Norfolk Scholar programme
now in its fourth year

Young people in Norfolk are once again being offered a unique opportunity to be named as the county’s farming scholars and attend one of the industry’s foremost events.

Bidwells and the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) are delighted to announce they will be running the Norfolk Scholar competition again this year.

The scholar programme is now in its fourth year and was established to strengthen and support the region’s agricultural sector.

Anyone aged between 18 and 35, and who lives, works and/or studies in Norfolk is able to enter the competition, which was once again launched at the Royal Norfolk Show on June 29 and 30.

To qualify for the fully-funded scholarship, applicants have to submit a short précis on how their attendance at the conference could benefit their professional lives and what they believe are the challenges facing UK agriculture.

Oxford Farming Conference

The winners of the two scholarships will stay at prestigious three-day Oxford Farming Conference, and learn from national and international speakers within the agricultural sector.

The conference is a leading forum where experts and farming professionals discuss the ever-changing industry and the opportunities this can bring.

Speakers at the event can include policy makers, politicians, academics, scientists, farmers, food chain representatives and even diplomats.

As an Association we have a strong focus on bringing bright young people into the industry.

Greg Smith, Chief Executive, Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA).

“All the past and present winners have proven to be excellent role models for the next generation of school leavers and graduates looking to start their careers in the agricultural sector, and we hope to attract the same quality of applicants once again this year.”

James Brooke, Head of Farm and Rural Agency at Bidwells said: “It is great that through the Norfolk Scholar initiative we are able to once again help two young talented people attend the conference where they were able to hear from, and network with, a host of high level industry experts."

Praise for the scholarship programme

Last year’s winners Anna Purser, from Raveningham and Oscar Smith, from Hellesdon, who both attend Easton and Otley College, praised the scholarship programme.

Oscar said: "Attending the Oxford Farming Conference far exceeded expectations. Being able to listen to keynote speakers and have the opportunity to hear and question their thinking was second to none. The conference provided an environment which enabled me to speak to many people from different aspects of the industry as well as providing further opportunity for progression and development.

"Bidwells and the RNAA did a brilliant job of organising the Norfolk scholarship. As scholars we were fully immersed within the conference and were among the best looked after. Whilst at the conference we were met by delegates representing both Bidwells and the RNAA, which was a real pleasure and very interesting. I would like to say thank you once again to Bidwells and the RNAA for the opportunity and would definitely recommend it to anyone else looking to progress within the agricultural industry."

Oscar has also been selected to attend EuroTier, with two others, out of the 50 scholars that attended Oxford Farming Conference. It is a large livestock focused event held in Hanover. They will also tour a few other local farms in Germany and will be attending the 2017 Oxford Farming Conference to host return visitors. 

Anna, whose career ambition is to enter the livestock nutrition sector of the agricultural industry, spoke of her experience at the conference and said: "I found the Oxford Farming Conference really inspiring, especially when listening to some of the speakers who were really enthusiastic about the agricultural industry.

"By attending the conference, it has definitely made me more motivated to pursue a career in the agricultural industry, especially after going to the Oxford Farming Conference debate on whether there is gender equality in agriculture - it was really interesting to listen to both sides of the argument, as well as finding out people’s individual views and opinions on the issue.

"Being a Norfolk Scholar meant that I was able to attend one of the most prestigious farming events in the agriculture calendar, of which I would probably not have been able to afford unless sponsored - and I would definitely not have been able to attend so many of the breakfasts, conferences and dinners on offer. 

"I also found that being a scholar gave me the confidence to stand up and ask a question which was aimed at the final three speakers who all had a family farm or business."

Easton and Otley College spokesperson, John Nice, said: “This was a great opportunity for our students and we would like to thank the RNAA and Bidwells for giving Anna and Oscar the chance to visit one of the most important academic agricultural conferences in the country. I know they gained a tremendous amount from this event and we would recommend that other young people from Norfolk apply to get involved in this amazing opportunity."

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