FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Hope for the future
Just when emigration was looking like a very attractive option, my heart was warmed and my hope for Barbados returned somewhat when I learned of the activities of two young Barbadians, Scott St John and Sharon Trotman.
I happened to meet Scott’s mother, who updated me on his latest activities. He was a participant of the Governor General’s Agricultural Summer Camp which I coordinated for six years. The concept was the brainchild of former Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands, who saw the need for urgent succession planning in the agricultural industry and the importance of making the industry attractive to the youth.
The camp sought to dispel the myth that agriculture in the 21st century is drudgery and just manual labour in the sun. It allowed about 130 children to see modern farming first hand – hydroponic greenhouse production, wind tunnel poultry operations, chicken hatcheries, fish, rabbit, sheep, dairy cow and goat farming, as well as culinary and agro-processing operations. They were also introduced to floriculture and the art of flower arranging.
While it was never envisaged that participants would make agriculture their career, it sought to give them and their parents an appreciation for what was involved in producing the food we eat. Some children (and indeed some parents) were unaware of what vegetables looked like while growing in the field. Their only knowledge was what they saw on the supermarket shelves.
Happily, Scott, who is now 19 years old, has maintained an interest in farming and certainly seems to be exhibiting the industry that we so proudly promote in our national motto. He awakens early and travels to a farm where he exercises racehorses. Apparently he does a good job and is said to have a good eye for the horses.
Having completed this, he then tends his chickens and vegetables. All this before he attends classes at the Barbados Community College where he is pursuing an associate degree in culinary arts at the Hospitality Institute. Perhaps his visits to Savannah Hotel, which formed part of the camp’s activities, and the encouragement of the executive chef Mr Max Benz, might have motivated him to make this career choice. As part of his course he has been attached to hotels like Hilton Barbados, Courtyard
By Marriott and Divi Southwinds, assisting with various functions. He also operates his grandfather’s food business at Oistins Bay Gardens.
Growing and preparing food seems like a winning combination for a career, but Scott realises that business training is essential for both. His five CXC certificates include not only agriculture, but also principles of business and he has also pursued some further training in business management.
Scott’s progress has certainly put paid to the criticism of the camp by one in authority at the time, when he questioned the logic of teaching youngsters agricultural methods which would be obsolete by the time they are old enough to put them into practice.
It was also heartening to hear a radio interview with Sharon Trotman, a young lady who was deemed an “everyday hero”. She certainly seems to be an enterprising person, taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves as well as acknowleging the need for giving back to your country by doing voluntary work.
She took her children and others to school and soon realised there was a need to be filled there. She recognised a business opportunity and started a school shuttle business which she ran for some time before deciding to give it up to further her studies. She gained a degree in history, then did not let the fact that she did not find a job immediately daunt her, but instead entered a parent volunteer programme with a school for a number of years.
Here she recognised the need for extended care of children whose parents could not collect them promptly after school and conceptualised and successfully implemented a well structured “After Care Project” at a primary school. Here again, she demonstrates her love for volunteerism by providing children in the project with snacks which are very much appreciated after a long day at school.
Both these young people appear to be proactive and determined to make a difference to their country. They must be congratulated and encouraged to aspire to even higher heights in spite of these troubling times.
Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator.