September marks the beginning of a New Year for the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU).
And according to the organisation’s president James Speers, it’s an opportune time for young people living in rural areas across Northern Ireland to think of joining the YFCU.
“Our members range in age from 12 to 30 years’ old,” he added.
“There are now in excess of 50 clubs operating province-wide. And our membership continues to grow.”
Speers is keen to stress that YFCU is not just a farming organisation for young people.
“We are much more than that: we are the largest rural organisation in Northern Ireland. Our aim is to help develop young people with a wide range of interests. Some of these will be farming-related. But many will not.
“All our clubs generate a series of activities that embrace many aspects of education, personal development and training across a wide range of issues. And, obviously, there is a strong social dimension to the activities undertaken by all the clubs.”
There are currently 3,000 YFCU members with a wide range of interests and backgrounds.
“This figure is growing all of the time,” said Speers.
“YFCU is also aware of the many challenges facing young people living in rural areas at the present time. This is why we are keen to help tackle issues relating to alcohol and drug misuse on a very proactive basis. Health and Safety is another issue which we prioritise.”
Speers’ over-arching theme for his first year as president is: “Members Success”.
“Every activity undertaken by YFCU is centred on making our members better people,” he said.
“At a farm-industry stakeholder level, this is reflected in our commitment to facilitate the needs of young farmers and to ensure they will have a viable future within production agriculture.
“But we also recognise the importance of delivering for each individual member. Success is not simply judged by competition results. In most cases, it is a reflection on how each individual grows and develops their character and their sense of worth courtesy of his or her participation in YFCU activities.
“As an organisation, the YFCU is also totally committed to encouraging members to actively participate in the widest possible range of further education and training courses. We are an AQA certified learning provider. We have a similar relationship with Lantra, which is about to be enhanced courtesy of a partnership arrangement with Ulster Wildlife. This will see YFCU delivering a new suite of Lantra accredited training courses.”
He added: “We have dedicated farm safety mentors trained by HSENI who will be delivering talks to our members, primary schools and other groups that bring young people together.”
YFCU is actively involved in the promotion of positive mental health, courtesy of its relationship with LIFEMAPS. This ties-in with the organisation’s commitment to tackle rural isolation. YFCU is also a member of the Rural Crime partnership.
Travel opportunities abound for YFCU members courtesy of various exchange programmes and the annual European Rally, which brings together young farmers from 28 countries.
Speers confirmed that each YFCU club is actively canvassing for new members at the present time.
“This is the time of year when programmes of activity are being put in place for the next 12 months. And the more people involved in this process the better.”
For further information, contact YFCU Headquarters on 028 90370713.