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Young UK sheep farmers given chance to join renowned development programme

16th November 2023

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is excited to announce the opening of applications for its successful and highly respected NSA Next Generation Ambassador programme.

The programme gives young sheep farming enthusiasts the opportunity to become part of the NSA activity that supports the future of the UK sheep sector through young people and a scheme that signals the start of a lifelong journey with NSA.

The NSA Next Generation Ambassador programme, now in its eighth year, offers young sheep farmers aged 18-34 the opportunity to take part in a series of technical and personal development sessions aimed to further their experience and understanding of the UK sheep industry.

As well as providing the chance to visit varied sheep farming systems and parts of the sheep farming supply chain the programme delivers an abundance of networking opportunities, from the chance to be part of a group of likeminded young sheep farmers to meeting with industry experts and leaders, the scheme can open doors to many new and exciting opportunities.

The scheme is now inviting applications from innovative and enthusiastic young shepherds from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to apply for their chance to become one of 12 ambassadors.

NSA Communications Manager Katie James explains the application process “The online application is very simple. Interested parties will have to share some information about their own shepherding experience and their hopes for their futures in the UK sheep industry. But do not be put off by an online form! NSA is not looking for the best form filler but simply those who can convey their enthusiasm for the future of UK sheep farming.”

As in previous years NSA hopes to attract a varied group of young sheep farmers including first generation farmers, those established on a family farm and contract shepherds both experienced and just starting out in their careers.

Katie continues: “We really are excited to see what those interested in the programme can offer as an NSA Next Generation ambassador. In return the scheme offers Ambassadors support, opportunity and enjoyment like few other activities can provide.”

Thinking of applying? Here’s what some of the 2022 group of Ambassadors have to say about the programme:

Perry Parkinson from Dumfries comments: “Being an NSA Next Generation Ambassador is a real honour and privilege. I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for the scheme but can honestly say it blew any expectations I had out of the water. Every workshop we attended meant something to each one of us on a different level and, without even knowing it, made us realise what we were on the programme for in the first place.”

Katie Evan from Norfolk says: “The Next Generation Ambassador programme was an amazing experience. I came away from every session with new knowledge and ideas. It was also a great way to learn more about farming in other areas of the UK.”

Michael Burley from the Rhondda Valley adds: “The programme was one of the best things I have done since leaving university. Expanding my knowledge of the sheep industry, meeting like mind people and personal goal setting are fundamentals of the programme.”

Applications open today (Thursday 16th November 2023 ) on the NSA Next Generation website and will close on Tuesday 12th December 2023. Applications will then be shortlisted by NSA regional representatives before online interviews take place in early January 2024. The programme will commence in February and will require successful applicants to commit to spending approximately 10 nights away from home during the year.