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Strong support sees city student Hannah excel in agricultural studies

Posted 1 July

A young woman in a field – Hannah Scott-Cook

A student who came to Harper Adams from the centre of Birmingham to study Agriculture has found such strong support that she has chosen to follow her undergraduate degree with a PhD.

Hannah Scott-Cook, currently in the final year of her BSc (Hons) Agriculture degree, was also named winner of the 2022 Agrovista Award for her performance during her industrial placement year. What makes both her academic and awards successes particularly impressive, is Hannah originally applied to her course without having an agricultural background.

Despite not sharing the farming background of some of her peers, Hannah was able to gain a practical grounding through the University’s Access to Agriculture programme – which is specifically tailored to help students get the experience they need.

She explained: “The course practically put me on a level playing field with the other students on my degree who came from a farming background – I didn’t feel completely in the dark when it came to the more practical side of agriculture, like driving a tractor or using a telehandler.

“It also connected me to the other people studying agriculture who were in a similar position to me – so I had a community to lean on if I needed it.

“It gave me invaluable experience in the physical side of farming and through learning something new, being able to drive machinery or understand animal loading it built my confidence massively.”

Once she began her course, Hannah found the openness of her lecturers a great help – noting in particular one example where she decided to return to her old school in Birmingham to conduct research about city youngsters’ attitudes to agriculture.

She said: “I spoke to my head of course about it and she was more than onboard – she even came with me!

“So, we went to an open day with all the Harper kit, conducted a questionnaire and then analysed the data.

“This might seem like a small thing, but I think if I was at a bigger university, lecturers might not have the time or want to do something like that with individual students. That’s what Harper is great at, if you have an idea and want to pursue it then there’s opportunity to do that here.

“The staff are really knowledgeable, great to bounce ideas off and you learn a lot from them. Every year I’m still excited to learn, I’m still happy to learn, still happy to be here and I think that’s a testament to both the course and the staff – and how interesting and engaging they make it.”

In her third year – where all Harper students undertake a year on an industry placement related to their degree – Hannah worked at pig and poultry feed manufacturer ABN after being awarded the ABN Poultry Scholarship. Here, she not only discovered a deeper appreciation for the various aspects of agriculture covered by the business – but was also inspired to pursue her PhD.

She added: “I really loved my placement. It was a little bit different to how they planned because of COVID but it worked incredibly well for me.

“I discovered my love for ‘behind the scenes’ agriculture – the research, the reviews, the customer service – so having to do more office-based work and the projects that come with that suited me.

 “For me personally, I gained so many contacts whilst doing a placement – it was on placement that someone recommended to me that I should look into doing a PHD actually, so that was a really pivotal moment for my career.

“Placement is a fantastic way of finding out what you’re good at, what you’re interested in and where you might want to go in the future.”

Hannah is now set to pursue her PhD once she completes her undergraduate degree this summer – and received the Agrovista award for her success at ABN when winners were announced at this year’s Harper Adams Placement Awards.

She added: “I was incredibly pleased. I remember getting the email and I didn’t quite believe that I’d been nominated – so I was even more thrilled to find out I’d won!”

If you would like to follow in Hannah’s footsteps for 2022 entry, there is still time to visit our campus and apply through late application. Check out our Applicant Open Days here.

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