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Louis Baylis Trust donation given to Berkshire College of Agriculture

A £2,000 grant from the Louis Baylis Trust has been spent on valuable resources in three areas of Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) for the benefit of its students.

The donation to the Burchetts Green Road college has been shared equally between horticulture, equine studies and higher education and spent on mirrors, monitoring equipment and fencing.

The mirrors are for the equine department and will be used to enable students to observe and evaluate their position while riding horses.

Head of equine studies, Helen Cranfield-Findlay said: “At the moment students riding rely on the instructor to feedback to them, whereas mirrors would allow them to become more independent in developing this.

“We are excited to have these in place and see the students be able to develop their skills when using them.”

In the higher education department, the grant has bought AudioMoth detection systems (an acoustic device for monitoring biodiversity and the environment), a night vision camera and camera traps.

Aspiring veterinary physiotherapists and animal behaviour and welfare specialists have used the equipment to practise field skills and develop practical techniques.

The resources have allowed students to non-invasively monitor protected and ecologically important fauna on campus and had a positive impact on dissertation research over the last academic year.

Jack Merrifield is course manager and lecturer, animal behaviour and welfare.

“We are very much looking forward to using this equipment on upcoming level 6 dissertations and level 5 research projects next year too,” he said.

In the horticulture department the money was spent on a fencing project which benefited learners twofold.

Firstly, it protected crops from rabbits and other pests so students can grow crops from seed to plant, a requirement of the college’s horticulture and agriculture programmes.

It also allowed learners to complete a fencing assessment as part of the estates skills unit, another core requirement.

Agriculture and horticulture head of department, Vicky Beckwith, said: “All students on our level 2 and 3 courses directly benefited from this grant by learning relevant skills for their course by using the materials bought with the grant.”

She added: “The aim of the project is to overhaul the whole vegetable plot as a project for the students in order to make the area more professional, usable and enable us to also offer a vegetable plot share scheme for staff.”

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