City school takes the overall prize in national calf-rearing competition
Five students from Laurel Hill secondary school in the heart of Limerick City were announced as the overall winners of the 2019 Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools Competition.
The students, Susan O’Neill, Jane McNamara, Aishling O’Neill, Aoibhinn Leahy and Emily Walsh took the top prize, in spite of the fact that none of them come from a farming background.
The Certified Irish Angus Beef Schools competition, created by Irish Angus Producer Group, ABP and Kepak, challenges students to rear five Irish Angus calves for beef production. It aims to promote the Certified Irish Angus Beef brand while communicating the care and attention required to produce quality beef for consumers.
Announcing the winners, Charles Smith, General Manager, Irish Angus Producer Group said, “The students from Laurel Hill were deserving winners of this competition not only for their work ethic, commitment and interest in the project they were given but also because for them, everything was a bigger challenge and they met that challenge head on. None of them have a farming background or any agricultural knowledge, yet they fully embraced this project and excelled in its delivery.”
The winning students helped to rear their Angus calves at the Saleisan College Farm in Pallaskenry over an 18 month period, until they accompanied them to the meat factory where they were processed as beef.
They also explored a project on ‘The Importance of Irish Agriculture’, creating lesson plans that could be used by primary school teachers to explain agriculture, beef production and the unique characteristics of Irish Angus beef. The girls created the slogan ‘From Wellies to Bellies’ and a cartoon of Alfie the Calf to appeal to a younger audience.
The runners up in the 2019 competition were Cathal Moran and John Duignan from Glenamaddy Community School in Galway who explored the sensitive theme of ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Farmers and Rural Communities’.
Throughout the project several high-profile issues including extreme weather and the fodder crises affected the farming community and the students held farm talks and shared social media videos on mental health with farmers. The judges said, “ These exceptional young men showed a commitment beyond their years and a huge empathy for the issue of mental health and the importance of addressing the issue at farmer level.”.