The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is an immersive ‘farm-to-fork’ learning experience in food production for teenagers in years 11-12. Students compete via video submissions and exhibitions for a place on a finalist programme, where finalists win a mini-herd of calves to rear through to beef.
ABP developed a clear goal of community investment, with the purpose of ‘Standing up for Tomorrow’. The company employs policies around diversity by: promoting opportunities for underrepresented groups; addressing underachievement by working with schools where children are at risk or dropping out of education; through Education in Beef, by supporting informed, responsible beef consumption; and via a focus on innovation and sustainability, which is a requirement in all projects.
In particular, ABP recognises the need to develop employability skills in young people and so offers bursaries, placements, open days and work experience.
What ABP did
In 2017, ABP and the NI arm of Certified Irish Angus Beef launched the ABP Angus Youth Challenge in 2017, offering an inspiring opportunity for teams to gain experience and learn about employment opportunities.
In 2021 a new condensed format was launched, fitting into the Year 11 GCSE curriculum, aligning with coursework and learning outcomes across a range of subjects, and even taking place outside of the school calendar to not inflict on teaching time.
During the 2021 lockdown, nine teams participated in an 18-month finalist programme which was adapted to be held online, so the Angus Youth Challenge could continue to support educational attainment.
The first live-exhibition in two years took place over Halloween 2021 to award outgoing finalists and select new ones. ABP brought forward all entrants to this exhibition, where Minister for Education Michelle McIlveen spoke and presented prizes.
In 2022, the Angus Youth Challenge engaged with partners such as Cool FM, the Duke of Edinburgh Award, the Balmoral Show and Business in the Community. ABP and Certified Irish Angus set several targets regarding entries, such as number, type, geographical spread, community outreach and engagement.
ABP aimed to provide a unique initiative, offering new opportunities to support GCSE studies and provide practical experience and skills development. The company is now considering moving the Challenge into UK regions and was recently approved by the Duke of Edinburgh/Joint Award as part of its skills section.
Outcomes and Benefits
- Teachers cited an increased recognition and respect for farming and agricultural food as a subject or career choice
- By 2021 30% of all finalists were actively attending an agriculture-related course
- Students were motivated to stay in school and felt motivated at a time when they might otherwise have felt isolated at home
- Participants received an education in the subject matter, but also in public speaking, communication and teamwork
- Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, called the project “a wonderful example of school/employer engagement [which] demonstrates a shared interest in, and shared responsibility for, the future of the young people.”
- ABP enjoyed brand enhancement and increased student awareness of ABP at recruitment fairs
- Teachers enjoyed continual professional development, inter-school networking, knowledge sharing, and increased job satisfaction
- School received positive publicity, increased pupil and parental satisfaction, cohesion around a common goal, enriched learning, and a financial reward for the winning school
What the Judges said…
“The ABP Angus Youth Challenge is a comprehensive project with strong school, societal and family links. At all levels of the organisation and across their project delivery there is a genuine passion to engage with schools, urban and rural and providing opportunities for special schools to participate.
This is an inspiring and immersive farm-to-fork learning experience in food production with a significant investment per pupil. The judges loved this innovative and engaging project exposing students and schools to the breadth and depth of agricultural careers which also includes a focus on improving the soft skills of the young people. For students participating, some of the opportunities they get will be never be forgotten – their humbling commitment to this project shone through.”