American students are sweeping the campuses of Scotland’s Rural College this summer.
Altogether 25 students from 10 American states are spending their summer working in various departments of SRUC including the Rural Policy Centre and Equestrian Studies.
Five of the interns have joined SRUC from the University of Arkansas as part of a study abroad program that allows them to complete internships and earn course credit at their home institution.
Alex Gilley and Grant Mason are based at Auchincruive Estate in Ayr conducting broiler research with Professor Nick Sparks, Head of the Avian Science Research Centre. Both expressed their gratitude towards SRUC staff for immediately treating them like team members and providing a smooth transition into a new environment. Alex commented on the beauty of Scotland, from the cities to the Highlands.
“It is evident the people take great pride in their farmland. I also appreciate the historic buildings still used today, because I don’t see such structures in the States.”
Grant appreciates not relying on a vehicle to take him everywhere, something unknown to his college town in Arkansas. “I really like not having to drive anywhere. I love being able to go from my farm to my office to my house in about five minutes on foot.”
Three other students are based at the Edinburgh Campus working with the Crop and Soil Systems Group, the Rural Policy Centre, and the Communications Unit. Andrew Bolton studies Agricultural Education, but his internship focuses on testing field trials for diseases and researching Fusarium levels in barley. Andrew appreciates the daily hands-on work in the fields and greenhouses.
Arthur Leal and Maggie Jo Pruitt are expanding their skills in their field of agricultural communications while interning with the Communications Unit and the Rural Policy Centre. While working with the Rural Policy Centre, Arthur and Maggie Jo will devise surveys and conduct research concerning animal welfare and genetically modified food, respectively. Both students have a history of research in these areas and are excited to develop a Scottish angle to their research. The two interns will also work with the Communications Unit in various areas such as writing news and press releases, graphic design, web design and management, and video production.
Meanwhile, in West Lothian, Oatridge campus is hosting 19 American students from universities across the United States. The students are enrolled in Scottish Qualifications credits that will count toward their degrees at their home universities. All students are located in the Equine Studies Summer School or the Ecology Summer School. Quality Assistant Anne Hazelwood commented on the unique experience offered to the students.
“The courses are a mixture of intensive study and cultural visits. I attended the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ night where students were entertained by members of the Robert Burns Society. The group thoroughly enjoyed the evening.” The event introduced students to Scottish specialties such as haggis and certain whiskies chosen to represent the four corners of Scotland.
The program at Oatridge relies on feedback from previous students to continue to improve the experience. Happily that feedback has always been positive. Anne gives credit to Sharon Anderson, Team Leader Equine and Farriery, and Niall Evans, Team Leader Countryside Management, for making the experience positive for students.
The initiative SRUC has taken to attract American student interns is part of an aim to expand SRUC’s international activities. These students range from undergraduate to doctoral level and by bringing their experience and knowledge to SRUC they are benefitting both themselves and SRUC as an organisation. This partnership is one that will hopefully only grow further as SRUC looks to expands its international reach.
Caption (L-R): Arthur Leal, Maggie Jo Pruitt and Andrew Bolton.