National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

29 April 2021

While Serena Gough, 24, from Eccleshall YFC may not have followed her family’s footsteps into a career in farming, she was still eager to be part of YFC. As a civil engineer Serena reveals why she’s passionate about STEM careers and how YFC has helped her professional and personal life

Q. Why did you want to get involved in YFC?

A. There is a long history of farming in my family, through both my mother's and father's side. My mother was also a member of Eccleshall YFC and my father was Chair of Newport YFC, just across the border into Shropshire. I joined YFC because I was interested in meeting more people from the rural community and getting involved with social events.

Q. Can you tell us about your role as a civil engineer?

A. Civil engineering involves everything that has been built around you! It includes transportation, such as roads and railways, buildings, such as offices, hospitals and schools, water and power supply, to name a few.  It’s infrastructure we often take for granted but would find very difficult to live without.

I specialise in designing roads. This includes the preparation of preliminary and detailed design for road schemes, from singular junctions to whole road corridors. My job title is Highways and Traffic Engineer at AECOM, a global engineering consultancy.  I am normally based in Birmingham city centre, but have been working from home in Staffordshire since the start of the pandemic. 

Q. What qualifications have you had to take so far to pursue this career?

A. At high school, I studied A Levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Physics and Geography.  I then went on to study an MEng in Civil Engineering at the University of Nottingham where I gained a First Class (Hons) degree.  I am currently working towards a professional qualification through the Institution of Civil Engineers. 

Q. What is your role as a STEM Ambassador?

A. As a STEM Ambassador, I work with young people to introduce them to the STEM subjects, particularly, civil engineering. I am keen to encourage more young people, especially females, to have exposure to engineering, so that they can make informed choices about their future. Many people do not know about the areas of engineering that exist in the world!

Q. Would you recommend a STEM career to others?

A. STEM careers are vital to the functioning of society and affect our daily lives more than we could ever imagine, yet so many people never consider this.  I would definitely recommend a career in STEM as there are many opportunities to make a positive change in the world. 

Q. Has being a YFC member helped your career?

A. Being a member of YFC has allowed me to increase my communication skills and leadership skills as Secretary of my club this year. 

Taking part in the Staffordshire and West Midlands Area YFC Public Speaking competition allowed me to increase confidence and communication skills in an online environment. 

I am also currently Senior Vice Chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers West Midlands Graduates and Students Committee and Deputy Chair of the national GSNet, and so holding these roles together has allowed me to develop my time management and organisational skills, which are all beneficial in my career.

Q. Did you manage to stay connected to your YFC during the pandemic?

A. During the pandemic, my club hosted virtual club nights and in person events, when safely permitted, such as rounders.  As Secretary, I started an Instagram account for the club to allow people to stay connected. We post regular updates about the club's activities, as well as advertising events across the county.

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22 April 2021

Young farmers looking for ways to help the industry reach net zero by 2040 can now seek inspiration from a new Climate Change Guide launched by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC).

The guide, which is supported by Defra and in association with the NFU and Championing the Farmed Environment (CFE), launches in the same week as the government announced its new target to cut emissions by 78% by 2035.

NFYFC’s digital interactive guide includes the results from NFYFC’s 2020 Climate Change Video Challenge, which asked young farmers to record a short video explaining their ideas for reducing carbon emissions on farm.

Organisers were delighted that Reaseheath College integrated the challenge into an agricultural course module, which produced some highly recommended projects from students.  It is hoped more YFC County Federations, clubs and land-based colleges will follow this initial lead.

More UK countries launched their own video challenges following on from the success of the competition in England – and in preparation for one the most important climate change conferences of 2021, the United Nations’ COP26 on 1-12 November.

As well as videos from the winners of the video challenge, the new guide contains FAQs, case studies and references for more information from the NFU and CFE to help young farmers better understand the climate challenge and how to tackle it.

The online guide also includes a foreword from David Kennedy, Defra’s Director General for Food, Farming and Biosecurity.

In the foreword, Mr Kennedy says: “There is a global challenge for us all and the guide will help to explain this, the actual task in hand and how we can all play our part. The ambition to achieve net zero emissions is clearly demonstrated by work highlighted by the NFU and the CFE and farmers who are already applying measures to combat climate change successfully.”

Tom Pope, Chair of NFYFC’s Agricultural and Rural Issues group (YFC AGRI), said: “This new guide will be an essential resource for any young farmer who wants to make an impact on climate change. It’s encouraging to see the success of our original challenge is continuing to inspire and we hope that this guide is shared widely to encourage young farmers to play their part in securing the future.” 

19 April 2021

With restrictions easing and clubs able to meet again, Chair of Louth YFC Callum Forsyth shares his experiences of leading a club over the last few months and meeting again after lockdown.

Q. What have been the challenges for your committee during lockdown?     

A. We have found it challenging keeping everyone engaged with the club and ensuring the members still feel they are getting value out of being part of YFC. We are desperate to keep the club alive and exciting for our members so that the club has a stable future. We currently have 23 members (which is around half what the club had last year).

Q. What did you do to help your members feel engaged during lockdown?     

A. We kept our virtual programme as full as possible, giving all our members the chance to socialise. We have had various talks, farm visits, lambing live, as well as the general quizzes, bingo etc – but all from our lockdown armchairs.

Q. What have you learned from the experience?                                       

A. As a club we have learnt that face-to-face socialising was a big part of the way we ran the club and having to adapt to a virtual programme hasn’t suited all of our members.

Hopefully with the changes to come – and the push to have Covid secure face-to-face  meetings – we can bring members back. None of us like change but it has been great to see the YFC spirit still carrying on when we have been able to have our weekly Zoom meetings or activities.

Q. What have been the challenges now you are starting to host Covid-secure meetings? 

A. Our struggle coming out of lockdown and working with the new restrictions for face-to-face meetings is ensuring everyone can get involved. We are a large club, with members aged mostly over 18 (only five members are currently under 18), so having to put the ‘rule of 6’ in place is difficult for us.

But we’re not letting this hold us back and we are thinking outside of the box to keep things moving forward. We are giving fence erecting training for groups of six and going to the golf range by allocating times for smaller groups.

Q. What tips would you give to other clubs that are considering hosting Covid-secure meetings?     

The main thing is to ensure our members are safe – simply following the guidelines allows us to do this. There is plenty we can still do even under the current restrictions and I’m hopeful it won’t be that long until we can get the club fully back together. Let’s just keep reminding people what a great community and support network Young Farmers can be. 

If you would like to share your story about running your YFC during lockdown and beyond please email NFYFC.  


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