• Name: Sarah Cussen from Waterfall, Cork.
  • School: I attended school in Mount Mercy College, Cork.
  • Result: I achieved 7 H1s in my Leaving Cert.
  • Exams or predicted grades?

    Having the option of exams and predicted grades was great as it gave us the best of both worlds.

    How did you find the year in general with COVID-19, blended learning etc?

    It was a big change to be attending online classes and learning full time from home, but all of our teachers adapted quickly and were very helpful. The farm was a great escape from studying especially during lockdown and when I was learning from home.

    What you intend to study and why?

    I hope to study the agricultural science degree this autumn in University College Cork (UCC). I am looking forward to studying this course as it is relatively new to UCC and I’m grateful it is so close to home. One of the most appealing aspects of this course is that it is in conjunction with Teagasc Moorepark which is at the cutting edge of research in the agri industry.

    Who do you farm with?

    I have my dad to thank for my passion in agriculture. He has great drive and work ethic and I hope I can be as driven as he is when I farm in the future. My dad is milking 90 Holstein Friesians on the family farm supplying Dairygold Co-Op. At the moment we are building grass cover for the autumn period. I use a Grasshopper to measure the grass. We are also putting out the last of the fertiliser and emptying the slurry tanks before the closed period. I spent the day of my results at LESS (low-emission slurry spreading) with our local agri contractor John Collins on our home farm.

    Where did your interest in farming come from?

    I have always had an interest in the agri industry. From a young age I was fascinated by farming. When choosing transition-year work experience I knew I wanted it to be agri related. I was lucky enough to secure a week of work experience with Brady Group where I was really encouraged to experience all aspects of the business. Mike Brady took great care to explain how his business is run and developed my interest in agriculture. I also did work experience in Healy’s Honey and Carbery Group, both agri-food businesses which added to my experience and knowledge.

    I spent my final week of work experience in my local ifac branch in Bandon where I have worked each summer since. Working with ifac has given me an excellent insight into the financial aspects of farming and the importance of having a good accountant with expertise in the farming industry. Gearoid Condon and his team have been more than helpful in teaching me the necessity of financial management on farm.

    What are the challenges you see for farming in the future?

    The environment is definitely the most pressing issue for the agri industry. Farmers will need to adapt management practices to meet new regulations to minimise the effects of climate change. I think farming is a sustainable industry as farmers are on board through grants and subsidies to encourage a more sustainable way of farming. I am also excited to be learning more about the industry as it navigates through these challenges.

    What do you see yourself working as in the future?

    At the moment I can see myself eventually coming home farming full time. I hope to travel to New Zealand to broaden my knowledge in the dairy industry as well.

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