Hundreds of Young Farmers have competed in District Finals for The National Bank Young Farmer Contest to find eight finalists for each Regional Final. Seven Contestants will then go on to compete in the Grand Final in Masterton from June 29th to July 2nd.
The Regional Finals get underway on February 26 with the Practical Day at the Helensville A&P showgrounds. Eight of Northern’s finest Young Farmers will be put through a series of rigorous tests that will include demonstrating their practical farming skills, theoretical business knowledge and even their community contribution. The day comprises of four Challenges: AGMARDT Agri-business; Ravensdown Agri-skills; Lincoln University Agri-growth and the exciting, fast paced Isuzu Agri-sports Challenge that will take place from 2pm.
The day finishes off with the Evening Show at the Helensville War Memorial Hall from 5.30pm. Here the winners from the various Challenges will be announced and contestants will take part in question buzzer rounds to ultimately find Northern’s representative for the Grand Final.
The action doesn’t just stop at Contest this year however, with the AgriKidsNZ Regional Final also taking place. A new feature in 2011 is the TeenAg Regional Final where 15-17 year olds will compete in teams of two to try and take out the Northern title. The Preliminaries kick off the day; contestants have five minutes at each station to complete a series of agricultural based tasks. The top seven teams will then progress through to the exciting Race Off that will start at midday.
Northern Regional Manager and 2010 Grand Finalist James Donaldson wants to see locals take advantage of having The Ultimate Rural Challenge in their backyard.
“The event is great fun and really highlights the diversity of modern farming practices and range of careers now available in the agri-sector. We welcome everyone to come along and support Northern’s best farming talent.”
That farming talent is a mixture of old and new faces this year; for some this will be their last chance to compete as the cut off age for New Zealand Young Farmers, and therefore eligibility for the Contest, is 31.
It will be 30 year old dairy farmer Matt Smith’s last chance to compete in the Regional Final; he’ll be hoping to improve on his 4th place result last year. It’s also Shane Munford’s second and last chance to get through to Grand Final; Shane is heavily involved in the Whangarei Club and is a substation technician, a shearer and runs a 30 acre lifestyle block. Also nearing cut off age is Dairy farm assistant Michael Farley who will also be competing in his second and last Regional Final.
Twenty five year old Katherine Tucker is a dairy farmer on her parent’s home block running 600 Jersey pedigree cows. Katherine, the only female in the Northern Regional Final, will be hoping experience will be on her side as she competes in her third Regional Final. Damian Dixon was third last year and is also competing for the third time. He’s an Equity Manager with 550 cows and a Director for Quad Farming Ltd.
There are also some new faces at the Regional Final this year. It’ll be 25 year old Lewis Carter’s first time as a contestant; he’s a farm hand on a 1000 acre bull farm. Also competing for the first time is 27 year old self-employed beef farmer Andrew Farr who has been a member of New Zealand Young Farmers for ten years.
Finally John Kenworthy-Thompson is the youngest in the Regional Final at just 19 years of age. He’s been a part of the Whangarei NZYF Club for six months and this is his first Regional Final, John grew up on a dairy farm but is currently completing an Engineering Apprenticeship.
Not only will one of these eight be announced as Northern’s Grand Finalist they’ll also take home a generous prize pack worth $10,250 including a Honda XR125 two-wheeled farm bike valued at $4000, a $1500 Lincoln University Scholarship, $1000 cash and $500 towards a capability development programme from AGMARDT, a weekend hunting trip courtesy of Isuzu valued at $1000, Ravensdown quality fertiliser products worth $1000, a range of Swanndri clothing valued at $750 and The National Bank will provide $500 cash.