A PARTNERSHIP between Coleg Llysfasi and LEAF Education highlighted innovation and technology in agriculture as part of a groundbreaking schools competition.

The inaugural Innovation School of the Year in Food, Farming and Environment competition was organised by Llysfasi and LEAF Education (Linking Environment and Farming) at the North Wales college's Denbighshire campus.

The initiative brought together 14-16 year-old students and their teachers from across the UK to take part in a final prize weekend, which included a range of educational activities centred around farming, food production and the environment.

The overall winner was Reddish Vale High School, Stockport, whose students enjoyed getting involved in faming-related activities, from tractor and digger driving to stock handling and learning about soil and grass management, genetics and animal nutrition.

The other finalists were Ripley St Thomas C of E Academy, Lancaster; St Christopher's Church of England High School, Accrington; Priestlands School, Pennington, Lymington, Hampshire, and The Queen Elizabeth Academy, Atherstone.

The weekend concluded with each school delivering a presentation on why 'Farming is so much more than mud and wellies?' to a panel of judges made up of representatives from Coleg Llysfasi and LEAF Education.

Iain Clarke, Head of Llysfasi - part of Coleg Cambria - congratulated the pupils and teachers for their enthusiasm and creativity.

"It is absolutely incredible how these school groups took in so much information over the weekend," said Mr Clarke.

"Offering this hands-on experience is so valuable for education, linking food to farming and the environment and showing the many exciting career options in the agricultural sector.

"For many years we have worked with schools to showcase what farming has to offer, and this new partnership with LEAF Education was a great way to engage and build those relationships."

He added: " We hope the competition and the prize weekend in particular has equipped these young people with a great appreciation of what farmers do and where their food comes from.

"We look forward to building on this year's success and would like to thank everyone who took part."

The winning team from Reddish Vale High School - Alex Jamieson, Megan Millington and Coby Stringer - revealed they had an "absolutely wonderful" weekend in North Wales.

LEAF's Regional Education Consultant Katy Pallace added: "It was inspiring to see how the young people responded to the opportununity to immerse themselves in livestock genetics, nutrition, precision technology, woodland management and much more, and also think about the big challenges of feeding a growing population.

"It was clear how much they enjoyed being around the animals, learning from the college staff and having fun."

The competition follows the record-breaking LEAF Open Farm Sunday in June, where up to 300,000 visitors flocked to farms across the UK, including 500 who attended the day of education at Llysfasi, forging even closer links with youngsters across the region.

For more information and to register an interest in next year's Innovation School of the Year in Food, Farming and Environment competition, call 0300 303 0007.

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