BY JOHN SEXTON
‘YOUR presence here to day gives you an opportunity of seeing what college life is like,’ stated recently-appointed principal Keith Kennedy when he spoke to Leaving Cert students from all over Co Cork and beyond at the recent annual open day at Clonakilty Agricultural College at Darrara.
He went on to elaborate on the various courses that are available there, especially those which are run in conjunction with CIT. Taking a different approach to other years, instead of having a guest speaker, he introduced two former students to give their views on the two-year course.
Keith Burchill (Bandon) and Michael Lordan (Newcestown), both of whom have gone back to their home farms, gave a brief outline of what the two-year course meant to them and how it sharpened their approach to many of the farming methods. Keith Kennedy went on to explain the length of the various courses from Level 5 to Level 8.
‘We have 300 acres-plus attached to this College,’ he said, and that gives us an opportunity of carrying out many experiments compatible with everyday farming. As the courses differ so does the level of intensity and opportunity, like Level 5 (farm assistant), Level 6 (assistant manager), Level 7 (farm manager) and Level 8 (agri-bussiness manager).
From September 2018, all students entering full time agricultural education will complete a newly-revised programme comprising wo unique phases at their chosen agricultural college. This programme allows the student to gain both knowledge and practical skills in a wide variety of subject matter encompassing Level 5 and Level 6 course work, while also allowing them to specialise in their preferred enterprise area. The following is an outline of the key aspects of the programme: Phase 1 – Students going to an agricultural college in 2018 will complete a combination of mandatory, generic and elective modules, including soil and environment, principles of agriculture, safety on the farm and production modules on their chosen area.
Students will complete an eight-week period of work experience, which will allow the student the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge on a particular farming enterprise. This work experience will be completed on a Teagasc-registered host farm.
Phase 2 – Following the successful completion of Phase 1¸ the student will progress on to an advanced Level 6 programme. At this stage, the student must select the pathway they wish to specialise in – Advanced Dairy, Advanced Drystock, Advanced Crops and Machinery, Advanced Mechanisation and Advanced Pigs or Poultry.
The student will study mandatory modules, such as farm management and bussiness planning, generic modules such as leadership or entrepreneurship, while also studying elective modules in their specialised area, which include dairy, sheep or beef husbandry management, managing ruminant nutrition, crop production management, maintenance of farm machinery and farm equipment fabrication.
Students will complete a 16-week work experience programme on Phase 2 and, at this stage, they have the option to complete this in Ireland on a Teagasc-registered host farm or abroad through an approved foreign agent. This period of work experience will also involve the completion of projects from other relevant Level 6 modules.