A detailed look at our Youth Development Programme

A detailed look at our Youth Development Programme


Our Youth Development Programme (YDP) is a part of our Society that we are extremely proud of, and it plays a big part in representing one of our main objectives as a Society; to be the most forward-thinking cattle breed and always looking to progress, while providing a platform for our youngsters to play a central role in this, both at present and in the future.

Gayle Bersey is the Youth Development Programme Co-ordinator and is to thank for the organising and running of all YDP related events. We have been speaking to Gayle to find out more about exactly what YDP entails and why it is so important for the future of our breed:

What is YDP?:

‘The YDP is more than just showing cattle, and is not limited to Aberdeen-Angus breeders, but is open to everyone and aims to help develop youngsters associated to the full cattle breeding industry. The YDP offers youngsters from the age of 8-24 a chance to learn how to produce major show champions, or how to clip the best winter coats. Whether you’re just interested in preparing cattle better for local shows and markets or just need a hand getting started – the Aberdeen-Angus Youth Development Programme provides a great platform for youngsters to learn the skills they need, whilst having fun at the same time.’

‘Our YDP workshops offer a chance to learn and progress their current skillset by working with some of the top stockmen and women in the business. Not only is it educational, but the workshops are also good fun with a chance to mix with like-minded people. You don’t have to be an Aberdeen-Angus breeder, you just have to be ready for the challenge!’

A brief history:

‘Having stemmed from the local clubs, the Youth Development Programme in its current form gradually took shape and the workshops were started back in the early 2000s by Sian Sharp. Sian introduced a qualification for the participants to work towards, standing them in good stead for their future careers in Agriculture, should they decide to go down that path. While achieving this qualification which is now industry-recognised, the young people take part in a great programme focussed on raising their skill levels and confidence, while making friends and connections along the way.’

‘When I took on the role of programme co-ordinator in 2009, I wanted to structure the programme to ensure that the participants get the best from it and build on the great foundation that had been set. Each year, a YDP participant is selected to study the Aberdeen-Angus breed abroad, and there is now an official YDP final every year to help select who wins the trip, which wasn’t previously in place.’

The current programme:

  • Nearly 300 participants
  • There are between 13 – 15 workshops a year
  • A big weekend event which hosts the final of the programme where there is a £2500 cash prize fund as well as the seniors winning a study trip abroad
  • Senior event focused on commercial beef production
  • City & Guilds award through Duchy Agricultural College.

What can be expected at the workshops:

  • Hands on experience – where all abilities are catered for and everyone gets the chance to do as much as they wish
  • Tuition from some of the best stockmen and stockwomen in the business
  • Confidence building, not only with stock, but we encourage public speaking when stock judging and forming relationships with people with a similar interest
  • Our assessors and score sheets can help participants to improve year on year

‘Like I’ve said, the Youth Development Programme is more than just showing cattle. At the regular weekend workshop events and the senior conference we have some of the best speakers in the industry presenting about all sorts of topics that can help the participants become better livestock farmers and well-rounded individuals. The YDP also provides a platform to assist the participants in carcase selecting, nutrition, fertility, and gives the opportunity to look around an abattoir and local beef units. Participants are also chosen to shadow judge at major shows like the Stirling Bull Sales and opportunities to travel to the World Angus Forums and compete against their peers from all around the world in the youth competition.’ The UK and Ireland teams from this year’s World Angus Forum here in the UK can be seen in the image above.

Why the youth are so important for the Aberdeen-Angus breed and its future:

‘With the average age of farmers sitting at the late 50s/early 60s, it is essential that we work to encourage the youth of today and provide them with the environment they need to develop and flourish. In livestock farming, without those young individuals coming through we cannot move the breed forward. We also look at more efficient ways of farming to hopefully help our youngsters develop a profitable career path in the future. The participants don’t have to be an Aberdeen-Angus breeder to attend, but hopefully those young people who enjoy what we do will look at the breed and see it as a great choice for their future careers’.

A huge thank you is extended to Gayle for giving us a strong insight into the great work that the Youth Development Programme does, and why it is held in such high regard by all who have experienced it in any way.  We are also very grateful to all the host farmers and trainers that give up their time to get involved through hosting workshops and much more, as without them none of it would be possible. Are you aged between 8 and 24 and think all of the above sounds great? Then why not contact us now and find out how you can get involved. Gayle can be directly contacted via email at: [email protected], and you can find out more about the YDP and workshop dates at: http://www.aberdeen-angus.co.uk/youth-development/