Despite not coming from a traditional agricultural background, Salopian Sophie Mills is now starting her own flock of sheep and studying for a degree in Agriculture. Here, she discusses how and why she decided to pursue her budding passion for farming with Harper Adams.
“Growing up in rural Shropshire, I was always aware of Harper Adams University, however had never considered a degree in agriculture until I was studying A-levels.
My family and I are not from a farming background, but after being involved with lambing on a local farm, we decided to start a small flock of our own. From this, my curiosity for the agricultural industry grew and I began to consider the possibility of studying a degree in the subject.
I chose to study BSc Agriculture at Harper Adams because the course covered all aspects of the industry, from Animal Production Science to People Management Skills.
Having gained very little knowledge of the agricultural sector prior to beginning my degree, I was excited by the opportunity to study such a vast array of topics.
I began my studies on the Access to Agriculture programme, which was offered to me as although I was able to meet the academic requirements for the course, not being from a farming background made it more difficult to achieve the required 10 weeks’ work experience.
As part of the Access to Agriculture programme, I gained five Land Based Skills tickets, including telehandler and tractor driving. I also took part in several activities on the University Farm, such as milking, which I had not had the opportunity to do previously.
I am grateful to have been on the Access to Agriculture programme as it gave me practical applications to the theories discussed in lectures and improved my confidence. The experience has benefited by CV and enhanced my employability.
There are numerous scholarship opportunities available to all students at Harper Adams, providing thousands of pounds in financial support, as well as creating industry links and building connections.
I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship by North Western Farmers, a leading supplier of ruminant animal feeds.
The scholarship involved financial support during my second year, as well as a 12-month industrial placement within NWF.
The placement year is a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself and try something new. I took on the role of Technical Assistant at NWF, which gave me experience in the laboratory, the office and with customers on farm.
The nature of the role meant that I gained an understanding of all operations within NWF and the importance of efficient production practices.
Throughout my time at Harper, it has become evident that no matter what background an individual comes from, there is always something to learn.
Employers seem to be excited by the innovative ideas and additional skills offered by new entrants to the agricultural industry.
After Harper, I hope to use the knowledge I have gained from academic studies, as well as the practical experience and industry connections from placement, to pursue a career within the livestock sector.”