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Kilkenny Farmer wins Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year 2011

Richard Dollard is the 2011 Teagasc Student of the Year. The awards, sponsored by FBD Trust, were presented by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, TD at an awards ceremony in Dublin today, Thursday, 22 March.

Richard Dollard, Smithstown, Tullogher, Mullinvat, Co Kilkenny completed the Advanced Certificate in Dairy Herd Management at the Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural and Horticultural College, Piltown, County Kilkenny. He completed a carpentry apprenticeship in 2007 but chose to return to pursue a career in farming. He farms 80 hectares with his father and they have plans to expand their dairy herd from 120 to 250 cows. He is a member of the Tullogher dairy discussion group and places a big emphasis on growing and utilising more grass in the cows’ diet. He aims to achieve 305 days at grass.

Speaking at the presentation of the awards, Director of Knowledge Transfer in Teagasc, Dr Tom Kelly congratulated the ten finalists on their achievements saying that Teagasc are pleased with the high calibre of students attending agricultural courses in all the colleges and education centres. “You can be justifiably proud of your achievements and are a credit to your parents and to your teachers. You have been placed at the top of your class, and that is recognised here today. I hope that you will become leaders of your industry in the years ahead,” he said.

Dr Kelly said: “The Education and Training programme offered by Teagasc is continuously reviewed to ensure it’s of the highest standard. Over the last five years we have seen year on year increases in the numbers of students choosing agriculture as a career reflecting the new optimism and opportunities in the agri-food sector.”

Jonathan Edwards from Aughnish, Ramelton, county Donegal was presented with the first runner-up award. He completed an Advanced Certificate in Agriculture, studying at the Teagasc education centre, Letterkenny. On the very busy home farm, cereals and potatoes are produced with the potatoes sold under their own brand.
The second runner-up award went to Matthew Kelly from Turrock, Dysart, Ballinasloe, County Roscommon. He studied at Mountbellew Agricultural College, County Galway completing an Advanced Certificate in Agriculture. He has plans to expand livestock numbers on the family farm to 600 ewes and 30 suckler cows.

The students honoured today have been chosen from almost 800 who have completed Further Level training programmes with Teagasc in 2011. The other finalists were: Sinead Prendergast from the Athenry Course; Carol Cahalane from Clonakilty College; Niall Riordan representing Pallaskenry College; Fionán Kissane from Gurteen College; Michael Mullarkey representing Ballymote in Sligo; Patrick Kelleher representing the Mallow Course; Shane Corbally from Ballyhaise College.

The awards have been sponsored since inception by FBD Trust Ltd and are now in their 27th year Paddy Browne, Teagasc Head of Education said: “ FBD Trust has demonstrated their strong commitment to agricultural education through their continued support for the Student of the Year Awards. The competition encourages the top people to become involved in farming.”

Speaking at the awards Adrian Taheny representing FBD said: “Agri-science has seen more than 100% increase over the last 6 years with record numbers enrolling this year. We believe it is therefore more important than ever to get behind initiatives like these which encourage students to strive for excellence. It is once again our pleasure to support these awards and recognise the standards set by the impressive students who reached the final.”