An Inter­view with Katy Pal­las, LEAF Edu­ca­tion Region­al Edu­ca­tion Consultant

LEAF Education’s team of Region­al Edu­ca­tion Con­sul­tants (RECs) play a key role out in the regions work­ing with farm­ers, teach­ers, schools and col­leges as well as local busi­ness­es and com­mu­ni­ty ini­tia­tives to inspire young peo­ple about food and farm­ing. Katy Pal­las, LEAF Edu­ca­tion REC for the North West shares her thoughts on why Ag Edu­ca­tion mat­ters and why we need to show­case and cel­e­brate success.

LEAF Education’s team of Regional Education Consultants (RECs) play a key role out in the regions working with farmers, teachers, schools and colleges as well as local businesses and community initiatives to inspire young people about food and farming. Katy Pallas, LEAF Education REC for the North West shares her thoughts on why Ag Education matters and why we need to showcase and celebrate success.

What’s the best part of your role as a LEAF Education Regional Consultant?

First of all, the variety and then working with so many different and interesting people, whether teachers, parents or farmers. The children, in particular, ask such diverse questions. “Where does the parrot live?” stimulated a discussion with nursery children about the difference between farms and zoos. Secondary aged children can also ask surprising questions such as “Which cows produce skimmed and which semi-skimmed milk?” There are big and often surprising gaps in knowledge, and it is our job to help to fill them. When understanding dawns, it very rewarding to see, whatever the subject.

Farm visits offer a variety of opportunities. Sometimes children are nervous, they need reassurance that the location is safe and can offer a fun and enjoyable experience.

Why do you think it is so important for young people to get closer to farming and learn more about where their food comes from? Why does it matter?

It’s important for their personal understanding of where their food comes from and how it’s produced. The countryside also offers benefits to young people’ health and wellbeing. Some of the children we encounter have a lot of access to the outdoors, countryside and farming but the majority are far removed. It’s part of our job to lessen this discrepancy.

Pupils really enjoy their experiences on farm! Even those who are labelled “badly behaved” in school seem to become different individuals when they are in the outdoors. Even children who don’t communicate in school can often be found talking to the animals!

This year’s Bayer-LEAF Education Awards (which have been running since 2006) celebrate the very best people and projects in Agricultural Education – why are these awards so important?

The Awards are about promotion and celebration. They shine a light on people who put in so much effort and have so much passion but rarely seek any publicity for the amazing work they do. The awards boost people’s confidence in what they are doing. Award winners always appreciate the recognition they receive and thoroughly enjoy the day of the awards. It’s our chance to say thank you for all their hard work which is so vital.

If you would like to become an Award-winning initiative recognised for going the extra mile to share your passion about food and farming, or know someone who deserves that recognition, then you can either apply directly by clicking here, or nominate someone by clicking here. All forms should then be sent to [email protected] by the 26th April 2019.