Ellen Vaughan, a dairy farmer from Co. Meath, has been named the Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year for 2022. Vaughan, who works as a full-time teacher and part-time farmer, completed the Level 6 Distance Green Cert at Teagasc in Navan. She also won the dairy category at the awards ceremony, which took place at the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin. Laura Lynch won the dry stock category, while Amanda Draper was named the top student in the other land-based enterprises category. The awards were presented by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, who congratulated the winners and acknowledged all the finalists.
In his speech, McConalogue praised the hard work and dedication of the students, saying, “You have worked exceptionally hard and sacrificed much to be where you are today and I commend you and your families for that effort. This is a proud moment for you all and everyone who has helped you in getting this far in your education and in your career.” He also announced that the Department of Public Expenditure has approved Teagasc’s request to hire 20 new education officers, which will enable the organisation to increase the number of places on the Green Cert Programme from next September.
Michael Berkery, chairperson of FBD Trust, praised the finalists and expressed the company’s commitment to supporting education in agriculture. “FBD is delighted to continue sponsoring the Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year awards this year,” he said. “On behalf of the team at FBD, I would like to congratulate the finalists on their achievements and wish them all the very best in their future farming careers.”
Dr. Anne-Marie Butler, head of education in Teagasc, also congratulated the finalists and thanked her education colleagues “for their commitment and dedication”. She revealed that almost 4,500 students had successfully completed training with Teagasc and been awarded a QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) certificate in 2022.
Liam Herlihy, chairperson of Teagasc, also congratulated the winners and finalists, saying, “They and their families can be proud of their achievements, which were acknowledged and recognised in the awards. I wish them well in their careers. I would also like to thank FBD Insurance for their continued support for these awards and other Teagasc initiatives.”
Among the other finalists were Jathan McMahon, who completed the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Herd Management) at Gurteen College in Co. Clare; Meghan England, who completed the Green Cert in Teagasc Midleton, Co. Cork; Tim Crowley, who completed a Level 6 Green Cert part-time in Teagasc Macroom, Co. Cork; Gavin McGarrigle, who completed the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Herd Management) in Mountbellew Agricultural College, Co. Galway; Owain Buttimer, who completed the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Dairy Herd Management) at Teagasc Clonakilty College in Co. Cork; Ryan McGovern, who completed the Level 6 in Drystock Management at Teagasc Ballyhaise College in Co. Cavan; Neil Furey, who completed his Green Cert at Teagasc Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim; Niall Gillespie, who excelled through the Green Cert course which he completed at Teagasc Ballina; Hanna Sheerin, who completed the Distance Education course in Kildalton College in 2021; Gearoid Kennedy, who completed the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Forestry at Ballyhaise; Prabhjit Singh, who completed a Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture (Nursery Stock Production) in Botanic Gardens and is now doing a Level 7 BSc in Horticulture with Botanics and SETU; Fred Dolan, who completed the Level 5 and Level 6 Certificate in Agriculture (Green Cert) at Teagasc Roscommon; Michael Mulry, who completed the Level 6 Specific Purpose Certificate in Farming (Part-Time) in Teagasc Athenry; and Paul Dineen, who completed the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture (Mechanisation) in Pallaskenry.
The Teagasc/FBD Student of the Year Awards recognise excellence in agriculture education and are open to students who have completed a Teagasc course in the past year. The awards ceremony is a highlight of the agricultural calendar and is attended by industry leaders, policymakers, and media representatives.