Although there was no time travelling involved, over 100 school pupils enjoyed the opportunity to ‘travel forward’ in time, with SRUC Barony and local employers, and imagine their future careers and studies at the “Taste of the Future” careers event.

From tractor driving, handling reptiles, grooming a dog, reading x-rays through to forestry harvesting simulator and building an electric circuit – pupils and teachers from nine local secondary schools made full use of the opportunity to sample life as a student on campus.

Also on hand to provide information and answer questions were several local employers including CLAAS dealerships Rickerby Ltd and Gordons, Scottish Woodlands, Wilson Machinery Ltd, Krone UK Ltd, the National Trust for Scotland and the Forestry Commission. SRUC’s own students also made full use of this opportunity as their thoughts turn to jobs at the end of their studies.

Jennifer Craig (15) from Wigtown and studying at Douglas Ewart High School tried out the Vert Nursing and Animal Care courses, she said: “I learned more than I thought I would and I didn’t think I would actually be able to handle the animals. I was also really impressed with the equipment on the vet nursing courses. The visit was really factual and helpful, and I liked that it was hands on.”

Also from Douglas Ewart High School, Andrew Bodle (15) and Nathan Paterson (15) both from Kirkcowan sampled the Agriculture and the Engineering courses. Together they commented: “I enjoyed the agriculture taster more because I got to drive a tractor! There are much more facilities here than I expected and I was impressed by the variety of the machinery and the technology in agriculture, including the robotic milker. The day was helpful to get more information on studying, courses and careers.”

It wasn’t just the pupils who benefited, SRUC’s own students got involved in talking school pupils through the tasks and explaining what student life is really like. NC Engineering student Ritchie Glen (18) from Parkgate, Dumfries enjoyed it saying:

“It’s good to share the knowledge that I’ve gained during the course. The students seem to be enjoying building an electrical circuit which is something you do in the introductory course. They also asked questions about the course and about the qualifications I am working towards. They have been impressed by the high quality machines we work on and learn with. We work on real machines worth hundreds of thousands of pounds – its just like a real-life workshop.”

Calum Braid (18) from Moffat is also studying NC Engineering, specialising in Forestry and he was able to share with the students that everyone on his course has already got jobs lined up, with some receiving two job offers.

One pupil from Annan Academy already knows he wants to work on his family’s farm, yet he still benefitted from the careers event. Mark Jackson (15) from Kirkpatrick-Fleming said: “There are more regulations than ever in farming and it’s important to learn what is best and right to do on the farm. Even though I know I want to work on the farm and study agriculture, I still learnt things at the event – like how to do things better and why to do things differently. For example with lambing in full flow I am interested to learn how the sheep can be put under less stress.”

Leanne Peoples from the Queensberry Initiative brought a group of S4 and S5 pupils from Wallace Hall Academy and during the visit she commented: “I am actually overwhelmed by the facilities here. The event has been very well designed and it has made ideas and future possibilities become a lot more real for our pupils. The fact that they can see SRUC students at work too is fabulous – I can tell how focussed SRUC’s students are in their studies and its great to see.”

Steve Duffy, Depute Head at Sanquhar Academy also commented: “Animal care and Forestry seem to be the real draws for my S4 and S5 students. This is an excellent opportunity for the pupils and also for the teachers and the school in general. As a school we provide advice to our pupils on careers so it is vital for us to be as knowledgeable as possible.

“Some of our students have attended an open day here before but for others they lacked the confidence to come along, so this sort of event is perfect. To be honest after seeing the facilities I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to study here!”

The local employers welcomed the opportunity to make young people of all ages aware of the opportunities on offer. Richard Clarkson, National Trust Ranger at Grey Mare’s Tail commented: “There has been more engagement than I expected – this has been a very worthwhile activity and I am happy to have been invited along. SRUC students have shown particular interest in volunteering opportunities available, as it’s a way for them to develop more skills and often leads to further opportunities and employment.

“I have also enjoyed explaining that particularly with rangering the attitude and ability to communicate is often more important than the exact qualification they have.”

Learning more about the courses available at SRUC Barony at www.sruc.ac.uk/Barony or call 01387 860251.

Photograph: Pupils learn about Animal Care Courses

More photos are available from [email protected]

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