Gemma Waugh, a fourth year BSc Agricultural Bioscience student from Closeburn near Dumfries has enjoyed a 10 week placement with the Ayr office of SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College.
She spent the summer helping in the busy centre, shadowing experienced consultants and deciding if a job on the SAC Consulting Team is what she wants to do when she finishes her degree course next year.
Gemma, who is studying at SRUC’s Ayr Campus, is one of three SRUC students who gained work experience in an SAC Consulting offices this summer.
She says she found the work interesting with lots of variety. “I have been out on farms taking soil samples for analysis as well as assisting at Monitor Farm meetings and other events. I have also been talking to farmers to help with completing nutrient budgets and slurry store grant applications.
“The placement was really enjoyable and over the 10 weeks I learned a lot and got to put into practice various aspects of what I was taught in the classroom.”
Raymond Crerar, senior agricultural consultant with SAC Consulting is an enthusiastic supporter of the scheme. “This year we had 14 students competing for the three places funded with bursaries from the SRUC Trust which also helps support the students in their final year.
“We have a number of full time staff in our 23 Scottish offices who started this way. It is a chance for students to learn what being a consultant involves and for us see their potential.
“The students are very helpful during their placements and carry out a range of tasks in the field and in the office - from soil and silage sampling to helping with completing nutrient management plans and grant scheme work as well as being involved in farmer meetings and events. All our consultants enjoy the students’ youthful enthusiasm.”
Sonia Felby, SRUC’s student experience manager, added: “The scheme is now in its 13th year and generates strong interest as students hear from each other about its value and the opportunities it brings.
“It helps us to provide invaluable insight into job opportunities with SRUC and elsewhere.
“We have been very impressed with the considerable agriculture experience and knowledge our students demonstrate, together with their enthusiasm for the sector and the opportunities it presents for their futures.
“All students who applied were offered feedback on their application process and offered suggestions on alternative opportunities that may be available.”
Gemma, who comes from a smallholding with sheep and beef cattle in Dumfriesshire, is now intrigued by the possibility of working as a consultant after graduating.
She said: “The placement gave me a great insight into the work of an agricultural consultant. Everyone I worked with was very welcoming and I would definitely consider working with SAC Consulting in the future.”