The Teagasc/FBD Insurance Student of the Year for 2018 was Paul Bowden, Urlingford, Co. Kilkenny. Paul attended the Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural College where he completed the Teagasc Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agricultural (Dairy Herd Management) - with Distinction.
Paul was presented with the student of the year award by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD in Dublin on Wednesday 27 March. He was congratulated by Fiona Muldoon, Chief Executive of FBD Insurance and Director of Teagasc, Professor Gerry Boyle. The awards, which are sponsored by FBD Insurance, are made to the top 16 graduates of Teagasc Level 6 agricultural education programmes in 2018.
Speaking at the awards Minister Michael Creed said: “These awards are an opportunity to showcase the talent of the modern farming workforce. I would like to congratulate all the graduates we are honouring today. I firmly believe that people of your calibre will make an important contribution to the future of the country’s biggest indigenous industry. The panel of judges have informed me that the standard was as always very high with candidates showing great initiative and diversification in their farming activities. I wish you well in your future careers.”
The First Runner-Up Award was presented to Jennifer Aherne from Cappamore, Co. Limerick. She studied at the Teagasc education centre in Ennis and completed a Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farm Administration - with Distinction.
The Second Runner-Up Award was Karl Heaslip from Crosserlough, Co. Cavan who studied at Teagasc Agricultural College Ballyhaise. He graduated with a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agricultural (Dairy Herd Management) - with Distinction.
Speaking at the awards, Director of Teagasc, Professor Gerry BoyIe said: “I would like to congratulate all of you on your magnificent achievement. You are a credit to yourselves, your parents and to the Teagasc staff who have guided you through your education. I would also like to thank FBD Insurance for their continued support, sponsoring the Student of the Year Awards since their inception over three decades ago. There has been a very substantial increase in the number of learners undertaking Teagasc Green Cert courses over the past decade. Total QQI certifications for Teagasc Level 5 and 6 courses increased from 2,250 in 2009 to 6,250 in 2018.”
Head of Education in Teagasc, Tony Pettit said: “Teagasc has recently received sanction from the Department of Agriculture to appoint 12 temporary education officers on two year contract basis to sustain intake capacity to its Green Cert part-time and distance education programmes. The temporary education posts will in the main be allocated to the northwest/ northeast given the particularly high demand in those areas and geographical course access issues. Teagasc aims to enrol about 1,100 learners to its adult Green Cert programme in 2019 with courses being delivered at up to 30 locations nationwide. The projected Green Cert enrolments are additional to Teagasc’s normal full-time vocational course and Teagasc linked higher education enrolments which typically amount to 1,800 enrolments annually.”
In an era of considerable change across all land sectors, the knowledge and skills required by farmers is continuously evolving. Teagasc aim to work alongside the farming community to deliver training that meets current and future needs in order to improve farm sustainability from both an environmental and farm business perspective. Therefore, Teagasc is refocusing its training offering to established farmers to provide a lifelong learning for farmers platform.
The increasing pace of change is bringing both greater complexity and opportunity to the farming sector. Farmers’ skillsets and capabilities will have to evolve to match. Teagasc views lifelong learning platforms as a vital cog in helping farmers to up-skill. An overarching goal for Teagasc will be to develop and provide lifelong learning options to farmers that are tailored to different needs, flexible and endorsed by the industry and wider stakeholders. In activating this lifelong learning initiative Teagasc’s initial goal will be to launch an information portal to create greater awareness of its existing suite of lifelong learning activities for farmers.