Becky knew she wanted to be a part of the dairy sector, run her own business and make a difference within the community, but she just didn’t know how she was going to tie these all together. While working as a student ambassador, she gave a tour to a group of teenagers and they were unable to grasp the concept of how milk was produced. This has led to Becky’s decision to provide tours and try and build an education centre on her family farm, to try and encourage learning about farming.
Lewis Hamilton, an agricultural engineering student, has just received the CLAAS Scholarship which he hopes will be the start of an international career. He was so determined to get this scholarship that he started learning German last year.
Volunteering is always encouraged a great activity to be involved. Harry Storey is a great advocate for getting involved, and has taken part in a number of projects to help improve his expertise. His love for crops, agriculture and land management came from winning the carrot class at a local show at only 12 years-old after being loaned half an allotment.
Scholarship starts student’s international career dream
Harper Adams University student Lewis Hamilton has received the CLAAS Scholarship – a company he has hoped to work at since starting at Harper Adams University. He hopes the scholarship, including a placement with the company in Germany, will help launch an international career.
Lewis, 20, from Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, said: “I come from a predominantly non-agricultural background in Northern Ireland where my family currently have our land leased to other farmers for making silage and grazing of cattle and sheep, but I’ve always been involved in any maintenance tasks needed on our land such as fencing, hedging and drainage around the fields from a young age.
“These tasks, although small, gave me an insight into the world of agriculture and helped me grow a love for it; whether it be for livestock or machinery.
“Through working at both tractors and cars throughout my life with my father, I’ve always had a keen interest to fix things. The enjoyment I had for working to fix things gave me an interest in continuing to learn how things work, this lead me to the decision to apply for an engineering degree.
“The course content of the MEng Agricultural Engineering degree offered at Harper reflected my own interests in both agriculture and engineering.
“Also the opportunity for a year in industry involved with the course at Harper and the quality of the placements available at such well-known companies such as CLAAS attracted me to both Harper and the course.
“Since joining Harper, I always had an intention to apply to CLAAS, which is why I opted to study an additional module in German during my first year. I’m looking forward to the chance to build on my current knowledge of the language whilst on placement for CLAAS at their headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany.
“After graduation, I have the aspiration to continue to work overseas as an engineer and hopefully with the option of expanding my horizons to work in various different countries around the world.
“I feel since leaving my home in Northern Ireland to attend Harper Adams, and also the opportunity to work in Suffolk at a on a harvest job this year, that working away from home is something that I enjoy very much and allows opportunities to gain new experiences and meet new people.”
On receiving his scholarship, Lewis said: “I’m absolutely over-joyed and proud to know that I’ve received such a prestigious scholarship from one of the world’s leading agricultural machinery manufacturers. To have known of the scholarship for the past few years and now to actually receive it is quite overwhelming.
“The scholarship allows me the opportunity to go work for CLAAS on placement starting in summer 2017, I will be working for CLAAS for a total for 15 months, starting with a three month spell working for CLAAS UK in Suffolk. Following this I’ll work for 12 months at the CLAAS headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany.
“While in Germany, I’ll be living alongside other CLAAS employees from around the globe. This will allow me to meet new people and hear about other cultures and hopefully make new friends from around the world. I also hope to discover new places and apply what I’ve learnt so far at Harper to real life situations.
“I’d like to thank CLAAS for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship award and I’d also like to thank the panel that was involved in the interview process and for choosing me as the lucky recipient.”
Student ambassador job provides inspiration for future career
Harper Adams University student Becky Erskine works as a student ambassador, which sees her give tours of the university campus and help with the smooth running of educational events. She now hopes to use these skills to diversify her family farm by running tours, and ultimately open an education centre, to teach children where their food comes from.
The 26 year old from Nantwich, Cheshire, said: “I chose and started my BSc (Hons) Agri-business course knowing that I wanted to be a part of the dairy sector, run my own business and make a difference within the community, I just didn’t know how I was going to tie these all together.
“Whilst being a student ambassador for the university, I taught a group of teenagers where food comes from. The group were unable to grasp the concept of how milk is produced which made me realise that not everyone is aware of the supply chain that farmers are always aware of.”
“I then started doing tours for a variety of groups on the family dairy farm with the Farm to Fork scheme which was introduced by Tesco. This motivated me to go to the local primary school and spend a day teaching about food and dairy farming.
“Hosting a few tours on the farm has inspired me to diversify to share the knowledge and experience that I have within the local community.
“The family dairy farm has 300 Holstein Friesian cows and has changed vastly in the previous four years with installation of milking robots. I’ve taken over the young stock. I started from scratch with the calves, re learning everything from feed plans to husbandry. This sparked my enthusiasm for calve rearing and passing on information which I’ve learnt. I still work with them each day in the mornings and evenings before and after university.”
A new housing development is planned to be built near to the farm and Becky sees this as a great opportunity to provide participants for her tours and educational experiences. She added: “Our village has recently had permission to build a large number of houses down the road from our dairy farm.
“I believe that the farm should make the most of this huge opportunity which has been given to us with a variety of new people coming to live a stone’s throw away from the farm.
“By using my customer skills and passion to teach people where their milk and food comes from, I’m also planning to do tours to the public where they can come with me to see calves, the robots and the technology which dairy farming has advanced to.
“I feel that by teaching groups in a small, practical environment and by touching, seeing and doing will help them to digest and retain information whilst feeling comfortable with the people around them.
“Going forward, I wish to open a larger education centre for children to learn where food comes from, amongst other diversification ideas to try. To achieve this I wish to start a weekend business where people can come for the ‘dairy experience’ feeding calves, seeing the milk being produced and really get a feel for what goes into a farm to get the milk for their cereal.”
To help start her dream, Becky has received a Clyde Higgs Undergraduate Scholarship. On this, she said: “This scholarship will enable me to start my own business when I leave Harper and diversify my mother’s dairy farm.
“Apart from the financial aid, it has given me the confidence to go ahead with my ideas additionally to my course which has provided me with knowledge to go forward.
“I cannot thank the panel enough for their encouragement towards my ideas. I’m very humbled that they liked my ideas enough to invest in me and my aspirations. It has given me such a confidence boost and drive to do the best I can to grasp opportunities rather than seeing them as threats.
“I feel this is a highly innovative and creative idea for the farm which is similar to Mr Clyde Higgs and Elizabeth Creak characteristics. We will challenge the trend and encourage the public to see what we do and ask why we do it rather than shutting the gate for them to guess.”
Volunteering helps student gain valuable experience and success
Harper Adams University student Harry Storey’s passion for farming and land management started when he was won first prize for his carrots at a local produce show at 12 years-old.
Now 19, Harry is studying for a BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management (REALM), while still maintaining his own allotment and participating in a number of volunteering activities, to broaden his experience base.
To help him reach his goal of becomingg a Rural Chartered Surveyor he has recently been awarded the CLA Charitable Trust Scholarship and the John Hepworth Scholarship.
Harry from Highworth, in Wiltshire, said: “When I was 12 years old, I won first prize at our local produce show, after being loaned half an allotment. This cemented my interest in growing crops from a young age, which turned into a passion for farming and land management. Following my success, my interest grew and I now manage my own allotment.
“Before starting at university I took part in a number of volunteering projects. I started by volunteering with Stanton Park volunteers and the Woodland Trust, managing the local woodland and parkland. I then volunteered with the National Trust, carrying out practical, historic restoration and management.
“I’ve also completed a work experience placement at Westonbirt Arboretum which gave me a range of skills and knowledge in tree management, propagation and woodland education. Learning how to propagate trees has enabled me to grow my own oak and beech trees on my allotment.
“Even now at university, I still continue to try and get as much extra experience as possible. I’ve worked on the university farm dairy unit, as well as on a local arable farm.
“For the past two summers, I’ve attended canal camps, assisting with the restoration of the Cotswold Canals and the Wey and Arun Canal.”
Alongside work experience in different areas of the sector, Harry has also performed well academically. Last year he was awarded the REALM Brick for construction and the REALM Cup having gained the highest overall grade at the end of first year.
On receiving the CLA Charitable Trust Scholarship and the John Hepworth Scholarship, Harry said: “Thank you for this incredible opportunity. It gives me the opportunity to attend professional industry events, as well as achieve my degree. In the future, I hope to contribute to the management and restoration of the landscape, with a particular interest in hedgerow and woodland management.”
For his dissertation, Harry hopes to complete and study hedgerow management. These awards will be used to cover his cost of travel during the data collection phase and support his interest in forestry.
The financial support will also be used towards purchasing resources for the course, help him attend the Royal Forestry Society conferences, along with letting him focus on his studies.
Harry said, “It’s such an honour and privilege to receive the CLA Scholarship and the John Hepworth Scholarship. They’ve both given me a real opportunity to succeed and become a Rural Chartered Surveyor in the future.”
Pictured: Richard Langley (Harper Adams), Boris Kettelhoit (CLAAS), Lewis Hamilton, Sarah Steggall (CLAAS) and Ricarda Dustmann (CLAAS)