8 September 1995

CAREER IN FARM POLITICS IS ULTIMATE AIM

HES VERY MUCH A THINKER SAID THE JUDGES

TOP STUDENTS VIE FOR TITLE

A wealth of student talent was on display in this years Agricultural Student of the Year competition, sponsored by Zeneca Crop Protection.

Mike Stones profiles the three shortlisted candidates

COMBINING a busy student life with the demanding role of a special constable is no easy task. But that is what Katie Callow has achieved.

Besides studying for an honours degree in agricultural business management at Wye College, Ashford, Kent, Katie held a number of demanding posts within the college. During her second year she was student welfare officer.

That involved liaising with the college sister, providing counselling services and producing a 1200-word student welfare manual given to all students arriving at college.

But it is as a Kent special constable that Katie gives full expression to her commitment to helping others. Mixing with a broad cross-section of society, Katie is equally at home policing a point-to-point event, directing traffic or pounding the beat around the housing estates of Ashford in Kent. "Its been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life," she says.

No stranger to farming, Katie has worked both on her grandparents farm and her parents mixed farm with its suckler beef enterprise near Stourbridge in Worcestershire. She also spent nearly seven months working on a 400ha (988-acre) sheep farm in New Zealand. The work was livestock based with some tractor driving and harvest work.

For Katie, attending college was far more than simply achieving an agricultural qualification. "My college career taught me the value of self discipline and gave me the confidence to put my ideas into action," remarks Katie.

This month Katie starts work with financial specialist Coopers and Lybrand at its Reading office, training as a chartered accountant. She is delighted at having taken the first step on the road to her ultimate goal of becoming an agricultural finance consultant.

The judges praised her wealth of all-round experience and her commitment to public service. "A highly original thinker, Katie was strongly motivated to search both inside and outside college for interests and worthwhile causes to support," remarked one judge.

"Katie has the courage to make her own decisions and not just to go along with the crowd. She will succeed at whatever she does," remarked another.

STRONG practical farming experience has stood Allister Mitchell in good stead throughout his college career.

Before joining Harper Adams Agricultural College to study for a BSc honours degree in agricultural food marketing, Allister worked on his familys 150-cow dairy farm. That involved livestock husbandry, planning and the compilation of records and accounts.

His practical farming experience was re-inforced before college by working for Leicestershire County Council on a mixed dairy, sheep and pig unit. The farm was also used as a base for communication of agricultural skills training for young people.

During holidays from college, Allister worked on the Co-operative Wholesale Societys Roden Estate where he worked in the 400-cow dairy unit. Developing his experience of arable farming, Allister spent part of his summer vacation in 1992 working in the harvest team of a 810ha (2000-acre) cereal and livestock farm in Berkshire.

First-hand experience of growing a crop of broiler chickens was gained at one of Rosss poultry units during his year of work experience between 1993 and 1994.

A visit to Hungary in May 1994 provided valuable experience of eastern European agriculture.

At college Allister was elected treasurer of the Harper Adams students union. That involved managing union activities with a turnover of more than £300,000. After writing an article about the food industry, Allister was sponsored by Lloyds Bank to attend this years Oxford Farming Conference.

Outside Harper Adams, Allister worked as a part-time warden for 60 boys aged between 11 and 14 years at a boarding school.

Allisters ambition is to work within the farm finance sector. Having just won a place on the National Westminster Banks graduate management trainee scheme he has taken a useful first step towards realising this goal.

An extremely thorough young man with a keenly analytical brain, was the judges summary on Allisters entry for the 1995 Agricultural Student of the Year Award. "Allister is very much a thinker. Never rushes in but always carefully considers the full range of options before reaching a decision," said another judge.

TO talk to Trevor Lloyd is to meet a young man with a passion for farming. Having just finished a BSc honours degree in agriculture at Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire, Trevor has the training and experience to put his plans into action.

Trevor has already accumulated a stock of farming experience beyond his years. Saving money earned in college holidays allowed Trevor to rent land and stock it with sheep. He was allocated quota and his own MAFF holding number. "A few years ago Id built up a nest egg so I decided to rent some land at £36/acre and then bought 40 Welsh Mountain ewes and reared some heifers and four suckler cows."

His year as student president at Harper Adams prevented him from devoting the time his business required so Trevor decided to lease out his quota.

As part of his college course, Trevor worked on a large dairy farm in Cheshire.

His ultimate goal is a career in farm politics. That was reinforced by a visit to this years Oxford Farming Conference. "It was fascinating to listen to Peter Sutherland, director general of GATT, talking about the future direction of farm trade policy."

In fact Trevor has already taken his first steps down that long road by accepting the role of president of the students union at Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire.

"My experience as student president gave me a tremendous insight into responsibility, leadership and the management of a budget of more than £400,000. Communication skills were greatly enhanced and confidence built up on the public speaking front and talking with individuals."

His role as president involved Trevor being a member of the College Board of Governors and representing the students views at such meetings.

But before following a career in agricultural politics, Trevor believes it is vitally important to accumulate more practical farming experience.

"My ultimate aim is to be a self-employed farmer into the year 2000 and beyond. Once established as a farmer in my own right, I wish to lend my support and views to the farming unions and committees involved in forming opinion within the agricultural sector."

Agricultural Student of the Year judges. Left to right: Tony Harris, former principal of Harper Adams Agricultural College, Shropshire, Peter Clarke, product PR and advertising manager, Zeneca Crop Protection, Lincs farmer Michael Anyan and Mike Stones (FW deputy editor).

The six students from whom the three shortlisted Student of the Year candidates featured here were selected.

Left to right: Rachel Greaves, Paula Wilson, Allister Mitchell, Trevor Lloyd, Mark Hall and Kate Callow.

Katie Callow – the judges praised her wealth of all-round experience and commitment to public service.

Trevor Lloyd – someone with ideas and lots of energy to put into those ideas, commented the judges.

Allister Mitchell – a visit to Hungary provided experience of eastern European agriculture.