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After a hard, wet and exhausting day, Nick O’Connor and Angus Grant were announced Grand Final winners for 2018 at an awards ceremony at Southland Boys High School. Too make things even better Finn Taylor and Tomos Blunt also made the final and ended up 4th.

Some of you may wonder what this event was all about. So here is a little insight and a little perspective on what the boys have achieved.

Many of you may have grown up watching the Young Farmer of the Year contest on TV each year – for me it was a much anticipated event. It doesn’t get the same coverage on TV now as it used to, but back in the 80’s and 90’s it was a big deal to be involved in the Young Farmer of the Year. 

TeenAg started about 10 years ago as the Young Farmers organisation identified they needed to get more school students engaging in the primary industries. Each year the TeenAg competition has been getting more and more complex with organisers telling me that this was by far the most challenging one yet as they are trying to make the TeenAg competition more similar to the adult competition.

The competition started on Thursday night with a 1 hour exam, consisting of short answer questions, an essay and a farm financial analysis. On Friday morning, even before the sun was up the boys started their practical day. This consisted of two sections. Section one was to build a two-wire electric fence and build a chicken coup out of old pallets. They had 1hr 45mins to complete those tasks. During section one they also had to present a 5 minute speech on a given topic. Section two was seven 15 minute modules where they had to demonstrate a range of skills such as tractor driving, first responders at an accident site, sheep judging, and driving a simulated logging harvester. After both sections were finished, the scores from their exam, speech, and two practical sections were tallied up and the top five went into a face off buzzer quiz. The quiz scores were then added to their tally to get the overall placing.

Now to put a little perspective on how big a deal this is. Young Farmers NZ is split into 7 regions, 4 in the North Island and 3 in the South Island. Each region has a regional final for the TeenAg competition and the top 2 teams from each region go to the grand final. In the Tasman final (our region), there were 35 teams entered and I have been told there were about 250 teams entered in all 7 regional finals across NZ. So with only 14 teams at the Grand Final it is only the best of the best that make it. 

For our boys to get 1st and 4th is incredible, especially when none of them had even made top 10 at the regional competition before.