Michael a finalist in Lantra Learner of the Year Awards

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Two agricultural students at the Borders College in Galashiels have become finalists in the ninth annual Lantra Land-based Learner of the Year awards.

Michael Binnie, from Tillmouth, who has completed his modern apprenticeship in mixed farming at Borders College, is a finalist in the Agricultural Section; while Josh Halley from Jedburgh Grammar School, who attends Borders College Schools Plus programme, is a finalist in the rural skills for work section.

Andrew Johnson, programme leader in rural industries at Borders College, described the qualities of the two students.

“Michael has always shown a keen interest in working on the family farming business at Tillmouth on the banks of the River Tweed,” he said.

“Although Michael is primarily interested in the arable operations, he knows that it is important to have an awareness of other types of farming. He has therefore spent time on other farms learning about their sheep and cattle enterprises to gain this extra experience.

“His goal was to gain entry to the Scottish Agricultural College to continue his studies to degree level and he has achieved this goal.

“He shows a remarkable knowledge of the workings of the farm and has a quiet confidence way beyond his years. I see Michael succeeding in the industry and it is so encouraging to see young men like himwith such a positive attitude to farming.

“Josh, the youngest of the entrants, takes part in land-based activities at Borders College once a week,” he said.

“He is keen to make a career in the agricultural sector.

“The Borders College School Plus Programme allows learners to get genuine workbased experience on farms and estates as part of their school curriculum, fitting in perfectly with the Curriculum for Excellence.

“Josh has a keen interest in gamekeeping and spends all his spare time out at Lothian Estate near Jedburgh,” he continued.

“He has been grouse beating and regularly goes pheasant-beating at Monteviot, where he also helps with rearing and feeding the game birds. Head keeper Ed Bell is very impressed with Josh and sees enormous potential in him. He would like to see Josh as a full-time gamekeeping student at Borders College next session and would be happy to offer him a work placement.”

Both finalists will represent Borders College at the awards ceremony due to be held today (Thursday, March 1) at Crieff Hydro.