Agri trainees vying for Lantra Learner of Year awards

Claire Simonetta is one of the finalists.

Eight agricultural trainees across Scotland have been shortlisted in this year’s Lantra Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year awards.

The annual awards, run by land-based skills body Lantra Scotland, set out to celebrate learners in agriculture, aquaculture, equine, fisheries management, environmental conservation, game and wildlife, horticulture, trees and timber, and land-based engineering.

Lantra has declined to reveal what category each finalist is in the running for, however agricultural trainees have scooped eight spots in the awards shortlist.

They include 32-year-old Jenna Ross, who is a fellow at the University of Aberdeen and Stellenbosch University in South Africa.She was recently awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship to study global slug control methods.

Another finalist is 26-year-old farmer and agricultural consultant Claire Simonetta from the Isle of Mull, who gained a BSc (Hons) 1st Class in agriculture at SRUC’s Ayr campus. The other finalist from the north of Scotland is 18-year-old Sine Soszka from Dornoch in Sutherland.

She is doing a modern apprenticeship in agriculture through SRUC while working for the Scott family at Fearn Farms, near Tain.

Ms Soszka said: “I’m delighted to be shortlisted for a Lantra Award. I’m passionate about what I do and not even the weather can put me off.

“I think it helps that I have a supportive team at Fearn Farms and I adore working with the sheep, cattle and my beloved dogs.”

Lantra Scotland director Kevin Patrick said: “These awards continue to play an important role in communicating the value of gaining qualifications and developing skills, as well as highlighting the achievements of new entrants.

“All of our nominees, whether selected as finalists or not, should be extremely proud.”

The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Thursday, March 1.