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A case study outlining how to inspire young people in Wales, aged between 16 and 19, to consider a rewarding and interesting career within the food and farming industry.

Building on the success of the highly acclaimed Farming Connect Agri-Academy, which was launched in 2012, the new Agri-Academy Junior Programme was introduced in the spring of 2014. Developed by Menter a Busnes in collaboration with Wales YFC, which helped promote applications through its network of clubs, the aim of the Junior Academy is to inspire young people in Wales aged between 16 and 19 to consider a rewarding and interesting career within the food and farming industry.

Professor Wynne Jones OBE, ex-principal of Harper Adams University, who chairs the Farming Connect strategic advisory board, has been involved with the Agri-Academy from the outset.

“The Junior Academy added an exciting new dimension to the original concept. 

“Our aim was to support and develop young people at a stage in their lives when they are very open to new ideas and influences. Feedback from the candidates themselves proved we’ve achieved that and much more,” 

said Professor Jones.

The first intake of 14 ‘confident, ambitious and focused’ candidates were put through their paces in an intensive programme of visits and training workshops.  

The junior candidates first got together at Margam Park for an intensive residential weekend of media training, mentoring and networking.  A presentation on leadership by adventurer Tori James, a farmer’s daughter from Pembrokeshire and the youngest woman to have climbed Mount Everest and another from young entrepreneur Wil Pritchard, also a Pembrokeshire farmer, led to lively group discussions on personal challenges, seeing things through and staying focused. Then the candidates attended sessions on topics ranging from goal-setting and motivation to negotiation skills.

The group’s next tuition programme was held at Treberfedd, an on-farm conference and activity centre in Ceredigion where the focus was on personal development, training and marketing.

“They also had an opportunity to shadow industry experts, giving them that added work experience credential on their CV,” 

added Professor Jones.

The candidates academy experience culminated in an unexpected invitation to visit the European Commission in Brussels, courtesy of NFU Cymru.

“The Agri-Academy has inspired and motivated us all and we ended the experience with a clear steer on what we need to do if we’re to progress and develop both as individuals and business-people,” 

said Sian Davies, a farmer’s daughter from Radnorshire who is studying for her A levels at Builth High School.

For more information: www.menterabusnes.co.uk/farmingconnect