The End (or just the beginning?)
I have finished my Nuffield Scholarship.
Two years of travel, to 12 countries, culminated in my presentation at the Nuffield Farming Conference in Bristol. The class of 2016 (me and 15 fellow Scholars) took to the stage and shared our adventures with hundreds of people. I can’t begin to tell you how terrifying, and how exhilarating, that experience was.
It’s the first time I’ve stood in front of a crowd and told them what I believe. It’s the first time I’ve stuck my neck out. And, as a journalist, that makes you feel very naked and exposed.
But I also feel very proud. That kernel of an idea I had two years ago, nothing more than a hunch really, has grown into something real and tangible. And people wanted to hear about it. That was pretty cool.
The presentations were all filmed and you can watch mine here.
My Nuffield looks at how the mainstream media portrays farmers and farming to the public. It’s not a technical subject and sometimes I feel the themes, challenges and recommendations I explore in my study are blindingly obvious. Yet it has struck a chord with people working in my profession, the media, and my family’s profession – farming.
I hope my Nuffield Scholarship will improve understanding and open up new and exciting conversations between urban and rural communities.
My report ‘Help or Hinder? How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public’ has just been published and you can download it here.
So what have I done in the fortnight since then? Sleep? Start my Christmas shopping? Catch up on Orange is the New Black?
Nope. I flew straight to Rapid City in the Midwest of America to present my research to the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association at their annual convention. And what an amazing trip it was.
At first I wasn’t sure how the generally conservative ranchers of South Dakota would respond to a 4ft 11ins embodiment of the ‘liberal BBC’. Would they accuse me of spreading fake news? Would they get defensive about Donald Trump? Would they have preconceptions about who I am and what I believe?
No, no and definitely no.
Never have I been welcomed with such warmth, curiosity and open mindedness. Never have I enjoyed such frank and open discussion in a spirit of community and friendship. Never have I experienced such gratitude for sharing a different perspective.
I learnt so much in South Dakota and, yes, it challenged a few of my own preconceptions too. I cannot wait to return and learn more.
It proved to me that, though my world and the way I make my living, is very different – people are people. Politics is not people. And when you open your mind to them, they’ll open theirs to you.
And, really, that’s what my Nuffield was all about.
Thank you to the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust and my two sponsors the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and the Trehane Trust for making this journey possible.
And a special thank you to the people who supported me throughout that journey – and made sure I made it to the finish line. My Mum and Dad, sisters Kate and Nicola and my partner Alex. I love you all so much.