Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) student Jack Scott has been announced as the BBC Countryfile Young Countryside Champion 2023.
Jack, a third-year student studying Environmental Social Sciences at DICE, part of the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC), was crowned winner at the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2023 ceremony in Newport. His win was publicly announced and broadcast on BBC Countryfile on Sunday 5 November.
The Young Countryside Champion award recognises those passionate about improving the countryside, whether through farming, raising awareness of environmental issues, protecting wildlife or striving to modernise environmental technologies.
Jack won the award, presented to him by Countryfile host Adam Henson, for the horticultural work and public engagement initiatives he is involved in. Alongside running his own horticultural business and hedge and wood planting, Jack works closely with his supply chains and customers. Renting land at Nonington Farms, he runs educational visits for those aged between 5 and 25 years old to experience agriculture and learn more about farming.
In 2024, Jack will be working with The Perfect Place to Grow initiative, a cafe and training kitchen in Margate, Kent, designed to help 18 to 24-year-olds in Thanet into future employment. A cohort of young trainees will spend a number of days a week working with Jack on the farm, with the remainder of the week cooking dishes in the kitchen for the public using products from their week with the supplier.
Jack is also an Assistant Conservation Advisor at Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South East.
After winning the award, Jack said: ‘I am delighted to have been recognised as BBC Countryfile Young Countryside Champion for work I am so passionate about doing. I hope I can inspire the next generation of young farmers and horticulturalists to pursue their dreams through my activities. Studying alongside running my business has enabled me to develop further field skills and explore the environmental changes that the industry is facing.’
Dr Mahesh Poudyal, Lecturer in Conservation Social Science in SAC, added: ‘We are so pleased for Jack winning this prestigious award. He should be proud of the work he is doing to raise awareness of farming and horticulture amongst young people and how he is positively impacting the local community.’
The BBC Food and Farming Awards 2023 awards were judged and hosted by presenters including Thomasina Miers (cook, television presenter and co-founder of the Wahaca chain of Mexican restaurants), Jaega Wise, Sheila Dillon and Dan Saladino from Radio 4’s The Food Programme, food presenter Leyla Kazim and Star Farmer Will Young.