Secondary school students from the length and breadth of the country flocked to the Irish Farmer’s Journal farm in Tullamore last Thursday for a practical day of learning organised by Agri Aware.

The aim of these open farm days is to give secondary school students a real-life farm experience and the opportunity to learn more about best practice in agricul­ture.

Over the last two weeks, up to 4,000 students have attended Agri Aware’s farm walk and talks across 10 locations in Ireland.

Farm Walk & Talks

The demand for the educational day continues to grow, says Chair of Agri Aware, Alan Jagoe.

“A lot of students are now coming from a non-farming background and would have little or no understanding of the practicalities of farming. To see on farm what is happening and making it relevant to their course, seeing is believing,” he explains.

“There is a huge interest in agriculture, people see career opportunities and prospects, whether that’s working on farms or within the industry.”

Katie Coppinger

St Cuan’s College Castleblakeney, Co Galway

Ag Science teacher Katie Coppinger from St Cuan’s College Castleblakeney, Co Galway.

“We have a good diverse class. A lot of them are from farming backgrounds but some of them are not. It is good to get them out here to see how things are working. They are learning it in the classroom but it’s not as easy for them to know what’s going on unless they see it. I am teaching them about skills and definitions but they don’t experience it in the classroom, it’s good for them to get onto the farm and get stuck in.”

Jackie Brennan

St Nathy’s College, Co Roscommon

Ag Science teacher Jackie Brennan from St Nathy's College, Co Roscommon.

“With a group of leaving cert and fifth-year students we wanted them to get a background on their projects and for them to put theory into practice on the practical aspects. Their project this year is based on the importance of nutrition and nutrients to Irish agriculture, if they see what they are feeding the sheep and cattle here, they can bring that home. There is more benefits of being out of the classroom and learning on site than just writing notes.”

Leya Byrne

Piper’s Hill College, Co Kildare

Ag Science teacher on placement Leya Byrne from Piper's Hill College, Co Kildare.

“A big thing is most of our students have never been on a farm before. Seeing the farm working and what we’re talking about in class in practice is the reason we brought them. Hopefully, in their exams they will remember hearing information from today. Particularly for girls, it should be stressed that there is huge opportunities out there in the industry for them.”

Katie O’Connor

Terenure College, Dublin

Ag Science teacher Katie O’Connor from Terenure College, Co Dublin.

“We have 50 boys here today and only two of them are from a farming background, the rest have never seen a farm before. For them if they are studying ag science it is important to see it in action, they do struggle a little bit with some of the concepts, but something like this helps them big time. To draw links between what they are seeing in the books and seeing it in action.”

David Hennessy

St Kieran’s College, Co Kilkenny

Ag Science teacher David Hennessy from St Kieran's College, Co Kilkenny.

“Within the class, not all the lads are coming from a farming background, it is great to get out on the farm and see the different livestock and how it is run. I hope they get the practical aspects of being on the farm. We would have two or three classes every year with a few continuing on to study agriculture at third level.”

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