In this article, That’s Farming, previews some of our most popular Women in Ag features so far in 2023 (see note at bottom of this post) to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023.
Milking cows, lambing, shearing, calf rearing, being a midwife in a pig farrowing unit and being a poultry grower, you name it; Tina Russell has turned her hand to it.
She is “happiest outside, managing an environment in which livestock can thrive, taking care of them, no matter what”.
Coming from a non-farming background has meant that she has had to “prove myself to the farming community that I have what it takes to appreciate and work in the sector”.
“Everything I have done has been associated with farming and young people’s development,” she told Cunnane.
“Whilst living at home, aged 20, my parents wanted me to try other careers, so for a year, I worked in London.”
“I hated the journey up every day; it seemed such a waste of time. I remember thinking I could have milked a whole herd of cows in the time it took to travel to London.”
Read about her career in agriculture.
23-year-old Millerick hails from a family-run dairy farm, which a home to a cross-bred herd ranked in the top 1% in the country on EBI, according to ICBF reports, run as part of a once-a-day milking system since 2014.
Her parents “always encouraged me to find my own career path, and this led me to my course in agricultural science, combining what I learnt at home on the farm with science I learnt in college”.
She attended Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), now South-East Technological University (SETU), from 2018 – 2022, where she received her bachelors (hons) degree in agricultural science.
She told our editor, Catherina Cunnane: “Before I had put ag science on my CAO, I had considered doing architecture.”
“However, I felt doing ag science would open more doors and possibilities than doing architecture, so I definitely think I made the right choice.”
“Ag science in WIT was my first choice, and I got my first choice as I knew the course would be more practical and closer to home; plus, the thoughts of going anywhere else had no appeal.”
She is currently working as a microbiology lab technician in the central lab in Dairygols in Mitchelstown, a position which she filled in September 2022.
You can read her full interview via this link.
“It has been my dream to become a vet for as long as I can remember, and I am determined to make it come true,” says Fallon, who assists with the running of her family farm whilst studying a four-year veterinary bioscience at MTU Kerry, Tralee, Co. Kerry since 2020.
Following her Leaving Certificate in 2016, she completed a Level 5 in Animal Care and a Level 6 in Animal Science, both at what was known as Westport College of Further Education at the time and is now called Mayo College of Further Education and Training.
From there, she applied to a range of different colleges and enrolled in her current area of study at MTU Kerry at that point.
She told Cunnane: “Veterinary medicine was always my first choice, but unfortunately, I knew I would never get the Leaving Cert points to be accepted into vet med.”
“Therefore, I took the back route, which involved doing my PLC courses which got me into MTU.”
“After graduating from MTU, my plan is to go abroad to Budapest, where I can continue my studies until I am a fully qualified veterinarian.”
Read her article.
Zara Doyle Matthews
Laois native does not hail from a farming or equine background, but “since I could talk, veterinary had always been the answers for me”.
She has never considered pursuing a career in any other field, and regardless of how long it took or what routes she would have to take, she has always been destined to “get there in the end”.
Currently, she is studying veterinary medicine at UPWR in Wroclaw, Poland, a programme which she began in 2020 and will graduate from in January 2026.
She told Cunnane: “I did not have the opportunity to sit my Leaving Cert in 2020 due to Covid-19, so I received predicted grades which did not work in my favour, receiving fewer points than my mocks.”
“My results were appealed and brought by our local councillor to the Dáil. By the time it took to appeal, I was already studying in Poland.”
“I was actually set to repeat my Leaving Cert and had begun restudying and went back to secondary school.”
“A week after the school year started, I got a phone call at 4 pm on a Thursday evening from my mam saying that a vet school in Poland had one spot left for this year and that I had to submit a personal essay by 5 pm and my interview would be at 9 am Friday morning.”
“I sat my interview the day after and was accepted on the spot – but to begin classes four days later, on Tuesday.”
“I booked a last-minute flight and flew to Poland, relocating my life for the next five-and-a-half years,” she explained.
Read her story.
O’Leary hails from a 30-cow dairy farm, which sparked her passion for animal health and led to her current career as a lab assistant at Agri Diagnostics.
She completed her studies at the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest – TUS Moylish Campus, Moylish Park, Co. Limerick, where she obtained her applied biology degree.
She told Cunnane: “I did not start college right away; instead, I decided to do a PLC at Kerry College of Further Education before travelling to Australia for ten months, where I worked on a stud farm.”
Currently, since late January 2023, she has been a lab assistant at the Kerry-based veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
Agri-Diagnostics is an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory for IBR, Johne’s, and BVD testing.
“My responsibilities in Agri Diagnostics include receiving BVD samples and bringing them to the lab. I also need to count how many samples arrived in the farmer’s envelope. I then have to punch the sample out and into the container.”
“Also, I find the whole process of BVD testing very interesting. The position is meeting my expectations as I knew that Agri-Diagnostics tested BVD samples by bringing our samples down to the lab. There is always something to do in the lab, so I am never left idle.”
“Living on a farm taught me about calving, making silage for cows, and hygiene practices to keep the herd healthy, which led me to study applied biology because I was curious about how labs test for bacteria in milk or determine whether a calf is positive or negative for BVD.”
Read about her career.
[List compiled based on article view count]
See more articles from farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane