BY JOHN SEXTON
LEAVING Certificate students from practically every secondary cchool in County Cork, and many from Kerry and beyond attended the open day at Clonakilty Agricultural College, Darrara, on Friday last, March 13th.
The purpose of this open day is to acquaint students who aspire for an agricultural degree or Certificate in Agriculture with what to expect in college life from the different courses available at the college.
Welcoming the students, the college principal, Majella Moloney, explained the various courses and their duration, and also stated that the college is linked-up with CIT for special courses.
For the Certificate in Agriculture, the course consists of 22 weeks’ work in the college and 12 weeks on an approved training farm. Students acquire skills and knowledge relating to soils, plants, animal and crop production, machinery, the environment, farm buildings, personal development and health and safety.
About half the course consists of training in practical skills. Typically, students spend half of each day on practical instruction on college farm units and workshops and half at classroom work. Students choose a cluster of selective modules in one of the specialisms; dairy production, machinery and crop production.
For the on-farm practical training period, students spend a 12-week period on an approved training farm which has the enterprise of their speciality. On successful, completion of the course students are awarded the FETAC Level 5 Certificate in Agriculture. The course starts at the end of August, and runs to the following May. Applications should be made directly to the college by June 1st. There is no minimum educational entry requirement but those who have completed the Leaving Certificate are likely to benefit most from the course. Applicants must be 17 years on the January 1st following entry to the course.
The Green Cert course, accredited by FETAC, is the minimum requirement for people who wish to make their career as farmers. The course is suitable for people seeking employment on farms, returning to their home farm or for people who would like to manage farms.
Graduates of the course are eligible to progress to an advanced certificate in agriculture (or advanced certificate specialities). On successful completion of the course, students are awarded the FETAC Level 6 specific purpose award in farm administration. This certificate is referred to as ‘The Green Cert,’ which meets the training requirement for Stamp Duty Exemption. The course is run part time over 12 months.
Students must complete work practice on a farm or on their home farm. They must maintain a diary and farm financial records during this time. Five discussion group meetings and two farm planning days must also be completed between September and May.
A three-week management module is completed at the end of the course in June where students complete a number of modules, including e-profit monitor and a six-year business plan. Students acquire skills and knowledge relating to the management of a farm from studying the following skills: Farm Management, Farm Business Planning and Farm Performance Measurement.
In a number of leaflets available on the open day at Darrara, some former students at the college wrote about their time at the college and how it has benefited them now on their home farm.