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Francis Hewitson - Green Cert Experience


Francis Hewitson competed the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Forestry at Ballyhaise College. He says the Green Cert in forestry opened up a range of job opportunities. He particularly enjoys the machinery side of forestry and worked with the contractor, Stewarts while on work placement.

Pictured above and below Francis Hewitson - Photos Clive Wassoon

A meeting with Donegal forestry advisor Steven Meyen was where Francis got the idea of applying to do the Green Cert in forestry at Ballyhaise College. 

"We have some forestry at home and Steven came out in connection with that. I got talking to him and he said the course would give me a good mix of theory and practical skills, such as tree identification, chainsaw, and machinery work.”

Francis says he really enjoyed doing the Level 5 forestry course at Ballyhaise and decided to follow up with the Level 6 at the college. Further progression is possible.

“If you do well, there’s the possibility to continue on and do Level 7 and 8 courses at the Waterford Institute of Technology,” he says.

“You can go back to that within five years of completing the Level 6,” says Francis, who is currently working with a forestry company on all aspects of forest establishment and harvesting.

Francis had work with the contractor Stewarts, while on placement. “Many of the forestry students areoffered jobs by companies they work with on placement,” he says.

“The forestry students at Ballyhaise are a relatively small group of about a dozen,” say Francis. “Safety is vital in forestry and as well as following precautions. Students are always looking out for one another. There’s a great team spirit as a result.

“Because Ballyhaise has its own mature forestry, we got to do a lot of practical work, harvesting and moving timber. I love the machinery side and of course, and they have state-of- the-art equipment such as the John Deere forestry machinery simulator.

“I’d describe doing the Green Cert in forestry as a real gateway to a load of possibilities.“If you want you to, you can reach almost any job you want in the industry.”

Course Co-ordinator Linda Coughlan...

- "There is a shortage of skilled workers in the industry so graduates have no problem getting employment. Students gain skills such as:

  • ATV operation
  • planting
  • weeding
  • formative shaping
  • high pruning
  • timber measurement

which are immediately relevan to the workplace".

"Students can also progress to other higher education forestry courses. “We encourage students to travel and broaden their horizons and we have links with colleges for international exchange,” she says.

Francis Hewitson and forestry machinery

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

Get more information on forestry in the Forestry Section of the website

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