Date published: 10 Oct 2018
Alex Dunn awarded 'Agricultural Student of the Year' at the 2018 Farmers Weekly Awards.
The judges cited Alex’s “entrepreneurial flair, her drive to gain experience and dedication to improving agriculture’s safety record” as reasons why she beat competition from other leading universities in the land-based sector.
Alex’s nomination was partly due to her creation of an innovative farm safety app, which won the RAU’s own Grand Idea competition for young entrepreneurs where judges included Levi Roots from Reggae Reggae Sauce and Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton.
Alex graduated this summer with a first-class degree in Agriculture. She is currently in New Zealand working with a family of dairy farmers after winning the Richard Wigram Scholarship which invites students to visit the country to learn and share best practice.
She told the Farmers Weekly: “This is an industry that is exciting and open to those not from farming backgrounds. I like the quick response to actions in dairy and I’m good at reading people, so my short-term goal is to become a dairy farm manager. I would also love to get into milking goats because this is a growing market in the UK.
“Poor health and safety in agriculture is a deep-rooted problem that needs a solution. This app would help to protect staff and visitors by changing attitudes towards health and safety and promoting best practice.”
She said of her time at the RAU, in Cirencester: “The University’s Enterprise Society really helped me to develop my ideas, as well as a proof of concept and a business plan that was really scalable.
“What excites me most about the business is to be able to make a difference in the industry. It’s not only agriculture here – there are people studying business and equine and you can learn so much – food production, for example, is going to be so important in the future. The University helps you develop any business idea you’ve got, whether it’s related to the agricultural industry or not.”
Professor Joanna Price, Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University said: “Helping out on a local mixed livestock smallholding in Reading as a teenager fostered Alex’s love of the industry. She is a great role model for those who are not from a traditional farming background who may want to study a land-based subject.”
Independent judge Ian Pigott, farmer and Farmers Weekly Columnist said: “It is clear that Alex is not only extremely bright, but also intuitively perceptive of farming issues well beyond her years. But it is the overwhelmingly high regard with which she is viewed by her peers and lecture staff, recognising her skills as a leader, a team player and an asset for British farming, which stood Alex out.”