.

“It was really enjoyable, I met lots of new people and it was just something different to be involved in,” she said.

Sophie, from a sheep and cropping farm between Bundaleer and Washpool, is continuing her university studies however due to COVID-19 has had to return home and undertake the studies online.

She is expecting to return to Armidale sometime this year to resume face-to-face studies.

In the meantime, Sophie is happy to be home and ‘in the thick’ of working and studying on the farm where she has her own sheep stud, Wittalo Poll Merinos, with 70 breeding ewes.

Sophie was the Urrbrae Agricultural High School AJ & PA McBride Prize for Agriculture winner in 2019, has been recognised as a Michell Young Gun of Wool, was the 2019 Jamestown Show Rural Ambassador, and has competed in fleece and sheep judging at the Jamestown Show, Royal Adelaide Show, National Merino Sheep Show and Sale in Dubbo, Walcha Show and now the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

While not one to talk up her own successes, the young woman with a passion for wool and sheep said she was keen to make her career in an industry that is seemingly ‘in her blood’.

“I’ve just grown up around sheep and wool and have always been exposed to it, so I think that’s where my interest really comes from,” she said.

“I’d like to specialise in stock nutrition, continue to run my sheep stud and after getting some experience working interstate after uni, I would like to end up working back here in the Mid North.”