Training hard for contest

Mid Canterbury's AgriKidsNZ Aorangi regional winners Charlie Scammell, Hamish Paton and Isla Connelly-Whyte - the AIS Fencers - are in training for next month's AgriKids NZ grand final. Photo: Toni Williams
Mid Canterbury's AgriKidsNZ Aorangi regional winners Charlie Scammell, Hamish Paton and Isla Connelly-Whyte - the AIS Fencers - are in training for next month's AgriKids NZ grand final. Photo: Toni Williams
Mid Canterbury AgriKidsNZ regional winners, the AIS Fencers, have been racking up hours of training ahead of next month's grand final event in Napier.

The team, made up of Ashburton Intermediate School pupils Isla Connelly-Whyte, Hamish Paton and Charlie Scammell - all classmates and all aged 12 - have been meeting regularly to go over aspects they, and their many supporters, think may feature in the competition.

''I reckon we've got quite a good shot at it. We've got quite good knowledge,'' Hamish said.

Without giving too much away, they have been learning about stock, cuts of meat, fertiliser and grains, just to name a few of the agricultural subjects likely to be covered.

The final components in the competition are highly secret, but Isla competed in an all-girls team last year, so knows the types of activities likely to be thrown at them - and the pressure.

Both Hamish and Isla have farming backgrounds and Charlie admits to being a townie, with family who have farming backgrounds.

However, they all have agricultural enthusiasm and are able to pinpoint where they see their strengths.

Hamish is good at the hands-on practical events especially concerning motorcycle knowledge; Charlie is good at reading and writing quickly and has great memory to take on board information and instruction; and Isla is up with breeds and their traits as well as having hands-on skills.

The trio work together well and know their strengths said parent, and coach, Amanda Connelly, who along with the other supportive parents and teaching staff - has worked with the pupils twice a week (half an hour each) during lunch breaks at school and also at weekends.

Their training has increased the closer they get to the finals.

Through fundraising from school peers and local businesses, the trio have been able to focus on the challenge ahead.

The AIS Fencers will go up against six other regional finalists in the annual competition, and have 19 family and friends already booked to travel north to support them.

The competition is run alongside the FMG Young Farmer of the Year final, in Hawke's Bay from July 4 to 6.

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