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Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster Appoint new Chief Executive Officer

The Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) are delighted to announce the appointment of their new Chief Executive Officer, Gillian McKeown.

Taking responsibility for delivering YFCU’s vision and mission, and upholding its values, as the organisation as it heads into its 93rd year, Gillian is keen to help grow an organisation that supports its young people, helping them to discover and reach their full potential.

We caught up with Gillian to get an insight as she commences this exciting new role.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My career background stems largely from marketing, management, events and fundraising, gained mostly in the NI Charity sector. I live in rural County Down with my husband, two young boys (3 and 4), and dog Ralph, who keep me on my toes and smiling! I love to explore, learn, spend time outdoors and travel.

What compelled you to apply for the role of CEO of YFCU?

Having previously worked in the organisation for almost 5 years, I very quickly developed a passion and admiration for the work they do and the abundance of opportunities given to young people. Being away for a short time has allowed me to expand my knowledge, contacts and expertise, to rejoin a fantastic youth organisation with both inside knowledge, and a ‘fresh eyes’ approach.

What challenges do you foresee for YFCU and how do you plan to overcome them?

It has been challenging for both young people and youth organisations since coming out of lockdown, and we need to work to support them by enabling positive mental health and wellbeing and personal development opportunities, whilst ensuring sustainability for the future of NI’s largest rural youth organisation.

Working collectively, I see us continuing to build strong and rewarding partnerships to ensure long term sustainability of clubs and the organisation as a whole.

Succession, training, and development will be key to ensure no generational gaps within clubs, providing opportunities to grow and participate in the wide range of events and activities that YFCU has to offer.

What are your aims for the future of YFCU?

I want to work with the members to use their passion and dedication to re-energise the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster. Leading the organisation, I want to strengthen our strategic focus and direction.

Working with all stakeholders from our members, staff, and trustees, to sponsors and partners, I want to put our key priorities and values into practice; remaining relevant and resilient, communicating the good that we do, and most importantly, making sure that fun and friendship are at the core of everything that we do.

Ensuring that the rural voice of young people is heard is an important aim for me. I look forward to working with our members to ensure that the attitudes and opinions of the future generation of farmers and the agricultural industry as a whole are both heard and valued.

With over 3,000 members, the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster is Northern Ireland’s largest rural youth organisation, boasting 51 clubs across all counties, and strong partnerships with key industry players such as DAERA, the Education Authority, Power NI, NFU Mutual Charitable trust, Danske Bank, Dunbia and Fane Valley to name a few. As a member-led organisation, the YFCU strives to inspire and promote individual development, creativity, initiative, and contribution for the benefit of rural young people, their communities, and the farming and agricultural industry. YFCU are overjoyed to have an experienced and passionate person, such as Gillian come on board to support the organisation.

Gillian McKeown, Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer.

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