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Four New School Teams join ABP’s Agri-skills Development Programme

Pupils from Banbridge Academy; Cookstown High; Newtownhamilton College and St. Catherine’s College, Armagh have received an early Christmas present of a mini-herd of Angus cross calves courtesy of ABP and the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group. Each school team will now have to rear the calves through to beef as part of becoming finalists in the ABP Angus Youth Challenge.

This year-long experience as finalists will see them develop relevant skills for working in agri-food. The teenagers, who are all 14-15 years old, will also have to work on special projects relating to the local beef sector that will enhance their studies across a range of GCSE subjects. These projects will challenge them to explore forward-thinking ways to support sustainable beef production in Northern Ireland. College of Agriculture Food Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) advisors will mentor the teams during the coming year.

The team at Banbridge Academy has been given the theme of ‘Positioning Northern Ireland as a Global Leader in Sustainable Beef Production.’ Cookstown High School, who already have a team taking part in the finalist programme have been asked to research the ‘Features of the Northern Ireland Beef Farmer of the Future’ including what helps develop resilience.

Meanwhile Newtownhamilton College have been asked to look at younger consumers and the factors that influence their choices in beef consumption. The pupils from St Catherine’s College will be looking at the connectivity between animals, people, plants and the environment in a project entitled ‘One Health.’

To reach the final four, the pupils had to compete against 18 other teams which included taking part in an exhibition, judged by an independent panel of industry experts.

Their performance across all aspects of the final stage will be continually assessed. At the end of the programme, one overall winning team will receive £1,000 cash prize for their school. They now join four other teams who are currently taking part in the finalist programme – Cookstown High School, Dalriada School in Ballymoney; Friends’ Lisburn and St. Kevin’s College, Lisnaskea.