"This year, I was on a ranch almost every weekend from January through June," Wilke said. "I got pretty burnt out."
With skills honed in three five-day sessions of training at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources facility in Hopland, she has found she can earn between $50 and $100 per hour shearing sheep.
John Harper, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor in Mendocino County, has hosted the sheep shearing school for 20 years and has 40 years experience with sheep shearing.
"It is the longest running shearing school in California and I believe it's currently the only one," Harper said.
The training school started with instructors imported from New Zealand. When the cost of travel became prohibitive, Harper brought in Mike McWilliams from Oregon. Later Gary Vorderbruggen, who trained under McWilliams, became the chief instructor.
The five-day course will be offered again in 2016 with classroom instruction, demonstrations and hands-on experience. Beginning and experienced shearers have the opportunity for one-on-one training. Class dates have not yet been decided. Registration information will be posted on the Sheep Shearing School webpage.
View a PDF version of the Sheep Magazine article by clicking the link below.