Learning on the land

PUBLISHED: 05:42 09 February 2015

Easton and Otley College agricultural students Marshall Drew and Ellie Hirst.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Easton and Otley College agricultural students Marshall Drew and Ellie Hirst. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

Informing the next generation about food, farming and the countryside is a central focus of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

Inspiring the brightest and best young people to choose a career in agriculture is essential for the prosperity of the county and a key reason why the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) has such a close relationship with Easton and Otley College – one of the UK’s leading land-based colleges. We spoke to three students pursuing professions within Norfolk’s rural economy to discover the motivation behind their career paths.

Ellie Hirst, 17, lives with her parents Katrina and Richard in Ormesby, near Great Yarmouth, and is keenly involved in the family farm consisting of 350 hectares of livestock and arable land. Studying for her Level Three diploma in horse management at Easton and Otley College, Ellie is putting her education into practice assisting her mum with Hirst Farms Livery.

“I’m coming to the end of my two-year studies and would like to further my education at Harper Adams University studying agri-business. I hope to be able to come home and put lots of my learning into practice with a particular slant towards equine and business management. Horses are a key part of my life and exhibiting and competing at the Royal Norfolk Show not only introduced me to the diverse equestrian opportunities available but opened my eyes to the many other professions we have in the land-based sector. My family have been farming here for 60 years so to a certain extent a career in Norfolk’s rural economy is predictable – after all it’s part of my DNA, but working for the past few years with Mum has helped me identify the particular career, out of the many options available, that I want to focus on.”

Ed Baker, 18, from Old Buckenham, near Attleborough, isn’t new to the world of farming either. His dad is a farmer and his family have a smallholding in the village where he lives.

“I’ve just completed my two-year National Diploma course in agriculture and I’ll shortly be extending my studies in January at Easton and Otley College when I start my Level Three apprentice course in agriculture. I’ll then be in a strong position to begin my farming career, with my current interest being around becoming an arable farmer after my studies have completed.

“I’ve been to the Royal Norfolk Show nearly every year of my life and for the past three years I have volunteered on the Young Farmers’ stand and have been involved in various ways within the Grand Ring. The show is another great insight to the farming world and it’s given me an even wider understanding of the agricultural industry, something that will no doubt stand me in good stead both now and in the future.”

Marshall Drew, 19, is a farming apprentice from Horningtoft, near Dereham, and is the fourth generation in his family to work in farming. Marshall is currently studying a Level Three Edge Apprenticeship in crop production at Easton and Otley College while working at Salle Farms Company, near Reepham.

“My family has a 250-acre arable farm in Horningtoft, so one day my aim is to take over from my dad and run the family farm. Farming is a really exciting career – it’s busy, always changing and you face different challenges every single day, which means no day is ever the same.

“My time at the Royal Norfolk Show is also always exciting and a great way to learn about farming and see everything in one place, particularly the latest farm machinery. Over the past three years I‘ve helped out in various ways, including working on the Edge Apprenticeship and Young Farmers’ stands. Overall, the show is a valuable part of my studies and it’s great to always be involved.”

The Royal Norfolk Show has run a Careers Trail for the past two years with the support of Easton and Otley College to help develop and raise awareness of the wide range of careers available in the land-based sector. The Careers Trail will be taking place again at the 2015 Royal Norfolk Show and schools can sign up now. Availability is limited; email Samantha Joyce, RNAA education co-ordinator at Samantha.Joyce@rnaa.org.uk

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