Waimate's Alex Reekers has trimmed and shorn his way to the finals of the World Young Shepherds Challenge.
Reekers will represent New Zealand at the finals in Auvergne, France, in September and he is keen to learn about his foreign counterparts and their farming systems.
"The hardest thing to do will be study, and try to study the right things. Not being on home turf and competing in a country with different farming systems and regulations could throw some curveballs," he said.
He said preparation for the preliminary rounds, which had got him this far, was quite difficult as the guidelines for the competition were pretty general.
"The competition involved an exam covering animal health, general knowledge of the sheep industry, farming, New Zealand's markets, and knowledge of farming tools and wool.
"Many practical skills were tested, including shearing, condition scoring, mouthing, foot paring and operation of a quad bike. There was also a short interview."
Reekers said the competition was tough and all of the competitors were top notch and good sorts. He was honoured to be in the finals.
"It is quite a privilege to be in the finals and have the opportunity to represent the industry and New Zealand."
Reekers went through the farm cadet programme at Waipaoa (Gisborne) and has been working as a stockman in Waimate for two years. He is the current vice-chairman of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club and belongs to the Waimate Sheep Dog Trial Club.
He also holds a Diploma in Agriculture from Lincoln University.
Reekers has humble plans if he wins the competition.
"If we win I will have a beer, if we don't win I'll probably still have a beer. But we are not going all the way to France to come second."
Fellow Kiwi Mitchell Hoare, from Te Kuiti, and Reekers will be competing against young shepherds from England, Australia, Argentina, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Uruguay.
- The Timaru Herald