By John Sexton
The open day at Clonakilty Agricultural College in Darrara just before the mid-term break attracted a large number of Leaving Cert students from all over County Cork and beyond.
The purpose of an open day at this time of year is to let students know and see for themselves what life is like in an agricultural college and to help them make up their minds about the course which they are likely to follow after completing their Leaving Cert next summer.
Addressing upwards of 200 students in the lecture theatre, college principal Majella Moloney outlined the various courses available at the college. She laid special emphasis on the fact that education is a vital component in modern and progressive farming.
All the courses run by Teagasc, including those run jointly with various institutes of technology, include a period of practical learning with approved agricultural hosts as an important and mandatory element of the course programme. This is primarily a grass-based farm with dairying as the primary objective. Anyone pursuing most of the courses on offer in conjunction with CIT will be qualified to work all over the world. The one-year course at the college, the Level 5 one accredited by FETAC, is for young people who wish to make a career as farmers. Graduates of this course are eligible to progress to the Level 6 specific purpose certificate course, or transfer to year two of the ordinary degree in agriculture at an institute of technology.
Graduates of Level 5 are also eligible to progress to an advanced certificate in agriculture and, on successful completion of the course, are awarded the FETAC Level 6 certificate in farm administration. This certificate is referred to as the ‘Green Cert,’ which meets the requirement for stamp duty exemption.
Many students go for the advanced certificate in Level 6 for dairy herd management. It is designed to ensure that participants acquire the high level of technical and managerial skills required to run a modern commercial dairy farm, or to gain employment in the agri-business sector.
At the end of this coursem students are awarded the FETAC Level 6 advanced certificate in agriculture and, in addition, they complete a twelve week practical training period on an approved training host farm. While most students complete this in Ireland, there are opportunities for completing the practical training period in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Europe, which provides an excellent opportunity for those with the travel bug to see the world.
For every year at the college, students spend a number of weeks out with approved host farmers, as well as time on the college farm. In all these courses, time spent at the college and on host farms, plus the opportunity of getting to CIT, provides an excellent opportunity for those to develop their skills to their full potential.
The students at the open day were afterwards taken on a tour of the farm and Farmyard. Other members of the teaching staff present included Keith Kennedy (vice-principal), Patrick McCarthy, Micheál White, Martin Woods and Aoine Galvin.