Guild deputy chairman, Jane Craigie, has completed Scotland’s Rural Leadership Programme, in part to equip her for the task of helping organise the IFAJ Congress in 2014.
The programme is funded by Scottish Enterprise and has been running for seven years. It aims to develop the leadership skills of people in the Scottish rural economy and use their drive, commitment and enterprise to continue to grow Scotland’s farming, tourism and renewable energy opportunities.
“I was lucky to be accepted for the programme which has run over a six month period to March 2012,” says Jane. “I wanted to undertake the course as part of the preparations for the IFAJ Congress in 2014, which our Guild is hosting in Aberdeenshire.
“The experience has been tremendous; it’s given me a very good understanding of how the Scottish Parliament and policy-making connects with the role of Westminster and Brussels,” she adds. “It has also given the Guild and our Congress plans fantastic exposure, which hopefully will yield both practical and financial support.”
Another real highlight of the experience has been to better appreciate just how engaged the Scottish devolved government and individual members of the Scottish parliament are in supporting and investing in Scotland’s rural economy.
“It’s a vibrant time in Scottish politics with Scottish independence high on the country’s agenda,” says Jane. “Having time to speak to the Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore MP, members of the European parliament George Lyon and Struan Stevenson, and numerous constituency MPs and MSPs about the topic has been a tremendous.
“It has also become clear to me how easy it is to engage with the political process north and south of the border,” Jane adds. “But also how important and valuable it can be if we all do so.”