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Growing up on a farm, Lindie Huffman learned to love all aspects of agriculture.
Now, the 22-year-old is hoping to turn that passion into a career while studying agriculture education at the University of Kentucky and half way across the world.
“I can’t decide if I like produce or livestock or mechanics,” said Huffman, a 2006 Grant County High School graduate. “I like it all. That way of life has given so much to me that I want to give back.”
Huffman, a senior-to-be at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, was among six other students who recently visited the Scottish isles in May to learn techniques in agriculture.
The two-week trip was part of a community leadership and development class at UK.
During the spring semester, Huffman, daughter of Brian and Laura Franks of Stewartsville, learned about Scottish cultural history and different aspects of community development in the class.
The class ended with the overseas trip as a way to study the islands’ community development and agricultural system.
Huffman spent her time on the island of Bute, which is the most populous island with 7,000 residents.
“They were studying a hub system for food distribution,” Huffman said. “So, we spent our two weeks speaking with local farmers and producers and talking to the Mount Stewart Estate, which is home to the Maquees of Bute, who is beneath a duke. He plays a vital role in the development of the island. He owns 99.9 percent of the agricultural land.”
“They’re really big on livestock,” she said. “There’s a lot of cattle and sheep that they raise there. They are starting to move toward growing more produce again. The people’s mindset had changed over the years because they got to the point where they said, ‘We can’t grow that here,’ because of the climate and different things.”
Huffman and the other students tried to submerse themselves in the culture and the community by attending as many meetings and events as possible.
The group tried to interview a wide variety of people for their research.
“I miss the people,” Huffman said. “The people were incredible and so friendly. Before the trip we were told that Scottish people are very reserved. We didn’t see any of that. It was all open arms. I would walk into the butcher shop, because those were the people I interviewed the most, and they just took me in.”
Using their observations and interviews, the students compiled a 25-page report to the people of the island.
Huffman said the report focused on the island’s strengths and weaknesses and posed ideas to improve community development, including incorporating more centrally located farmer’s markets and identifying a vision for the island.
“There’s all these different farmer’s groups and craft groups, but nobody communicates together,” Huffman said. “Communication is a big issue just as it is anywhere.”
The students are in the process of working on a short documentary about the trip.
As for the island itself, Huffman said the weather was “like Kentucky on steroids.”
“It rains a lot there, but it was cold while I was there,” she said. “It’s beautiful, but it’s got the cold weather and then five minutes later, it’s 80 degrees. It’s like Kentucky with the ocean.”
There is a lot of freshly grown produce and there is no preservatives or additives in food on the menus at the restaurants on the island, said Huffman, who now is trying to stay away from fast food.
Although the trip only lasted two weeks, Huffman said she learned a lot. She plans to possibly return sooner rather than later.
“I’ve had job offers already,” Huffman said. “It’s also been mentioned that I could possibly do my student teaching in Scotland. I was very impressed with their school system. The kids are so intelligent and well advanced.”
“Even though their livestock practices are different than ours, you can learn so much from people all over the world,” she said. “Not one person or one country has it all figured out.”