When Sine Soszka arrived for work experience at Fearn Farm, in Easter Ross, the 15-year-old immediately made a big impression.

Sine’s boss John Scott explained: “Sine had a huge smile, despite missing teeth as a result of a quad bike accident when she was younger and before long we were offering her an apprenticeship through SRUC Oatridge. She’s been with us for more than four years and throughout that time has developed into a key member of our team.”

Last year, John was so impressed with Sine’s progress that he offered her an opportunity to look after 800 stud ewes producing rams for on-farm sales. Sine was delighted to accept, and is now responsible for all aspects of pedigree flock management, from feeding and inoculating against diseases, to lambing and preparation for the sale season.

Then in March 2018, Sine was rewarded for her commitment and hard work when she won three prizes at the prestigious Lantra Scotland Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards: the agriculture category, a CARAS award and Modern Apprentice of the Year.

Sine said: “I never imagined I could make so much progress in such a short period of time and to be recognised by my employer and Lantra Scotland at their awards ceremony was truly unbelievable. I have always struggled with my confidence, partly due to dyslexia. However, I also believe that with the right attitude and a willingness to learn, you can achieve anything. There are more and more women pursuing a career in agriculture these days. It’s a fantastic life and I would encourage any young women out there who are keen to give it a go”

Sine’s love of farming was in no small part thanks to her father who worked as a farm manager near Dornoch. As a child, she spent every spare moment helping him, initially working with cattle, then later getting her hands dirty during the lambing season. After two seasons, she was hooked and realised working with sheep was her future, which led to her joining Fearn Farm.

A major part of Sine’s love of her job is working with dogs. She has two female collies - Jess and May - and a New Zealand Huntaway called Ace. Sine is out with them every day, practising the highly skilled art of shepherding.

Sine said: “I love working with dogs, interacting and having an emotional connection with them. It’s also very satisfying getting the sheep from one place to the next, as you have to be on the ball and constantly in control of the situation. You need to be able to read the dogs, know what mood they’re in and how to get the best out of them. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

Sine’s success against the odds is something that clearly runs in the blood. Her grandfather was a Polish immigrant who survived a Nazi concentration camp and the loss of his family to begin a new life in Scotland. Despite never meeting him, Sine regards her grandfather’s story of overcoming adversity as a big influence on her life:

“It’s a miracle that my grandfather survived the war. He came to Scotland with nothing but eventually made a successful career as a chef. He died two months before I was born, but his strength and determination still has a big impact on me. He endured terrible suffering, so anything I face is nothing in comparison. This gives me perspective and the confidence to take on any challenge. I can thank my grandfather for that.”

Sine believes that farming can offer anyone a rewarding career and believes more young people should consider a job in the rural sector.

“I think that whatever you do, you need to be passionate and always open to new ideas. Farming offers so much, there is always something interesting and new to learn, and the opportunity to work outdoors is a privilege. Young people looking to get into farming should try to get as much experience as possible before taking the plunge. You’re more likely to get a job this way, and it gives you the chance to find out what’s best for you.”

Sine’s ambition over the next few years is to build on her experience and take on more responsibility at Fearn Farm.

“I’m very happy here. I’d like to get involved in the decision-making and take on more responsibility, but I recognise I still have a lot to learn. Some of the aspects of the job I find challenging, particularly the paper work, so there are many things I need to work on. I’d also like to go on a dog handling course and really hone my shepherding skills. I’ve a long way to go, but I’m very happy with the start I’ve made!”