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Agri-hub writer wins Guild’s John Deere Training Award

Twenty-four year old farmer’s daughter Melanie Jenkins from Monmouthshire is the 2015 winner of the annual British Guild of Agricultural Journalists Training Award, sponsored by John Deere Limited. This year's runner-up is agronomist Sam Deane, also 24, from Co Cork in Ireland.


Melanie gained a BA in English Literature from the University of Reading, where she introduced an agricultural column to the university newspaper. She completed two spells of work experience last year at Farmers Weekly, and has been working for the Devon-based agricultural media service Agri-hub run by BGAJ member and freelance Olivia Cooper since the summer. Melanie is also a member of the Guild.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and met some really great people; it has been such a good experience to have so early in my career,” says Melanie. “I will certainly be recommending it to anyone who says they are interested in this field.”

Melanie won the award for her article ‘Dairy leaders to hold fresh talks with Morrisons’, which was published by Farmers Weekly. Sam Deane’s article ‘OSR emerges into a blitz of disease’ was written for his work experience host magazine CPM. Sam has since joined leading specialist arable merchant Premium Crops Ltd in Hampshire.

This year’s entries were once again judged by specialist training consultant and main course lecturer David Mascord and freelance Louise Impey, the Guild’s Awards Secretary. Melanie received her winner’s cheque for £250, a framed certificate and the John Deere trophy at the Guild’s Harvest Lunch at The Stationers’ Hall in London in October, where Sam was also presented with his runner's-up framed certificate and a cheque for £100.

The 2015 course took place as usual at John Deere Limited's UK headquarters in July. For the final award, the 10 course members and three non-award trainees were asked to write a news story on the subject of their choice, preferably based on work completed during their work experience placement.

This year's work experience hosts were Agri-hub, CPM, Farmers Guardian, Farmers Guide, Farmers Weekly, LEAF, pitchcare, Ware Anthony Rust and the Western Morning News. Other course participants included Guild members Laura Bowyer and Alice Singleton of Farmers Guardian, freelance Tracy Wathen-Jones, and Rosie Hopkins and Sophie Wilesmith of Pinstone Communications.

This was the 23rd John Deere Training Award, which started in 1991. The course is based on two days of lectures on the basics of writing news and features and interviewing techniques, followed by three or more days of practical work experience with a range of farming and horticultural journals or communications businesses.

The John Deere Training Award is designed to support the Guild in one of its principal aims - that of promoting schemes for the provision of suitable entrants into agricultural and horticultural journalism. Since it began, more than 30 course members have found employment as journalists on national farming and horticultural magazines or websites and with specialist PR companies (not including those already employed when they attended the course).

Source: John Deere GmbH & Co. KG; ASM Public Relations Ltd