As a writer for Student Farmer Magazine and having a love of goats, Katie Smith was the perfect choice to be an NFU Student and Young Farmer Ambassador for 2020. While studying BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science and showcasing the diversity of the agricultural industry in her spare time, we spoke to Katie about the exciting year ahead of her.
In 2018 I was selected to represent the West Midlands with the NFU in the Lord Mayor’s Show in London. Since then, I have kept up with lots of the events going on with the NFU and attending the annual conference for the last two years.
I also work with the Love British Food campaign to promote British food and farming and I’m always looking for new ways to promote British farming.
Although I don’t come from an agricultural background, in the last few years I have become really involved in agriculture and have a particular interest in livestock so I relish any opportunities to make new contacts in the industry, meet people with similar interests and get stuck in. I had seen advertisements for the new Student and Young Farmer Ambassador Programme on social media and in the #StudentFarmer magazine from the NFU and knew that it would be right up my alley.
As a Student & Young Farmer member of the NFU, the opportunity was advertised to me to apply for the Student & Young Farmer Ambassador Programme last year and it immediately sparked my interest. After reading through the information I decided to apply and made it to the interview stage in 2019 but wasn’t selected as an ambassador. However, the staff that ran the programme were really encouraging and urged me to reapply the next year.
When it came to applying this year, I filled in the questions that were part of the initial application detailing my interest in promoting British agriculture and taking the opportunity to support the industry which I found to be a really enjoyable, reflective opportunity. After the team had reviewed the initial applications, they selected a number of applicants for a virtual interview; the interview I attended in 2019 was in person at the NFU headquarters in Stoneleigh Park, but due to COVID restrictions they had to be over video chat this year. The interview was a really relaxed process where I spoke to two of the members of staff that would be helping to oversee the programme. They asked me questions about my interests in agriculture, previous experiences that would benefit me if I was chosen for the programme and discussed some new ideas for the team of ambassadors that would be chosen this year. I received a phone call the following week to say I had been chosen and I was delighted!
I’m still over the moon to be chosen as one of the Student & Young Farmer Ambassadors this year as I feel like I have a lot to put into the programme. I am really excited to get stuck in and meet the other ambassadors; we have already been introduced in our group chat but are all really keen to meet each other as soon as we can! We are already working on content for campaigns so it is great that we are able to get involved early on into the programme and I’m sure there will be lots more fantastic opportunities yet to come.
As I don’t come from a farming background but have become really involved in the industry in the last few years, I hope to inspire other young people that don’t come from an agricultural background to get involved! I think that for a lot of young people it can be daunting to know where to start if they are interested in a career in agriculture or even to become more involved, but the NFU has some great opportunities for young people.
On a more personal level, I hope that the programme will be able to teach me more about the different sectors of the industry I am less familiar with. I am also looking forward to the opportunity to meet more people within the industry.
I hope that as a team of ambassadors we will have a really wide reach and will be able to promote the great work that the NFU do and the work that the British farmers do – both to those in the agricultural industry and those that know less about it!
I would really encourage any students at Harper to sign up for Student & Young Farmer membership for the NFU - it’s free for them and there are so many benefits and opportunities they can get from it! You can find out more information here.
Read more of the ambassadors' story here.