Junior farmers ready for national finals

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FINAL TIME: Junior Young Farmers James Clark (left) and Jack Foster are ready for next week's grand final event in Hamilton.
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Senior students James Clark and Jack Foster of Mount Hutt College have been ramping up their general farm knowledge ahead of the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year grand final next week.

The pair, both 17 and third generation living on crop farms, are one of two teams to represent the Aorangi region competition for the national competition in Hamilton from July 11 to 13.

The other team is Ella Hole and Shelby Henson of Geraldine High School.

‘‘We need to know as much about everything as we can, just general knowledge,’’ James said.

‘‘General agricultural-based knowledge,’’ Jack added.

Training for the competition, which they placed third in last year, saw them getting up to date with developments in the agricultural industry, field day visits, and trips to businesses and farms in the district to learn about other operations.

Among them Midlands Apiaries, dairy farms and high country stations.

They had been much appreciated opportunities, James said.

It had given them a broader sense of the industry.

The pair, who have tertiary study, travel and farm ownership in their future plans, both live on crop farms.

Jack lives on a Highbank crop and finishing farm, the same property his grandparents once farmed.

‘‘We fatten about a couple thousand sheep each year,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s about 300 hectares.’’

TOUGH COMPETITION: More than 150 AgriKidsNZ, FMG Junior Young Farmers and FMG Young Famers competed for top placings at the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final competition at Kurow.

James lives on a cropping farm at Valetta, near Mayfield and Mt Somers.

‘‘We do a decent amount of sheep and quite a range of cropping, especially seeds,’’he said.

‘‘I’m third generation on this farm – my grandparents still live on farm – but I think I am fourth or fifth generation.’’

The pair have faced finals pressure twice before, but as year 13 students this year will be their last chance to win.

James and Jack first teamed up as year 11 students in 2022 and won the regional event and went on to place seventh in the grand final.

‘‘The first year we won the module part, which is the part with the most points up for grabs. We did quite appallingly at everything else,’’ James said.

‘‘But the next year we won the modules and the exam.’’

With the full support of their parents, they aimed ‘‘to do better than last year,’’ Jack said.

Next week in Hamilton they will be accompanied by a support crew of family, and their agricultural teachers Fiona Jessep and Emily Talbot.

‘‘I’d say we have got a pretty good balance of both practical and theory (skills),’’ Jack said.

James agreed, although preferred the competition’s practical tests.

‘‘We have done quite well on practical stuff before. We are both quite practical people,’’ he said.

In the last two grand finals they had been asked to make a planter box and a bridge.

‘‘In our practical module we haven’t had to put anything together yet, it’s mainly just been building something and fencing, so that’s what we are hopefully going to expect again this year,’’ Jack said.

However they will not find out until the competition starts.

■ Aorangi will also be represented by Young Farmer finalist Gareth McKerchar from Pleasant Point; and AgriKidsNZ finalists Longbeach Farmwise made up of Henry Pottinger, Edward White and George Lash from Longbeach School, The Waihi Bulls of Henry Phillips, Arthur Redfern and Jack France from Waihi School, and Milking Manics of Greer Neal, Olivia Strachen and Leah Wilson from Duntroon Primary School.

Vote for Aorangi

Vote for Aorangi in the FMG Region Off online competition and go in the draw to win a $500 Prezzy card. The competition, being run in conjunction with the FMG Young Farmers grand final, will benefit all Aorangi contestants, if they win. It will see $5000 towards the IHC Calf & Rural Scheme, $1000 to the senior contestant, $1000 to be split among the junior contestants and $1000 to be split among the AgriKidsNZ. Voting at fmg.co.nz/campaigns/ regionoff/aorangi closes at 5pm on July 13.