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Cliona Beirne - Green Cert experience


“What I loved about being in college was that you would be learning about measuring grass in the morning and you would be in the field in the afternoon putting it into practice" says Cliona Beirne about the Teagasc Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Herd Mgt) at Mountbellew College

  • Student: Cliona Beirne, Hillstreet, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Roscommon.
  • Course: L6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Herd Mgt) Mountbellew College.

Dairy Herd Management Course

Cliona happily admits she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after her Leaving Cert. She enjoyed English, Ag Science and History, and even considered becoming a paramedic. She decided to go to Mountbellew Agricultural College and complete the Green Cert.

Mountbellew student

Coming from a beef farm, she decided to focus on sheep on year one and dairying for the Level 6 in year two. She started the course in September 2019. “Year one wasn’t too heavily affected by Covid, as we were out on placement in February 2020. There was much more online teaching during the second year. “What I loved about being in college was that you would be learning about measuring grass in the morning and you would be in the field in the afternoon putting it into practice.

The combination of theory and practice made it very easy to learn.

You were constantly picking up skills that you could apply on your own farm

You were constantly picking up skills that you could apply on your own farm. “I also really liked the technology and business aspects of the course, the fact that you could use tools such as the Teagasc Profit Monitor to compare your profitability and use cash flow budgets to help predict how the business would progress in any year.

“The teachers didn’t just deliver a topic and move on to the next one. If a student or the class was struggling with something, they would go back over it until everyone was happy. The teachers would constantly keep in touch with students to ensure they were making progress. “Students in the college were superfriendly and there was plenty of mixing of distance and full-time students.”

Progressing from Green Cert to Third level

Cliona decided to progress on to the BAgrSc course in UCD after finishing the Green Cert. A classmate at UCD is Saoirse McGovern, who completed a Green Cert at Teagasc Kildalton College. Even though Cliona could have gone to UCD directly after the Leaving Cert, she says she is glad she went to Mountbellew.

“Doing the Green Cert was a great experience and was a way to ensure I was interested in agriculture,” she says. “Also, it helped me to build confidence and become more outgoing than I might have been coming direct from secondary school.” 

Course Co-ordinator: Rita Hughes...

“On the full-time course, you have Level 5 – year one – foundation of a broad range of knowledge and skills.

With Level 6 – year two – which is the Advanced Certificate in Agriculture, possible specialisms include dairy/drystock/ machinery and crops or mechanisation. “You have more contact time on the full-time course. Students tend to be school-leaving age from mixed farming backgrounds – you don’t have to be from a farm – you just need an interest in farming. The Practical Learning Period is on host farms, which is a very effective learning experience.”

This article was first published in Today's Farm - July/August 2022 where you can read more articles like this one. | Read about Teagasc /FBD Student of the Year Awards 2021

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