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    Rebecca secures Dairy Student of the Year 2023 title

    Posted 3 February 2023

    “It has been a great experience and I hope I can help to promote the dairy industry and women in dairy in the future.”

    A young woman - Rebecca Smith - with a cow

    Rebecca Smith is celebrating after being named Dairy Student of the Year 2023

    The title of Dairy Student of the Year has been taken by a Harper Adams student for the third successive year – and for the eighth time in the past nine years.

    Rebecca Smith, a BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Farm Business Management student, was announced as the award winner at  Dairy-Tech 2023 on Wednesday, February 1.

    She said: “It was a really enjoyable day and fantastic to win the award!

    “It has been a great experience and I hope I can help to promote the dairy industry and women in dairy in the future.”

    Rebecca won the award after a rigorous application process. This included writing a 1,500-word essay on a case study prepared by Kite Consulting and delivering a presentation to a panel of judges at the Farmers' Club in London.

    This is the third year in a row a student from Harper Adams University has won the award, with last year's student being Max Mitchell from Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

    Rebecca was presented with a cheque for £750 and a trophy. She also had the exclusive opportunity to quiz panellists involved in the State of the Dairying Nation debate, including Farming Minister Mark Spencer.

    As part of the competition, Rebecca also won a six-month paid placement with the award sponsor Mole Valley Farmers.

    Runner-up was BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management student Jack Howard, also from Harper Adams University.

    The competition, run by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF), is designed to reflect real-life challenges seen on dairy farms and broader policy issues and identify some of the sector's rising stars and new entrants.

    This year's judging panel consisted of RABDF chairman Di Wastenage, vice-chair Robert Craig, Mole Valley Farmers’ James Hague, and Chloe Cross from Kite Consulting.

    Mrs Wastenage said: “The standard of this year’s students was incredibly high, making the final decision almost impossible.

    “Rebecca gave an excellent presentation showing her deep practical and technical knowledge of dairy farming while also explaining in great detail how the wider industry needs to improve its communication with consumers.

    “Figuring strongly in Rebecca’s presentation was more innovative product development to capture the valuable convenience food-on-the-go consumer. She also emphasised the importance of promoting the soil-health benefits of pasture-based dairy farming as a solution to the wider problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

    “Rebecca also had very clear ideas around what we can learn from the promotion of plant-based alternatives, using social media and influencers to engage with Gen Z.”

    Mr Hague, head of agriculture at Mole Valley Farmers, added: “Mole Valley Farmers is delighted to sponsor the Dairy Student of the Year award and our congratulations go to Rebecca and Jack. They delivered excellent presentations with a clear understanding of the challenges and complexities facing the industry and, importantly, the many opportunities that also present themselves.

    “Judging this year's competition was difficult due to the high calibre of students in the final six, which is encouraging and bodes well for the future of our industry.

     “We are now looking forward to Rebecca joining us on her placement. Mole Valley Farmers and the RABDF will continue to work together to encourage, develop and promote young people who can work to deliver innovative and practical solutions to the challenges of modern dairy farming.”

    Meanwhile BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science student Marley Lamerton, from near Truro in Cornwall, was among a group of students from across the UK who secured a Farm Health Management Award for a student from an Agricultural University.

    This was the second year in succession in which Marley had been named award winner - after she also secured this prize in 2022.

    She said: “It is definitely a great achievement - and relief - to have won this award again, and  it has been a great way to be able to draw even further on my knowledge, having learned a lot more since last year!”

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