Harper Adams alumna, Amie Burke, graduated from Harper Adams University in 2010 after completing her BSc (Hons) Business Management with Marketing degree before going on to champion Agrespect for the LGBTQ+ community.
Growing up in Birmingham, Amie sought a different approach to city life. She always felt slightly out of place ut couldn't determine exactly why. This led her to the university where her eyes were opened "to a new world: agriculture and all the incredible opportunities within it" that have enriched her experience of the business and agricultural industry. Being submerged in this alternative culture was unlike anything she had experienced before giving her a new sense of spirit, inspiring a new passion for tractors!
Coming from a non-farming background did sometimes pose a challenge to Amie but this did not deter her from working towards her goals. She spoke of the challenges she faced, saying, "I am female in a male-dominated industry; I’m from the city and a non-farming background. That can be tough enough, without adding the gay card.
"Our sexuality is an important part of our true identities and we shouldn’t have to hide it to please other people. I am happy to be judged on my work but not on who I love." With all of these different factors combined, Amie has worked hard to achieve a great deal in her career, without letting any stigmatisation hold her back.
Amie is a champion of inclusivity, working with Agrespect to promote and support diversity of LGBTQ+ individuals in the countryside by encouraging people to be authentic within themselves and their communities. "I am delighted to be a part of Agrespect," she said, "The growing support and understanding the movement is receiving from the farming industry makes the future look happier, hopeful and more inclusive!" As a university, we are proud to be a partner of Agrespect, working to make agriculture an ever more inclusive field for our students and graduates.
In acquiring these skills, Amie then went onto a career AHDB working as a Business Improvement Manager in the arable sector. She commented on her role saying, "I was working with farmer groups to calculate the cost of producing wheat, barley and oats and identify areas to focus on". These were key skills she developed through her degree, built upon through the practical experience of the work place.
From this, she further developed her career skills, going onto work with AB Agri, a large organisation that is part of Associated British Foods. Amie spoke about the experience, explaining, "I worked with sustainability assessors and agricultural managers at Sainsburys to produce 3,000 on-farm carbon footprint assessments, data insights and producer discussion groups. Within two years, I was promoted to the International Audit team and spent two years travelling the world, completing sustainability audits for companies such as Coca-Cola and Heineken."
Despite this success, Amie decided to make a change by returning to AHDB, working to improve skills across the supply chain. She continues to learn more about and develop the skills set she acquired while at university by educating and helping those around her as well as advocating for an inclusive sector.
With it being LGBTQ+ month, we want to celebrate stories like Amie's - of people who want to make the agricultural field a more accepting and inclusive place to be. Should you want to share you story, you can get in touch here.