27 January 2020


Cerys Fairclough might be only 16, but she’s got a wise head on young shoulders.  Agriculture student Cerys says that being selected for last year’s Farming Connect Agri Academy Junior Programme has given her a very clear vision on what she needs to achieve to succeed as a woman in agriculture!  

“I feel immensely privileged to have been part of the Agri Academy which is why I would urge anyone ambitious and willing to invest some time on their personal development to apply as soon as possible.”

“It’s tempting to think you don’t have time for anything extra in life when you’ve got the daily demands of academic studies or a job, a busy social life and day to day farming duties, but the Agri Academy experience has focused my thinking and I’m hugely grateful for having that opportunity,” says Cerys.

Cerys, who lives at home on the family sheep farm near Newbridge on Wye, where she is successfully developing her own flock of registered Bluefaced Leicester ewes, was one of 12 young people selected for last year’s Farming Connect Agri Academy.  

Cerys says she was determined to make the most of every opportunity offered by the three short but intensive study periods which included visiting Iceland, media training, mentoring and touring around a range of rural businesses.

“I also met some of my personal female role models thanks to the Academy, including dairy farmer, Abi Reader; my social media favourite, the ‘Red Shepherdess’; and Farming Connect’s diversification expert, Elaine Rees Jones; who were all part of our mentoring team! 

“Everyone we were introduced to, the mentoring, training and businesses we visited both in the UK and in Iceland, taught us all so much. 

“The Iceland study tour was educational in lots of ways, and we observed both similarities and differences between our two industries, but what struck me most was how fortunate young people are to have so many opportunities to progress their careers within rural Wales.

“I realise just how privileged I have been to be selected for the Agri Academy and also to have been so heavily involved with Wales YFC, at both a local and county level – Iceland has nothing to match either!”

Cerys says she has been determined to focus on the business side of farming since she shadowed Elaine Rees Jones during a work experience stint early last year.  

“That short week of work experience taught me how businesses can be helped to develop which made me realise I would like a career in the management rather than the practical side of agriculture and was the reason I felt certain the Agri Academy could be a very advantageous stepping-stone.”

Cerys, a keen member of Howey YFC, was recently nominated as Radnor YFC’s junior member of the year.  She says that the Agri Academy interview processes were a huge help and boosted her confidence. 

“I found myself relating all my interview questions for the YFC award back to what I had learned through the Agri Academy!” 

The application window for the Agri Academy 2020 is open now until 11.59pm, Tuesday, 31 March 2020.  If you need more information on eligibility and what the programme entails, Gwenno Griffiths, Development and Mentoring Manager with Menter a Busnes, which together with Lantra Wales delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government, advises interested individuals to visit the Farming Connect website here.

This year, the Agri Academy will focus on just two programmes, the Business & Innovation programme which has much to offer budding entrepreneurs and all those wanting to introduce innovative ways of working into their daily lives, and the Junior programme, a joint collaboration with Wales YFC, which is open to individuals aged between 16 and 19 wanting a career in the food, farming or related rural industries.  

"Cerys is currently studying Level 3 agriculture at Reaseheath College in Cheshire, which she hopes will lead to a university degree course in agri-business and nutrition.  

“With her confidence, focus and willingness to work hard, I’m sure she’ll make that happen,” said Gwenno Griffiths. 

Click below to view Cerys’ video and find out what she has to say about the Agri Academy.

Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. 

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