Harriet Lyon, 20, from North Yorkshire is in her second year of study at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
Here she shares her latest blog with us on what life as an agricultural student is like in somewhat different to normal circumstances.
I came back home to Yorkshire at the end of November for the uni Christmas holidays and have only just come back down south to Cirencester.
With lockdown, lectures went online and I tried to keep positive, at least I was with loved ones.
I was also able to earn some money working mornings at a racing yard and it was nice to be at home for lambing. Being on campus at the same time the year before, it had felt like I missed out on watching winter turn to spring.
There were negatives of studying at home though. I always felt like I was trying to catch up with my ‘teams’ lectures, as it was too tempting to be outside checking the lambs or staying an extra hour at the racing yard.
Our local young farmers’ club also managed to do a few zoom meetings - things like quizzes, a scavenger hunt and baking and just before I left for uni we were finally able to have a proper ‘real life’ meeting.
I am definitely a visual learner and like being in the lecture room. There was a couple of weeks of restrictions easing before I came back to university, so it was great to get a few last catch-ups with friends - we seemed to be able find a good pub with a few fires roaring outside which is key at the moment.
Now I’m back at university, there aren’t many students around as a lot of the courses are on work-placement.
My course doesn’t have a formal placement, so we’re back for face-to-face seminars but not lectures.
We’re currently revising for our ‘alternative assessments’ as we cannot sit them the usual way. This method of assessment has its ups and downs.
For me, I work well under pressure so going into an exam hall can give me the stir up I’m in need of. On the other hand, it’s nice to have those extra days to revise and plan for the questions so I’m not complaining.
With my housemates being on work-placement, there has been some quiet time to finally think about the future. It feels like only yesterday I started university and yet now I’m finishing my second out of three years.
I have decided to act on this and have got out the old-fashioned pen and paper to apply for some work experience in different aspects of land management. My last few lectures have really made me consider agricultural law and so that’s a possibility.
I would never have thought about becoming a solicitor before doing this course, but it would mean more study which I’m not sure about - it’s so tricky to decide what to do.
I want to travel and yet I also want to find my dream job.
I have a friend back at home and since we were 11, she was set on being a doctor and now she’s studying medicine. It’s funny that I used to think she was crackers for being so decided so early on and now I have to admit, I’m a little jealous that she didn’t have to consider other paths and other choices.
Ultimately, that’s why I chose my university though. After A Levels I figured I was best to be content being with people with similar interests while I decided on my future plans. As well as a rural solicitor’s practice, I’m hoping to spend the summer getting experience in an estate agency and also with a more traditional land agent who manages a local estate.
I’m also keen to pick up some harvest work again this summer. It really helped me feel a bit more connected in agriculture lectures about different crops and yields after having a go corn carting.
It feels like I’ve hardly got back to university after lockdown and it will be finishing, with yet another summer ball cancelled because of the pandemic.
The only plus I can think of is that I’ve not spent any money on clothes for well over a year - apart from a new pair of dealer boots!
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Articles will showcase young individuals working in agriculture and help agricultural businesses and farms understand recruitment and staff retention challenges and practical ideas they can adopt to mark the evolving changes which are happening in the careers, skills and training area.