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Janette Queen: From Teaching Agriculture to RSPCA Assured Assessor

Growing up, I always played outside and I spent a lot of time on farms. When I was 16, I went to Oatridge Agricultural College to study horses, because, for me, they were, and still are, the most amazing animals in the world.

It was only later on, that I realised I wanted to focus on farming, so I went to Edinburgh University to study for a degree in Agriculture with a specialism in Animal Husbandry and Crop Husbandry.  

Before I started working at RSPCA Assured in 2023, I was teaching 16 to 18-year-olds BTEC Level 3 agriculture at Bishop Burton College. It was challenging but, at the same time, great to share my passion with the next generation of farmers. 

When you teach kids, you have to get their attention and keep it, otherwise, they switch off. I liked to engage with them with humour and gave them the chance to express their own thoughts and experiences throughout the lesson. These techniques helped them immerse themselves in the subject and showed them how it can open up a whole new world of opportunities.

Becoming an RSPCA Assured Assessor

I’ve always admired the RSPCA and the positive work it does in improving animal welfare. Since my childhood was very influenced by farming culture, I’m passionate about farm animals and working with them. I studied agriculture at university, I taught it to teenagers and now, finally, I have the chance to do it every day.

Being an RSPCA Assured assessor is the job I have always dreamed of doing. I was so excited when I saw this opportunity come up in my area and I am so grateful to be here now. Everyone has been so welcoming, and I am incredibly lucky to be part of a fantastic team.

From Pigs To Poultry

After I first started, I spent most of my time shadowing my colleagues but it was still great to get out on farms. In September 2023, I became fully approved to assess pigs and was allocated my own pig farms to monitor. I’m loving it, and it’s great to be able to see all of the positive things that our members are doing. Soon, I’ll be starting my training to be able to assess turkeys, but for the moment, the pigs are keeping me busy!

Further down the line, I’d like to be able to assess egg-laying hens, and sheep, of course, because they’re my favourite animal. It’s early days, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the opportunity will come up soon.

Janette’s Favourite Part of the Job

It’s great to meet the farmers, they’re so passionate about farming and the RSPCA Assured scheme. I’ve only met a few so far, but they’ve all been such great people to talk to. But the real highlight of this job is getting out on the farms and seeing the animals being well cared for.
The Most Important Qualities For An Rspca Assured Field Assessor
You need to be a good listener; there’s so much to learn, and the only way you’re going to do that is by working with an experienced assessor and making the most of their experience and knowledge.

You also need to be confident, stick to your guns, and be sure that what you’re doing is best for the animals. We can be in tense situations, so it’s essential to remember that we are there to improve the lives of farmed animals and that’s what we have got to do.

Fondest Memories of Growing Up on a Farm

I grew up on a farm, so most childhood memories involve farms. Looking back, it was a great way to grow up. I was an only child, but there were always loads of chickens, sheep and even cattle to have fun with. All my neighbours were farmers, and all my friends at school were children of farmers, so it was no surprise that this was the career path for me.

As I got older, I started helping out on our farm and the neighbour's farm. I was one of those kids who was always there, so they ended up giving me lots of odd jobs. I loved it though! If there were no jobs at home, I’d get on my pony and see if there were any jobs that needed doing on my neighbour’s farm. If it involved being outside, I was there!

RSPCA Assured Assessor by Day, Thrill Seeker at The Weekend

My partner and I collect vintage tractors, and do them up; my favourites are vintage caterpillar crawlers. When they’re ready, we show them off at our local ‘Tractor Fest’ at Newby Hall in Ripon. We also take them to events all around the country.

My other passion? Truck racing. We visited Brands Hatch one year and I was hooked. I’m now involved with driver, Jock Borthwick’s team in Scotland. It’s so exciting, going around the paddock and looking in the garages to see them working on the trucks.

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