Posted 17 October 2014
“Applying for the scheme gave me the opportunity to research an area of horticulture more deeply. I hope the scheme will continue to provide opportunities and continue to feed my interest in the sector in the future. "
Access to an already generous horticulture bursary scheme from the Horticultural Development Company (HDC) has been widened this year enabling undergraduates on all sorts of courses ranging from agriculture, chemistry and zoology to apply.
The HDC Undergraduate Final Year Bursary Scheme, launched in 2012, is open to students on courses that include a year in industry and offers up to 10 students £4,500 towards their final year work placement, which must have a strong horticultural focus.
The aim is to encourage astute individuals from a range of disciplines to engage with and apply their studies to a plethora of technical horticultural jobs in a bid to move high-calibre candidates into horticultural careers.
In 2014 five students from Harper Adams University were selected to receive the bursaries: Tom Carey, 20, from Helston, Cornwall; Anthony Ashby, 20, from Corsham, Wiltshire; Lucy Vaughan, 21, from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire; Sophie Bull, 20, from Thame, Oxfordshire; and Laura Brady, 20, from Canterbury, Kent.
Agriculture student Tom Carey, on placement with Herefordshire-based EC Drummond, said: “This opportunity from HDC will help me to build contacts in the industry, while reducing any financial pressure during my final year of study. The placement is going well – I starting working with crops and potatoes but after expressing an interest in the fruit side of the business, I have been much more focussed on fruit, working with raspberries, strawberries and orchards.”
Sophie Bull, 20, from Thame, Oxfordshire is a third year Agri-Food Marketing with Business Studies student, on placement within the commercial team at Emmett UK. She said: “I am passionate about fresh produce industry and I wanted to learn more about the sector by meeting and speaking to people with similar interests and knowledge from which I can learn and broaden my own knowledge. The HDC scholarship will enable me to broaden my knowledge and gain more experience of the fresh produce sector.
Laura Brady, 20, applied for the scheme because she “thought it was a great opportunity to get more involved in the fresh produce industry, to learn and to promote the opportunities within the industry”. She said that in addition to receiving welcome financial support, applying for the bursary had already helped with her report writing and presentation skills and she was looking forward to attending events through the HDC scheme. Laura is on placement as part of her foundation degree in agriculture, also working for Emmett UK.
Lucy Vaughan, 21, is studying Agri-food, marketing with business studies and also working at Emmett UK on placement. She said: “I applied for the bursary not just for the financial support but also to further my knowledge in the industry prior to beginning my placement. Fresh produce systems was an optional module in my second year which led me to apply for the placement and now I am thoroughly enjoying every aspect of the job.”
And Anthony Ashby, 20, from Corsham, near Bath, is on the BSc (Hons) Agriculture course. He said: “Applying for the scheme gave me the opportunity to research an area of horticulture more deeply. I hope the scheme will continue to provide opportunities and continue to feed my interest in the sector in the future. On placement, I am working for Specialist Spreading Services in Kent. I am soil sampling, mapping and spreading lime and fertilisers on arable, grassland and in orchards using variable rate GPS equipment.
“I hope to achieve a wider understanding of soil, what impacts soil and how we can utilise technologies to efficiently use resources to maintain healthy soil profiles and maximise production.”
Fellow agriculture student James Ashworth 22, from Southwell, Nottinghamshire, was awarded one of the first HDC bursaries in 2013, when he began a placement with Riviera Produce.
James, who has now returned to Harper Adams University to complete his final year of study, said: “The financial support from HDC has been very valuable, taking the pressure off for my final year. At Riviera produce I experienced a lot of different tasks. Working in all of sections of the business enabled me to see all aspects of vegetable production and the cycle from start to finish.”
The HDC will award up to 10 bursaries. Applications are open until 31 March 2015. Visit www.hdc.org.uk/hdc-bursary-scheme for more information.