Lauren Dean, 23, is a news reporter for Farmers Guardian. She has a degree in broadcast journalism and spends most of her spare time baking (and eating) cake.
Journalism: It was only whilst deciding on my A-Level choices aged 16 that I thought about becoming a broadcast journalist – primarily with the dream that I’d one day be sat on the This Morning sofa next to Philip Schofield.
Fast forward almost eight years and I instead find myself instead in magazine journalism, writing about topics I never even knew were a thing.
Although not from a farming family, growing up I had always been surrounded by green fields and grazing cows, and every time I passed a farmer muck spreading it always weirdly reminded me of home.
The job as news reporter at Farmers Guardian popped up shortly before graduating and – although not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever be given a by-line in a national farming magazine – I applied and, as they say, the rest is history.
Two-and-a-half years later and it has opened my eyes to an industry I hope will actually always have a place somewhere in my life.
I’ve since got my boyfriend on board with buying a smallholding when we’re older. If all goes to plan, we’ll start with hens – their eggs to be a nice little addition to my cake cupboard – before working our way up to a few pigs and some Blacknose Valais or Swaledale sheep.
The addition of a few Highland cows may as yet be slightly too adventurous, but I’m happy to work on that.
Writing: It’s a weird one, working in the ag industry with no prior knowledge of the sector. But I guess you could say that about anything.
It has helped me gain an appreciation of life inside the industry as well as encouraging my family and friends to do their bit, particularly keeping their dogs on a lead around livestock.
I’ve seen that many sheep torn apart by dogs that I never want to see anyone walking their dog without a lead ever again. But it’s something that prior to working in the ag industry would never have even crossed my mind.
One of my favourite features so far has been visiting 12-year-old Jack and his granddad, 86, in June last year. The pair really were the ultimate farming dream team and it was great to get that first-hand experience of their adventure together.
Other highlights include a chat over a cup of tea with family farms stalwart Pippa Woods, 92, and a day on patrol with the Cambridgeshire Rural Crime Team hunting hare coursers.
I was also awarded my 100 words per minute Teeline shorthand which is a skill that will prove invaluable throughout my career.
Day-to-day: While most of my time is spent in the office and on the phone to different farmers and industry chiefs, I also have my fair share of farm visits and conferences.
My day usually kicks off at 08.30am, checking emails and having a nose through twitter to see if any big news has dropped in the hours since I left the office the day before.
We’ll kick off the week with a news meeting on Monday morning and have the magazine sent to the printers by Wednesday afternoon. Thursdays and Fridays are usually spent on farm, working on insights or features or tracking down news for the following week’s mag.
And one day a year – during #Farm24 – I do the night shift from 9pm to 5am. Talk about team work at its finest.
Farmers Guardian has joined forces with 21 key industry stakeholders from across the farming sector to launch a new campaign, #ThisIsAgriculture, to promote careers in agriculture.
The challenge of recruiting is not a new one. Attracting new blood into the industry has always been an issue, with agriculture rarely sold as an exciting option into schools.
However, with the pace of technological change rapidly widening the skills gap and Brexit looming, the need to drive change within the industry has intensified greatly over recent years.
Building on the learning from the #ThisIsAgriculture survey, this initiative will work to educate the wider world about the wealth of opportunities available within the sector, as well as dispelling common myths about careers in agriculture.
We will also be collaborating with industry bodies and our industry partners to see where we can work together to shape the political agenda, drive educational reform and provide learning resources.
The campaign will also be sharing information with readers about how to attract – and retain – the right staff for farming businesses across the UK.