Two teenagers named overall winners of this year's ABP Angus Youth Challenge say the competition has inspired them to start working on farms part-time, despite neither living on one.

Emma Turner and Samantha Todd, who are both pupils at the Wallace High School, Lisburn, won £1,000 for their school following a two-year competitive process that finished in finals against teams from three other schools.

Angus Youth Challenge

The Angus Youth Challenge is unique in that it offers teenagers the chance to rear a mini-herd of Angus cross calves through to beef, selling them to ABP for a profit and completing detailed farm-to-fork research assignments. 17-year-old Emma and Samantha’s project was on ‘The roles and opportunities for women in agriculture’.

Emma Turner is from Lisburn and Samantha Todd lives in Ballynahinch. Neither live on a farm so they reared their calves on Emma’s grandfather's farm near Ballymena.

Photo: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

“The competition has encouraged and inspired us to work in this amazing industry, so much so that we have both begun relief milking at least three times a week and love every minute,” Emma said.

“We have made lifelong friends, created unforgettable memories, learnt and developed new skills and grown in confidence but alongside this, we have developed as young women in agriculture," Samantha added.

The winner was announced by Ireland Ladies Hockey Captain and ABP Angus Youth ambassador Katie Mullan, during a special Awards Show which was broadcast on YouTube on Monday (May 24).

Fivemiletown College was named runner-up in the competition, for the team's project titled ‘Family farming systems and their benefit to the community’. One aspect of this work was promoting the importance of mental health. Team member Megan Roberts was recognised by the judges for composing a poem on the topic.

The Outstanding Individual Achievement Award went to Aughnacloy College team member Molly Bradley, who is now a student at CAFRE Greenmount. Molly impressed the judges from the outset with her passion and enthusiasm for a future career in agriculture.

There are a further five ABP Angus Youth Challenge teams taking part in the finalist programme currently: Ballymena Academy; Castle Tower School, Cross and Passion Ballycastle; Magherafelt High School and Omagh Academy.

In addition, four new finalists teams will receive their calves from ABP and the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group at an outdoor event on June 11, at Balmoral Park.

Supervising teachers Patricia Carruthers and Barbara McKee said the competition had helped the girls grow in confidence, revealing that the calves even made it to the Wallace High School Sports Day.

Miss. Carruthers said: “Students were always keen to hear about the progress of the calves both for the house competition and in class as part of their studies. As a biology teacher, it has been great to have examples that all students can relate to and engage with when we discuss agricultural processes.”

Miss. McKee added: “This competition has definitely brought the countryside to town -especially when the calves came to sports day. The competition involved the whole school including the prep.

“It has also inspired students to study GCSE Agriculture and Land Use and raised the profile of farming and the agricultural sector.

“The girls have been transformed by this competition. Their confidence has grown dramatically, and they have developed so many skills there are too many to mention. Their friendship has definitely deepened. I am so proud of what they have achieved so far.”

The ABP Angus Youth Challenge will open for entries again in September 2021.