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A "first step at building a sustainable future” - how a scholarship changed Rebecca's career plans

Posted 7 November 2022

"I wanted a new challenge, something completely unbeknown to me – so the BPC scholarship was the first step at building a sustainable future for myself within the poultry industry. It is an industry I can use my Bioveterinary Science degree to make a difference in.”

A young woman - Rebecca Kelly - in front of foliage

A student who used her Harper Adams Scholarship as a “first step at building a sustainable future” is encouraging fellow students to grasp similar opportunities.

Rebecca Kelly, a BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science final year student from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, was among the speakers at this year’s British Poultry Council and Pig Industry Scholarship Presentation event, held by the Harper Adams University Development Trust.

Rebecca spoke alongside fellow BPC scholar Wes McGuire to talk about their placement experiences in the poultry industry, while  National Pig Association (NPA) Chief Executive, Harper alumna Lizzie Wilson and Vice-Chairman, Hugh Crabtree, represented the pig industry.

Rebecca explained how applying for a BPC Scholarship had changed her life – and given her industry experience across the globe. Speaking afterwards, she said: “I wanted a new challenge, something completely unbeknown to me – so the BPC scholarship was the first step at building a sustainable future for myself within the poultry industry.

“It is an industry I can use my Bioveterinary Science degree to make a difference in.”

Each BPC scholar gets a one-year placement with leading companies in their chosen industry – with Rebecca’s taking her across the UK – and beyond.

She said: “I did my placement with Aviagen. I experienced all areas of production in broiler breeders from farm, laboratory, egg depots and hatcheries.

“I spent six months in Scotland rotating through generations from Pedigree to Grandparent stock, getting practical experience and knowledge in bird welfare, biosecurity, and poultry husbandry.

“I then moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, spending time in the hatchery, gaining an insight into the everyday operations and preparing chicks for customers.

“My final three months were spent in Tennessee and Alabama.

“In North America, I focused on Grandparent production. I spent my days travelling with poultry specialists, understanding the effect of different climate and environmental challenges on poultry production.

“Being able to travel with Aviagen, it gave me an in-depth insight into the running of a global business structure and how everything intertwines.”

Rebecca has now returned to Harper Adams and is completing the final year of her studies –and keen to share her scholarship experiences with her fellow students.

She added: “Studying at Harper Adams is unexplainable, it’s amazing. Harper is the best place to gain valuable experience through never-ending opportunities in all aspects of agriculture.

“To sum up Harper in a nutshell – we’re one big family striving for success in the Agri-food industry.

“Being able to express my passion to fellow students was exciting.

“If my presentation to the second years encouraged even just one student to join the poultry industry, that is another individual that can make a change in the future. I thrive off sharing my experience on placement with Aviagen, it’s something very valuable to me.

“I would advise anyone considering this to jump out of your depths and straight into something new – you won’t regret it!”

The day following the BPC and Pig Industry presentations, a wide variety of pig and poultry industry and associated employers attended the Scholarship Fair – with previous and current scholars on many stands, keen to chat with second year students seeking placements.

Head of Development Doris Taylor said: “I would like to thank everyone involved in promoting these exciting opportunities and would encourage students to explore the wide variety of jobs on offer.”

Students wishing to apply for pig and poultry industry placements with scholarships can find further details of the range of opportunities available here: Placements linked to a Scholarship

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