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Youth Ag Summit 2017 delegate and Girl Guiding leader Luca Steel is about to embark on a week of visiting three world-class research institutes in plant science, as part of her interest in pursuing a career in agriculture. I caught up with her yesterday during the launch of Luca On Tour, the social media campaign that will run alongside her visit to the institutes raising awareness of the range of careers available in agriculture and why plant science matters.

So Luca, tell me a bit more about your story in agriculture. What sparked your interest in plant science?

I have wanted to be a research scientist for a long time, but (like lots of other people!), I didn't realise the exciting research and opportunities that exist within agriculture. At University I was lucky enough to be able to study Plant Pathology, which was the first contact I really had with the world of agriculture, and I found it fascinating. Two summer schools; the 2016 Gatsby Plant Science summer school, and the 2017 Crop Protection Science summer school, showed me the real-world applications of plant science theories. Seeing this science in the field for the first time was a pivotal point for my opinion on agriculture, and I began to realise how exciting and fast-paced crop science research is. 

I still have a lot to learn about the world of agriculture, and through #LucaOnTour I'm excited to discover the diversity of less obvious, but awesome jobs within agriculture, and to share them with the world!undefined

How did #LucaOnTour come about?

Last year I had the opportunity to present on my experience of attending the third Youth Ag Summit in Brussels at an event on careers in agriculture, held at the Houses of Parliament. I spoke about my interest in pursuing a career in plant science research in order to help tackle one of the major challenges that humanity faces today; feeding a hungry planet. As a result of the event, I was invited to visit three pioneering research institutes Fera, NIAB and Rothamsted to learn more about what they do, and the pathway to studying a PhD in plant pathology.  Alongside my passion for plant science, I am also a keen science communicator and would love to see more young people enthused like I am about pursuing a career in agriculture and plant science. The visits are a perfect opportunity to raise awareness of this and I am looking forward to engaging in conversation about what agriculture has to offer!

Sounds exciting! What are you looking forward to most then about your tour next week?

Being offered the opportunity to visit these research institutes and the plant scientists themselves is such an honour. I’m really looking forward to touring the facilities and hearing the stories of the scientist who work there. It will be interesting to explore the diversity of roles within agriculture, and gain more insight into how all of these roles contribute toward feeding a hungry planet. I’m particularly passionate about plant pathology, and with my final year project working on fusarium head-blight, this is a great opportunity to see what plant science is doing already to tackle global food security challenges and what could be done in the future!

If you have a story to tell about your career in agriculture, curious to find out more about the diverse range of careers in plant science, or passionate about science communication follow #LucaOnTour 10-13 September and join the conversation.