Galway farmer wins Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year award

Damien McGrath has been announced as the 2015 winner of the Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year award.

The awards, sponsored for 30 years by FBD Trust, were presented by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed in Dublin today.

McGrath completed his Teagasc Green Cert programme at Mountbellew Agricultural College.

Minister Michael Creed congratulated all the finalists in the Student of the Year awards, who were chosen from almost 1,000 students who completed agricultural training programmes with Teagasc in 2015.

Speaking at the event, the Minister congratulated the finalists their “magnificent achievement”.

“You are a credit to yourselves, your parents and to the Teagasc staff who have guided you through your education.”

I believe that people of your calibre will make an important contribution to the future of the country’s biggest indigenous industry.

Director of Teagasc, Professor Gerry Boyle, said that each year at these awards, he is always impressed with the calibre of the students in the final and what they have already achieved in their farming careers.

“Teagasc is continuously seeking to improve the quality of our education courses and to this end we have recently launched a Teagasc Education Strategic Vision project, where we are seeking submissions and input from all involved in the agricultural sector and education sector, so that our courses of the future will meet the education needs of the next generation of farmers.

“I would also like to recognise the support for more than three decades of FBD Trust, a key pillar of the farming community.”

Also speaking at the awards, was Chief Executive of FBD Holdings plc, Fiona Muldoon, who said that FBD has sponsored this important competition for more than 30 years.

“We are delighted to celebrate the achievements of these farming students and future farmers today.

“I expect we will see many of them emerge as farming leaders in the years to come. At FBD we are proud to support farmers and farm students every year.

“Farming is at the centre of FBD and through initiatives such as this one, our Farm Safety programme, ‘Champions for Change’ and our many other events in the agri-business sector, as well as the insurance cover we provide, we continue to support farmers all over the country in one of Ireland’s most important indigenous industries.”

The students receiving awards have been chosen from those who have completed the level 6 agricultural training programmes with Teagasc in 2015.

The finalists were:

  • Damien McGrath, Carrowmoneen, Tuam, Co Galway.
  • Bryan Hynes, Tarramud, Clarinbridge, Co Galway.
  • Emma Cotter, Corrin, Rathcormac, Fermoy, Co Cork.
  • Colm Murphy, Bush Park, Palace East, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
  • Joseph Kearns, Carrowcully, Ballinameen, Boyle, Co Roscommon.
  • Glenn Patterson, Kilty, Cooley, Drum, Co Sligo.
  • Brian Hogan, Coosane, Birdhill, Co Tipperary.
  • Darren McGourty, Athboy Road, Ballivor, Co Meath.

Tony Pettit, Head of Education in Teagasc said that having interviewed Teagasc Student of the Year finalists over the past number of years, the quality of finalists is improving year-on-year.

“It is very reassuring to see the depth of knowledge and understanding of these Teagasc finalists across key farm performance indicators such as grass management, breeding, herd fertility and cost control and profit analysis.”

Many of these young finalists have already taken over significant levels of responsibility, or full responsibility on home farms, or through farm partnerships and are well capable of doing so.

Teagasc has said that there has been exceptional demand for Teagasc adult Green Cert programmes over the last two years.

Almost 4,500 learners have been enrolled in Teagasc part-time and distance learning Green Cert programmes since late 2014, it said.

Teagasc has indicated that a very high level of demand still remains to be accommodated for adult Green Cert programmes. It also revealed that it is reviewing how its adult Green Cert intake capacity can be maximised for 2017.