Bencubbin teen and Team WA shine at National Championships

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WA College of Agriculture — Cunderdin Year 12 students Aaron Cuthbertson, left, and Jack Waters.
Camera IconWA College of Agriculture — Cunderdin Year 12 students Aaron Cuthbertson, left, and Jack Waters. Credit: Department of Education

Four generations of farming have clearly rubbed off on Bencubbin youngster Jack Waters.

The 17-year-old can claim to be Australia’s best young farmhand after winning gold in the VETiS primary industries category at the WorldSkills Australia National Championships.

Jack, who is in Year 12 at WA College of Agriculture — Cunderdin, was ranked highest in Australia across various farm skills events including fencing, livestock handling and machinery work.

His classmate, 18-year-old Kalannie resident Aaron Cutherbertson, won silver.

The pair competed alongside WA College of Agriculture — Harvey students Geoff Tozer and Toby Emmett as Team WA, with the group’s combined efforts earning WA first place in their category and the coveted VETiS Shield.

In a clean sweep for WA, Geoff, from Leschenault, won bronze, while Toby, from Allanson, was awarded the certificate of excellence.

Jack, who grew up on a 10,000ha farm 10km south of Bencubbin, said he honed his skills at home and school.

WorldSkills Australia National Championships gold medalist Jack Waters.
Camera IconWorldSkills Australia National Championships gold medalist Jack Waters. Credit: Department of Training and Workforce Development

“The staff at the college helped me find better ways to do certain jobs and showed me how to make the job more efficient and less stressful,” he said.

“We competed in tractor safety and operating, livestock movement, drafting and drenching, fencing, and then we had a theory component.

“I definitely enjoyed the livestock a lot but the tractor operating was really good too.”

Jack will be putting those tractor skills to good use next year when he starts a heavy diesel mechanic’s apprenticeship at the Merredin AFGRI dealership.

“I’m really keen; I’ll be following Dad’s footsteps because that’s what he did before coming back to the farm,” he said.

Just like his dad, Jack plans “eventually” to return to the farm where his family run 4000 Merino sheep and crop about 6000ha of canola, wheat, oats and lupins.

Silver medallist Aaron — who hails from a 2000ha lupin, barley and wheat farm — has similar ambitions.

WA College of Agriculture - Cunderdin Year 12 students Jack Waters, left, and Aaron Cuthbertson.
Camera IconWA College of Agriculture - Cunderdin Year 12 students Jack Waters, left, and Aaron Cuthbertson. Credit: Department of Education

“I’ll probably do a year of work as a farmhand and then I’d like to pursue a Bachelor of Agribusiness at Marcus Oldham College,” he said.

“I’d like to become a farm manager and work myself up the ladder, and then hopefully go back and either work on the farm or own my own farm.

“Coming to Cunderdin has given me a bit of a taste of what farm management is like.

“We never had livestock at home, so Cunderdin has given me experience in that side of farming.”

The WA leg of the national championships was held at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre in August, but scores were not tallied and released until late October.

Hundreds of youngsters competed in various categories, gaining the experience to take on a wide range of trades and skilled professions.

Of the 150 medals awarded, Team WA competitors won 54 — 19 gold, 22 silver and 13 bronze — and seven certificates of excellence.

The combined Harvey and Cunderdin team qualified after both colleges drew and won the Farm Skills 2019 competition, which was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19.

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