Harper Adams University and WCB join forces for charity

Harper Adams University and WCB join forces for charity

The impact that experiencing agriculture can have on city children will be examined under a new initiative thanks to a unique research project at Harper Adams University.

Harper Adams University.

The University is working with the Farms for City Children charity (FfCC) and the Worshipful Company of Butchers (WCB) to develop a funded Master of Research (MRes) studentship in Agricultural Education, which will evaluate the charity’s work in educating young people about agriculture and food, and subsequently encourage them to consider careers in related industries.

Farms for City Children, which was founded by author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife, Lady Morpurgo, works to bring children from cities to farms in Devon, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire. Each visit is designed to build children’s self-confidence and self-worth as they work as a team on the farm.

Chief Executive Officer at Farms for City Children, Donna Marie Edmonds, began to formulate the idea which became the research post while as a lunch guest of Margaret Boanas, the current Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. At The Masters’ suggestion, Donna spoke with WCB Liveryman Bob Bansback OBE – who is also an Honorary Professor at Harper Adams, and well known as a regular editorial contributor to Meat Management magazine.

Donna Marie Edmonds commented: “We talked about the need for strong partnerships between the third sector and tertiary education, and the need for high-quality evaluative research to drive forward the change needed in charitable offers. We were both motivated by looking at the role to be played by urban children as the future generation workforce in food and farming jobs.

“Young people cannot care about that which they do not know or connect with, and therefore offers like Farms for City Children are playing an important role in showing urban children that they can connect powerfully to the countryside – and that they could choose to live in it and work in it some day.

“Bob took this conversation back to Harper Adams and it chimed with their strategic priorities in agricultural education.”

As discussions continued, the idea of developing an MRes studentship to examine and evaluate Farms for City Children’s activities began to take shape – with Harper Adams lecturers Claire Toogood and Claire Robertson meeting with Donna to work out how this would be structured.

Bob Bansback was then able to present their proposal to the Worshipful Company of Butchers – who chose to fund the course fees for this MRes as part of their philanthropic activities. Donna added: “It was an opportune, stars-aligning partnership of friends coming together with powerful shared values.”

The WCB Master, Margaret Boanas said: “The WCB are delighted to support this research proposal and I greatly look forward to seeing how it progresses.”

Talking about her work in developing this opportunity, Harper Adams lecturer Claire Toogood said: “I have really enjoyed the process of working collaboratively with Donna to establish this MRes. It’s exciting to be able to provide a unique opportunity for a research student, supported by the funding from the Worshipful Company of Butchers.

“The completed research project will provide invaluable information to Farms for City Children, and inform the shape and effectiveness of their activities going forward.”

The successful applicant for the MRes will work with Farms for City Children, capturing high quality, independent evidence about the impact of their activities – which involve thousands of children each year. Donna added: “We believe that a week on our farm enables children and young people to experience increased learning and engagement, improved connections and wellbeing, and have an enhanced sense of environmental citizenship.

“We want our food, farming, and outdoor education offer to be exemplary, benefitting all of the children who visit one of our three farms. To ensure that high standards are maintained, and that the offer continues to evolve, we need to capture meaningful data about where our offer has the greatest effect on the beneficiaries.

“This MRes role needs someone with energy, optimism and a strong belief in the principle that urban children have a right to engage meaningfully with the countryside – and that they should see their future being connected to it beyond leisure time.”

Claire Toogood concluded: “The right candidate could come from a range of backgrounds – agriculture, land-based studies, outdoor or nature education, early childhood studies, education, or related fields, and I would encourage anyone interested in this opportunity to get in touch for a discussion.”

The opportunity is now live on the Harper Adams vacancies site, with applications open until July 18th.

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