Lessons about the countryside

Schools Countryside Day at Springwood Park in Kelso. Duns Primary pupils get in the middle of the sheep dogs rounding up the sheep.
Schools Countryside Day at Springwood Park in Kelso. Duns Primary pupils get in the middle of the sheep dogs rounding up the sheep.

Around 1,300 pupils from 63 Borders schools descended on Kelso’s Springwood Park last week to find out first hand about the countryside.

The pupils, all primary five, were the specially invited guests of the Border Union Agricultural Society’s (BUAS) Schools Countryside Day.

The event takes the form of a Border Union Show-style showcase, specially designed for 10-year-olds, and features live animals, hands-on activities and demonstrations.

The young visitors were able to learn about a huge range of topics from sheep shearing, spinning and weaving to organic gardening, bee-keeping, haggis, bread and ice-cream making, cereal milling, drystone dyking and egg and potato production, as well as farriery, forestry, waste, river and wildlife management, flood prevention, fly fishing, gamekeeping, milking, veterinary work and auctioneering.

This was the third time the event has taken place. The first Schools Countryside Day was held in 2013 as part of the BUAS’s bicentenary celebrations, with the aim of teaching young people about the 
importance of the rural environment and inspiring them to consider one of the many 
fulfilling employment options available within it.

BUAS also welcomed a number of VIP visitors to this year’s event, including the Scottish Government’s minister for rural affairs, food and the environment, Richard Lochhead MSP; Allan Bowie, president of National Farmers’ Union Scotland and Stephen Hutt, chief executive of the Royal Highland Agricultural Society Scotland.

BUAS secretary Ron Wilson said the organisation is passionate about the importance of maintaining a strong, economically viable and environmentally sustainable rural economy.

“Our Schools Countryside Day aims to teach our young people about modern farming practices and the origins of their food, their rural heritage, the environment and the opportunities that exist for them in the future so that they will be inspired and encouraged to choose one of the many rewarding careers that will help to protect and sustain the rural economy for generations to come.”

Mr Lochhead added: “The Schools 
Countryside Day is a fantastic event to showcase Scotland’s diverse rural industries as 
a great career choice for future generations.

“The Scottish Government is committed to funding LANTRA to help raise awareness with young people of the range of fantastic career opportunities in the land based sector, and supports the highly successful annual Land Based Learner of the Year awards – so I hope to see some of the children who visited the show today taking their first steps into farming in the future.”