By Katie Burns

Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. Twitter.

These social media platforms are often a big part of people's lives and it has always been debated whether this was good or bad. However, like everything in high demand, there is often a negative impact; While meeting new people and keeping up with friends is a positive, there also comes catfishing, bullying and keyboard warriors.

In recent years especially, this has been brought to our attention through documentaries and has been one of the main focuses of the #BeKind campaign.

But in the current climate, social media is something we are relying on more than ever to stay connected during lockdown. With this in mind, it was easy to see that when Boris Johnson 'grounded' us all, it was clear it was going to be a big challenge for the ongoing success of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs. For a membership-based organisation built on regular group activities, meetings and competitions, adjusting to lockdown and keeping members engaged was not going to be an easy task.

As lockdown arrived in the middle of AGM season, there has been a slight delay to the start of the Young Farmers year, but Tuesday May 5, saw the SAYFC National AGM go virtual. With the use of video calling app, Zoom, SAYFC also managed to hold a number of club, district and regional AGM's online. In the past, farming has been perceived to be behind the times, but we have tackled this head-on and, like many other organisations, we are learning to adapt and run things differently. By hosting the AGMs online, we have also seen an increase in attendance, so this is definitely something to consider for some meetings moving forward.

It can be daunting taking on an office bearer position at the best of times, never mind in the middle of a global pandemic, so to witness many clubs adapting so well by thinking of new and unique ways to engage their members has been brilliant. There has been a great mix of new events, such as online challenges, competitions and virtual meetings, new committees have been excellent at thinking outside the box. Theres been plenty to do for all ages, with events such as bingo, decorated Easter eggs, stockjudging and yoga, travels talks, bake offs and training for current members all being available online.

Social media has also seen SAYFC clubs engaging more with the community. Volunteering their time to help the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating. We have also seen members showing their appreciation for those working on the front-line by participating in the clap for careers and SAYFC's Nod to our NHS, as well as delivering treats to key workers - all of which was organised online.

On Sunday, March 26, I was very lucky to be elected as SAYFC West Chair 2020/21. After a successful year of working alongside past West Chair, Hazel Watt, I am looking forward to taking on this challenge with the help of my vice Chair, Gayle Allan.

Throughout the next year, I want to challenge clubs to promote the following objectives to the wider communities;

Firstly, the 'perception of SAYFC'. I would like members to show off the vast selection of activities we offer and the different occupations our members have within the organisation. Every club is different and although many will find they do have a lot of farmers or farm workers, there will be a number of clubs with members in a variety of careers.

Secondly, 'farm to fork and the production of food'. I would like members to help educate youngsters on where their food comes from and the importance of buying local produce. I feel with most of the country currently at a standstill and the nation (hopefully) now recognising farmers as key workers, this is the perfect opportunity to promote our organisation and food production. As lockdown continues, this will be launched on social media, with the plan of holding events as soon as we're able to.

Now, more than ever, we are leaning on each other to get ourselves through and it has shown that SAYFC is at the heart of our rural community. So let's keep up the good work on social media, don't see this as wasted time, assess your syllabus, launch new competitions or alter existing ones.

Club Chairmans and Secretaries: you are only in this position for one year so make the most of it - that is what I'm planning to do.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the key workers currently working hard on the front-line, up and down the country - you are all doing an amazing job!

Meanwhile, please stay safe, sane and sensible and remember: there's a local Young Farmers Club willing to help in any way possible and welcome you along with open, virtual arms on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter.