Posted 20 January
“Winning this award in my final year at Harper feels like such a great achievement and the best way to round off four amazing years."
Katie Ackland has won the title of UK Dairy Student of the Year 2021, bringing home the title for Harper Adams for the sixth time in seven years.
"I am absolutely delighted to have won Dairy Student of the Year,” Katie, 21 from Devon, said. “From growing up on my family dairy farm through to completing my placement year on a dairy farm in Kent, I have always loved working and being involved within the dairy sector.
“Winning this award in my final year at Harper feels like such a great achievement and the best way to round off four amazing years.
“I would like to say thank you to all of the individuals involved within the process of this award. With so many events at the moment being cancelled due to Covid-19, I am really grateful that competitions such as these can carry on within the online format.”
The BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management student went through a rigorous application, interview and presentation process, delivering her final case study over Zoom. Katie was selected by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers for her excellent speech on The UK dairy industry in 10 years’ time.
Katie said: “I think when we consider how the dairy industry needs to change to meet the challenges of the future there are three key things to remember: dairy farmers are resilient; they are able to adapt to change and when we work together as an industry no challenge is too big.
“Within my presentation I touched on topics ranging from future threats from disease, greenhouse gas emissions and antibiotic usage to the lack of agriculture within the educational syllabus and the challenges of attracting individuals from non-farming backgrounds.
“I think the dairy industry does have big challenges to face in the future but there are also some very exciting times ahead.”
For winning first prize, Katie was awarded £750 and a trophy to commemorate her success.
Katie initially came to Harper seeking academic and practical knowledge that would support her love of the agricultural sector.
She commented: “Harper Adams was always the university I wanted to go to; with a great student hub made up of like-minded individuals alongside their connections with well-known agricultural businesses, I think a degree from Harper is the best way to get on to the agricultural ladder.
“I can’t identify one single highlight from Harper because there have been so many. I’ve met and lived with some friends for life, I’ve had a great placement year at Hinxden Farm Dairy and I’ve made so many memories. I will never forget my time at Harper.”
Looking to the future, Katie said: “One of the main things I will take away from my studies is the fact that you never know everything.
“The agricultural sector and the external world are constantly developing, and that’s what’s so exciting about the future of the dairy sector. From carrying out my placement year on a Pedigree Holstein and Guernsey herd in Kent compared to our cross-bred extensively grazed system at home in the South West, there is so much to learn within different system types.
“Once I have graduated from Harper Adams, I would like to travel out to New Zealand and experience dairy farming in a different part of the world. I want to play a role in the future development of the UK dairy sector and as we progress as an industry together; I think we have big changes and exciting times to come.”