Our Suffolk Youth Officer
Andrea Gardiner is a human dynamo. When the Society introduced the National Youth Championships Andrea contacted the Society and asked how she could help! Her enthusiasm in general and commitment to helping young people was a perfect combination and she played a central role in making sure the Youth Championships have been a resounding success since their inception in 2017. Towards the end of 2018 the Society asked Andrea if she would become the Society Youth Co-ordinator and thankfully she agreed. Andrea agreed to answer some questions:
Tell us a something about yourself?
My name is Andrea Gardner and I have a small Suffolk sheep flock (at Bay Horse, Nr. Lancaster). I was elected as Chairman of the North West Suffolk Breeders Club in November 2017. I have two daughters, Jennifer (25) works for the NHS, and Bethany (22) is currently studying Agriculture with Animal Science at Harper Adams University. My full time role is Business Development & Projects Manager at Myerscough College, near Preston.
How long have you been breeding Suffolk sheep?
I started keeping my own flock in 2007 when i purchased 6 ewes from Perrinpit and Cairness flocks. Prior to this I managed the Suffolk flock at Myerscough College. The flock was ‘in between’ shepherds and i was asked to organise the following years breeding programme. I successfully applied for ‘flock improvement’ funding and used this to finance the AI programme. The following year we won the most progressive flock award!
Tell me about your flock management?
I performance record my flock, currently choosing to concentrating on improvements in muscle growth and 8 week weights. I find performance recording an excellent tool that works for me, however I am also careful to ensure that the results of performance recording don’t compromise the breed. I want my sheep to ‘look like’ a Suffolk that displays good physical traits as well.
Tell me what you do for a day job?
In my job as Business Development & Projects Manager at Myerscough. I work in Apprenticeships and Short Courses and manage Traineeships and programmes for young people at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). I also manage European (Erasmus) programmes. Working with young people in these programmes enables me to engage with future adults who have become disengaged with school, or where relationships have broken down. This gives me the opportunity to connect with them and put in place appropriate programmes to enable them to reengage in education and increase their confidence when applying for jobs.
Your greatest achievement?
The greatest has to be two beautiful daughters, Jennifer and Bethany – I am also very proud of my Masters of Business Administration degree which I successfully completed in November 2016.
And what about Suffolk Youth?
As a Society we need to not only support the young folk we have coming through, but also to raise the awareness of Suffolk outside the families and friends of our current membership. I am talking to more young men and women who are looking at Suffolks as the breed they want to become involved with, it is important that we encourage this as much as possible. The Youth Championships is an excellent initiative but we need to build on it. I want to see more young people being introduced to Suffolks. It is only since I became involved in the Youth Championships that I realised just how big the Society is, and the opportunity to develop youth programmes throughout the UK, Ireland and into mainland Europe. I am really looking to getting to know our youth from all regions of the Society.
YOUTH REPORT 2020 / 2021
Andrea Gardiner – Suffolk Youth Officer
The Youth of Today! It’s an acronym often used and not always constructively but this time it has to be said that the farming youth is coping brilliantly throughout this pandemic.
Communication and learning have changed fundamentally. The ‘Youth of Today’ have embraced change and with pride they can wear a gold flag on their shoulder for best use of communication. Social media is a great vehicle for mobile speech where, for the last 12 months, I have been buoyed by the way our young breeders have communicated either by Facebook, Instagram or twitter. Stories have been shared between families, fellow breeders and a wider circle of farmers. By return we like and share again with other generations. It’s good to like love laugh and share.
At Myerscough College I manage Traineeship programmes and courses for learners who are Not in Education, Employment and Training (NEET). As a training provider we have been developing blended learning materials, for many years, and we embrace online learning. When the pandemic broke, nearly twelve months ago, we quickly turned around all our learning into virtual delivery. Online learning has been great in ensuring learning has been continual however we do understand the difficulties learners have faced getting on board with online delivery. Wider learning is readily available from Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) in the form of webinars upskilling on technical events and developments. You Tube also provides useful channels of learning for all.
Twenty years ago, Foot and Mouth stopped the UK in its tracks and had a terrible impact on the farming community. Similarly, there were no events. Shows were cancelled and social isolation was witnessed by many farming families and learning was affected. Today communication and learning is so different for young people but challenges are real. You are the next generations of breeders and there is potential for you to make your mark.
As I write this we are nearing the end of our third lock down and there is light at the end of the tunnel where the easing of restrictions should hopefully result in a show schedule where we will be able to meet up again. The Future is still there for you!’
Suffolk Youth/young Adult Membership Scheme
Having a vibrant, active and engaged youth wing is a key part of ensuring that the contribution the Suffolk Sheep makes to the sheep industry continues and grows in the future. A Youth/Young Adult programme was launched in 2017 that supports our young people as they take those first steps in creating, and building their own flocks. Not only are their membership and registration fees being heavily subsidised by the Society, but we also introduced an annual competition, the National Youth Championships, which focuses on the key competencies required in sheep husbandry and farm management. Our young people always enjoy the camaraderie and ‘craic’ which happens on these occasions, but there will also be demonstrations and presentations (with a bit of ‘hands on experimenting’) on improving their skills and making them better shepherds!
The age categories are:
Suffolk Youth (up to 16 years old) – annual membership fee £12.00 incl VAT
Suffolk Young Adults (up to 26 years old) – annual membership £24.00 incl VAT
- Own flock number and prefix.
- Two complimentary ewe registrations per year for 3 years from joining (or until exiting the scheme).
- 50% discount for registering 1 Ram within 12 months of joining.
- Welcome Pack.
- Early notification of Suffolk Youth/Young Adults events.
- Entry in Society sales
- Participation in Suffolk Youth events and the National Youth Championships
Please click here to read more about the Suffolk Youth/Young Adult.
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