PG Dip Organic Farming

Campus: SRUC Craibstone, Aberdeen
Class of 2000

"The opportunity to work with the land has always been a real interest to me in whatever I do- work, study, play."

Katrina Barclay grew up on a mixed farm in Aberdeenshire. She gained her degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Aberdeen but felt the need to continue her studies in a more focussed area. She was attracted to SRUC’s MSc Organic Farming course due to its strong focus on soils.

Katrina found the teamwork from the time at SRUC to be inspiring. “I think there is a life lesson on teamwork which comes from studying. There was one time I was in a lab just before Christmas washing potatoes in freezing cold water, so one of the PhD students could finish part of their project to get home in time for Christmas. Teamwork doesn’t have to be something you directly benefit from. You can see helping others as an opportunity to better yourself.”

After graduating from her MSc course, Katrina worked for the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA), the Soil Association, and the National Trust. In 2011 Katrina joined the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET).

Her current role as Education Manager is promoting RHET and its schools programme. “We work with an army of dedicated volunteers to deliver our work. I also talk with stakeholder groups like the Young Farmers, QMS, NFUS about what we could do together that is going to benefit young people through engaging with those who work and live in rural Scotland. The role is wonderfully varied and being part of the Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland management team brings a huge range of opportunities to network and ultimately raise the profile of RHET.”

RHET relies heavily on support from its volunteer network for the day-to-day delivery of its aims to get school groups interested in farming. Katrina encourages SRUC alumni to consider volunteering- from stewarding groups on farming estate visits, to acting as a tour guide at the Royal Highland Show.

Volunteers do not need to have a farming background, just enthusiasm to take part. “We are really blessed with our diverse range of volunteers. We have students with us who are looking to add volunteering to their CVs to help with their future job prospects. We have a number of SRUC staff who help by going into schools and help to deliver talks about food, farming and the countryside and careers in the rural sector. We have people who have retired and maybe want to help out once a year. Some people volunteer because they get a sense of feeling connected, while others do it to build experience.”

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