Zoe Fletcher

Qualification & subject:
Honours and Integrated Masters Degrees BSc (Hons) Applied Agriculture
Profession:
Placement on dairy farm in New Zealand

What I love most about my course

There’s a wide range of optional modules that enable us to tailor our degree towards our main focus and interests within the industry. One module requires students to complete a 500 hour work placement which can be split between two enterprises. This not only allows us to gain experience in industry but also gives students who are undecided about which path they may prefer to take to gain knowledge and experience in both.  As well as helping with the 24-hour lambing rota, I’ve been been carrying out research on the impact on lambs of having their mother’s colostrum in comparison to another ewe’s when their mother is unable to produce it. Agricultural work is very practical and it is essential to apply the theory-based information we learn in the classroom to the outdoors. We are very lucky to have a fully functioning working farm just metres from our classroom!

Why I chose Hartpury   

Coming from Guernsey in the Channel Islands where we do not have a university, I knew I had to look at coming to the UK to study for a degree. I visited several universities running agricultural and land-based degrees but found the facilities and opportunities at Hartpury to be the best suited to me. Located in the most beautiful countryside with plenty of local farmers around to approach for work experience, the specialist campus is small in comparison to other faculties. This creates a really personal feel and makes approaching both teaching and non-teaching staff much easier.  Lecturers are keen to help and have great contacts within industry to help us find work after we graduate.

The best bit about being an Agriculture student at Hartpury

Definitely the lecturers and the facilities! All of our lecturers have worked in industry and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with us. This really helps as they are able to give us practical examples of the information they are teaching us and also helps to keep the lectures fresh – we love to hear about their thrills and spills! It’s great to be in the classroom one minute and then in overalls and boots the next; down on the farm having the current lecture demonstrated to us in a practical sense.

What it’s like being a girl on an Agriculture degree
Being a girl studying farming is great! The lecturers engage well with us and the boys normally cut us some slack after seeing how well we handle the bull calves! Female farmer numbers are on the rise – I think more people are relocating from the city to the countryside for a quieter, more peaceful way of life and farming is less considered as ‘a man’s job’ now. It’s true that farming is a 365 days of the year job but that means you have to be passionate about what you do and when you love what you do, it never feels like you’re going to work!

My hopes for the future
My next step will be to top up my degree at Hartpury to a full Honours degree. Our lecturers are great at informing us about additional opportunities too, like the Lantra Tractor Driving qualification and British Wool sheep shearing courses. These really help to enhance our CVs!  After graduating, I hope to return to Guernsey and find a job within the dairy or sheep industry. I’ve also set up a group that travels to Sri Lanka to improve the living conditions of children staying in orphanages, cancer hospitals and homes for the disabled, while also helping the homeless and those living in extreme poverty.  This group also offer free treatments and neutering to people with pets.  

My tips for future students

Get involved as much as possible while you’re at Hartpury!  There are often opportunities to gain experience in milking, lambing and calf rearing as well as ploughing and drilling for the arable modules. Ask lecturers and farm staff lots of questions and gain as much work experience as possible. It really helps to improve your chances of employability.