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Roscommon man wins Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year Award

Gerard Brennan is the 2012 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, Wednesday, 17 April.

Gerard Brennan, from Carrowclogher, Strokestown, Co Roscommon completed the Advanced Certificate in Agriculture at the Teagasc Education Centre in Longford. The judges were impressed by Gerard’s get up and go attitude. He has converted the family farm from a 30 cow suckler herd to a dairy herd, which now stands at 65 cows. The herd EBI is 137 with the replacement heifers having an EBI of 167. He has developed an efficient dairy business in a locality where there is no strong tradition of dairying. He is a member of a Teagasc discussion group and has plans to further expand his dairy herd and milking platform in the future.

Presenting the awards, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney said; “These awards recognise excellence and everyone within the agri-food chain must aspire to this standard if our industry is to reach its full potential. The agri-food sector needs enthusiastic and educated young farmers to drive agricultural production.

I would like to congratulate all the prize winners and wish them every success with their future careers. I would also like to acknowledge the significant efforts of Teagasc who continue to address the training needs of our young farmers. “

Martin Whitty was presented with the first runner-up award. He completed an Advanced Certificate in Agriculture, studying at the Teagasc education centre, in Tinahely. He is dairy farming at Coolateggart, Taghmon, Co Wexford where he runs a 90 cow herd with an average yield of 6,500 litres. He highlights the completion of the eProfit monitor and participation in his dairy discussion group as two of the most important factors in running his business successfully.

The second runner-up award went to Daniel Kennedy, Askinch, Coolgreany, Gorey, Co Wexford. He completed the Advanced Certificate in Dairy Herd Management at Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural College. He is now completing the Professional Diploma in Dairy Farm Management, one of the first students to participate in this new Teagasc/UCD diploma. This programme is specifically designed to train young farm managers and was one of the recommendations in the Food Harvest 2020 report.

Speaking at the presentation of the awards, Director of Teagasc Prof Gerry Boyle said; “The eleven finalists here today can all be proud of what they have achieved, emerging as the best agricultural students in the country. There has been a welcome increase in numbers studying agricultural in Teagasc run courses and you have emerged as top-of-the-class in this bigger pool of students. Congratulations and well done! ”

The students receiving the awards today have been chosen from all those who have completed Further Level training programmes with Teagasc in 2012. The other finalists were:

  • Seamus Howard, Gortlecka, Kilnaboy, Ennis, Co Clare
  • Cormac Wall, Riverview, Tarbert, Co Kerry
  • Shane McKeon, Carntulla, Ballinaglera, Co Leitrim
  • Damien McHale, Garracloon, Knockmore, Ballina, Co Mayo
  • Edward Hunt, Levelock, Kilmovee, Co Mayo
  • Kieran McDermott, Corkimmons, Clones, Co Monaghan
  • Peter Hynes, Aherlow, Aherla, Co Cork
  • Peter Grogan, Leamore, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Speaking at the awards Conor Gouldson, Company Secretary for FBD said: “With interest in agricultural and agri-science related subjects at record levels, it is essential for us to encourage students to achieve the best they possibly can during their time in college. We are delighted to support the Teagasc Student of the Year Awards again and to celebrate the achievements of these students who are being honoured today. We congratulate them all.”

Tony Pettit, Head of Education in Teagasc said: “These awards are important because they encourage students to excel in their studies. The awards would not be possible without the support of FBD Trust, who have sponsored the awards since their inception and are now in their 28th year. This commitment to agricultural education encourages the best young people to become involved in farming.”

There were 3,600 students on Teagasc run education courses in the 2012/13 academic year. The latest indications are that there will be similar numbers to this year on the further level courses, while applications through the CAO for higher level courses are up by 7%, for the next academic year starting in September.