National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

24 February 2021

Hampshire’s new County Chairman Grace Welling recently won Farmers Weekly’s Agricultural Student of the Year Award 2020 and credits YFC with helping her achieve the accolade

Q. How did it feel to win the award?

I was extremely shocked and humbled to win the Agricultural Student of the Year Award at the 2020 Farmers Weekly Awards. The calibre of the entries was exceptionally high and I did not for a moment believe I would be shortlisted, let alone actually win.

Q. How did you impress the judges?

The interview style was very relaxed, it felt like I was just having a chat about what I was passionate about within the agricultural industry. I was honest about my experiences and achievements within YFC and university and clearly the judges saw something to be impressed by.

From the age of 10, I threw myself into as many YFC competitions as possible which helped me to develop numerous social and technical skills, via events such as stock judging and public speaking. I believe enthusiasm got me a long way – both on and off farm – and I always put myself in situations out of my comfort zone to push myself further.

I have managed to add multiple accolades to my belt since the age of 18, including Alresford YFC Chairman, third overall in my placement year performance and as a course rep in the second year of university.

Q. Where did you watch the Farmers Weekly online awards ceremony?

I watched the ceremony at home with my family. It was very different to a normal year however I appreciated not having to conduct a risk management for wearing heels whilst slightly worse for wear! My whole family was surprised by the outcome and celebrated with a bottle of miniature champagne – we were so confident I’d lost that we didn’t have anything else in the house!

Q. Did you enter the award yourself or did someone nominate you?

One of the lecturers at Harper Adams university asked me why I had not yet entered the Farmers Weekly awards. My response largely consisted of me stating that I hadn’t entered, as there was nothing I had done that I thought was award winning. He thoroughly disagreed with me and encouraged me to apply. I debated the application for a while and in the end decided I had nothing to lose. It is safe to say I did not expect to hear anything of my nomination again, but I was proved wrong.

Q. Can you briefly outline the process to get through to the final?

I had to answer a few questions about my experiences/achievements at university and include a CV and references. I found out I was a finalist and after a few weeks the panel conducted a Zoom interview to further discuss my achievements and any topics of interest in the sector. After that it was just a matter of waiting to see what happened at the actual awards.

Q. Would you recommend other YFC members enter these type of awards?

I was as sceptical about my chances as I believe most people would be, but what have you got to lose? The entire experience has been enjoyable and the skills it tests I believe are transferable to everyday life, so I would encourage anyone to give it a go.

Q. What plans have you got for Hampshire in your new role as County Chairman?

Following the crazy year that all of the clubs across the county have had my first aim is to get things going again. Hopefully one day soon this will involve actually meeting face-to-face to resume what would usually be a packed programme of activities and talks – and some socialising afterwards.

As a longer-term goal both myself and the vice chairman Josh Othen are keen to get a Hampshire FYFC Rally back on the events programme, after an absence of one for more than 10 years. But getting meetings up and running again is the priority until things start to get back to normal.

 


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