13 teenagers representing four schools have been presented with a mini-herd of Angus cross calves to rear as part of their reward for reaching the final stage of the agri-skills development experience with the meat processor, ABP. The winning schools were announced by the well-known farming programme presenter and journalist, Nicola Weir at the first live agri-event at Balmoral Park since November 2020. They are: Cookstown High School, Dalriada School Ballymoney; Friends’ School Lisburn and St Kevin’s College Lisnaskea. The ABP Angus Youth Challenge aims to bridge the skills gap between school and gaining employment in the sector. The pupils range from 14-16 years old and have a common interest in working in the agriculture and the food production sector.
Each team was presented with their finalist trophies and calves at Balmoral Park showgrounds by Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan and Charles Smith, General Manager of the Northern Irish Angus Producers Group. Commenting on the occasion, George Mullan said, “Young people have missed out on so much as a result of the pandemic. ABP is committed to offering opportunities for personal and educational development through the ABP Angus Youth Challenge. We have been delighted by the positive impact the competition is having on participants’ work-life and interpersonal skills. This secondary level initiative complements the close links we have with CAFRE, Queen’s University and Harper Adams.”
Special Guest Martin McKendry, CAFRE College Director spoke at the event and said, “CAFRE is delighted to support the ABP Angus Youth Challenge in particular through the involvement of our local Advisers working collaboratively with the participating schools. The project provides an excellent platform for young people to get a real insight into the Northern Ireland agri-food supply chain and the potential careers available. It is also extremely pleasing to see many of the recent participants within the project progressing from school onto courses within CAFRE. Finally I wish the new group of students every success on the project.”
The finalists will now embark on a farm-to-fork skills development programme with ABP. They will rear their calves through to beef and sell them to ABP, sharing in the net reward after sale. They have also been assigned special projects to work on over the next 18 months. These will challenge them to explore innovative and forward-thinking ways to support the sustainable development of beef production in Northern Ireland. Mentoring them throughout the programme will be College of Agriculture Food Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) advisors.
The teams’ performance across all aspects of the final stage will be continually assessed. At the end of their programme, one overall winning team will receive £1,000 cash prize for their school. The ABP Angus Youth Challenge will open again for entries in September 2021. Register interest now at: www.abpangusyouthchallenge.com Find us on Facebook & Instagram #ABPAngusYouth