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    How alumna Annie is using her knowledge to break down industry barriers

    Posted 18 March

    "Although there is still a stereotype towards women in agriculture, it’s not been something I’ve let hinder me, as I’m confident in my knowledge learnt practically from working at home, as well as my studies at Harper.” 

    Alumna Annie Stones with one of the many prizes and awards she has won.

    An award-winning alumna from Harper Adams University has spoken of how she is using the knowledge and skills she developed during her course to break down gender barriers in the industry. 

    Annie Stones, originally from Marrick, Swaledale, was named the winner of the Women in Agriculture award at this year’s Northern Farmer awards. 

    Speaking after winning the award, she said: “Just getting nominated for two awards was amazing, to then get shortlisted to a finalist was unexpected - but then to actually go on and win the award against two completely deserving women was a complete honour!” 

    While she admits there are still challenges she has to overcome in her role as a Feed Advisor, Annie is confident in her knowledge – which she attributes to both her experience on the family farm and the academic rigour of her BSc (Hons) Animal Production Science degree. 

    She said: “In recent years women have been making significant strides in agriculture, including roles like feed advisors. 

    “Being young and still learning means I have a fresh perspective and insights to bring to the field.  

    “As a woman in the farming industry, I feel we still need to break down the gender barriers, which I still witness with my job today. Being sexualised as soon as I step on a farm, and made to feel like my knowledge isn’t as reliable is something I have to deal with every day. However, because of my personality, I find pleasure in proving myself by using my knowledge to show the farmers my capabilities. 

    “But overall, as an industry, it is frustrating as I feel women are able to help advance sustainable and efficient farming practices.” 

    Growing up on a hill farm, Annie always knew she wanted to work with animals – which influenced her choice of degree. 

    She said: “The arable side wasn’t of interest to me, so when I saw that Harper Adams offered Animal Production Science, a course based all around the genetics, nutrition and different production systems, it suited me completely. 

    “Because I wasn’t sure on what career I wanted to do, being able to learn all the different areas around farm animals allowed me get a taster of what suited me and what didn’t.” 

    With the rural location of Harper Adams soon making her feel at home, Annie began to thrive in her degree. She said: “One of the best things about my lectures at Harper was that we were getting taught by people in the industry, not just people with a degree in teaching. 

    “Having actual farmers, vets and highly recognised professionals teaching you meant there was always a more practical and relatable approach. 

    “It makes it a lot easier to understand when it’s coming from someone who actually understands the industry and has physically worked in the industry. In addition, having the farm onsite meant that some of the lectures we had were very practical, making it much more memorable and even enjoyable.” 

    While Annie began her degree unsure of the career path she wanted to pursue, her industry placement year helped her find an ideal role for her skills. 

    She added: “In all honesty, I have Harper to thank for my current job. 

    “Knowing I wanted to be near home for my placement, I went out and approached a couple of local feed companies in my area, as I enjoyed the nutrition side of my course - so wanted to see more of that industry. 

    “Although the company I now work for, W E Jameson & son, weren’t offering a placement year, they took a chance on me and took me on for the year.  

    “By the end of my placement year, I was able to secure myself a job post-graduation, before I had even got a degree.  

    “Whilst on placement, my job role consisted mainly of aiding the on-farm sales team by delivering products, taking silage samples and communicating with farmers, both on-farm and at shows and events.  

    “Having such a close relationship with the Feed Advisors meant that I got to see a lot of their job and learn from them - which was why I was offered the job as an on-farm Feed Advisor after I graduated. This now makes me the only female representative for the company, alongside being the youngest representative.  

    “However, this doesn’t phase me.

    "Although there is still a stereotype towards women in agriculture, it’s not been something I’ve let hinder me, as I’m confident in my knowledge learnt practically from working at home, as well as my studies at Harper.” 

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