STIRLING trainees Scott Milne and Heather Moir have made the short-list for Lantra Scotland’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards.

They take place at the Doubletree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel on Thursday, March 1.

Scott, aged 17 from Cowie, is doing an SVQ Level 2 in Environmental Conservation through SRUC, while working for Stirling Council Fisheries.

He recently took on the role of surveying seal predation within the river Forth, delivering workshops to youngsters and engaging with council senior management to agree a new pricing structure.

Scott said: “I’m honoured to be short-listed for a Lantra Award.

"If I was fortunate enough to win it would be fantastic not only for me, but also for my employers.

"They’ve put a lot of money and support into my training and this award would demonstrate my commitment and dedication to them.”

Heather, aged 20 from Blair Drummond, has been doing an NC in Horse Care with SRUC which she completed last year with distinction.

Heather’s riding and practical skills developed significantly during her NC year and she also completed her British Horse Society Stage 1.

She worked hard for this and passed with distinction.

Heather is also planning a working trip to New Zealand in the near future, where she hopes to develop her confidence and practical skills.

Heather said: “It’s great to be short-listed for a Lantra Scotland award, especially as it is associated with my passion for horses.

"College helped me develop my practical and theoretical knowledge of horse care.

"My riding ability improved immensely over the year and I even got a compliment on my riding from the BHS riding section examiner.

"Winning this award would make all the hard work worthwhile."

Lantra Scotland is the sector skills council for land-based, aquaculture and environmental conservation industries, and the awards play a vital role in promoting careers within the rural sector, celebrating the achievements of learners and highlighting the importance to employers of investing in skills.

MC and host for the evening will be well-known farmer and stand-up comedian, Jim Smith.

He will be joined by main speaker Dougie Vipond, TV presenter of sports and outdoors programmes and Deacon Blue founder member and drummer.

Last year’s overall winner, Emma Staniforth, will also talk about the difference the award has made to her career and her role as one of Lantra’s industry champions.

The awards include categories for the agriculture, aquaculture, equine, horticulture, game and wildlife, trees and timber, land-based engineering, fisheries management and environmental conservation industries, as well as Higher Education, Rural Schools, Modern Apprentice of the Year and CARAS (Council for Awards of Agricultural Societies) Awards.

The CARAS Award was established by the UK’s four national agricultural societies, including the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS).

It aims to recognise, through an awards scheme, distinguished achievements in agriculture and related land-based industries.

RHASS also support an award for secondary schools.

The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the Learner of the Year Overall Winner, a talented trainee who has demonstrated exceptional ability, hard work and passion during their studies.

The Tam Tod Trophy will be awarded in association with Countryside Learning Scotland to an outstanding young learner.

The trophy was created in memory of the late Tam Tod, described as a well-loved gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside.

Jean’s Jam Award will also be making a return.

The award recognises an inspiring mentor, teacher or trainer and was donated by training instructor Elspeth Watson in memory of her friend, Jean Costello.

The finalists for the 2018 learner of the year awards were chosen by an independent judging panel made up of influential figures from across the land-based and aquaculture sector: Ray Jones, former Chairman of Scotland Food & Drink, agriculture and rural affairs journalist Erika Hay, Keith Paterson of Forestry Commission Scotland, farmer Keith Redpath, Lisa Connell of The Scottish Salmon Company and Rebecca Dawes of Jane Craigie Marketing.

Kevin Patrick, director of Lantra Scotland, said: “We are delighted to announce our finalists for the Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards 2018.

"We are extremely grateful to the independent panel of judges, to the training providers and employers for all their hard work, and to all of our generous event sponsors.

"These awards continue to play an important role in communicating the value of gaining qualifications and developing skills, as well as highlighting the achievements of new entrants.

"All of our nominees, whether selected as finalists or not, should be extremely proud and we look forward to celebrating their success in the DoubleTree by Hilton Dunblane Hydro on Thursday 1 March.”