Inspiring the next generation

4 May 2023

‘People’ is a central theme of our First4Milk programme, incorporating how we promote a positive image of the dairy industry and engage with consumers and the local community. Many First Milk members are already doing this by offering visits to the farm or participating in community events. To help increase this further, First Milk is collaborating with education support providers and wider industry to assist you host visits both on farm and virtually.

Why engage with your community or host a school visit?

Welcoming people onto your farm is a great way to provide hands-on education about where food comes from and show our industry in a positive light. It is also a chance to talk about careers in farming, particularly the less well recognised, such as those in agri-tech and digital technologies. This helps develop a pipeline of talent for the dairy sector and advance equality of opportunity by engaging those outside the industry.

What type of visit can you offer?

For schools and community groups with transport, there is no better way of giving a meaningful educational experience than offering a visit to your farm.

Virtual visits also work well, especially in the winter, by live- streaming from the farm into the classroom. If a ‘live’ event
is unrealistic, taking a pre-recorded video into a school or community group and making it a ‘meet the farmer’ session is a great alternative.

What support is available?

There are several organisations keen to collaborate and support you run a school/community visit. First Milk has run events with members in SW Scotland and Cumbria with SmartSTEMS, a charity set up to motivate young people about science, technology and mathematics (STEM). These events aim to excite young people about the options available and the role STEM plays in the dairy industry. There is also RHET (Royal Highland Education Trust) in Scotland and LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) in England and Wales.

Drawing on your partner organisations and their networks

First Milk has been working with hauliers, vets, equipment manufacturers and feed reps – all keen and able to
offer young people an educational experience through presentations and practical activities.

Take part ‘virtually’ – make a short video and tell you story

Evidence tells us if young people have a better understanding of what can be done and how, they go on to achieve more themselves.

First Milk is working with SmartSTEMs is to create a repository for young people, teachers and parents about what dairy farmers do and serve as a practical guide for those wanting to follow in your footsteps. We’d like members across the country to paint a picture of your role as a dairy farmer through a series of short videos. To find out how you can be involved, please contact your local Area Manager.

Be part of creating your future workforce

We all have a responsibility to help reverse the growing skills gap exacerbated by a shrinking working-age population in some of our milk-producing regions. By educating and inspiring the next generation about the skills we need over the next 10- 25 years we can build a stronger and more reliable workforce.

Feedback received from some of those involved in the recent school farm visits:

“I was raised on a dairy farm, and I can’t believe how far the technology has advanced,”
 Teacher, Newmilns Primary School.

“I loved seeing the children’s excitement. They are our future industry and it’s great to inspire and educate them,”
 Dr Laura Shewbridge Carter, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

“It was great to teach the children about jobs in the dairy industry and encourage the next generation of Ayrshire’s milk hauliers,” Stephen Black, TP Niven.

“Taking young people onto farms provides hands-on education to learn about opportunities in farming. Every single child here today has been fully engaged and had their eyes opened. Working with First Milk is invaluable. I can’t wait to replicate this on other farms,” Donna Walton, Project Manager, SmartSTEMS.

Thanks to all our members who have hosted farm visits.