My name is Nicola, and I was a Young Farmer and Chairman of Westlands Young Farmers Club in Sittingbourne, Kent. I joined this club in 2015 when I became a pupil at Westlands Secondary School and loved every second of working on the school farm.
Because of all my great experiences of agriculture (primarily livestock based) on this farm, my passion for the field grew. I had always wanted to go to university, so deciding which degree to study came easy to me. I loved the University of Nottingham as soon as I found their page on UCAS and knew I wanted to study agricultural and livestock science here. The modules for this course also lined up with my primary interests: climate change, agricultural sustainability and animal nutrition. I will study these topics at some point in my academic career and link to my ambitions following my graduation. I have looked into becoming a climate scientist, studying the effects of climate change related to cattle production, or an animal nutritionist, helping to find feed for livestock to help them to efficiently grow to their full potential.
The Centre for Dairy Science Innovation also swayed my decision to put Nottingham as my first choice due to its primary aims and research technology. This farm has an amazing layout and management that allows the cattle to be part of trials in comfortable conditions.
The Spence Scholarship has allowed me to consider studying abroad next year or taking part in summer schools, due to the costs associated with these. The different programmes offered by the University of Nottingham will allow me to experience unique learning environments and meet a variety of people in the fields of agricultural and environmental sciences.
I would strongly encourage any students interested in agriculture and Higher Education to apply to an agricultural-based degree. These degrees allow graduates to apply to a range of jobs, spanning from being a crop agronomist to livestock genetics consultants.
The Spence Scholarship is a brilliant opportunity for students to become part of a wider community for the rest of their academic and agricultural career. The team at the Rochester Bridge Trust are friendly and welcoming, and I would like to thank them all for choosing me to be one of their scholars.
What an amazing start to my new chapter in life! My first year of university has been amazing to say the least. I have made some friends for life in my flat, from my course and around the campus. We have gone on a few hikes together, notably around Batman’s House and Bakewell.
This year I been involved with the Agric Society, joining them on training days, helping around the university dairy and farm visits. My favourite farm visit was to a large estate in Newark. They grazed a medium sized herd of longhorns in a woodland that contained some of the oldest trees in England!
My studies have also kept me thoroughly entertained. Sustainability in Agriculture Systems was my favourite module of the year, where we were tasked with writing an essay about any agri system of our choosing and presenting to the class. I took this opportunity to learn more about American and European bison, a subject I had recently become very passionate about.
With the Rochester Bridge’s generous scholarship I was able to book my driving theory test, practical test and find an instructor in the area. I am so grateful for this as I have been able to catch up after the pandemic backlog. This has been important for being able to travel around the Sutton Bonnington village and driving to potential placements. Wish me luck for my test!
I have had a fun-filled summer, beginning with a little lambing in Cornwall! It was such a lovely experience bringing new life into the world while surrounded by such a picturesque landscape.
I attended the South of England and Chertsey Shows with Abbey Court Special School. I helped the children prepare and show a Kunekune gilt (female pig), a Zwartble ewe and a Valais Blacknose ewe lamb. The girls did rather well, walking away from the shows with a 2nd, three 3rds and a 6th place.
In July I attended the Kent County Show with my old Young Farmers Club (Westlands) as a Teacher Leader. It was so rewarding to help and watch the members show, knowing I had contributed towards their huge successes. Over the weekend we accumulated more than 50 rosettes, including two Champions and a Reserve Supreme Champion. Despite being a little rusty I had a go at showing, earning a 4th place with a Hereford x Holstein heifer and a 5th with the Kunekune gilt.
Besides the agricultural fun, I went to an Arctic Monkeys concert in June, spent lots of time with family and continued work on our house extension with my Dad.
I would like to thank the Rochester Bridge Trust again for its continued support in my studies. I can’t wait to start my lectures this year, especially since I have chosen the majority of my modules. This semester I will also be looking for a suitable placement to take a Year in Industry in 2024. I hope you had an enjoyable summer. Roll on Year 2!