Harper Adams University: ‘Eye-opening’ experience for London students takes centre stage on BBC’s Countryfile

A unique countryside experience – delivered by Harper Adams University to a group of London teenagers – has featured on BBC’s Countryfile.

The teenagers, from Westminster Academy in West London, spent three days at the Harper Adams campus, where they took part in a packed programme of activities discovering food, land and agricultural opportunities first hand.

Much of the experience was filmed by a crew from BBC One’s Countryfile –with presenter Adam Henson often joining in with the activities. The resulting programme was shown last night on BBC One, and can be seen again on iPlayer here.

Harper Adams Outreach Manager Kim Chadwick-Reaney said: “It might sound daunting to take a group of young people and transform the way they see agriculture, nature and food-based careers – particularly with a TV crew in tow!

“However, we knew that if we could involve them in the kind of activities prospective students experience at Open Days or on our Harper Adams Experience, they’d see for themselves the opportunities that studying in these areas can offer.”

This project came about after the university was approached by Deborah Streatfield, founder of The Careers Office, Kim explains. “She wanted to help show a group of young people what agriculture, nature and food-based opportunities were out there – opportunities they might never have considered before.

“Not only are these experiences educational and eye-opening – they are also great fun. So as we drew up our programme for the visit, we knew we’d be offering them an immersive experience – quite literally in some cases!”

Learning activities included mammal surveying in the Black Brook on the Harper Adams campus, soil sampling and analysis, bat watching and moth trapping.

The teenagers were shown the basics of sheep handling and body condition scoring on the university’s 494ha farm. They were given the chance to programme their own robots after hearing about the autonomous agriculture being carried out on the University’s Hands Free Farm. And they learned about the impact of some insects on food crops – meeting some of them close-up in the field and specialist entomology laboratory.

Careers guidance and higher education advice was provided by Harper Adams staff and Deborah Streatfield.

She added: “The Careers Office is immensely proud of the students – many had never been out of London.

“It was a great pleasure to meet them at the end of the three days, and hear their thanks to Harper Adams for the best experience ever.”

And Adam Henson gave some of his time to share words of inspiration at the conclusion of the project. Adam later took to social media to say the students had ‘a great future ahead.’


Dr Paul Wood, Principal of Westminster Academy, said: “This was a genuinely eye-opening opportunity for our students, who returned with new perspectives on the countryside and on careers in an industry they likely would never have considered otherwise.

“Our students and my colleagues all described it as the best school trip they’d ever experienced!

“We are very grateful to Deborah and the Careers Office, Adam Henson and the BBC team and Harper Adams University for their care in providing such a memorable experience and for helping Westminster Academy students consider the greatest possible number of future pathways.”

Kim Chadwick-Reaney added: “This was a wonderful three days, and I’d like to thank all our staff and students for their hard work, Deborah for linking us with Westminster Academy and for her guidance, Adam and the Countryfile team for capturing it all on camera – and of course the staff and students from Westminster Academy for joining us and giving their all during every opportunity or challenge we threw at them!”

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