Pair heading to nationals

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Quick minds were the key to success for a talented duo from Milton who took top honours at the first FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year regional final held at the Tokomairiro A&P showgrounds on Saturday.

Tokomairiro High School pupils Zoe McElrea (13) and Nicole Keen (15) will now represent Otago and Southland at the grand finals in Napier in July.

Facing stiff challenges from more than 50 other Junior Young Farmer (formally known as TeenAg) competitors, hailing from across the Otago-Southland region, the intrepid duo worked hard to tackle a wide range of physical and mental challenges.

Nicole said while it was interesting and fun, some of the questions in the rapid-fire question and answer final session hosted by comedian Te Radar caught them off guard.

“They were more general knowledge than agri-related but luckily Zoe was very good with them,” she said.

Zoe said they were more worried about the tractor-driving module than the theory side of the contest.

“We had been practising all week about how to use the GPS and when we got there we found it was so easy, it was just like riding on a large ride-on mower,” she said.

The day-long competition consisted of modules designed to test the pupils’ practical and theoretical skills before they competed in a quiz hosted by Te Radar in front of a 170-strong crowd at the Milton Coronation Hall.

Zoe’s mum, Lisa McElrea, said the family was stoked with the result.

“Zoe’s only in year 9 and we’re really impressed with how she went in the buzzer round,” she said.

St Hilda’s Collegiate School, in Dunedin, took second place and both teams have qualified for the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

“We will both now have to do a lot more study before we travel north but we have a great teacher in Mrs Suzanne Nelson and she has helped us all heaps,” Zoe said.

Levin and Jaden Coulter-Butler, from Tokomairiro High School, finished fourth in the junior regional final on the day.