Friends’ School Lisburn win Angus Cross calves in agri-skills contest

Three pupils from Friends’ School in Lisburn have been awarded a mini-herd of Angus cross calves to rear as part of their involvement in an agri-skills development competition with the meat processor, ABP.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 4:35 pm
Friend's School pupils Molly Nelson, Meabh Quinn and Rachel McEntee receive their Angus cross calves to rear and are pictured with mentor Noel McNeill from CAFRE, Charles Smith, Martin McKendry, CAFRE College Director, NI Angus Producer Group and George Mullan, ABP Managing Director.

The ABP Angus Youth Challenge aims to bridge the skills gap between school and gaining employment in the agri-food sector.

Molly Nelson, Meabh Quinn and Rachel McEntee, will all now play a part in looking after the calves which will be reared on a farm in Glenavy. They are one of four finalist teams who received calves at a presentation ceremony held at Balmoral Park recently. The schools they will now have to compete against as finalists are: Cookstown High School, Dalriada School Ballymoney and St Kevin’s College, Lisnaskea.

Each team was presented with their finalist trophies and calves by Managing Director of ABP in Northern Ireland, George Mullan and Charles Smith, General Manager of the Northern Irish Angus Producers Group. Commenting on the occasion, George Mullan said, “Young people have missed out on so much because of the pandemic. ABP is committed to offering opportunities for personal and educational development through the ABP Angus Youth Challenge. We have been delighted by the positive impact the competition is having on their work-life and interpersonal skills.”

Friend's School pupils Meabh Quinn, Rachel McEntee and Molly Nelson receive their ABP Angus Youth Challenge finalist trophy alongside teacher Robert Jamison. Also on the stage is George Mullan, ABP Managing Director, Martin McKendry, CAFRE College Director and Charles Smith, NI Angus Producer Group

Martin McKendry, CAFRE College Director, was a special guest at the presentation ceremony. He said, “CAFRE is delighted to support the ABP Angus Youth Challenge through the involvement of our local Advisers working collaboratively with the participating schools. The project provides an excellent platform for young people to get a real insight into the Northern Ireland agri-food supply chain and the potential careers available. It is also extremely pleasing to see many of the recent participants within the project progressing from school onto courses within CAFRE.”

The finalists will now embark on a farm-to-fork skills development programme with ABP. They will rear their calves through to beef and sell them to ABP, sharing in the net reward after sale. They have also been assigned special projects to work on over the next 18 months. These will challenge them to explore innovative and forward-thinking ways to support the sustainable development of beef production in Northern Ireland. The team from Friends’ project will explore the theme: “Mitigating carbon through improved bovine genetics”.

Speaking about her expectations of the competition, team member Molly Nelson, aged 14, said, “I think it’s a unique opportunity that will improve my understanding of the agricultural industry and aid my learning about food provenance. I hope that this will help my research and communication skills and increase my employability in the workplace as well as it being a fun and enjoyable experience that will benefit my education.”

Mentoring them throughout will be Noel McNeill, Beef and sheep advisor from the College of Agriculture Food Rural Enterprise (CAFRE). The teams’ performance across all aspects of the final stage will be continually assessed. At the end of their programme, one overall winning team will receive £1,000 cash prize for their school. The ABP Angus Youth Challenge will open again for entries in September 2021. Register interest now at: www.abpangusyouthchallenge.com