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NI Education Minister Congratulates Award-Winning Pupils at Abp Angus Youth Challenge Final

A group of pupils from Omagh Academy is taking the ABP Angus Youth Challenge Cup home to Co. Tyrone for their winning project on ‘Exploring the potential of a low carbon Angus beef brand.’ Joshua Keys, Tori Robson, James Fleming, Jill Liggett and Allister Crawford have been taking part in the ABP Angus Youth Challenge finalist programme since 2020 along with four other teams from Ballymena Academy; Castle Tower School, Ballymena; Cross & Passion Ballycastle and Magherafelt High School. The Omagh Academy team impressed the judges with their understanding of the challenges to the climate posed by emissions, and their ability to convey in a practical and positive way, the steps farmers can take to mitigate the impact of livestock production to produce sustainable beef for consumers.

Ballymena Academy were Runners-up at the awards ceremony which was held today (28th October 2021) in the Logan Hall, Balmoral Park. Their research assignment explored ‘future-proofing beef farming through technology’. Meanwhile Castle Tower’s team and their teacher received a Highly Commended award for how they brought their passion for farming to life. Two pupils were also singled out for individual awards. Ruth Sheppard from Magherafelt High School won the award for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual and Jessica Livingstone from Ballymena Academy was given a Judges’ Special Merit award.

The Minister for Education, Michelle McIlveen MLA attended the event as Guest of Honour. In her speech she congratulated the award winners and all the finalists for completing their 18-month agri-skills development programme. The Minister said,

“The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is a wonderful example of school / employer engagement and activity. It demonstrates a shared interest in, and shared responsibility for, the future of the young people involved. Through collaboration there is a mutual benefit for both the young people and for employers who share their expertise with the future workforce. I have no doubt that the ABP Angus Youth Challenge has and will continue to enhance the learning experiences and employability skills of the young people involved.”

The competition is delivered by the agri-food company ABP in partnership with the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group. Presenting the Omagh Academy team with a cheque for £1,000 for their school, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan said, “We introduced the ABP Angus Youth Challenge so that young people could gain skills and a practical experience of our sector. Notwithstanding the pandemic, we were determined that the ABP Angus Youth Challenge would continue to nurture the skills and experience necessary for the world of work.”

22 new teams from 14 post primary schools were also in attendance at the Logan Hall to compete for a place in the next finalist programme. They had to exhibit their ideas to an independent panel of agri-food and education professionals. The displays ranged from carbon sequestration and soil health to medical applications of animal by-products and the nutritional comparisons of a vegan versus a flexitarian diet. The teams that go through to the next stage will be announced next month. George Mullan added, “ABP is delighted to have a record number of new teams enter the Challenge this year. Their interest is a strong signal of the value they, their teachers and parents see in the competition as an enhancement to their studies.”