A national farming competition to bring teenagers closer to farming and how their food is produced, took place in June at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi in North Wales.
The Food, Farming and Environment competition, managed by LEAF Education, saw teenagers from six schools from across England and Wales take part in a broad range of activities designed to give them hands-on experience and an insight into the science and technology used in farming. These included milking cows, tractor driving and auto-steer, sheep weighing, genetics, electronic identification, drones and precision farming. Students also looked at how farmers are producing food sustainably through a range of environmental protection measures including woodland management and wildlife conservation.
The weekend culminated in students presenting a panel of judges with what they had learnt from their experience, what had inspired them and how it had changed their views of farming. Based on the quality of the presentation, Ysgol Henry Richard were crowned overall winner of the Innovation School of the Year 2019 in Food, Farming and Environment.
Iain Clarke, Head of Coleg Cambria Llysfasi said:
'The weekend, based around our 1000-acre commercial working farm, included a range of experiences taught by our team of specialists around precision agricultural technology, and how modern farming grows our food in an environmentally sustainable way. The teenagers who won the weekend competition, many coming from non-farming backgrounds, were truly inspirational, knowledgeable, confident and articulate, and I believe we have seen some up and coming leaders for our industry. With young people like this, the agricultural, engineering and forestry industries will be in very safe hands going forward. Engaging young people in how our food is produced is so important and opening the doors for a range of rewarding careers in land-based industries. '
Carl Edwards, Director, Education and Public Engagement at LEAF, added:
'This competition is all about inspiring young people about farming and why it matters. Over this weekend, students have been able to experience farming close up – we’ve immersed them in the realities of farming and opened their eyes to its links with broader global issues around sustainability, climate change, ethics, health and wellbeing. It has been wonderful to see students really engage with the activities and ask some mature and challenging questions around how their food is produced.
'This is the second year of the competition, which builds on a wider programme of work LEAF Education is spearheading, looking at ways that the agricultural sector can speak to teenagers about some of the pressing issues they care about. Providing opportunities such as this, for young people to get up close to farming, is just one of a number of projects we are developing to reach out to the next generation. Teenagers have often been a neglected group in terms of outreach, however, our research shows that they want to know more, care about how their food is produced, hold strong views about environmental issues and are eager to learn more about career opportunities in the sector.'
The six schools participating were: Ysgol Henry Richard, Ceredigion; Pipers Corner School, Buckinghamshire; Loughborough High School, Leicestershire; Stroud High School, Gloucestershire; Priestlands School, Hampshire and Reddish Vale High School, Stockport.