The overall winner of the Teagasc / FBD Insurance Student of the Year award is Conor Coakley from Co. Cork.

The Teagasc Clonakilty Agricultural College student completed the Teagasc Level 6 Advanced Dairy Progamme and is currently enrolled in the Teagasc Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management.

He intends to establish a dairy herd on the family farm.

The awards were presented by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in Dublin today (Tuesday, April 17).

Addressing attendees at the event, Minister Creed said: “A significant pillar of our Food Wise 2025 ambitions is ensuring that the sector has the appropriate human capital inside and outside the farm gate to deliver upon its promise.

‘Brightest and best’

“Educating and training the brightest and best young farmers is a crucial part of this approach. I am truly delighted to join in today’s celebrations and I wish to pay particular tribute to all the finalists.

I am confident that – notwithstanding various challenges – the future is very bright indeed for farming in Ireland, as reflected by the calibre of those who received awards today.

The first runner-up award was presented to Hugh Massey from Co. Limerick who attended the agricultural college in Pallaskenry. Hugh also completed the Teagasc Level 6 Advanced Dairy Programme and is currently co-managing the dairy herd on the family farm.

The second runner-up award went to Darren Walsh from Co. Mayo, who studied at the Teagasc Ballina centre. Darren currently combines farming with an off-farm job.

The awards – which are sponsored by FBD Insurance – are made to the top 15 graduates of Teagasc Level 6 agricultural training programmes in 2017.

Director of Teagasc, Prof. Gerry BoyIe congratulated all of the students on being finalists in the student of the year awards.

“You have emerged as top of your year of those graduating with their agriculture qualifications in 2017. This is a credit to you and your families and the educators in Teagasc, the private colleges and the regional education centres.

“I would also like to thank FBD Insurance for their continued support, sponsoring the awards since its inception over three decades ago,” he said.

‘Leaders of tomorrow’

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Fiona Muldoon, chief executive of FBD insurance said: “As Ireland’s leading farm insurer, we are committed to supporting each generation of Irish farming through our research grants, education sponsorships, farm safety campaigns and numerous other agri-sector funding initiatives.

“These nominees are amongst the next generation of farm leaders and innovators. More than ever, Irish agriculture needs bright, able young people who are open to change and who will question, challenge and develop both themselves and our industry,” she said.

The other finalists were:
  • Debbie Sunderland, Co. Wexford – Teagasc Carlow centre;
  • David Lowe, Co. Tipperary – Gurteen Agricultural College;
  • Terence Cronin, Co. Cork – Teagasc Macroom centre;
  • Kevin Byrne, Co. Leitrim – Teagasc Manorhamilton centre;
  • Damien McClearn, Co. Galway – Teagasc Athenry centre;
  • Gavin Canning, Co. Mayo – Teagasc Ballinrobe centre;
  • Tommy McLaughlin, Co. Donegal – Teagasc Letterkenny centre;
  • Jason Mullin, Co. Galway – Mountbellew Agricultural College;
  • Gavin Brady, Co. Cavan – Ballyhaise Agricultural College;
  • Brian Kelly, Co. Clare – Teagasc Ennis centre;
  • Barry Brady, Co. Roscommon – Teagasc Longford centre;
  • Bryan Lanigan, Co. Kilkenny – Kildalton Agricultural College.

Teagasc education review

The head of education at Teagasc, Tony Pettit, said: ”We have just completed a review of Teagasc’s education courses and are finalising a new strategy – ‘Teagasc Education Strategic Vision 2050 – Positioning Teagasc Education for the Future’.

“This will be presented at the Teagasc Education Vision conference on Tuesday, June 5 in Kilkenny,” he said.