A Harper Adams University student who has secured himself a role in the pig industry while still at university has been named the winner of the Victor Truesdale Prize 2023.
Despite not coming from an agricultural background, Stephen Evans from Fintona, Co Tyrone, found himself drawn to studying for a degree in agriculture, embarking on it at Harper Adams.
Since beginning his studies, he has had a particular interest in the pig industry, testing his skills on the Harper Adams farm – and he is now set to take up a role as an animal feed specialist once he graduates.
"As I don’t come from an agriculture background and wanted to keep my options open, I decided that doing straight ag was the best option - meaning that I got a general feel for the industry, allowing me to specialise as I progressed," Mr Evans said.
To gain further experience, he applied for the ForFarmers pig industry scholarship, which includes a one-year paid work placement with ForFarmers UK, and was successful.
This is where he got a "strong insight" into the animal feeds industry with special reference to the customer supply chain, key accounts, technical support, and marketing.
"I travelled all around the mainland UK meeting with pig producers to provide technical assistance - I also got the chance to attend key events within the UK farming calendar such as the [National] Pig Awards and the [British] Pig and Poultry Fair," Mr Evans said.
ForFarmers UK is supporting Mr Evans with a further pig industry scholarship in his final year, and once he completes his degree, he will take up a role with ForFarmers as UK young animal feeds specialist.
The role will allow him "to travel all over the UK and provide technical sales support to customers and prospects".
"There is also the component of traveling abroad with my work - which will allow me to experience global agriculture," he added.
His commitment to his studies and to agriculture was marked at this year’s Harper Ireland Club dinner, where he was awarded the Victor Truesdale prize.
The prize honours the student from Ireland deemed to have made the greatest contribution to life at the university.
"Receiving the award was a great achievement as it has been known to be quite a competitive award in the past," Mr Evans said.
"It is an award that is well recognised at home due to the sponsor John Thompsons and Sons Ltd who the late Victor Truesdale worked for.
"The awards night has a great atmosphere."