Learning from the land
It has been a special year of celebration for the Countrysiders in Norfolk
THE ROYAL Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) is a keen supporter of Countrysiders – the junior section of Norfolk Young Farmers - which has spent 2016 celebrating its 20th anniversary. Countrysiders offers young people aged between 10 and 16 years the opportunity to discover the world of agriculture and land-based industries.
Countrysiders was set up in 1996 as a response to a general decline in the number of school clubs linked to a rural syllabus or school farm. The volunteer-run meetings take place once a fortnight across 15 Norfolk-based Countrysider Clubs.
“Countrysiders is for any young person who has a passion for the rural aspects of our county,” explains Moira Harrison, Countrysiders development officer at Norfolk Young Farmers. “The children can stay with their Countrysider Club until they feel ready to move on to a Norfolk Young Farmers club or until they reach the age of 17, whichever happens first. The fact that we have grown to 15 clubs in the past couple of decades is something I’m hugely proud of and says a lot about the enthusiasm young people have for their rural environment.”
Countrysiders’ meetings can range from a talk by the RSPB to a visit to the hunt kennels, and from making pizzas to stock judging at a farm. Clubs also have access to various training courses held at Easton and Otley College, ranging from tractor driving and engineering to dairying - including milking, calf handling and lambing.
“Each year we have a Conservation Campout at a different farm, where Countrysiders undertake tasks such as bridge building, owl nest box making, creating maternity bat roosts, otter holts and much more,” says Moira.
“Reaching out to younger people is essential if we are to positively impact on their impression of the rural and agricultural community. If we engage, motivate and influence children from an early age then we can only hope they feel positively about the countryside which they will hopefully choose to live and work in.” “Countrysiders will have shaped and inspired a generation of people involved in modern day agriculture across the county”
Education is a core aim for the RNAA, and helping young people develop a better awareness of the importance of food, farming and the countryside through an understanding of the issues and challenges is a core reason why the charity supports Countrysiders.
“As we draw to the end of our 20th year we are mindful that Countrysiders will have shaped and inspired a generation of people involved in modern day agriculture across the county,” comments Moira. “Our hope is we continue to encourage many more over the coming decades too.”
To find out more about Countrysiders and how to join, contact the Countrysiders’ county office on 01603 731307 or email nor[email protected] eastonotley.ac.uk or visit www.norfolkyfc.org
The Countrysiders in action
At a farm auction
Toby Cooke, Countrysider member of the year, cutting the celebration cake with county vice-chairman Becca Horner