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Stackyard News Mar 2012

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Top Awards for Scotland’s Top Agriculture Learners

Michael Binnie, a Modern Apprentice in Mixed Farming, was recognised as ‘Agricultural Learner of the Year’ at the ninth annual Lantra Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards ceremony.

Michael Binnie receives his award

Michael Binnie

Michael, who was nominated by Borders College, said: “It is a big honour to be nominated and to win this award. I’m really proud of all of my accomplishments as I have put a lot of effort and work into my career, so this really means a lot to me. I hope that by winning this award people will know that I am serious about my career in agriculture. I’m sure it will open many new opportunities for me in the future.

“This career is very rewarding, because when you look around at the end of the harvest you realise what all the hard work was for. My advice to anyone thinking about getting a job in agriculture is to be prepared for hard work, but in the end it is really worth it.”

The ‘Agriculture Learner of the Year Award’ was sponsored by NFU Scotland and David Houston, Glenkilrie Farm. In addition, Michael was also awarded as ‘Modern Apprentice of the Year’, which was sponsored by Argyll College, Elmwood College and Oatridge College.

Ben Radley, nominated by Barony College, was named as the ‘Agricultural Runner-Up of the Year Award’. Ben who is completing a National Certificate in Agriculture said: “My training has really helped me in my role. It has given me a foundation which I can progress from in the future.”

A total of 22 prizes were presented during the awards ceremony which was organised by Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries. The awards are designed to inspire new entrants to take up a career in the land-based sector and make employers aware of the benefits of a well trained workforce.

Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance, attended the awards ceremony to congratulate the finalists and stress the importance of skills and training. She said: “Often in a time of economic uncertainty it is staff training and skills development that can suffer first and foremost, however successful businesses will recognise it is during such times when investing in skills can carry even more importance and significance. Faced with an ever increasing competitiveness on a global scale, it is imperative that our workforce is provided with every tool at their disposal to give Scotland the edge that it needs to continue to prosper.

“That’s why nights like this are so important. Occasions like this do more than highlight the talent, commitment and skills of well deserving individuals. They bring into focus the opportunities provided by the land-based and aquaculture sector and demonstrate to employers the benefits of a skilled workforce.”

Valerie Owen OBE, Lantra’s Chair, said: “There has never been a more important time to be involved with land-based industries as problems such as food security are facing the world everyday. I applaud all of the finalists who show a real passion and dedication to training and the land-based industries.

“The Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year awards attract the top learners from across Scotland every year who are committed to developing their skills and knowledge. It is vital for the future of these industries and for the wider Scottish economy that we continue to encourage and support new entrants and benefits that they can bring to the business.”

Some 125 guests attended this highly prestigious event, held at Crieff Hydro Hotel, including learners, employers, farmers, crofters, land managers, training providers and key stakeholders. The judging panel included Peter Alexander, Algo Blairgowrie Ltd; Russell Taylor, Taypack Potatoes Ltd; Keith Paterson, Forestry Commission Scotland; Erika Hay, Journalist/Consultant; and Ray Jones, Scotland Food and Drink.

Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage were the main sponsors of the event.

Full list of winners:
• Overall Winner Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year: Daryl Russell
• Overall Runner-Up Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year: Emily Smith
• Agriculture Learner of the Year: Michael Binnie
• Agriculture Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Ben Radley
• Equine Learner of the Year: Emily Smith
• Equine Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Rachel Rosscraig
• Fisheries Management Learner of the Year: Max McKinstrie
• Game and Wildlife Learner of the Year: Grant Symmers
• Game and Wildlife Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Craig MacNicol
• Horticulture Learner of the Year: Daryl Russell
• Horticulture Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Carly McNeil
• Higher Education Learner of the Year: David Smith
• Higher Education Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Mark Hume
• Land-based Service Engineering Learner of the Year: Grant Arbuckle
• Land-based Service Engineering Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Rhys Murdoch
• Land-based Curriculum for Schools Learner of the Year: Alexander Pirie
• Land-based Curriculum for Schools Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Josh Halley
• Modern Apprentice of the Year: Michael Binnie
• Trees and Timber Learner of the Year: Andrew Sloss
• Trees and Timber Learner of the Year Runner-Up: Roland McMeeken

Special Awards:
• CARAS Scotland Award: Alexander Pirie
• CARAS Scotland Award Runner-Up: Josh Halley

The awards are generously supported by:
• Barony College
• David Houstoun
• Easterton Stables
• Elmwood College
• Forestry Commission Scotland
• Mackies at Taypack
• George Linton
• Lorna Davies - flowers
• National Farmers Union Scotland
• North Highland College
• Oatridge College
• P1 Solutions and associated companies Ltd
• Scottish National Equestrian Centre
• Scottish Agricultural College
• Sandy Thomson
• Skills Development Scotland
• Scottish Natural Heritage
• Scottish Qualifications Authority
• West Highland Hunting

link Grants for Land-Based Employers to Employ Apprentices
link Businesses Should Love Apprenticeships
link Vocational Qualifications for Learners and Industry

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