The 2018 applications for the Louise Hartley Scholarship Fund reached new heights this year as we were inundated with individuals wishing to seize the opportunity for the once-in-a-lifetime three-week study tour to New Zealand.
Lauren Dean catches up with the final ten to find out more...
Emma Nelson, 22 // Northern Ireland
For agri-graduate Emma Nelson, working at red meat processor Dunbia is boosting her opportunities with customer relations, research and development, and the supply chain.
While also studying a masters in business, agri-food and rural enterprise at Queen’s University Belfast, the trip to New Zealand will be her second study tour and she is keen to pair up her dream of visiting the country with the opportunity to discover ideas on how British farmers will stabilise the effects of Brexit.
Aside from the Aberdeen-Angus and Limousin cattle on her home farm, Emma got two Saddleback pigs for her 21st birthday which she aptly named Darcy and Dorothy.
“What more could a girl want?” she says.
Follow Emma on twitter at @emmanelsonoink
Grant Walker, 27 // Dumfries
Co-op pioneer dairy farmer and partner in the family business, Grant Walker is keen to educate young people and get them passionate about the industry.
What strikes the Dumfries lad about New Zealand, after working on an 850-cow dairy farm there for four months, is its farmers’ ability to think outside the box and meet consumer demand.
And with a focus on block calving grazing systems over the next few years, Grant says he is keen to learn from their expert advice for the benefit of his future business.
He says: “New Zealanders are known as expert operators in diversifying, meeting the demands of global markets and making the most of what they have in terms of climate and geography.”
Laura Teasdale, 35 // Cumbria
Dairy consultant Laura Teasdale travels the breadths of the north of England and Scotland to determine the cost of production for individual farmers.
When not on the home farm she is either painting or active with the Montbeliarde Cattle Society, while also being heavily involved with a research project on technology used by American beef farmers, something she says has opened her eyes to the need for a shift in mindset among British farmers.
On New Zealand, Laura says: “Resilience is, to a certain extent, the buzzword around agriculture at the moment, but what does it really look like in practice?”
Laura wants to find out more about key business strategies on what will be her first study abroad trip as she asks how the local community will cope without subsidies?
Olivia Nicholson, 24 // Staffordshire
Co-op agricultural development manager Olivia Nicholson is hoping to use the study trip to better her understanding of extensive agricultural production systems.
The trip will help tie in her daily responsibilities with beef, pork and lamb with what she hopes will be tips on how the UK ‘can align British farming with the models which currently exist and work so well in New Zealand in the face of Brexit’.
Aside from establishing better ways to market meat and protein to attract domestic consumers, learning more about consumer knowledge on agriculture and how New Zealand farmers label higher welfare meat, Olivia – who has never travelled outside of the EU – says one of the biggest challenges will be the long flight over there.
Follow Olivia on twitter @CoopAgriMatters
Robert Walker, 24 // Lancashire
Lancashire lad Rob Walker has recently joined his family’s partnership running suckler cows and Swaledale sheep.
A dab hand in social media has revolutionised how the business sells its livestock, with more than half its sales over the last two years to followers on Facebook.
While in New Zealand, Rob is hoping to learn how its farmers have evolved to make a profitable farm business and learn from business models which have overcome the lack of subsidised income.
Tom Dracup, 25 // Warwickshire & Devon
Originally from a beef and sheep farm in the middle of Dartmoor, Tom now works for the NFU as a livestock adviser, representing beef and sheep farmers’ interests to the Government, industry and wider supply chain.
The New Zealand trip is well-timed to provide the opportunity to see first-hand how British farmers can learn from the country, he says, ‘but also where our differences lie’.
Outside of work, Tom is chairman of Long Itchington Young Farmers Club, Warwickshire.
“Having moved to the area, it has been a great way to meet new people, even if we do support different rugby teams,” he says.
Follow Tom on twitter @tom_dracup
Rachel Beasley, 25 // Shropshire
Farm services consultant Rachel Beasley enjoys the adventure of visiting different farms to adopt a wider understanding of different practices which can benefit different farms.
“This is one of the reasons I applied to go on the trip; to gain more knowledge which will hopefully allow me to set up as an independent agricultural consultant,” she says.
Her role includes monitoring carbon footprint and welfare assessments for major retailers and processors, while her spare time is split between Young Farmers and competing with her horse.
Charlie Thompson, 30 // Northamptonshire
After spending time working as a farm vet in Lancashire and Wiltshire, Charlie Thompson returned to the family farm in Northamptonshire last year running pigs and free-range hens and managing crops.
He plays a strong role in implementing new technology in the business, including a pioneering feed system and electronic identification system to streamline pig handling and he steers decision-making across the three departments.
In the lead up to the New Zealand trip, Charlie says he is looking to discover how rural businesses have adapted and diversified to compete in the global landscape.
He says: “I also hope to meet some great contacts which will hopefully benefit my business development but also bring home some ideas which can be shared among the wider farming community.”
Sam Trick, 26 // Lancashire
For the last two-and-a-half years, Sam Trick has been trading manager for the external sales team at Woodheads, Morrisons, covering pork, lamb and beef, more recently taking on the role as livestock and farming development manager.
She is also on the committee for Meat Business Women, a professional networking group for women working in the meat industry helping to make the image, culture and landscape of the industry is more attractive to female talent.
She says the New Zealand study tour will be a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to learn about the innovative approach of its farmers.
Follow Sam on twitter @samlouisetrick
Gregory Edwards, 28 // Devon
For Farmers South West blends development manager Gregory Edwards spends his days supporting beef and dairy customers by looking at ways to efficiently feed stock with the company’s blended feeds.
His role surrounds the development of nutritional solutions to drive production and performance on farms in a cost-effective way.
But with Brexit around the corner, Greg is hoping to get an understanding of how New Zealand’s farmers have survived the removal of subsidies and gone on to thrive in the industry.
“My ambition is to bring those learnings back to the UK to share with our farmers,” he says.
Paul Fox // Cheshire
Heading up the trip is Paul Fox, an independent consultant and trainer at Kite Consulting.
His extensive travels of Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, not to mention his adventures as a Nuffield scholar, have popped him right on the top spot for group leader and project organiser.
Ben Hartley // Lancashire
Flying the flag for the Hartley’s is Louise’s brother Ben, who is passionate about the dairy industry and keen to pass on his knowledge and expertise.
He says the team was selected to represent a broad cross selection of UK ag, ‘and critically everyone going is an information sharer’.
“We hope the finalists can have a wide impact and help people across the UK adapt to future challenges,” he says.
The group will be meeting at Mason House Farm, Clitheroe, Lancashire, for a day’s media training with Farmers Guardian editor Ben Briggs.
Taking place next month, the group will learn more about sharing their content with our team as they travel around New Zealand learning more about the country’s agriculture.
Through a mixture of writing, blogging, vlogging and social media, the 10 will regularly be in touch with Farmers Guardian as they embark on the unique opportunity to bring key learning back into their own careers and beyond.