Four Transition Year students from St Louis Community School, Kiltimagh, County Mayo are vying for a top spot in the Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition 2021.
Thomas Maloney, Alannah McNicholas, Harry O’Grady, and Maria Maloney hope to follow hot on the heels of fellow students, who won five Angus calves in the 2017 competition.
Speaking to That’s Farming, Thomas Maloney, St Louis Community School, Kiltimagh, said: “We all have a keen interest in agriculture and farm different cattle breeds. We had a good knowledge starting and wanted to use this to our advantage to try and succeed.”
“We decided to enter the competition back in October 2020 because we have a passion for farming and were interested in finding out more about the Irish Angus breed.”
“As part of our entry into the competition, we had to create a short video communicating our knowledge of the Irish Angus breed and our plans if we were to progress in the competition.”
The students have chosen genetics as their study topic to highlight the “enormous” benefits of Irish Angus cattle to farmers and Certified Irish Angus beef to consumers.
The 16-year-olds are currently through to the interview stage of the competition, which is scheduled to take place at the beginning of April.
To prepare, they have surveyed local farmers in their vicinity, which has enabled them to gain an insight into cattle breeds, desirable traits, and their views on Irish Angus.
“We are comparing an Angus to continental breeds to try and show farmers the benefits of having Angus cattle. The competition has been challenging, with all stages conducted remotely, but we have tried to get on with it. The interview was scheduled for January 7th but had to be postponed.”
“We have tried not to let Covid-19 get in our way or as an excuse for not getting as much work done. Before school closed, we were meeting after school twice-a-week. However, now we are having online meetings instead.”
“Each of us filmed parts of the video ourselves at home and took some clips in school. We have had numerous meetings with farmers and other experts through Zoom or over the phone, which has helped us to get to where we are today.”
Furthermore, the students have recently launched a raffle with four vouchers of €50 each for Certified Irish Angus Beef from local butchers up for grabs.
They are donating proceeds to the Mind Our Farm Families phoneline and counselling service provided by IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) and Pieta House.
“We feel this is a very worthy cause, especially during these times. So many people feel the strain, be it financially, physically, or otherwise, and farmers are no different.
Furthermore, the students will host an information webinar on the Irish Angus breed, which is scheduled to take place at 8.30 pm on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021.
Guest speakers include a representative from Dovea AI, The Thrive Programme, The Producer Group, and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation.
“To date, this has been a really rewarding experience. It has been extremely worthwhile as we have immersed ourselves in the project and have benefitted from the various initiatives we have carried out.”
“The contacts we have made have given us a great insight that would not have been possible without going out and talking to people. Mr Gallagher, Mr Regan, and Ms O’Hora have assisted us in the project.”
“This has been very enjoyable and as the saying goes: ‘if you love what you are doing you, will never work a day in your life’,” Thomas concluded.