Student experiences

Damien Burnell on placement

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5 March 2014

Many students secure a graduate job in their final year but Damien Burnell, still in his second year, already knows what he will doing after graduating in 2015. His employer, John Homfray, of Penllyn Estate Farm is sponsoring him through university and Damien will return to manage the farm’s large arable enterprise with a degree, a network of valuable contacts and three year’s further experience under his belt.

The 25-year-old, from south Wales, is classed as a mature student (anyone aged 21 or over when beginning their degree studies) and returns to the farm, in Cowbridge, during his university holidays.

Why was he attracted to studying at Harper Adams, we asked. “I felt the resources such as the University Farm, Crop and Environment Research Centre, anaerobic digestion plant and laboratories, were second to none. As a mature student I felt these were the most important for my time in education. It was the deciding factor for me along with the good reputation the university has.”

“My aim is to be an arable manager and gain a sound scientific understanding about crops and their physiology. A qualification from Harper Adams is regarded extremely highly throughout the country and indeed the world. The scientific background I have gained will be invaluable in making future management decisions.

“My course, BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Crop Management, involves a lot of lecture-based tuition with small group-based tutorials to ensure a more one-on-one approach is taken. Tutorials can take the form of lab sessions, field trips, and discussions. We cover everything from farm business management and policy, crop physiology, soil and plant nutrition, crop protection and farm animal science just to name a few.”

Damien especially appreciates the help he receives from lecturers and support staff.  “The thing I enjoy most about my course is working with lecturers who are experts in their field and offer a wealth of knowledge and experience. The support you receive is second to none. Staff are friendly and always willing to give up their time if help is needed which is very important for support through assignments and other work.

“Dr John Reade is one of my favourite lecturers. I am extremely interested in all aspects and disciplines of science and Dr Reade is very passionate about it too. He has a fantastic teaching approach that can make mundane topics interesting and easy to understand. That is a skill that few can say they have.”

The student has also managed to rack up an impressive list of additional skills and qualifications, including PA1,2 and 4, a HGV class 2 licence, an animals in transit certificate, emergency first aid qualification, and tracked excavator and forklift certificates to name just a few!

We think Damien is a credit to Harper Adams and Penllyn Estate Farm.

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