Sophie Mills' road to agriculture was entirely coincidental. Having grown up in Edgmond, she was always aware of Harper Adams simply because of its proximity, but hadn't considered that her higher education path would only be a mere five minutes away. Within this close knit family community, she found farming experience just over the garden wall.
Sophie explained her background in agriculture, saying: "I don't really come from a farming background. My experience of the sector came entirely through my next door neighbour who invited me help out with lambing.
"From this, I was inspired to get a few sheep of my own which spiralled into a bigger interest in the farming industry. I just wanted to learn more about how it works and where I could fit into the landscape between field and fork."
Although Sophie initially joined Harper Adams on an environment, sustainability and wildlife course, she was inspired to take a more specialist route through one of the modules. She commented: "I really enjoyed a module on sustainable agriculture. It made me realise that I want to be part of the advancement of agriculture and lead the changes we want to see.
"Some recent media has shed a negative light on farming which has only made me want to be part of the debate more. I want to learn about the science of farming so I can counter their arguments and have a well informed debate. Agriculture related debates are often about choice so I think we should be aware of all of the facts in making those decisions."
With this in mind, Sophie now specialises in animal nutrition. Seeking to understand how best to care for animal health, from her own sheep to one of our exotics in the Companion Animal House, Sophie is learning about the intracasies of nutrition.
To aid her studies, Sophie was awarded the NWF Agriculture scholarship. She explained: "My scholarship has opened a door to an excellent third year work placement opportunity. I'm hoping working with NWF will help me gain a wider working knowledge. Coming from a small area, and having my only industry experience with sheep, expanding my horizons can only be a good thing.
"I also hope it will be a good opportunity to make more contacts and connections with people and companies so I can learn from them and gain as much knowledge as possible. The experience will hopefully let me see what I like best about the sector and whether or not it is something I want to do for the rest of my career. Following the working process for a whole year will hopefully make that a bit clearer for me."
Of her Harper experience, Sophie offered her advice, saying: "I think I would want to make prospective students aware that this is a science degree. You won't be at Harper just to learn how to lamb and plough a field. We break that stereotype!
"Equally, even if you're not from a farming background, it won't hold you back. It's really easy to integrate yourself into Harper life; everything is enriched by having people with a variety of backgrounds to help share their knowledge."