OAKEY'S Sarah Ray has proven that the region has the skills and knowledge to beat some of the best.
The Year 12 Oakey State High School student won the National Angora and Mohair Fleece Judging Competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
She beat seven other finalists from Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
It's a solid effort for the 17 year old, who got involved in the school-based agriculture program two years ago.
"I started with my school when I was in Year 10.
"I was fortunate enough to win the competition."
Ms Ray lives in town and, through the school, got involved in the agriculture program, run by teacher Debbie Goudie, which encourages students to get involved in different sectors of the industry.
"At school through the ag program, there are different ag teams for different years," she said.
"Goats are the animals for Year 10, and the seniors can go on to judge cattle.
"I chose to continue with goats."
The decision paid off, and after a successful judging round last year at the Allora, Oakey and Toowoomba shows, Ms Ray qualified for the national finals this year at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
"To go to Sydney, you had to win last year's competition," she said.
"I came first in two shows last year, and so I qualified."
She said it was exciting to be part of the largest show in the country.
"With fleece judging, you're looking at the quality of the fleece," she said.
"Mohair is structurally different to wool and you're looking for sound individual staples but also a balance of styling character.
"Styling is the twist of the mohair staple, and character is the wave.
"The fleeces were slightly easier to judge, as there was some variation between them.
"But it was still very high quality fleeces."
Animal judging, she said, was a bit more difficult.
"The animals were slightly harder because you were looking for the quality of the mohair but also good body conformation," she said.
Ms Ray plans to continue in the agriculture sector after graduating from school and will pursue a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting and rural science.
"The show is a really good experience, and it's good to see the students put their knowledge into practice," she said.