This year’s FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year competition was largely moved online because of Covid-19 restrictions, but it did not stop two Napier Boys’ High School students placing second overall.
Year Twelve students Guy von Dadelszen and Tristin Peeti-Webber came second in last month’s grand final, which 14 teams of two from around the country complete several tasks online. A practical component was done in isolation in Dannevirke for the East Coast teams.
Napier Boys’ Agriculture teacher Rex Newman said they were fortunate to have any competition at all because the senior final had been postponed.
“The boys worked well over the week, having to come up with an innovation project, business plan and biosecurity plan,” he said.
Speech topics were handed out during the week and innovation projects were handed in on Wednesday. Friday, June 19 was the main day of competing, with online modules, a speech and exam before the top 5 had to face off online with quick-fire rounds of questions.
“After it was all wrapped up, Guy and Tristin were placed second. It was an admirable effort considering the difficult nature of the online modules. The boys are well placed to push for the title in 2021,” Mr Newman said.
This was Guy’s fourth time in the regional competition, and second shot at the national title after coming second place at the 2019 Grand Final with a different partner. Tristan also competed three years ago but did not make the final.
Guy says that Covid-19 certainly made the whole experience different as there were fewer physical activities and more online work to do.
“They were emailing everything to us, and we had to email what we were doing back to them. There were also a lot more zoom calls and stuff compared to what we would normally do.”
Not knowing how other teams were doing this year, did make things a bit tricky.
“It’s quite a lot of work on the day because you are not exactly sure what’s going to happen or what they’re going to give you on the day and it’s hard to tell how the other teams have done so you don’t know where about you’re going to stack up,” says Guy.
One good thing about the competition being online was that the boys did not need to fundraise to get to the final which was due to be held in Christchurch. But the physical aspect of the competition, which the boys’ saw as their strength was reduced and replaced with a “lot more writing”.
For Tristan, this was the first time he had competed since Year 9 and he got involved in the competition through NBHS Agriculture Club run by Mr Newman. He says that although he lived in town, he had “basically” grown up on a farm.
Guy said that one of the online tasks they had to complete was an innovation project where they were given 250 hectares of land and had to convert it into something for a local Covid-19 market.
“We decided to do raw milk (produce) and sell it through our own farm name rather than through a big company. This way we cut out the middleman and achieve better public relations between farmers and consumers.”
Guy sees this competition as a stepping stone for a career in farming, with the aim to study at Lincoln University and then eventually run a beef and sheep farm.
But before that, there is some unfinished business as he says he will “probably give it another crack and hopefully win” the competition.
Mr Newman says the Agriculture Club is an extra-curricular programme on top of subjects taught at Napier Boys’
“Anywhere between 70-80 boys would be involved in any one year or are signed up with the club. Most of them keen to get involved in some capacity throughout the year, so we try to interact with other clubs from schools like Napier Girls’, Lindisfarne, Iona and Woodford House.”
“We’re so lucky to be able to do it as we have a large rural contingent with many rural families associated with Napier Boys’,” Mr Newman says.
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Napier Boys’ High School students Guy Von Dadelszen and Tristin Peeti- Webber came second in the online version of the 2020 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the year competition.