Te Kuiti shepherd to take on world's best
A young Te Kuiti farmer will travel to France in September to represent New Zealand in the World Young Shepherds Challenge.
Nineteen-year-old Mitchel Hoare and 23-year-old Waimate stockman Alex Reekers will compete as a team representing New Zealand at the final in Auvergne, France.
They earned the right to go through to the final after a fierce day of competition where they earned top scores in the preliminary round of the Challenge.
Hoare is a member of the Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, is a senior cadet at Waipaoa Station and was awarded top junior student in 2013. In his spare time he enjoys dog trialing and taking part in his Young Farmers Club.
"I'm pretty rapt, and surprised really. I just thought the best man would win it on the day."
Reekers viewed taking part in the competition as an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the industry he is so passionate about.
"I am really keen to learn about my foreign counterparts and their farming systems," he said.
He is the 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.
The pair agreed that preparing for the event was rather difficult as the competition tested a broad range of practical skills and included several theory based challenges.
The competition ran last Friday alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final in Lincoln University grounds. Contestants were evaluated on not only their practical skills but the depth of their knowledge and understanding of key issues affecting the sheep industry.
The eight participants completed a written exam, a panel interview and hands-on challenges such as sheep shearing, negotiating a quad bike obstacle course, foot trimming and drenching.
The pair will be competing against other young shepherds from England, Australia, Argentina, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and South American representatives from Uruguay and Argentina.