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Young Shepherds to represent New Zealand in France final

05-07-14

Young Shepherds to represent New Zealand in France final

After a fierce day of competition Mitchel Hoare and Alex Reekers have earned top scores in the preliminary round of the World Young Shepherds Challenge.

The pair will compete as a team representing New Zealand at the final in Auvergne, France this September.

"I'm pretty wrapped, and surprised really," said Mitchel. "I just thought the best man would win it on the day."

Mitchel, 19, of the Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, is a Senior Cadet at Waipaoa Station and was awarded Top Junior Student and Top Ability Awards in 2013. In his spare time he enjoys dog trialing and taking part in his Young Farmers Club.

The pair agreed that preparing for the event was rather difficult as the competition tested a broad range of practical skills and included several theory based challenges.

The competition ran Friday 4 July alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final at Lincoln University grounds where contestants were evaluated on not only their practical skills but the depth of their knowledge and understanding of key issues affecting the sheep industry.

The eight participants completed a written exam, a panel interview and hands-on challenges such as sheep shearing, negotiating a quad bike obstacle course, foot trimming and drenching.

Like Mitchel, Alex, 23, also went through the farm cadet program at Waipaoa, and for the past two years he has been working as a stockman in Waimate.

Alex views taking part in the competition as an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the industry he is so passionate about. "I am really keen to learn about my foreign counterparts and their farming systems," he said.

Alex is the current Vice-Chairman of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club and belongs to the Waimate Sheep Dog Trial Club. He also holds a Diploma in Agriculture from Lincoln University.

A judge for the event, Martin Coup, Farmer Council National Chair for Beef+Lamb NZ, says this event "is a real eye opener for the competitors" and is a great opportunity for our future rural leaders to get a taste of the wider industry.

This competition also aims to strengthen international partnerships in the sheep industry and showcase the talent and careers in the sector.

Mitchel and Alex will be competing against other young shepherds from England, Australia, Argentina, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and South American representatives from Uruguay and Argentina.

ENDS

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