American students are perfecting their Scottish brogues on the campuses of Scotland’s Rural College this summer. In total, 25 students from 10 American states are working in various departments of SRUC, including the Rural Policy Centre and Equestrian Studies.
Five of the interns have joined SRUC from the University of Arkansas as part of a study abroad program that allows them to complete internships and earn course credit at their home institution.
Arthur Leal and Maggie Jo Pruitt are expanding their agricultural communications skills as interns at the Communications Unit and the Rural Policy Centre. While there, they will develop surveys and conduct research on perceptions toward animal welfare and genetically modified food, respectively. Pruitt has agreed to share her research with PorkNetwork when it becomes available. Both students have done previous work in these areas and are excited to incorporate a “Scottish angle” to their research.
The two interns also will write news and press releases, work in graphic design and web design, manage projects and produce videos.
Alex Gilley and Grant Mason, based at Auchincruive Estate in Ayr, are conducting broiler research with Professor Nick Sparks, Head of the Avian Science Research Centre. Gilley and Mason expressed their gratitude toward SRUC personnel for immediately treating them like team members and providing a smooth transition into a new environment.
“It is evident the people take great pride in their farmland,” says Gilley. “I also appreciate the historic buildings still in use today, because I don’t see such structures in the States.”
Three other students are based at the Edinburgh Campus; they work with the Crop and Soil Systems Group, the Rural Policy Centre and the Communications Unit. Andrew Bolton studies Agricultural Education – his internship focuses on field trials for diseases and research on Fusarium levels in barley.
Meanwhile, the SRUC Oatridge Campus is hosting 19 American students from universities across the United States. The students are enrolled in Scottish Qualifications credits that will count toward degrees at their home universities. All students are located in the Equine Studies Summer School or the Ecology Summer School. Quality Assistant Anne Hazelwood commented on the unique experience offered to the students.
“The courses are a mixture of intensive study and cultural visits,” says Anne Hazelwood. “I attended the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ night, where students were entertained by members of the Robert Burns Society. The group thoroughly enjoyed the evening.”
The event introduced students to Scottish specialties such as haggis and certain whiskies chosen to represent the four corners of Scotland – of course, only to those students who were of legal age.
The program at Oatridge Campus relies on feedback from previous students to continually improve the experience. Not surprisingly, that feedback has always been positive.
The initiative SRUC has taken to attract American student interns is part of its endeavor to expand SRUC’s international activities. Students range from undergraduate to doctoral level and by bringing their experience and knowledge to SRUC, the arrangement is mutually beneficial.
Editor's Note: Information for this article was provided by Maggie Jo Pruitt