Farming alongside his uncle, a part-time suckler farmer from his early childhood years, sparked Cormac O’Donnell’s love of the land. The 21-year-old Killoe, Co. Longford hails from a family that has always had a long-standing association with farming.
“Being a typical child brought up in rural Ireland, the first thing I received when I was younger was a toy tractor and when I got that I wanted to see the real thing. My parents are not farmers, but my grandparents were and the generations before them were.” Cormac O’Donnell told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
Cormac’s interest in the agricultural field grew from strength-to-strength and sparked a major interest in studying the discipline to great depth at third-level. Cormac completed his Leaving Certificate and progressed directly to University College Dublin (UCD) to enrol in the college’s Agricultural Science - Animal Science degree programme in 2014.
“In school, I always enjoyed Science - I studied Agricultural Science outside of school for my Leaving Certificate and it was my best result, so it made sense to pursue my studies further,” Cormac explained.
Cormac regards the completion of farm experience and an industry-based work placement in third-year as his major highlight to date - To set the wheels in the motion, Cormac worked on sheep; dairy; beef and pig operations and combined this with a four-week industry placement with Kiernan Milling.
“I spent four-weeks with sheep farmers - Gerry and Carmel Belton. They had a prolific flock and it was an exceptional learning experience. Their priority was my learning and answered any questions that I had.”
“I completed my Dairy placement at Ballyhaise Agricultural College and I found that this was the most enjoyable aspect of work placement. I had no dairy experience, but I set foot on this high-performance research farm.”
To add to his portfolio, David spent one-month working under the watchful eye of David Kiernan and Roisin McCabe, who are part of quality control team at Kiernan Milling. Here he was responsible for collecting samples of raw materials and finished products on a daily basis in a bid to prepare them for analysis using an NIR machine.
“The experience gave me a great insight into how an animal feed company operates and all the different aspects that go into making a quality animal feed.” Cormac said.
“An Agricultural degree gives you a great foundation to go forward for everything that you want to do - it is so broad. When you think of Agriculture, you immediately think of cows; sheep; and pigs - but opportunities exist in science and business in the industry too.”
“Before you jump into a course, talk to graduates; lecturers or any college representatives and staff. I received great guidance and help when I conversed with people and that gave me reassurance.”
In terms of earmarking plans for the future, Cormac will graduate with his level-8 degree in September-2018 and has no post-graduation plans set in stone as of yet.
Before the Longford native got bitten by the farming bug, he relished the idea of carving out a career as a teacher, but a new-found striking passion for Agriculture forced Cormac to return to the drawing board. His wealth of Agricultural knowledge; practical farming experience, combined with his studies at UCD and work placement at Ballyhaise Agricultural College has sowed a new fruitful seed for the 21-year-old.
“I have set my sights on Agricultural Education - there is a good variety of indoor lecturers and outdoor practical modules. This would be very much in line with a career in advisory and knowledge transfer. I don’t want to be tied to an office desk, so it is the most ideal career.” Cormac highlighted.
“My degree has led me to new avenues that I never previously thought about,” Cormac concluded.
If you are a third-level student studying Agriculture/ Agricultural Science/ Veterinary Medicine / Veterinary Nursing and you want to share your story, get in touch - email firstname.lastname@example.org.