Now mid-week beer tent socials have halted, the young farmer summer syllabus closed and straw filled socks and wellies are slowly dwindling, that time of year creeps closer once again. This is the year they all say, the biggie. The partying dies down a little, the studying cranks up 100 notches and you soon find out if you even know 13,000 words. Hello fourth year.

Having recently just moved into a flat to begin my final year at Edinburgh Napier University as a journalism student, I began reminiscing on how lucky I have been, to have been able to pursue an ambition which at one time seemed unrealistic.
Growing up on a 270 acre beef and arable farm at the most southerly point in Scotland, a love for farming and rural life is implanted. Despite being at my happiest when working at home with my dad, it is fair to say that the Mull of Galloway is not just around the corner from life’s opportunities. This is why the SAYFC movement is so important to me as it opened up doors and a career opportunity that I otherwise may have missed.

Back as a shy 14 year old, there was a fantastic support network created by older members when joining Stranraer and Rhins Young Farmers Club, something that I now, as a 21 year old member try to maintain. I was welcomed instantly and soon became hooked. Jumping out of my comfort zone in 2014 trying speechmaking and beginning to write YF updates for the local paper I soon developed a love for telling stories. But since my family’s favourite word for me is ‘chatty’, mum and dad weren’t all that surprised!

I remember when I began googling journalism degrees. “I don’t think you’ll enjoy being shipped off to a warzone to report wars on the news”, or “ stuck in a city 9-5 each day,” is what I recall hearing.
Nevertheless I continued to google and discovered a piece of gold to my young 18 year old self, knowing what I wanted to do but needing the confidence boost to pursue it. www.gaj.org.uk , (The British Guild of Agricultural Journalists). The idea of being able to explore different aspects of the sector, whilst being able to get out and about from underneath a working desk excited me and it didn’t take long before farming became a core focus of my university work.

Known as the ‘young farmer’ among my uni friends, they don’t always quite relate to my idea of wanting to haul three bags of camera equipment from Edinburgh to Stranraer on a train, just to ensure a tractor of some sort appears in my next assignment. But for me, that is the goal. With mum being a primary teacher, hearing about the amazement that was brought to her classroom only days ago when she projected harvest videos on the school wall, brought a smile to my face. The younger generation do find this industry engrossing, hence why there will always be a need to get our farming messages out there.

My point is, there are career opportunities everywhere that you may never even have thought existed. Take Farmers Guardian’s #thisisagriculture campaign for example. A campaign focused on promoting the diversity of careers within the agricultural industry, with the aim of attracting new blood. Whether it’s vehicle testing, engineering, animal care, crop tech, genetics, conservation, hydroponics, food production, veterinary, finance, politics, design or media, there are hundreds of doors opening in this diverse industry.

The same can be said for SAYFC, anyone from anywhere can gain a skill from, in my opinion, Scotland’s best youth organisation. From travel to sport, cooking to dancing, the opportunities are forever expanding and progressing. Take handicraft competitions for example. Whilst it will always be important to teach traditional skills, we should welcome modern ones also. A graphic design or pavlova is as useful as a knitted hat or oven baked scone. Keeping up to date and encouraging all abilities is key to keeping young people engaged in the Young Farmers movement.

That buzz that follows a successful interview, seeing a story you care about down in print and meeting a range of people has certainly intensified by working with Jane Craigie Marketing. I hope agriculture will always have a place in my career and encourage anyone with a double interest to consider the opportunities that this broad industry offers. You never know where it may lead.

JCM Summer Intern Laura McCulloch (21) is a fourth year BA Hons Journalism student at Edinburgh Napier University and a beef and arable farmers daughter from Dumfries and Galloway. She has completed work experience with Farmers Guardian, Our Wigtownshire magazine and loves writing, speechmaking and creativity. An active member of SAYFC for eight years, a highlight was winning third place at the National Member of the Year 2019. She enjoys meeting industry professionals and telling their story to the wider public.