Team Legendairy from the Mt Somers-Springburn Primary School in rural Mid Canterbury may not know too much about pig breeds but overall had enough farming knowledge to earn the AgriKidsNZ Grand Champions 2023 honours.
Battling it out in the AgriKidsNZ competition at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest at Winchester near Timaru, Team Legendairy of Flynn Wallace, Charlie Clark and Georgia Heaven from the Aorangi region, racked up the most points after a gruelling day of challenges to take away the Grand Champions bragging rights.
The trio also scored highest in the Modules and the Agriquiz, taking three of the top awards at the Grand Final awards evening.
“It got better and better each time our name was called,” the trio said.
“Our team did amazing, we’re very happy that we won some great prizes and of course, bragging rights.”
The Year 7 and 8 pupils from Mt Somers-Springburn school were buzzing over their result, being just reward for the many hours of training and practice ahead of the big day.
The road to the Grand Final victory started at the beginning of the year when a group of students signalled their interest in taking up the challenge.
“We decided at the start of the year we would give it a go, and our parents and the school and the community all supported us.”
The journey to the Grand Final podium started with the Aorangi regional competition that had 600 primary school students, including two teams from Mt Somers-Springburn, vying for the right to compete at the Grand Final.
Team Legendairy finished second in the regional competition, earning their place at the Grant Final.
“That was in April so we had a lot of work to do before the final, but it helped that we had so many people helping us.”
Charlie, who lives on the family cropping and livestock farm, said he loves machinery, working in the workshop making stuff and being out shifting stock and moving break fences.
Flynn lives in the local village and said he was very grateful for the opportunity to spend school holidays with his friends on Mt Somers Station.
Georgia has lived on a dairy farm and her mum is a veterinary nurse.
“So we all had different skills from our homelife to put together and places to go for our practice other than the modules we did at school.”
The school modules were set by teacher Maryann Heaven, who compiled specific resources to help set the students up for the final competition.
It was a big team effort with huge support from school, family, local farmers and the wider community.
“Everyone helped us with the training and practice, we did modules at school, we went on farms and our teacher was very good setting us up with training modules. We did some in class time and some in our break times at school and we did a lot at home and in the community.”
On competition day “there was no real best part, but the tractor driving was fun” and pigs provided the biggest challenge.
“We didn’t know our pig breeds, but oh well, it was awesome that all the effort we put in paid off.
“We had so much support and help from regionals to the big contest day and we would like to thank everyone who helped us, the farmers, the sponsors, our families and school,” the trio said.
Coach Jayne Clark said team building was key to the overall success.
“We did a lot of team building, just getting out and doing activities and challenges together. That is important, learning each other’s ways and specific skills, when they have to work together in the competition.”
Team building included a visit to a supermarket to learn about food ingredients and cuts of meat, a visit to a local apiary, cooking scones to learn to read and follow instructions, visits to different farms and cooking shepherd’s pies to deliver with little notes to the more senior folk in the local village.
The school finished third in 2019, but this was the first win – and plans are afoot for another crack next year.
“I guess we shouldn’t be giving away all our winning secrets, but it really was a village effort,” Clark said.
The Three Western Girls from Hauroko Valley School, made up of Sierra Bennett, Elly Hurley and Sophie Parris, were the AgriKidsNZ runners-up, and Southern Boys Sam Horrell, Oliver Chamberlain and Tomas Clarke, also from Hauroko Valley School, finished third, with Tomas Clarke taking home the prestigious title of Contestant of the Year.