The National Sheep Association brought together its NSA Next Generation 2014 Ambassador Group for the first time yesterday in the first of five dedicated training sessions planned throughout the year.
This is the inaugural year of the Ambassador Programme and the NSA was overwhelmed with top-quality applications for the group, going through a shortlisting and interviewing process to select 11 outstanding individuals from across the UK.
Joanne Briggs, NSA Next Generation co-ordinator, said: “When we opened the application process for the first-ever NSA Next Generation Ambassador Group, little did we expect the reaction we got.
“More than 40 applications flooded in, each and every one a worthy candidate for the programme we were planning.
“Their enthusiasm and passion for the sheep sector was a pleasure to see and left us with some incredibly difficult decisions to make.
“We are delighted with our final line-up of 11 Ambassadors and look forward to the training sessions over the coming months, as well as cultivating long-term relationships with these people as they use their newly-acquired skills to develop their farming business further and become spokespeople for the sheep industry.”
Representing the North East is James Drummond, 30, who runs the sheep enterprise on his family’s mixed farm at Alnwick.
James, pictured, has already implemented several changes within the 1,250-ewe flock including EID for performance recording and more vigorous selection for worm and footrot resistance.
The focus is on production of finished lambs for the market but with an appreciation that the performance of the Suffolk cross ewes is just as important as the terminal sires used.
James is a Nuffield Scholar and also plans to establish a monitor farm in the near future.
The first Ambassadors training session, being held in Worcestershire, is a mix of specific sheep farming topics and personal development skills.
By retaining this two-fold structure for all five events through theyear the Ambassadors will gainskills such as market selection,food chain development, sheephusbandry, brand developmentand adding value, optimisinggenetics, meeting targets, business planning, presentation skills, conflict resolution and promotion of the sheep sector.