In the Rural Property sector a number of agricultural events are held throughout the year, the most prominent being the Royal Highland Show where Shepherd and Wedderburn hold their annual breakfast seminar. This year, several of Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Rural Property and Business team also had the opportunity to volunteer with the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) at the Show and at other RHET events.
RHET was established in 1999 and is the educational charity of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) which brings together a number of charities operating under the RHASS umbrella. They work with over 500 volunteers to provide free educational activities and learning opportunities for children across Scotland.
It aims to deliver 'hands on education' to all children many of whom would not have the opportunity to visit farms or rural businesses. This has seen the development of successful initiatives such as farmers' markets in schools, bringing farming and the working countryside practices to life for children. This is achieved through a number of key activities, for example:
- Farm visits for schools so children learn where their food comes from;
- Educational programmes such as visiting schools and using RHET’s own Children's Education Centre within the Show grounds;
- Classroom talks by volunteer farmers and other rural business such as bee keeping; and
- Event days including mock farms and fun rural themed activities such as milking and the feeding of animals.
Shepherd and Wedderburn staff are encouraged to take up opportunities to gain experience with the wider sector and to engage further with clients where possible. Two members of the team volunteered to help out at RHET's Food and Farming event which was held at Arniston House in Midlothian at the end of May. Over the course of two days, groups of school children were taken round the various exhibits and invited to participate in a number of rural themed activities. The activities ranged from meeting "Thistle" the deer to learning about tractors and dairy production.
More recently, staff at the Royal Highland Show volunteered in the RHET centre baking scones with children and assisting RHET staff in explaining where certain foods come from. Many of the children had attended the RHET centre in previous years and were very keen to come back again and participate in the various activities. There was positive feedback from children, teachers and parents alike.
Volunteers are necessary for these events to run successfully. Shepherd and Wedderburn staff thoroughly enjoyed their time and certainly appreciate the huge amount of effort that is put in by the RHET team to increase awareness of the rural sector.