With no former farming knowledge, young farmer Rhona Campbell-Crawford took home the Agricultural Student of the Year award at the British Farming Awards in 2022.

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Rhona Campbell-Crawford is a quiet force. Head down, focusing on the task and learning at every opportunity is what has driven her forward, culminating with her taking home the award for Agricultural Student of the Year at the 2022 British Farming Awards. Although she is from a non-farming background, Rhona caught the farming bug early on, and has since flourished, earning the respect of her peers, tutors and the rural community. She has been tipped as a ‘leader’ or ‘future lecturer’ from her nominating teacher at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), following her tireless commitment to developing her skills inside and outside of academia.

“I started helping out on a farm when I was 13,” says Rhona. “I used to help out with the highland ponies and lambing the Blackface sheep. “I really enjoyed it, and used to go every weekend after school – my parents did not see me.”

After building up her experience, she decided to go further and study at Scotland’s Rural College. Rhona is in her fourth and final year studying for a bachelor of science with honours in agriculture, and she is an advocate for giving those with no prior knowledge of agriculture, like herself, a taste of the sector. “I would encourage people to go out and try it,” she says. “You cannot know if you like it without immersing yourself in it. Agriculture should be brought into schools; we need to reach outside the sector. “It needs to start at school and be taught in classes or on farm visits – that is the only way from a young person’s perspective.”


As a new entrant, Rhona has faced challenges along the way, but her signature determination saw her overcome each and every one. “Making your way is the hardest part,” she reflects. “I am proof that you can come from a non-farming background.

“You go to university, and you are the odd one out, everyone has done it at home, so it was nice to win the award as recognition. “Do not underestimate yourself – you are more capable than you think you are. If you are willing to put in the legwork, you can achieve anything. “I did not know the front of a sheep from the back and now people ask me for advice. That is crazy. I was at the bottom and now I am someone they like to phone for help.”

She is also aware of the wider challenges that face the industry, especially surrounding policy. She believes that although the changes are not always clear, farmers should work to adapt and make the most of them. “I think, as an industry, there needs to be a clearer picture for farms that are still reliant on subsidies. “I also think that farms should try not to see other farms as competitors, and become less closed-off to each other – for example, try hosting other farmers to show them about a new diversification or system that has worked for you, share ideas and boost knowledge transfer. “Although I am aware this already occurs, I think it could be utilised further for maximum benefit.”


Rhona has also been building her farming enterprise outside of education, having recently purchased her own flock of sheep, which consists of a mixture of breeds including Suffolks and Blackfaces.
“I hope to try out breeding them to different sires this autumn, in a small study to see what combination may produce the best lambs suitable for the store market next year,” she says. “I am a member of my local Young
Farmers Club, Strathearn JAC, and was on the committee from 2019 to 2022, taking on roles such as assistant secretary.” In July, Rhona is off to Arkansas as part of SRUC’s farm trips and tours, and will have the opportunity to go to the American Agricultural conference. Normally, this is only offered to first-, second- and third-year students, but given her award and appetite to grow, she has been given a place, which is testament to her work ethic.

For now, Rhona is about to enter a new chapter in her journey and test out the waters in consultancy – gaining an all-round insight into every area she possibly can is what has driven her forward so far.
A structured, nine-to-five job is not what she had originally envisaged – she had also entertained the idea of government work and going into quality assurance – but after a successful placement with the
consultancy branch of SRUC, she has made quite the impression. It is, she admits, one of her proudest moments due to the level of competition to secure a place. “I completed a 10-week placement – it was tough securing a place but I wanted to see what the job was about.


“I carried out tasks such as carbon auditing and grant applications, and enjoyed it, and off the back of my time there they asked me back. “They have offered me a full-time job. If you put in the work and ask questions and demonstrate what you can do, it does not go unnoticed.” Being nominated for the Agricultural Student of the Year award came as a huge surprise, and to win was an even bigger shock. But taking the trophy home is
testament to her dedication towards proving her place in the sector.

“I did not know I was nominated until I got the nomination through and read what they had written,” she says.
“I just work quietly away and did not expect to get anything. I will remember the feeling and it will forever be one of the highlights of my life.
“Farming is a way of life, but there is the reward that comes with it, and you are very much your own boss. It is not for everyone, but for those who are in it, it is rewarding.


A word from the sponsor

AT AGCO Academy, we are deeply committed to the agricultural engineering industry and supporting the next generation of talent that will help to shape its
future. With worldwide demand for food predicted to increase by 60% by 2050, we understand that the need for highly skilled and talented agricultural engineers to service and maintain complex and sophisticated
agricultural industry equipment has never been greater. As the UK and Ireland Training Centre for AGCO Ltd, we have a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing today’s agricultural engineers,
and understand that meeting the growing demand for food will require innovative solutions and advanced technology.
We are dedicated to preparing the next generation of agricultural engineers to tackle these challenges head-on.
We continue to be committed to supporting the agricultural community and, as such, are honoured to sponsor the Agricultural Student of the Year award. This prestigious award recognises outstanding students who have demonstrated a passion for agricultural engineering and a commitment to excellence in their studies. By highlighting the important work that agricultural engineers do in ensuring the success of the agricultural industry, we hope to inspire others to pursue careers in this field and help play their part in the future of British farming.



As the Agricultural Student of the Year, you will be successfully progressing your learning and career, inside and outside of college
or university. Open to all agricultural students in the UK, whether they come from an agricultural background or are new to the industry. You will be clearly able to demonstrate self-motivation, initiative, adaptability and a
commitment to agriculture outside of academic life.


To enter or nominate a student, visit britishfarmingawards.co.uk