FIFTEEN pupils from four post-primary schools, Aughnalcoy College, Fivemiletown College, the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) and Wallace High School, Lisburn, have reached the final stage of a farm-to-fork skills development competition.
The four teams, which range from 14-16 years of age, will now go on to receive five Aberdeen Angus cross calves each at the Balmoral Show as part of the final stage in the ABP Angus Youth Challenge. As well as having to rear their own calves, they will then profit from their sale to ABP whilst also taking part in an 18-month skills development programme. The finalists have also been given special assignments to research solutions and develop innovative concepts to support the local beef supply chain.
ABP is an integrated agri-business which employs 10,000 people across 35 sites including two in Northern Ireland at Newry and Lurgan. It is a platinum sponsor of the Balmoral Show and will present the calves to the teenagers in front of the visiting public to the show on the Cattle Lawn on May 17. One overall winning team will also receive £1,000 for its school.
Congratulating the finalists during a training day at ABP Newry recently, Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland George Mullan said: “It’s good to see once again a mix of city and rural-based pupils in the final stage, not all of whom coming from farming backgrounds. ABP is looking forward to working with these pupils during this exciting, final stage of the challenge. They will have the support of ABP’s Blade Farming Co-ordinator and the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group as they go forward.”
The finalist teams were selected out of a total 13 schools who competed at the semi-final event in Loughry College in March. They were judged by a panel of representatives from leading agri-industry and educational organisations.
Mr Mullan continued: “The judges were very impressed with the standard of work on display. ABP is delighted this initiative is showcasing the talent of young people who have an interest in working in our sector.
“It takes time and commitment from the pupils and their teachers to participate in a competition of this nature. So I would like to commend them all for the very high standard of entries and thank their school community for taking part.”