Farming ‘champions’ take careers message into schools

Easton and Otley farming champion for Suffolk, Izzy Botfield with Barry the lamb at the Otley campus

Easton and Otley farming champion for Suffolk, Izzy Botfield with Barry the lamb at the Otley campus. - Credit: Archant

Easton and Otley College wants to inspire young people to consider farming careers and has recruited two new members of staff whose main aim is to visit schools in Suffolk and Norfolk to promote agriculture to new generations.

Easton and Otley farming champion for Suffolk, Izzy Botfield.

Easton and Otley farming champion for Suffolk, Izzy Botfield. - Credit: Archant

Izzy Botfield from Laxfield in Suffolk and Dani Chatten from Billingford in Norfolk began their college careers at the turn of the year.

Suffolk based Izzy went from sixth form to Hartbury University where she completed an equine sports science degree.

After university and a spot of travelling in Australia, the 24-year-old came back home and started working at a riding school in her home village before gaining a jointly-funded job role with Suffolk Young Farmers (SYF) and the EDGE Apprenticeship scheme.

“I worked for over a year (with SYF and EDGE) promoting farming to new generations by organising farm walks, games nights, attending events and setting up clubs. I consider this new position at the college as an extension of this work,” she said.

Easton and Otley farming champion for Norfolk, Dani Chatten.

Easton and Otley farming champion for Norfolk, Dani Chatten. - Credit: Archant

“During my initial job role I saw a slight upturn in the numbers of young people getting involved and I’m looking to build on this even more at Easton and Otley College. In terms of this new role (entitled marketing engagement co-ordinator for schools and events), the main arm is to promote farming, although I will be talking about all of the courses that we offer. I’ve already been to several primary schools and have a list of 100 that I will be building links with.

“From my perspective, it’s all about planting the seed and telling youngsters that there are hundreds of different agricultural job roles that you can embrace. I try and get the students enthused and I’ve also been talking about the EADT’s tractors in schools campaign, the Suffolk Show, the Hadleigh Show, the food and farming student day at Hollowtrees Farm, the school farm and country fair, our college open days in June and many other events that are happening in the region.”

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Izzy will be setting up farm tours of the Otley campus and she will be creating a brochure aimed at Year 9 pupils with her colleague in Norfolk that will help to explain the courses taught at the college.

“It’s very exciting – when I go to schools I talk about food and where it comes from. I start by talking about cake as pretty much everyone likes cake. When I ask where it comes from, the answer is normally the supermarket. I’m then able to explain that all the ingredients for cake are made on our doorstep. Then the penny drops. It’s all about spreading the word. Farming is a great profession. Its hard work, but you do have a lot of fun and every day is different,” added Izzy.

Her Norfolk colleague, Dani studied history at Lincoln University before getting a job as an apprentice at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse - a heritage business that promotes rare breeds.

Dani said: “I’m working on lots of different projects including a careers trail for the Royal Norfolk Show. I get the impression that most people think farming is a dirty muddy profession and they don’t realise the scale, variety, importance and variety of the work involved. That’s what I will be explaining when I go to all my schools and industry events during my time at the college.”

Marketing manager, Karen Byrnand, said: “We are delighted with these new appointments. Both Izzy and Dani have hit the ground running and have made excellent progress in their short time with us - long may that continue.”