Andrew McGregor: Come out of the digital cocoon and learn for real-life experiences

In a world where people are increasingly moulded by what information is filtered through to them online by big tech companies, I think it is refreshing to be challenged by safe real-life scenarios.

Teamwork is key as young farmers in Wigtown take the strain during a tug-of-war contest
Teamwork is key as young farmers in Wigtown take the strain during a tug-of-war contest

There are great opportunities to learn from these, rather than just what is pushed to the top of our news feed on all levels of online media. One organisation which provides these opportunities to the young people of Scotland is the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. This association is a testament to what young people can achieve when they get together.

The skills developed on the journey through a young farmer’s club are extremely varied and transferable. The clubs, which are typically made up of around 50 people who have an average age of 19, manage to remain completely self-sufficient when it comes to organising their bustling calendar full of events. This of course presents challenges but these consistently are solved. Whether that be the organising committee within each club dealing with a venue cancelling last-minute, pulling together a charity variety show for over 1000 people or even just managing a team of people.

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The ability to deal with tests like these as a young adult is great experience for members to take forward into the workplace.

On top of the development when managing a group such as this there are also many skills to be gained by the members throughout the year. There are training opportunities available across a wide range of skills from first aid to accountancy. Young members are coached in areas such as public speaking and reasoned decision-making whilst being gradually given more responsibility with the group.

It would seem that when given this responsibility, young people flourish. It offers a refreshing break from the ever more controlled online world where probing algorithms monitor what we search for, to then filter what else will be interested in; drip feeding us information and deploying predatorily marketing for commercial benefit.

Therefore, while more online decisions are being made for us, endangering our ability to problem solve and make decisions in our own right, it is ever more important that youth groups and teams such as SAYFC are allowed to thrive and continue to provide a great seedbed for young people to develop and grow in.

Andrew McGregor is a member of Carluke YFC