Alan Johnson, Curriculum Manager for Agriculture and Food reports as the summer term comes to a close at Bridgwater College:
Bridgwater Colleges Agricultural staff are very proud of their student’s achievements, which is a direct result of the educational experiences they have provided their students. They are able to illustrate student success routinely—in prospectuses, at student award ceremonies, at staff meetings, in mission statements. It is also not uncommon for students, staff, and alumni to be able to recount, the outstanding progress students make during their time at the college that leads onto amazing job opportunities. They provide a sort of compass that orients us toward the core values of our College.
Indeed we will have done our job if our completing students lose themselves “in generous enthusiasms” in “intellectual discovery” or “make a difference in the world within their chosen career of Agriculture and Food”. I am in no doubt many of our students have indeed graduated with these abilities. Our students are also exposed to numerous other perspectives on the college experience. No perspective is more prominent, particularly in these tough economic times, than the one that defines college success as enabling students to gain a high-paying job or gaining entry onto a Higher Education course. Ultimately it means studying at Bridgwater College will pay off financially.
If you would like any further information about studying Agriculture at Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre, please contact our Info and Guidance Team on 01278 441234. Below is a report of our student’s activities this month:
The last month at College has been full of hard work and opportunities. One of the main tasks of the month has been shearing the College farms 250 ewes. This was done by a number of different students that were being taught by our Shepherd on the farm, Tom Wall. During the last two years at College I have had a good opportunity to learn how to shear and I have put this into practice as I bought by first motor and headpiece. This year I have already used it twice by shearing my own sheep at home and have taken on a few small jobs for local smallholders and friends. Hopefully over the next few months I am looking to get faster and improve my technique.
At home I am beginning to wean the largest of my pedigree ram and ewe lambs. They will be shorn later on in the year as shorn lambs tend to grow better. I will also be looking to cut some grass in the next few weeks to make hay and silage for my sheep for next winter. Now that I have almost finished college, I will be doing more work on different farms throughout the summer.
Throughout the last month, myself and many others have finished our Agricultural course, which many of us having achieved higher than our target grades were.
During my time off I have been working at home and for our local contractor completing some of the first cut silage as the weather has allowed us to do so.
As a machinery student at College we decided as a group we would like to go to the JCB factory as our second year study tour. We went up to Uttoxeter, Staffordshire on the 13th of June, where we were given a tour of the museum and the factory process of telehandlers and backhoe diggers from start to finish.
At home all of our crops are looking well and looks like they will be giving good yields at harvest time. Along with this all of our livestock has been turned out to grass continuously growing. As I have now completed my main College course all of my extra qualifications such as Spraying and Chainsaw Use are well under way.
Over this past month there has been various things going on, both connected to the College and separately. Firstly, we had the Royal Bath and West Show, which is the only four-day royal show left in the country. I spent two days at the show helping my younger brother, who was showing his school’s Kerry Hill sheep. Having an incredibly successful final day at the show, winning the young handler class, for his age group, before winning the overall young handler championship. This was an amazing achievement, this being his first season showing. So in October we will be heading off to Yorkshire for the National Finals.
Back to College, these last few weeks have just been ensuring we have all of our work in ready to finish. The end of this term has also seen us going on a couple farm visits. The first of which, being to an extensive New Zealand style farm, it was very interesting to see how the farm is running on a very low cost production system. Many thanks to the farmer for being so open with us and answering any questions we had.
The second farm we visited was to an intensive system, so a complete contrast, where they milk four times a day with a rotary parlour. The farm has in the region of 1100 cows, including a sand recycling plant, ensuring they can reuse the sand from the beds. The whole visit was informative and was be a real insight into the future.
Wow I only have two weeks of my first year left of college! This year has gone by so fast and I’m still enjoying every minute of it.
I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Bath & West this month to help roll fleeces for all the shearing competitions which was very tiring but very rewarding. Overall it was a great experience meeting new people especially learning how to properly roll wool by a world champion.
I am looking forward to starting college again in September where I will be choosing to do mechanics as my extended diploma option which should be very interesting!
As the year is now coming to an end everyone is completing their assignments before we break up for the summer. I have had a wonderful first year at college I have made amazing new friends and learnt loads of new things. I look forward to coming back next year to expand my knowledge further.
I am going to some university open days over the summer to get a rough idea of the next step after college which is extremely exciting. Overall I’ve had an amazing first year meeting such lovely people both staff and students.