From education to employment

Student who has “wanted to be a farmer since I was a foot tall” scoops prestigious agriculture bursary


An agriculture student who has wanted to be a farmer all his life has been awarded this year’s prestigious John Innes Foundation Bursary which supports young people starting their farm management and crop production careers.

Charlie Rogers, 18, is in his first year studying Applied Farm Management at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester and was selected for the bursary from eight applicants.

The annual bursary, which was first awarded in 2018, is aimed at encouraging young people from a non-farming background into the industry. Last year, the bursary was awarded to RAU student Will Oliver who is now in his second year studying Agriculture and Farm Management.

Charlie, from Epping in Essex, said:

“I have always wanted to get into farming – since I was about a foot tall! Most small boys go through that phase and grow out of it but I don’t think I ever did!

“My family has nothing to do with farming at all – we have garden at home but that’s it! But a friend of my father manages a farm near Chipping Norton. We went to visit him and I was hooked!

“I got my first proper farming job after secondary school. I just knocked on the door at the local farm and asked if I could have some work experience and ended up working there for both harvest and lambing.”

After school, and alongside working part-time for a local agricultural contractor, Charlie completed a two-year City and Guilds in Agriculture at Writtle University College near Chelmsford but it has always been his ambition to study at the RAU.

He said: “I came to an RAU Open Day in 2018 open day, when I was only about 14, and just knew I wanted to come and study here. My parents suggested that I put a poster of the RAU on my bedroom wall to keep my focussed on my goal – I only had an Open Day leaflet but I put that up and it was always there reminding me!

“I was absolutely over the moon when I heard I’d got in to the RAU. I’m loving my course and it’s a great group of students too. To have now been awarded the John Innes Bursary is the icing on the cake!”

The bursary will cover all Charlie’s course fees as well as giving him the opportunity to work closely with Velcourt, the UK’s largest farm management company, for whom Charlie hopes to work after he graduates from the RAU.

Professor Nicola Cannon, Associate Professor of Agriculture at the RAU, said:

“Charlie is a very worthy recipient of the award. He has demonstrated a strong work ethic in his studies as well as being highly dedicated to succeed in an Agricultural career. 

“The John Innes bursary is a fantastic opportunity for a student from a non-agricultural background to get an excellent start in their career through networking, employment opportunities and financial support. We hope that this scheme encourages many more bright new entrants into the agricultural sector.”

Keith Norman, trustee and mentor at the John Innes Foundation, said:

“Charlie impressed us initially with his Bursary application which stood out from the rest. He clearly stated his career aims and objectives and what he had done to underpin those aspirations by setting up different work experience situations to assist him on his journey, not being from a farming background. 

“Charlie’s bright, positive personality came through in his interview too leaving us in no doubt he was the right candidate for this year’s award.”

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