Big student entry in Young Farmers regional final

28 February 2024 | News

Phoebe Smailes is hoping her third entry in the upcoming Tasman Regional Young Farmers regional final will be a lucky one, though just competing alongside her mates is a huge win already.

The 21-year-old is one of 12 current students (10 from Lincoln Young Farmers) tackling the competition, of which Lincoln University is a proud sponsor, to be held at Canterbury Agricultural Park this Friday and Saturday, 1-2 March.

The Lincoln Young Farmers Vice-President is in her final year of a Bachelor of Land and Property Management degree majoring in rural valuation at Lincoln University.

"This is my third go at the Tasman Young Farmers Competition.

"I enter Young Farmers because I love a challenge. This competition allows me to see what I am really capable of and learn so much more about the (primary) industries," Phoebe said.

"I enjoy the 'real life/everyday' modules such as setting up a water system, driving diggers and handling stock.

"Being able to have a go at something new is always a highlight, which one year for me was filleting a salmon as well as being able to do it alongside my mates who share the same passions.

"The first year I entered when I was only 19 at the time, I was very fortunate to place second in the districts and head through to the top seven for the Tasman regional final in 2021.

"I didn’t win, in fact I placed at the bottom of the pack, but the learnings and opportunities were almost worth more to me than winning.

"My highlight for the event would definitely be the evening show, whether it be as a competitor or a spectator the atmosphere is such a cool feeling."

From a sheep and beef farm in Hawera in South Taranaki she heads back to learn as much about practical farming as possible, including fencing, identifying animal health issues and tractor driving to prepare.

"I could do with a bit more practice, but I don’t want to take away the enjoyment factor."

Choosing to study at Lincoln was a "bit of a no brainer", Phoebe said.

"I felt that if I didn’t leave from my comfort of where I grew up I would potentially miss out on opportunities, and I have had plenty of those since being down here. My father was also a Lincoln alumnus, so I had a bit of bias towards it."

She won’t just have the company of clubmates in the competition, the members are also helping to organise it, with Bachelor of Agricultural Science student Georgia Moody the convener of the event.

Georgia said they were running a trial which combined districts and regionals into a two day event run all in one weekend.

"Each event used to be held separate weekends a few weeks apart but now the 23 competitors will do a module focused rotation on Day 1 (1 March), and the top eight will being announced that afternoon based on the module scores.

"They will go on to sit an Agri knowledge exam followed by round 2 where they will have Head to Heads going against the clock and each other through a range of challenging practical tasks and a 3 hour farmlet, where they will undertake ‘real life’ practical farming challenge," she said.

It’s great to see Lincoln University students challenging their practical skills to accompany the academic support of their degree. Young Farmers competitions and the organisation as a whole have a strong focus around supporting the development of youth through all areas of the agricultural industry.

She was "shoulder tapped" to be the convener this year.

"I thought with being in my last year of university, and summer holidays giving me a bit of time up my sleeve, it was probably an ideal time to step in and play a role in the competition.

"Since then it has been all go, locking in venues, judges, volunteers, sponsors, module hosts and putting our thinking caps on to brainstorm creative ideas that really test the practical skills of our contestants."

Lincoln club members Hayley Marshall and Isla Dodson are organising the evening show, quiz and awards night while Megan Maslin and Amelia Ridgen helping with the Agri Kids and Junior Young Farmers on Day 2.

University staff and academics are also helping to run the competition, setting tasks and quizzes.

"We have had the awesome opportunity to host this year’s event at the Canterbury Agricultural Park, and being so close to town provides a great opportunity to immerse the public of Christchurch into the great things that Young Farmers and the food and fibre sector does within our country."

The practical days are free while tickets for the evening show can be found on the NZYF Website.