National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

28 October 2019

Three new members of NFYFC’s Board of Management were appointed during the NFYFC Council meeting in October.

Aled Thomas, 25, from Tiers Cross YFC in Pembrokeshire was appointed to represent YFC members on the Board. Aled recently won the Agricultural Student of the Year award at the British Farming Awards and has just graduated with a BSc in Agriculture from Harper Adams.

Aled works on his family farm in Pembrokeshire and works for Prag Agronomy. You can read more about Aled here.

Two independent members of the Board were also appointed by NFYFC Council and included Rachel Astley, Director of Education at Askham Bryan College and Will Fensom, Head of Solutions and Digital Architecture with NFU Mutual.

Rachel is an experienced safeguarding practitioner both in a college environment and as a volunteer in the positions of governor and as part of a church council.

Her background in education also supports NFYFC’s charitable objectives.

Will has held senior roles in both private and public sector IT organisations and he has significant experience in the creation of digital strategies and new technologies. As NFYFC looks towards its digital future, it is hoped that Will can bring expert guidance to the organisation.

The Council also appointed a Treasurer for the NFYFC and it is a familiar face that has taken on the role. Frank Chester – a former Chairman of the Board and dairy farmer from Cumbria – will help steer NFYFC’s finances in his new role as Treasurer.

Frank is the Chair of Newton Rigg Rigg Society and brings experience at a director level for an education organisation. He is also the President and member of the Border and Lakeland Holstein Club.  


28 October 2019

NFYFC Council has agreed to encourage clubs to recruit at least four new members each – with five being even better – to help boost membership numbers in 2019-20.

The organisation wants to reach out to more rural young people and to let them know about the services it offers.

The membership recruitment challenge was brought to NFYFC Council by the Events and Marketing Steering Group. Their suggestion follows on from a successful National Young Farmers’ Week where the Federation reached more than 1.5m people.

Lucy Stowell, Events and Marketing Steering Group Chairman, said: “We really want to build on the success of National Young Farmers’ Week, which helped to promote NFYFC and the clubs to a much wider audience. If every club could recruit five new members, it would return membership numbers to the level they were in 2017-18. By recruiting more members it reduces the individual cost of membership too.”

Council members agreed to encourage their clubs and counties to attempt to meet the challenge and many members of the Council said clubs were already working hard to recruit new members.

During the Council meeting in Coventry this October, all five steering groups reported on their latest work, including updates on competitions, travel, agricultural issues and training.

Training  

The Personal Development Steering Group was thrilled to report that 3,041 YFC members had received Curve training in the 2018-19 membership year – far exceeding the target the group set.

New locations are being considered for YFC Travel for 2021 – including Denmark, Netherlands and Nevada. The Group also asked Council members to gather feedback on hosting YFC Travel exchangees about expenses and expectations of who should host. 

The AGRI steering group are looking at a restructure and will be reviewing how their area AGRI links work to see where improvements can be made so they can better represent members’ views.

The group also announced that there will be an AGRI Forum on 5 February 2020 called Fit in or Fade Out, held in Daylesbury in Gloucestershire. More details will be released in December.

AGRI also asked everyone to look out for neighbours and friends as the industry braced itself for the uncertainty of Brexit.

Competitions  

The Competitions Steering Group announced that Show Choir would replace Street Dance and that Ultimate Frisbee will replace Rounders in the 2020/21 programme.

It was also announced that the Performing Arts competition and Senior Member of the Year will be held over two days.  There will also only be one single mixed Clay Pigeon Shooting competition rather than gender specific competitions. 

The Youth Forum also met during the weekend and updated Council on their plans to represent younger members. They will be promoting the Nesta Challenge to members aged 11-16 and will attend the Woodcraft Folk Common Ground event in August 2020 to look at an intergenerational youth organisation event.

They also intend to work with LEAF Education to develop materials for clubs and counties to encourage them to engage with Open Farm Sunday events.

Future plans 

During the meeting the Board of Management updated everyone on the financial status of the Federation and on the development of the strategic plan.

Council has approved the Board’s proposal to hold a national ‘summit’ day to bring together county federation officers, staff and management committees to complement the work that has been done at a club level. The aim of the event will be to reach a consensus on the future role of NFYFC and the part it plays in the YFC structure.

The date of the next Council meeting will be 16-17 February 2020 where elections will take place for the new Chairman and Vice Chairmen of Council. More details on how to apply will be announced towards the end of November. 


24 October 2019

Posts about National Young Farmers’ Week reached more than 1.5 million people during the campaign that was sponsored by NatWest.

YFC clubs, counties and members took to social media to celebrate the week and to share positive stories about the organisation. Some counties and clubs also timed their new member nights during the campaign week to help them attract more attention.

Clubs in Lincolnshire FYFC organised a range of new members’ nights, promoted themselves on social media and secured coverage in their local press. They took over Lincs FM’s farming programme throughout the week too and most of the clubs held their new members’ nights during the week.

County Chairman Matt Stovin said: “Weeks and weeks of planning went into National Young Farmers’ Week. It started in our Marketing and Development Committee, which we hold prior to our exec meetings. At County, we came up with a theme and along with the information from NFYFC, we assigned each day to a different person to cover the topic chosen for that day.”

The County split the days out using LINCS as their focus for content throughout the week – with L for Learning, I for Inspiring, N for new members, C for competitions and S for social.

“We sent all clubs the national toolkit and our own material to club leaders to give them ideas, then they posted independently of us on their Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat social media channels,” added Matt who says the County has seen positive results by taking part, with around 150 new members recruited during new members’ nights this autumn.

A YFC Meme competition also proved popular with YFC members as the five shortlisted finalists ran throughout the week and their ideas were shared widely.

Long Itchington YFC from Warwickshire won the competition after its joke about the standard of some baking entries into YFC cookery competitions reached more than 20,000 people.

NFYFC provided a toolkit for all clubs and counties to use during National Young Farmers’ Week, complete with social media graphics.

Lucy Stowell Events and Marketing Steering Group Chairman said:

“It was great to see so many clubs had used the toolkit and were taking part in the week. It was also positive to see so many new ideas too that clubs were using to promote their work.

“We are so grateful for NatWest’s support of the campaign. It definitely gives YFC a much bigger platform to promote all of our achievements.”

YFC members on the Events and Marketing Steering Group will be discussing National Young Farmers’ Week 2020 at the October Council meeting. 




24 October 2019

As the winner of the Agricultural Student of the Year at the British Farming Awards, Aled Thomas, 23, Vice Chairman of Tiers Cross YFC, reveals how his passion for YFC has helped him achieve inside and outside of the organisation.

Fel enillydd Myfyriwr Amaethyddol y Flwyddyn yng Ngwobrau Ffermio Prydain, mae Aled Thomas, 23, Is-gadeirydd Clwb Ffermwyr Ifanc Tiers Cross, yn datgelu sut mae ei angerdd am CFfI wedi ei helpu i gyflawni y tu mewn a'r tu allan i'r mudiad. 

When did you join YFC?

I didn’t join until I was 18 years old, so a late starter. I went to a Welsh-speaking school as my first language is Welsh but that was an hour away from my home. I wanted to join a YFC so I could make some friends closer to home.

Pryd wnaethoch chi ymuno â CFfI?

Wnes i ddim ond ymuno pan fy mod i'n 18 oed, felly dechreuwr hwyr. Fe wnes i fynychu ysgol Gymraeg gan mai Cymraeg yw fy iaith gyntaf ond roedd hynny awr i ffwrdd o fy nghartref. Roeddwn i eisiau ymuno â CFfI er mwyn i mi allu gwneud rhai ffrindiau yn agosach at adref. 

Three words to describe your club?

Outgoing, sociable and fun.

We are the least serious club. There are about 60 members and we love to compete but whether we come first or last, we’re just there for a good time. We are quite notorious in the county that if we turn up you know it’s going to be a good night!

We just like to support other clubs in all the events they do because if we support them they’ll support us.

Tair gair i ddisgrifio'ch clwb?

Brwdfrydig, cymdeithasol a hwyliog.

Ni yw'r clwb lleiaf difrifol. Mae gennym tua 60 aelod ac rydyn ni wrth ein bodd yn cystadlu ond p'un a ydyn ni'n dod gyntaf neu'n olaf, rydyn ni yno am amser da yn unig. Rydyn ni'n eithaf drwg-enwog yn y sir, os ydyn ni'n troi i fyny rydych chi'n gwybod y bydd hi'n noson dda!

Rydyn ni'n hoffi cefnogi clybiau eraill yn yr holl ddigwyddiadau maen nhw'n eu gwneud oherwydd os ydyn ni'n eu cefnogi nhw, fe fyddan nhw'n ein cefnogi ni. 

Best thing you have done with YFC?

The 250-mile cycle ride up to Blackpool for charity with Pembrokeshire FYFC in 2018. I’m hardly the fittest person in the world but the thing that kept me going through the whole thing was being there with my YFC friends and the camaraderie. That’s just what the true meaning of YFC is to me – we’re all there for each other no matter what.  We also raised more than £25,000 for three charities.

Y peth gorau rydych chi wedi'i wneud gyda CFfI?

Y daith feicio ‘Pembs YFC’s Big Adventure’ 250 milltir i fyny i Blackpool ar gyfer elusennau gyda ffederasiwn Sir Benfro yn 2018. Go brin mai fi yw'r person mwyaf ffit yn y byd ond y peth a'm cadwodd i fynd trwy'r holl beth oedd bod yno gyda fy ffrindiau CFfI a'r cyfeillgarwch. Dyna'n union beth yw gwir ystyr CFfI i mi - rydyn ni i gyd yno i'n gilydd byth bynnag. Fe wnaethom hefyd godi mwy na £ 25,000 ar gyfer tair elusen. 

Greatest achievement in YFC?

I am going to California next year with a scholarship from the Elwyn Jones Memorial Fund through Wales YFC. I am going over there for a month to see how they grow cauliflowers and to do a research project on it. My research topic is on how we can maintain a better supply of vegetables in the UK.   

During my degree at Harper Adams I worked on a placement year at Puffin Produce and they supply most of the vegetables to supermarkets in Wales. I worked on the vegetable team so all I did was eat, sleep and breathe vegetables for a year! Since then I have a bit of thing for them. 

Eich cyflawniad mwyaf yn CFfI?

Rwy’n mynd i California y flwyddyn nesaf gydag ysgoloriaeth Goffa Elwyn Jones trwy CFfI Cymru. Rwy'n mynd draw yno am fis i weld sut maen nhw'n tyfu blodfresych a llysiau eraill, ac i wneud prosiect ymchwil arno. Mae fy mhwnc ymchwil yn ymwneud â sut y gallwn gynnal cyflenwad gwell o lysiau yn y DU.

Yn ystod fy ngradd yn Harper Adams gweithiais ar flwyddyn leoliad yn Puffin Produce ac maen nhw'n cyflenwi'r rhan fwyaf o'r llysiau i archfarchnadoedd yng Nghymru. Fe wnes i weithio ar y tîm llysiau felly'r cyfan wnes i oedd bwyta, cysgu ac anadlu llysiau am flwyddyn! Ers hynny mae gen i ychydig o beth iddyn nhw. 

Greatest achievement outside of YFC?

The only reason I believe I got my British Farming Award was because of what I contributed outside of being a student. Without my involvement in YFC and all the things I do with it I wouldn’t have got my award. There was some really strong competition and I wasn’t expecting to win.

It can be challenging to dispel the myths around agriculture and events like the British Farming Awards keep us real and refreshing and relevant.

I also have an Shwmae Award for promoting the Welsh language in the county of Pembrokeshire and throughout YFC. There were only two Welsh speaking members of our club – me and my brother. We have worked with the club to encourage them to enter more competitions in the Wales YFC Eisteddfod; the only bilingual Eisteddfod of it's kind in Wales.

I have been trying to bring Welsh back into the club as much as possible. We are getting more Welsh members and we are entering more into the Eisteddfod so it’s definitely getting better.

Eich cyflawniad mwyaf y tu allan i CFfI?

Yr unig reswm y credaf imi gael fy Ngwobr Ffermio Prydain oedd oherwydd yr hyn a gyfrannais y tu allan i fod yn fyfyriwr. Heb fy rhan yn CFfI a'r holl bethau rwy'n eu gwneud ag ef, ni fyddwn wedi cael fy ngwobr. Cafwyd cystadleuaeth gref iawn ac nid oeddwn yn disgwyl ennill.

Gall fod yn heriol chwalu'r chwedlau ynghylch amaethyddiaeth ac mae digwyddiadau fel Gwobrau Ffermio Prydain yn ein cadw ni'n berthnasol.

Mae gennyf hefyd Wobr Shwmae am hyrwyddo'r Gymraeg yn Sir Benfro a ledled CFfI. Dim ond dau aelod oedd yn siarad Cymraeg yn ein clwb - fi a fy mrawd. Rydym wedi gweithio gyda'r clwb i'w hannog i gymryd rhan mewn mwy o gystadlaethau yn yr Eisteddfod CFfI.

Rwyf wedi bod yn ceisio dod â'r Gymraeg yn ôl i'r clwb gymaint â phosib. Rydyn ni'n cael mwy o aelodau Cymraeg ac rydyn ni'n cystadlu mewn mwy o'r Eisteddfod felly mae'n bendant yn gwella. 

Has YFC supported your studies?

If it wasn’t for YFC, I might never have gone away to university.

I actually pulled out of university when I finished school. I had a place but I decided I was just going to stay at home. Coming from a small area and living on a farm, I didn’t know if I wanted to go away and be different. 

Before I joined YFC I was very shy and I wouldn’t speak to anyone. YFC has completely changed me. We are all friends in YFC, we are all there for each other and all have the same interests.

As I started getting deeper into YFC, some of my new friends – specifically people like Non Thorne – encouraged me to go away to university. That support gave me the boost I needed to go to Harper Adams. I didn’t enjoy it the first couple of weeks but by Christmas I couldn’t wait to get back there.

A yw CFfI wedi cefnogi'ch astudiaethau?

Oni bai am CFfI, efallai na fyddwn erioed wedi mynd i ffwrdd i'r brifysgol.

Fe wnes i dynnu allan o'r brifysgol mewn gwirionedd pan wnes i orffen yr ysgol. Roedd gen i le ond penderfynais fy mod i'n mynd i aros gartref. Yn dod o ardal fach ac yn byw ar fferm, doeddwn i ddim yn gwybod a oeddwn i eisiau mynd i ffwrdd a bod yn wahanol.

Cyn i mi ymuno â CFfI roeddwn yn swil iawn ac ni fyddwn yn siarad ag unrhyw un. Mae CFfI wedi fy newid yn llwyr. Rydyn ni i gyd yn ffrindiau yn CFfI, rydyn ni i gyd yno i'n gilydd ac mae gan bob un yr un diddordebau.

Wrth i mi ddechrau dyfnhau i CFfI, fe wnaeth rhai o fy ffrindiau newydd - pobl fel Non Thorne yn benodol - fy annog i fynd i ffwrdd i'r brifysgol. Rhoddodd y gefnogaeth yr oeddwn ei angen i mi fynd i Harper Adams. Doeddwn i ddim wedi mwynhau'r ychydig wythnosau cyntaf ond erbyn y Nadolig, allwn i ddim aros i gyrraedd yn ôl yno. 

Best thing you have ever made in YFC?

Invitations to our opening social that I did when I was secretary of the club when I was 18. I made the invitations in Publisher, printed them out, glued them to a bit of card and hand-delivered them to all the local farms. While the invites were pretty basic, they worked really well as our numbers grew from 25 to 75 members! We went from being one of the smallest clubs to the biggest.

It just proves how powerful it can be when you get out and meet people and tell them about YFC.

Y peth gorau i chi ei wneud erioed yn CFfI?

Gwahoddiadau i'n noson cymdeithasu agoriadol a wnes i pan oeddwn yn ysgrifennydd y clwb pan oeddwn yn 18 oed. Gwneuthum y gwahoddiadau yn Publisher, eu hargraffu, eu gludo i ychydig o gerdyn a'u dosbarthu â llaw i'r holl ffermydd lleol. Er bod y gwahoddiadau'n eithaf sylfaenol, fe wnaethant weithio'n dda iawn wrth i'n niferoedd dyfu o 25 i 75 aelod! Aethon ni o fod yn un o'r clybiau lleiaf i'r mwyaf.

Mae'n profi pa mor bwerus y gall fod pan ewch allan i gwrdd â phobl a dweud wrthynt am CFfI. 

Who would you like to thank in YFC?

I would like to thank former senior members who were senior members when I started. Without the senior members of a club it will never thrive. A lot of the responsibility falls back on the senior members especially when it comes to making sure the younger members are ok. They are people who don’t get thanked as much – they might not be ‘officials’ but they are still looking after the younger members in meetings and on trips. 

Pwy hoffech chi ddiolch yn CFfI?

Hoffwn ddiolch i gyn-aelodau hyn a oedd yn aelodau hyn pan ddechreuais. Heb aelodau hyn yn glwb, ni fyddai byth allu rhedeg. Mae llawer o'r cyfrifoldeb yn disgyn yn ôl ar yr aelodau hyn yn enwedig o ran sicrhau bod yr aelodau iau yn iawn. Maen nhw'n bobl nad ydyn nhw'n cael eu diolch cymaint - efallai nad ydyn nhw'n ‘swyddogion’ ond maen nhw'n dal i ofalu am yr aelodau iau mewn cyfarfodydd ac ar deithiau. 


23 October 2019

Ellie Davis from Bedfordshire might spend her working day buried in spreadsheets but it hasn’t stemmed her creative flair, as the 25-year-old is the proud winner of the Floral Arts senior trophy.

Ellie, who works in the sales department for a fashion retailer monitoring stocks and sales, discovered a passion for floral art through YFC.

“I got into Floral Art through the County Rallies. Seeing how incredible all the other members’ designs were and then asking my mum – a former YFC floral art competitor – our advisory and ex-members for advice has led me to the national finals. I’ve had no formal training – I’ve just learnt from others and by making my own mistakes along the way,” said Ellie who competed at the Malvern Autumn Show at the end of September. 

“It was a complete shock to win as some of the designs were incredible – definitely inspiration for another year!”

Ellie’s category was tasked with creating a design using the theme of an invention that changed the world. After much Googling for ideas, Ellie chose ‘steel’ as her focus.

“I really wanted to think of something outside of the box,” said Ellie who admits the County round is extremely tough due to the talent in her local area. Using Calla Lilies and orange Pincushion Proteas Ellie used a bold design to show how steel is made.

“The flowers I chose showed the orange sparks that you see when steel is being made and poured into moulds. I was keen to use bright colours as they attract the eye,” explained Ellie about her design.

Ellie is no stranger to a national final though – having competed twice before. Back in 2016, Ellie won the Intermediate category but a year later and she was down to the bottom place in the same category.

“I attempted doing three designs in 2017 and I ran out of time creating it. I have since learnt that you need to practise a lot before competing. It can be expensive with the flowers but you need to time yourself and check that the flowers you have chosen will work. I changed some of mine when I was practising this year as I realised they weren’t going to work on the day,” said Ellie.

The Bedford and District YFC member has two more years of competing and is hopeful she’ll make it to the national final again. She also hopes that she has inspired others in her club and County to take part – even if they have no experience in flower arranging.

“I would never have dreamed I would be doing flower arranging before I joined,” said Ellie. “It’s a bit of a cliché but Young Farmers really does change your life.” 

It was another amateur floral artist who won the Intermediate category too. Katie Hughes from Clwyd YFC impressed the judges with the design she created to the theme of Great Craftsmanship.

"I based my arrangement on the craft of wool work," explained Katie whose only experience of floral design is from competing in the NFYFC competition for the past three years and getting to the national finals each time. "I used lots of plaited leaves, which replicated the process of weaving wool. I also used dried pine ones, which dried in a way that made them look like sheep’s horns."  

Katie who said she was shocked to win due to the standard of all the entries chose a design that was influenced by farming. "I wanted to do a craft that was relevant to farming and I felt this was the best one and I could do a good arrangement for this craft." 

Rhys Griffiths from Carmarthenshire was the winner in the Junior category after creating a design to the theme of My Great Hobby.

For the full results from the Floral Art competition, please see here. 





23 October 2019

It was an unforgettable summer for Steph Watkins who spent six weeks in Canada making friends and experiencing Canadian culture.

Did you travel alone?

I travelled with four other young farmers from all over Europe – including Austria, Ireland, Germany and Northern Ireland.

We stayed with host families organised by the Canadian JFAO (Junior Farmer Association of Ontario).

They all became friends – or you could say my new family. It’s bazaar how close you become to four people who were complete strangers six weeks earlier!

Was it enjoyable?

This summer has been truly unforgettable. Meeting both young and old people in the agriculture industry within Canada. It has been inspiring and I'm sure we have all taken some great ideas back home.

It's true to the stereotype that Canadians are all polite, all the Junior Farmer families have been so welcoming to us and I can't thank them enough – I will be back!

What did you do?

The days and weeks flew by! I visited Toronto, Durham West, Wellington, Peterborough, Renfrew and Ottawa and toured many farms and spent time with JFAO members. One evening I experienced s’mres – the proper way with marshmallows, gram crackers and chocolate.

I toured Hensal Co-op, which is where Branston baked beans are grown before being exported to the UK. I also saw a farm that breeds special cattle that can adapt to extremes of weather and exports embryos to Australia and New Zealand.

There were campfires and sunbathing and amazing Raclette dinners, where we would enjoyed special Swiss cheese prepared with vegetables on a racelette grill.

I also took part in a radio interview to explain why we were visiting the country and all about YFC.

I enjoyed an international Pot Luck evening where we all made traditional food from our home countries for everyone to try.

When I stayed in Renfrew we had a Barn Dance after the “RedNeck Games” which is the equivalent to our rallies.

Any highlights?

  • Canada Day in the capital – Ottawa! It was an amazing day and everyone was so proud to be Canadian. Most people were wearing white, red or a mixture of the two. We joined in going all out with red and white head to toe, hats, flags and a lot of temporary tattoos. We had a great day and a big firework display at night which was fantastic.
  • Axe throwing in Peterborough!
  • Niagara Falls was amazing and definitely worth the early morning rise to get there.
  • Cow patty golf – golf with anything but a golf club. It was fun to see what everyone brought from a squishy mop to a paddle. A great game idea for a new members’ night.
  • Seeing a live bear – I was surprised at how big it was and the fact it just casually walked across the road in front of us.

Would you recommend a YFC Travel trip?

I would encourage everyone to take up the opportunity of going on an exchange, as it certainly is a once in a lifetime experience. Being a delegate has so many advantages and you get to see so much more of an area than if you were just to go there on holiday. I have had countless new experiences, learnt so much about Canadian farming and way of life, met some fantastic people and made some amazing lifelong friends and memories!

The deadline for applying for 2020 YFC Travel trips is 1 November 2019. Find out more. 



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