Harper Adams University is preparing to celebrate this week when one of its students will bring home the title Agricultural Student of the Year from the British Farming Awards.
All four finalists in the awards category are current Harper Adams students or 2019 graduates.
The shortlisting will see the four, Megan Hesketh, Aled Thomas, Chris Lane and Josie Troop, recognised nationally for their work in the sector.
Megan Hesketh, 21 from Lancashire, is studying Agri-business and has just completed her placement year at leading Environmental consultancy ADAS. As well as holding the position of secretary in the Parbold Young Farmers' Club, Megan has a passion for research and has worked with DEFRA on analysing the impact of Brexit on the pesticide supply chain.
Megan said: “A thirst for knowledge and a genuine willingness to learn is my main driver for enjoying research so much, and especially research in an industry I have both grown up in, and have such a vested interest in.
“The opportunity to develop and reform policy is a very exciting prospect to me in order to help the farming community to thrive in the future.”
Agriculture student Aled Thomas, 23, from Pembrokeshire, enjoys pushing himself outside his comfort zone in his extracurricular activities having held multiple positions within the Young Farmers' Club and winning the ‘Shwmae Award’ for promoting the Welsh language. Aled also has a passion for vegetable growing after his placement year with Puffin Produce.
“I am completely passionate about producing the highest quality crops possible while maintaining freshness and reducing ‘food miles’,” Aled said.
“I’m going travelling soon to look at what the UK can learn from California and Holland about maintaining a continuous supply of fresh vegetables in the UK while battling climate change.”
Chris Lane, 23 from Northampton, has just graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in agriculture course and has taken every available opportunity to further his understanding of the sector, from working at his family’s farm over the summer to travelling to China as part of an International Buddy Scheme.
Chris received the Velcourt Arable Scholarship and now intends to start the Velcourt Management Trainee scheme early next year.
Chris said: “From all these opportunities, I have learned that challenging the norm and thinking diversely is the key to success, something I hope to carry out on our own farm in the future.”
Agri-food marketing with business studies student Josie Troop, 21, from Nottinghamshire, has a keen interest in the education of tomorrow’s agricultural workers, particularly young women who might be considering getting into the industry.
“You get so many girls my age who say ‘I cannot do it as well as someone else’,” says Josie, “It is about having a go.”
Josie, who comes from a small beef and arable farm, has a passion for opening up the same career opportunities that she experienced to others while they’re still at school.
“I have attended one primary school so far with another lined up and hopefully catching a secondary school in September to talk about agriculture in its many forms.”
The awards night will be held on Thursday in Birmingham.