Well, it was a resounding ‘YES’ from all five judges following the last round of the Angus Youth Challenge at Loughry on 2nd February. Hence, the team of Anna & Aaron Flanagan, Thomas Kerr and James Ritchie were given a place in the semi-final thus getting a hoof closer to securing those five Aberdeen Angus calves!
The semi-final was held in CAFRE, Loughry campus, on Friday 9th March where the team competed against 11 other schools from across the province to try and impress a panel of independent judges with their knowledge and understanding of producing Aberdeen Angus beef within Northern Ireland. The judges were experts from industry and leading organisations across the farming and agri-food sectors here in Northern Ireland. The team endured a two-hour grilling as each judge visited their display stand and interviewed the pupils collectively and individually.
Once it was known that the pupils were on the way to the semi-final it was the beginning of an action-packed month of planning and preparation for the four Year 11 pupils. As well as researching animal welfare, food safety, women in agriculture, traceability and consumer views on Aberdeen Angus beef, the four competitors were out and about in the community visiting a state-of the-art beef producing unit belonging to Mr Charles Crawford and they toured Kettyle Irish beef processing plant at Lisnaskea. Within school they delivered a lesson to a Year 8 class outlining the health benefits of Aberdeen Angus beef and teaching them how to make home-made burgers. At the end of the lesson James Morrison, Year 8, was interviewed about his experience of helping to rear Aberdeen Angus beef on his family farm. All the while, Year 13 pupils, John Allen and Aaron Hicks were filming this lesson so that it could be shown at the semi-final. Alongside all of this, Anna, Aaron, Thomas and James were liaising with Mr McDevitt in the Technology and Design department to discuss the production of a range of promotional materials such as engraved pencils, glasses and chopping boards. Furthermore, they worked with the ICT (Mr Corrigan) and Moving Image Art (Mr Boyle) departments to ensure the video footage of the Year 8 lesson and visits could be show cased successfully during the semi-final. Visits to L.E. Graphics had to be squeezed in to discuss designs for promotional banners and keyrings that were considered important in promoting their ideas to the judges.
And again……..the long wait begins as the results of the competition will not be announced until Tuesday 10th April! And again……the big question is……Will the ERGS community be ‘beefed up’ by 5 new Aberdeen Angus calves? Let’s continue to keep our fingers, toes and hooves crossed that ERGS will have 5 new ‘pupils’ of a different kind!
It won’t just be the team who are disappointed if the 5 calves don’t come to ERGS as the support from Miss Armstrong, the whole school community and from the local community has been phenomenal with good wishes, good will (Moat Primary School) and sponsorship (Kerr Farm Supplies Ltd & Kettyle Irish) having been given willingly.
Sincere thanks to ABP Food Group and the Northern Irish Angus Producer Group for organising a competition that allowed the pupils to develop a whole range of skills that will make them more employable regardless of their chosen career path.