Agriculture must be fairly represented in a new educational environmental programme to be rolled out in Ireland, according to the Chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Environment and Rural Affairs Committee, Thomas Cooney.

It was recently announced that the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) citizen science programme would be rolled out in Ireland by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and An Taisce.

Cooney believes that it is essential that both the EPA and An Tasice are properly briefed on the role farmers play in agri-food production and environmental sustainability by Teagasc and the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Launch of the programme

The launch of the programme – which will initially focus on air – was confirmed by the Director General of the EPA, Laura Burke, at the 13th annual Environment Ireland Conference held last week.

Speaking at the conference, Burke explained that one of the association’s key strategic priorities in the coming years is to work with others to advance citizen science initiatives, particularly in air quality, water quality and in sustainable behaviours.

We see significant opportunities and benefits in closing the loop where the very citizens to whom we have been delivering information become active participants in co-creating environmental data, particularly within their local communities.

Commenting on the launch of the GLOBE program, Burke added: “GLOBE is an international science and education programme that connects students, teachers and scientists to better understand, sustain and improve Earth’s environment.

“Since 1995, more than 29,000 schools in 117 countries have participated in GLOBE. Nearly 140 million measurements have been contributed to the GLOBE science database – creating research-quality datasets that are available to all.

“The initial focus of the GLOBE programme in Ireland will be on air and will involve a pilot programme in a number of primary, secondary, urban and rural schools in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, Michael-John O’Mahony – Director of An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit, believes the programme will “give teachers and students across Ireland the skills, training and support to engage in meaningful scientific investigations about their local environment and to put this in a global perspective”.

Employment opportunity

In preparation for the roll-out of the programme, An Taisce is currently looking to hire a science education officer.

A candidate who has an “excellent knowledge” of earth / environmental science and experience of Ireland’s education system is being sought to promote and develop the GLOBE programme to primary and secondary schools in Ireland.

The successful candidate will also be required to assist teachers implementing the programme in the classroom. A contract period of two years is currently on offer, but there is a possibility of the term being extended.

Meanwhile, a salary of between €28,000 and €33,500 per year – depending on experience – will be offered to the successful candidate. The deadline for applications closes on October 5.