Ensuring farming is seen as an inclusive career option was one of the key takeaways from the Oxford Farming Conference for two YFC scholars.
Marley Lamerton from Cornwall and Sian Davies from Radnor both attended the conference in January after securing scholarships through NFYFC from the Worshipful Company of Farmers.
This year’s theme was the Power of Diversity and both Marley and Sian took part in sessions that highlighted the diversity in the industry and share their experiences in our Q&A.
Marley: I learnt about the range of diversity in the agricultural sector from food and farming enterprises to also the diversity in the current workforce – including hearing an inspiring talk from a farmer who is blind. It is important that the public is aware that farming can be for everyone. Having career conversations earlier means that people wanting to enter the industry will be far better prepared, especially when looking at apprenticeships.
Sian: Key messages from the conference were without people there is no industry, food security is essential, farming is a business and therefore must be profitable and farming and the environment go hand in hand together.
Marley: The conference has ultimately been one of the main highlights of my whole YFC life. It has been so beneficial to meet like-minded people but also share and experience different views on how agriculture works and will continue to adapt in the future.
Sian: Throughout the conference there were several opportunities to enhance networking skills. This even led to me being interviewed for the Welsh farming television programme ‘Ffermio’ on S4C, where I talked about the opportunity I had been given to be a scholar at the conference.
Marley: As part of the scholars training and ahead of the conference, we visited the McCains factory in Scarborough to see how the chips are produced and visited a local potato storage site. Along with this visit we got involved with an afternoon workshop focusing on EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) in agriculture.
Sian: Our first session as scholars at the conference was in relation to personal training and personality profiles, with an introduction to ‘DISC’. This was a tool we were able to use during the conference through networking in different ways.
Marley: The conference is a great way to hear from industry professionals, farmers and those at the face of farming, all of which want the best for the future of agriculture. The conference has been a way to increase my knowledge but also reduce my own naivety to how agriculture operates, learning how we can reduce the misconceptions often associated with the profession.
Sian: The conference allowed me to meet like-minded business people and engage with industry. I’ve also made connections on LinkedIn with people I would like to talk to regarding our business at home.
Marley: I would 100% recommend anyone to apply, as there will always be something for everyone on the agenda but there are also sessions you would never have thought about attending! It’s also a great way of networking with a whole range of people. It hasn’t changed my career plans to be a nutritionist, but it has given me a bit of food for thought about the future of the agricultural industry and the role I will play on farm.
Sian: I have learned so much from being a scholar at the conference and made so many friends and contacts along the way. It was a once in lifetime experience.
The OFC Scholars’ programme allows scholars to attend the conference as well as providing access to a series of online bespoke webinars.
The offering aims to give young people in the early stages of their career the opportunity for peer-to-peer networking and to share views and ideas, while gaining access to key skills development training.
The Worshipful Company of Farmers offers two OFC scholarships places to YFC members every year.