Five students from St. Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork have been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus School’s Competition.
The initiative has become Ireland’s leading agri-competition for secondary school students and this year’s winning group were Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman – all of whom come from non-farming backgrounds
The national final, which usually takes place each year at a prestigious awards ceremony in Croke Park, was broadcast live at a private online event for guests this morning (May 19).
RTE 2FM broadcaster Carl Mullen hosted this year’s awards ceremony and announced winners across three categories: Overall Winners; Runners Up; and an Individual Achievement Award.
Irish Angus beef – from farm to plate
The winning group explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project.
In an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an app called ‘Angus Adventures’, which is available to download from Google Play.
The successful app focused on the daily tasks of a farmer to inform consumers of the hard work that is required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to plate.
The students developed a fun game, allowing app users to ‘rear’ an Angus animal that needed to be fed, dosed, watered and washed, as well as providing interesting facts and information about the Angus breed and the school’s competition.
Speaking about the winners, Charles Smith, general manager, Certified Irish Angus said:
“For a group with no farming background to have been able to embrace an agricultural competition with such enthusiasm and dedication and to have immersed themselves in every aspect of beef production was hugely impressive.
“They enthusiastically involved themselves in everything from genetic research to attending on-farm events where they were willing to participate in wide-ranging activities including sweeping yards and clipping pedigree cattle.
“The passion with which they explained and displayed the benefits of Certified Irish Angus Beef to consumers was incredible.
“Overall, their grasp of every element from production and processing to promotion, was impeccable. In the judges’ views, these young ladies were very worthy winners.”
Josh Lovely, Iarla Nolan, and Jordan Greiner from Castleknock College, Co. Dublin, were announced as the runners-up with their project, ‘The Benefits of Eating Beef as Part of a Balanced Diet’.
The students identified that animal welfare, carbon footprint and nutritional profile were the main topics that consumers consider when including beef as part of their diet, and they took steps to educate the community on them.
The judges said:
“These three young men displayed immense maturity in their approach to the rearing of their animals and took huge pride in both their school and in the work they undertook.
“They arranged to have their animals resident in the school for a week and were immensely proud to show their peers, many of whom are non-farmers, all that is exceptional in the production of Certified Irish Angus Beef.
“Their confident research into environmentally beneficial ways of producing livestock and the depth of their knowledge was exceptional throughout the competition.”
Outstanding Achievement Award
This award celebrates and accredits a particular individual who impressed the organisers and judges throughout their time in the competition.
One student from each finalist group was shortlisted with the award going to Iarla Nolan from Castleknock College, Co. Dublin.
The judges described Iarla as an exceptional young man, adding:
“He has a passion and an understanding of agriculture beyond his years and displays immense pride in his family and their farming background.
“Iarla’s enthusiasm for all things agricultural and his desire for knowledge on every aspect of farming life and how it will fit and adapt to the challenges ahead, made the judges certain that the future of Irish agricultural traditions and quality food production is in safe hands.”
The Certified Irish Angus School’s Competition is a popular initiative organised by the award-winning Irish beef brand Certified Irish Angus, in conjunction with its processing partners, ABP and Kepak.
Each year, finalist groups nationwide are challenged to rear five Irish Angus calves and carry out research on a specific aspect of farming and beef production for 18 months.
The organisers are currently in the process of selecting the next batch of finalists who will receive calves following online meetings with the competition judges, who consisted of experts from the Irish agricultural industry.
The successful schools will be chosen and announced in September 2021, and will each receive five Angus calves to rear until 2023.
Further information on the competition and updates are available here.