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Sacred Heart! Students get ag science back on the Leaving Cert curriculum

May 6th, 2021 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

The Sacred Heart Secondary School students involved in the Aberdeen Angus project are, from left: Kate Ryan, Noelle Heaney, Aoife O’Donovan and Orlaith Kirby. (Photo: George Maguire)

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A GROUP of students in Sacred Heart Secondary School in Clonakilty want to see more females in farming and have successfully got agricultural science back on their Leaving Cert curriculum.

Kate Ryan from Ballinascarthy, Noelle Heaney from Timoleague, Aoife O’Donovan from Clonakilty and Orlaith Kirby from Reenascreena are in transition year and are currently taking part in the Certified Irish Aberdeen Angus Schools Competition.

The competition, which is run by the Certified Irish Aberdeen Angus Producer Group, along with their partners ABP Food Group and Kepak, challenges winning students to rear five Irish Angus calves over 18 months while completing a research project.

The initiative aims to promote the certified Irish Angus brand while educating students about the care and attention required to produce quality beef for consumers.

‘We are proud to say as a direct result of our involvement in the competition, agricultural science is being reintroduced into our school’s Leaving Certificate curriculum,’ said Orlaith.

‘It was offered during the 2014-2015 curriculum years, but was dropped. We appealed to the subject management board and were successful.

‘We feel there has been a resurgence in popularity in the subject,’ she added. ‘Living in West Cork, farming is all around us and we feel it is essential to study the subject in school. About 92% of farmers in Ireland are men and this staggering figure highlights the need for more women in the agricultural sector in general. In an all-girls school here in Sacred Heart, we are encouraging students to break the norm and go for it,’ she said.

Their project is called ‘At the Heart of it’.

‘As we set out on our Aberdeen Angus journey, we felt it would be great to have a group name, not only for marketing purposes, but also to encapsulate the main reason why we are taking part in the competition, which is to get back to the basics in farming, to get people “at the heart of it.”

‘We are also putting together a booklet which will be available from butcher shops and retailers around West Cork, which will have key information, not only on beef farming but on the farming view in general from around West Cork.’

Orlaith said they want to promote Irish beef to farmers and customers and are interviewing key agricultural figures in West Cork who inspire them, asking them crucial questions, most importantly ‘what is at the heart’ of farming in their opinion.

Competition results will be announced in a few weeks.

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