National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

30 May 2019

A dry wit and a love of YFC helped Northumberland's County Chairman Ed Dungait win the Sidney Fawcett trophy at NFYFC's Annual General Meeting in May. When he's not leading his County Federation, winning awards or spending time with his club Tritlington YFC, 26-year-old Ed is busy working on his family's arable farm near Morpeth.

When did you join YFC?

10 years ago

Why have you remained a member?

Because it’s the best organisation ever. I’d have been lost without Young Farmers.

Greatest achievement in YFC?

Winning Northumberland YFC Male Party Animal of the Year 2015. A close second would be winning Best Male Actor 2019, or Trit winning Club of the Year 2017 – or being asked to be County Chairman after everyone else turned it down!

Greatest achievement outside young farmers?

Getting one of the top 10 marks in the country for my Physics A Level. It comes in really handy day-to-day on the farm.

Top skill you have learnt through YFC?

Acting – making people laugh (usually at me, sometimes with me).

I’d never been on stage before until two years ago when Trit joined with Coquetdale YFC to scratch a panto together. We were told by the judges it was “the funniest thing they’d ever seen”. It brings out talents that we never knew we had, and confidence comes with that.

The best thing you’ve ever made with YFC?

Friends.

Three words to describe your club…

Small, Mighty, Oneclubonelove

Has YFC helped you in your career/studies?

Yes, making contacts, and communicating with people.

Someone you would like to thank in YFC and why?

Peter Howie & Jack Kelcher. They joined on the same night as me 10 years ago and have taken the club from strength to strength, making the Trit Trojans a force to be reckoned with. Not forgetting all the other members too!

 

If you would like to feature in our YFC profile or want to nominate someone to be profiled, email magazine@nfyfc.org.uk 



30 May 2019

More than 2,000 sapling trees have been ordered from the Woodland Trust by YFCs in support of the #ProtectYourFuture campaign and clubs are being urged to place final orders before the end of June.

The campaign, which was launched in February, is calling on YFCs to plant a tree per member in 2019 to show their commitment to safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Four counties and two YFCs have officially applied for trees so far, and many more are working on their applications. The advice for clubs and counties though, from Personal Development Chairman Marcus Bailey, is to hurry and apply.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for YFC members to show how committed young farmers are to protecting the environment,“ said Marcus. “The Woodland Trust only has a certain amount of sapling trees available so clubs wanting to get involved need to place their orders before the end of June.”

Among those County Federations that have ordered sapling trees are Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Jack Nicholls, an arborist from Wedmore YFC (see photo of Wedmore YFC right), has encouraged his YFC to get behind the campaign in Somerset and the club has applied for 420 sapling trees.

“I work as an arborist but I'm passionate about wildlife conservation, tree planting and climate change, so I am really trying to push this project to the max. I have found multiple sites to plant our trees including local playing fields, parish council land and The Orchard Vale Trust – a centre supporting adults with learning disabilities,” said Jack who has recently visited the Trust to discuss how the club can help with planting the trees in key areas.

While the sapling trees won't be planted until November, clubs need to leave enough time to find suitable sites for planting warned Jack.

“I received a lot of interest from the local community and organisations when I publicised the fact we had the sapling trees, but you need to set aside enough time to investigate the leads and make the arrangements for planting,” said Jack who said he has been able to dedicate the time to the project as he doesn’t have a role in his club this year.

“It’s best to give this project to someone in your club who doesn’t already have a role. Our Chairman is very busy with the day-to-day running of the club so this would be an extra pressure. I am passionate about it and have the spare time to make it happen.”

In Gloucestershire, NFYFC Chairwoman Katie Hall has ordered 315 sapling trees from the Woodland Trust and has also found multiple sites for planting. 

“This is a great initiative and can really help to promote YFC positively in your local community,” said Katie. “Not only are you doing the work of applying for the trees, but it’s a great opportunity for you to get together with other YFC members to plant the trees this November – we are really excited about it in Gloucestershire. We are also getting our local community groups and the NFU involved in our project. It’s worth making sure your club or County has ordered your tree so you can be part of this campaign.”

Jack has also found that the project is bringing Wedmore YFC and its local community closer together.

“There’s a massive movement that wants to get involved in supporting environmental projects and our local community is really passionate about working with the club to plant trees in the playing fields. There will be a mix of people getting involved in the planting too – not just YFC members  – which will make it a real community effort,” added Jack.

If you and your club or county want to support the Protect Your Future campaign and plant trees in your local community – see here for more information. 



23 May 2019

YFC members are being encouraged to get involved with #FarmingFortnight to help encourage primary and secondary schools across the UK to have a fortnight’s focus on British farming and food production.

The two-week campaign, from 3-14 June, is the brainchild of LEAF Education and Brockhill Park Performing Arts College. (who also have a YFC school club). With young people often being disconnected from the origins of their food and the people behind the story of their food, the fortnight has been developed for students and their teachers to engage with and understand farming and food production.

It follows the teenager research programme, which LEAF Education and Rothamsted Research developed during 2018. One of the main outcomes of the research with 1,200 12-18 year olds and 60 teenagers on farm was that over 35% of young people would like to find out more about where their food comes from and how it is produced; and another 32% would consider a career in this sector.

A theme that these young people highlighted was: ‘Let’s Connect,’ where they wanted short activities to engage with in school settings, using their peers to help them understand. This is why the partnership between LEAF Education and Brockhill Park Performing Arts College’s students has been key.

How can YFC members support #FarmingFortnight

YFCs can work with a YFC Trainer to engage a local school in the Future Farming module that was developed by NFYFC and LEAF Education. Resource packs can be requested from Josie Murray at NFYFC.

Individual YFC members can also support the campaign by using the relevant hashtags for each day during Farming Fortnight or by recording simple videos recorded on their farm during the fortnight, tagging @LEAF_Education and using the #s in their posts. 

The topics covered during Farming Fortnight, and the # for social media developed by the students at Brockhill, are:

Week 1:

  • Introduction to the British Countryside and food production #MarketMonday
  • Arable - wheat and oats #TractorTuesday
  • Sheep #WoollyWednesday
  • Pigs #Oink
  • Chickens (poultry) #FeatheredFriday

Week 2:

  • Cows – beef and dairy #MooingMonday
  • Fruit and Vegetable production #TastyTuesday
  • Woodland #WellyWednesday
  • Jobs/careers #FutureFarming
  • Programme summary to recap on what has been learnt #FarmingFriday

 

 


23 May 2019

An opportunity to learn more about crop protection from leading industry figures gave 24-year old Chloe Lockhart from Warwickshire the chance to broaden her YFC experience even further. Chloe shares her experience of attending the Crop Protection Association’s Annual Conference in May.

Why did you want to go the Crop Protection’s Annual Conference? 

I saw an email from NFYFC AGRI offering a YFC member a sponsored place to the Crop Protection Association’s annual conference and general meeting. I sent a tentative email explaining my current job as a combinable crops adviser for the NFU, and how I felt the conference would be really interesting. As luck would have it the space was still available.

What happened at the conference?

The speakers were excellent and it was refreshing to hear positive attitudes at a time when things in the agricultural industry can be so challenging and uncertain.

The speakers came from completely different areas of agriculture ranging from novel work on slug patches at Harper Adams University to vertical ‘aeroponics’ – cultivating salad and herb crops via root irrigation stacked in sheds or underground. 

There was also a discussion about niche cropping methods and whether they would ever become commonplace on farms and how wide the farming system could reach. It was interesting to think how farming certain crops may change in the future, but there was broad agreement that broad acre field crops will always play a part.

It was fantastic to meet new people in the industry at lunch afterwards, as well as catching up with various people I had previously met.

What do you think about these opportunities that become available through YFC?

Being a part of a YFC has given me immense opportunity over the last ten years but, I didn’t realise what it has done and can continue to do for me in terms of personal and career development.

I joined young farmers when I was 13 and have enjoyed many years of socialising alongside committee roles and gaining associated skills from a relatively young age. I’m sure these experiences held me in good stead for when I moved onto university, then into a graduate role and now in my employment with the NFU. I now use all the skills I used to dread, such as public speaking and talking on the telephone.

YFC has given me so many incredible experiences, including being in the Ballroom Dancing competition finals in Blackpool a few years ago.

Would you recommend other YFC members get involved with industry opportunities like this one when they become available?

Keep an eager eye out for future events or places that YFC has the capacity to take you to - there are so many opportunities available to support young people’s development so grab them with both hands.

I can’t thank YFC enough for the years of friendship and laughter, but everyone should recognise the skills it also gives you in terms of your personal and professional development.

NFYFC's AGRI Steering Group has recently recorded a video about Crop Protection that you can watch here. 




23 May 2019

Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) is celebrating its 85th birthday this year, and will mark this special milestone at the Royal Bath & West Show from 29 May-1 June, whee all YFC members can save £10 off the ticket price

The Somerset FYFC marquee at the Show is themed around the 85th celebration, with current and ex-young farmers encouraged to share their memories on a memory tree, which will bloom as the week goes on. A timeline will feature the locations of all the Royal Bath & West Shows, the dates YFC clubs were formed and landmark farming dates. 

One Somerset family have been YFC members right from the start when the Portbury, Yatton and Nailsea group merged to form North Somerset YFC in 1932. One of the founding members was George Withers from Clapton-in-Gordano: Along with his twin brother, John, these 15-year olds were well-known throughout the YFC and the showing circuit. George’s special interest was Large White pigs, with which he had many showing successes, including at the Bath & West Show, which in earlier years moved location each year.

By 1938 there were over 1,000 members of Somerset YFCs – and being in his twenties when WW2 broke out, George was a member in a time when rationing and petrol tokens were in force.  Members were only issued petrol tokens for meetings, not for dances, so to get around this the members arranged dances to follow meetings. George was a supporter of the branch long after he was too old to attend, and went on to become president of North Somerset YFC in 1988, remaining in the post for several years.

Although petrol tokens were long gone by the time his daughter Carol joined North Somerset YFC in 1962, aged 17, it was still uncommon to have a car. “We used to borrow our parents’ cars to get to meetings, or arrange lifts,” said Carol, who remained a member until she was married.

The family have all met their partners through YFC. Carol remembers she was encouraged to join after her parents thought her current boyfriend was unsuitable. “They thought I would find the right person in Young Farmers, and I obviously did,” she said.

She met her husband, Richard Gell, at North Somerset YFC. Their son, Andrew, duly followed in their footsteps, joining the club when he was 17 in 1985, playing an active role and remaining a member until the age limit of 26.

Likewise, Andrew’s wife, Sarah, was a member of Wrington & District YFC, the first club to be formed in Somerset, taking on many roles throughout her time in the club even after she and Andrew married in 1999. When away at college in Plymouth Sarah joined Devon club, Roborough, for a short time and was pleased that YFC was there to turn to. “I hated being away from home but joining the local club made me feel less homesick,” she said.

The whole family have made friends for life through the YFC, with whom they still regularly meet up.  “One of the good things about young farmers is that it’s run by the members for the members – the advisory don’t get involved unless you want them to,” said Andrew and Sarah's son George who is a current member. “Club numbers do vary each year with people going to university or being out of age, but we’re optimistic about the future of our club.”

The meetings on the club's programme are much the same as in Carol’s day. Stock-judging, talks from companies, ten pin bowling and visits to local businesses to name a few, as well as practice in public speaking and sports. “Hockey was a big part of young farmers – we used to play on Sunday mornings on Weston sands,” says Carol. Hockey is something that has continued down the generations, with their daughter Sarah playing for Somerset at South West Area weekends.

George revealed how things have changed since his parents' day in YFC. “We don’t have as many regular dances and they aren’t in village halls, but the other elements remain.” The introduction of technology has certainly changed things massively. In Andrew’s day, events were listed on a monthly green newsletter, with further details obtained by calling people via the landline. “Now, social media is how we hear about what’s going on,” added George.

YFC members can save £10 off the ticket price to The Royal Bath & West Show from 29 May – 1 June. For more information see here. 


23 May 2019

A new educational video, recorded by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC), aims to highlight the role crop protection plays in food production and the career opportunities available in agronomy.

The film, which was the brainchild of NFYFC’s Agriculture and Rural Issues (AGRI) Steering Group, features an interview with award winning agronomist Sean Sparling, Chairman of the Association of Independent Crop Consultants (AICC).

In a conversation with fellow agronomist and NFYFC’s AGRI Vice Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC), Sparling explains the importance of crop protection in the food process.

“Everything we do is geared to the health of the plant and protecting the environment. What we’re trying to do is to ensure the food we produce at the end of the process is safe for people to eat and there will be plenty of it,” explained Sparling. 

With 30,000 species of plant pests and 10,000 species of insect pests, the video shows how agronomists follow an integrated approach to pest management.

“80% of the insects in an oil seed rape canopy for example are beneficial,” reveals Sparling. “They’re friends to us and we don’t want to damage these. I would say in nine out of 10 of my visits on farm we don’t resort to spraying.”

Filmed in Lincolnshire and supported by the Crop Protection Association, the video demonstrates NFYFC’s partnerships with industry bodies and its commitment to helping highlight careers in agriculture. 

The film follows on from a Defra-funded project with LEAF Education to develop a training session called Future Farming that is available for both YFCs and year 9 school children. NFYFC is keen to spread the message about the many career paths available for young people in the food and farming industries.

“It’s a very hands-on, practical video that shows two agronomists having a chat about their work and why they do what they do,” says 27 year-old George Baxter. “We hope the information both Sean and I share about growing and protecting crops will explain the role of the agronomist and encourage those thinking of subject and career choices to explore this line of work.”

Sarah Mukherjee, Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association, said: “This informative video follows on from the Crop Protection’s Annual Conference, where there was agreement from industry that a collaborative effort is needed to send out clear messages regarding the role of science in supporting the production of safe and affordable food.

“We are delighted to be working with NFYFC on this project to help share more information about the importance of crop protection and roles in the industry.”



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