A duo from Christchurch Girls’ High School have taken out the title of the 2022 FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year at the Grand Final in Whangārei.
Erin Humm and Amelia Ridgen took home a whole raft of prizes, worth over $1,700 for their win, they also topped the points in the face off competition.
They became just the second female pair to win the coveted title.
It was announced on Friday (July 8) night at the awards ceremony at Semenoff Stadium, after two days of stiff competition and a final bid for points with the top four teams competing head-to-head in a buzzer style quiz.
Cameron Brans and Quinn Redpath from Napier Boys’ High School were named runner up FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year.
Third place was awarded to another pair of young women, Tia Fowle and Renee Zwagerman, ex Southland Girls’ High School students.
14 teams of two from across the country travelled to Whangārei for the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final, a contest for high school students.
Amelia and Erin were overwhelmed and humbled by the win and very proud that two young woman beat all the boys to take the title.
“It's pretty cool that we're both girls,” said Erin, originally from Pigeon Bay.
“It's really empowering, it's a good boost to get into the industry and it's really encouraging,” said Amelia, from Greendale.
The duo are boarders at Christchurch Girls’ High and are both 17 years old. Leaving school next year, they both plan to do a bachelor of AgriScience at Lincoln University.
Their second Grand Final, the pair competed last year and placed first in the exam.
This year, they battled through a day of rain, bad weather and modules involving kumara – a Northland staple but somewhat foreign to two Cantabrians.
“I found parts of the farmlet generally the toughest for me, I had to rely on Erin for the practical side of it a lot so it was definitely a team effort,” Amelia said.
Their advice for other young women and girls was to just get into it.
“The competition is so much fun, we've done it every year and never placed before till last year. It's just so much fun and you learn so much and meet so many new people, it's great.”
The top two teams from all seven New Zealand Young Farmers’ regions qualified for the Grand Final from their regional final, held near the start of the year.
Contestants completed an exam on Thursday before heading into Practical Day on Friday.
They also had to present a 10-minute speech in front of a panel of judges on one of two topics: does "NZ have a responsibility to the world to keep increasing food production to cater to the rising global population, or technology has changed how food is produced – discuss the impact of food being produced in a laboratory as opposed being field grown.
The teams’ skills and knowledge of the food and fibre sector were tested through a series of modules on practical day, which included; pre-use checks on a quad bike and securing a trailer, planting and soil requirements to grow kumara, matching wool traits and samples, calf welfare and humane disbudding, reassembling a chainsaw while using the correct safety equipment and assembling a watertight vessel to transport and collect as much water as possible to put out a ‘fire'.
They also went head-to-head in a ‘farmlet’ challenge which they had two hours to complete.
Teams had to construct a footbridge across a waterway, strong enough to hold a judge walking across it. They were also tested on their know-how of riparian planting, and were judged on their ability to identify where and why a riparian strip was required and how it should be laid out and planted.
New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith said it was fantastic to see high school students’ knowledge of the food and fibre sector on full display.
“Firstly I would like to say a massive congratulations to Amelia and Erin who are two amazing young women and so deserving of the title. I also want to congratulate our other place getters and the rest of the contestants who competed over the last two days.”
“New Zealand Young Farmers’ purpose is to excite young people about all of the possibilities in the food and fibre sector so it's great to see such an enthusiastic bunch of winners who embody the knowledge and innovation needed to excel in such a diverse industry.”
“All 14 Grand Final teams and those who competed in Regional Finals truly are an inspiration to the future of the industry.”
The seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalists also presented their speeches at the awards ceremony, in front of a crowd of 350 before their final challenge at the evening show on Saturday night.
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest Series is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, Worksafe, Ministry for Primary Industries, Environmental Protection Authority, Honda, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, New Holland and PTS Logistics.
1st - Amelia Ridgen and Erin Humm, Christchurch Girls’ High
- Prize = FMG backpack, $500 cash, $250 for their school, Ravensdown hosted experience, $400 prize voucher from Massey University, New Holland prize pack, $500 RM Williams voucher from Lincoln University, a hydration backpack, gaiters and a boot dryer from MPI.
2nd - Cameron Brans and Quinn Redpath, Napier Boys’ High School
- Prize = FMG backpack, $250 cash, $125 for their school, 2 x tickets to FMG Young Farmer of the Year evening show, $250 prize voucher from Massey University, New Holland prize pack, $300 Bushbuck voucher from Lincoln University.
3rd - Tia Fowle and Renee Zwagerman Southland Girls High School
- Prize = FMG backpack, $100 cash, $50 for their school, 2 x tickets to FMG Young Farmer of the Year evening show, $150 prize voucher from Massey University, New Holland prize pack, $200 Hunting and Fishing Voucher from Lincoln University.
FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Contestant of the Year – Renee Zwagerman, Otago Southland
- $200 prize voucher from Massey University and $250 Hunting and Fishing Voucher from Lincoln University
Category winners: (Prize = $30 Rebel Sport voucher each)
Exam winners – Cameron Brans and Quinn Redpath, Napier Boys’ High School
Module winners – Jack Foster and James James Clark, Mount Hutt College, Aorangi
Speech competition – Mary Innes and Tessa Berger, Mahurangi College, Northern
Farmlet winners - Tia Fowle and Renee Zwagerman, ex Southland Girls’ High, Otago Southland,
Face off winners – Amelia Ridgen and Erin Humm, Christchurch Girls’ High, Tasman
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