Over 3,000 Leaving Cert Agricultural Science students from across Ireland will this week (starting Monday 4th March) don their wellies and take to the fields as part of Agri Aware’s Farm Walk and Talk series. Now in its 11th year this unique initiative has gone from strength to strength, in line with the ever-increasing popularity of Agricultural Science for the Leaving Certificate – with some 27% of leaving certificate students sitting the exam in 2018. The aim of Agri Aware’s Farm Walk and Talk series is to demonstrate the practical elements of modern agriculture to second-level students preparing for their Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science exam.
This event series is timely as we see major updates to the Agricultural Science course at second level for the first time in over 40 years. This new syllabus will be rolled out at 5th year level from September 2019. Agri Aware engaged extensively with stakeholders including Agri Aware’s patrons over several years to ensure the new specification was reflective and relevant of today’s agri food industry.
Speaking at this year’s launch( Thursday 28th February) Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed T.D said: “I am delighted to launch this year’s Agri Aware Farm Walk and Talk series. Society in general is becoming increasingly detached to the source of their food making the role of Agri Aware even more important today, and into the future. It is only through understanding the origin of food that people will value the role of farmers and the importance of this sector to Ireland. It is of particular importance that initiatives like this are run to communicate with a younger audience many of whom are looking to their future, and will indeed be sectoral leaders in years to come. I wish Agri Aware every success with the initiative.”
Agri Aware Chairman Alan Jagoe added, “Agriculture is hands-on and events like Agri Aware’s Farm Walk and Talk provide thousands of students with an insight into the practicalities of farming and the hard work that farmers do each day. We need the educated students of today to become future industry leaders, to build on our exports of over €13.6 billion and to continue to build on our reputation as world class food producers. This is why initiatives such as Farm Walk and Talk are of such paramount importance – allowing students to experience the various farming techniques that they read so much about and giving them an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a working farm, covering topics from soils and fertilisers to silage making and livestock. The event is particularly beneficial for students who don’t come from a farming background”.
Kicking off on Monday the 4th of March the series will be held over 10 days and venues include Teagasc colleges and research centres across the country and UCD’s Lyon’s Estate. The model is unique in that it allows students to experience first-hand the work of industry experts and leading academics in a practical environment. From beef genetics to live lambing the students will experience the reality of the subject that they are taught each day in the classroom.
Agri Aware Executive Director, Deirdre O’Shea added, “Agri Aware’s are delighted to be running the Farm Walk and Talk initiative for what will be its 11th year. Its longevity is testament to the role of the initiative in educating our future industry leaders, many of whom may have never visited a farm previously. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain an insight into the hands-on experience of a working farm while also getting the opportunity to engage with key industry stakeholders. Agri Aware wouldn’t be able to facilitate these events without the help of Teagasc, UCD, IASTA, Farmers Journal and our patrons from the agri-food industry.”
This event includes presentations from lecturers as well as a variety of Agri Aware patrons who provide industry and curriculum linked talks. Representatives from ABP, Dawn Meats, Slaney Foods, Kepak, Truly Irish and Liffey Meats will provide educational talks and presentations on the meat industry, while representatives from Glanbia, Dairygold, Dairymaster, Lakeland Dairies, Aurivo, LacPatrick Co-op and Arrabawn will be on hand to provide information about the Irish dairy industry. Gouldings and Grassland Agro, both members of the Irish Fertiliser Manufactures Association (IFMA), will educate students on the fertiliser industry. Other patrons who will speak on their sectors include FRS training, MSD, XL vets, Kiernan Milling and many more.
For more information on the initiative including venue details and dates please visit www.agriaware.ie