Student’s journey from non-farming background to ruminant nutrition postgrad
13 February 2017
Determination and hard work paid off and by the end of my placement I felt I was on a level playing field with my peers and confidently excelling."
It was only at the age of 17 that Chris Freeman from Gloucester came to realise that he wanted to work in the agricultural industry, despite not coming from an agricultural background.
At the beginning of his undergraduate degree at Harper Adams University he had to put in the extra work to catch-up with his classmates, many of who came from a family farm. But by the end of his placement, he was excelling; and is now studying MSc Ruminant Nutrition and been awarded the Harper Adams Club Postgraduate Scholarship.
The 27 year-old said: “Although I was not fortunate enough to grow-up on a family farm, I spent my childhood reaping the benefits of the countryside; indulging in weekend shoots as an energetic beater, helping block road junctions for bypassing sheep and building hay bale tunnels in friends’ barns.
“Distracted in my teenage years, the time came when those important life decisions must be made, and I quickly realised that agriculture was my calling. I was a farmer, just without the farm.
“My first year on the agriculture course at Harper was a stark realisation into the knowledge required to succeed in this industry. I felt disadvantaged by the farmers’ sons and daughters who appeared to breeze their way through lectures, while I frantically took notes to establish an understanding of what were essentially the basics to farming.
“Determination and hard work paid off and by the end of my placement I felt I was on a level playing field with my peers and confidently excelling.
“I genuinely enjoyed writing my dissertation because I had developed a sincere interest in modern, progressive methods of farming aiming to help improve the sustainability and efficiency of this industry.
“I now believe I had the competitive edge all along; I could look from the outside in, enabling me to think outside the box with no hindrance and to become the innovative, forward-thinking individual I am today.
“My desire to succeed has led me to reap the benefits of what agriculture can provide. I’ve travelled the world working in different continents and experienced a diverse mix of farming systems; small, large, arable, livestock, intensive, extensive, privately owned, business cooperatives.
“I’ve worked at the bottom and experienced management at the top. Thanks to the guidance and support of Harper, I’m an educated and diversely experienced individual.
“Experiencing a range of opportunities has allowed me to discover both my passion for beef production, but also the realisation that farm management was not what I had desired. I’m now completing an MSc in Ruminant Nutrition to pursue a career in beef consultancy.”
Chris has recently been awarded the Harper Adams Club Postgraduate Scholarship in recognition of his passion and determination. On receiving the award Chris said: "I’m sincerely grateful to receive the scholarship.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to reach the level I'm at now and I feel humbled that my past has been recognised and my future is appreciated."