A Myerscough College agriculture student will undertake a Scottish tour later this year as part of her studies after being awarded a travel scholarship.
Now in its 11th year, the annual fund, from the Lancaster and Morecambe Agriculture & Horticultural Society Scholarship programme, in conjunction with Norbreck Genetics Ltd, is once again paying out thousands of pounds to encourage farmers, horticulturalists and equine students to study or explore business ideas abroad.
Among the recipients is Debbie Croft, a higher education mature learner on the College’s Foundation Certificate in Agriculture programme. Debbie is undertaking an extensive tour of Scotland to gain a valuable insight into the industry there.
Debbie’s Scottish tour will be based around sheep farming. It will start at Loch Lomand, and take in stops at the Scottish Agricultural College at Crianlarich to visit their research farm; the Glen Sauch research farm, part of the James Hutton Institute; the Highland Show, a farm near Alnwick, then finishing the trip on the Scottish Borders.
Debbie said: ‘’I initially came to Myerscough on a Smallholders adult skills course and the bug grew from there. My studies represent a big career change for me. I was an industrial scientist for ten years, and then taught at a prep school for twenty.
‘’(In Scotland), they have so much knowledge and experience that isn’t normally accessible as it’s so far away. I knew I didn’t want to go too far away but Scotland is ideal as sheep farming is a thriving industry. Everyone has been very welcoming and I’m looking forward to the trip.’’
In previous years, recipients have visited to countries including Kenya, France and Australia, and to date tens of thousands of pounds has been provided for rural youngsters to expand their horizons all over the world, looking at a varied range of issues from walling techniques to beef rearing, sheep marketing, and equine development and research.
Head of Agriculture & Countryside at Myerscough College, Craig Thompson, says: ‘’The Society issue scholarships every year so that people can travel abroad in order to enhance their career prospects or contribute to the development of the sector that they wish to work in. Scholarships are given to those within the land-based sector and are awarded following an interview process. ‘’
“Everybody on the panel feels that we have given awards to the right candidates for the scholarships, who put forward excellent proposals and are thoroughly deserving of the money. I wish everybody the best of luck as they embark on what should be fascinating research tours.’’
‘’We usually get a diverse range of applications from students in not only agriculture and countryside subjects but also equine, horticulture and animal studies.’’
Philip Halhead, from Norbreck Genetics said: “Year after year we get some excellent and diverse applications and following the candidates on their journey and beyond, we know the scholarship is making an impact. There’s a wealth of entrepreneurial spirit in Lancashire and we love helping young people who want to gain a global insight into their dreams.
‘’The money goes towards providing a life changing experience for students. More importantly, the way the fund is managed means we can continue to give away these awards for years to come.
‘’There have been big benefits for us some great use of the awards over the years. They are gaining momentum all the time as word spreads. We look for the passion in the students and for them to show us that they really want to make a difference and will do something worthwhile with the money.’’
The Scholarship programme was set up by the Lancaster and Morecambe Agriculture and Horticultural Society Trustees in 2009, to encourage young farmers, horticulturalists, equestrians and people involved in agriculture to study or develop their business ideas abroad. It makes use of money released when the Lancaster & Morecambe Show ceased and the sale of land created a fund that the committee wanted to put to good use.
The photograph shows Craig Thompson, Phil Halhead and other trustees of the fund, with Debbie Croft ad Myerscough College Chief Executive and Principal, Alison Robinson.
by Dave Salmon