Greetings from Ireland 🙂
In April 2021, EUROPE member, Teagasc held its annual Colleges Challenges which is a longstanding inter college, skills challenge competition, supported by Macra na Feirme. The National College of Amenity Horticulture were the 2021 overall winners. The competition has fostered a keen rivalry between colleges in its 40 year history.
The competition focussed on specialist skills including stock judging, evaluation of confirmation, plant and tree identification. The second event involved participation in a quick-fire online quiz. The challenges which involved over 90 contestants, took place over two evenings and was made possible this year through the use of technology and the experience gained by Teagasc running virtual online classes and events over the past 12 months.
May and June are usually very busy months in Teagasc Education. In our full time courses there is a hive of activity in trying to finish up courses in line with the academic year. This year is no different.
Full time students have returned to college for face to face skills training following their Practical Learning work experience. Skills training has been organised in small practical groups while adhering to health guidelines regarding Covid. Teagasc is happy to report that with safety protocols and the co-operation of our hosts, work experience programmes ran on schedule despite the challenges of Covid-19. Periods working on host farms or units, is a popular and valuable practical and life experiences for students.
There is now a considerable focus on getting course work finalised and assessments completed. All colleges wants to maintain their schedule for course completion, authentication and certification processes. Progression of students to follow-on courses is another important reason to adhere to academic schedules.
Our students have been giving some feedback on being a little “Zoomed out” with online theory classes, and look forward to learning in a face to face setting.
This year has had the added challenges brought by Covid-19. Vaccines are on the way, so we can see green shoots on that front. One of the benefits we can take from the pandemic is the adoption of innovative teaching methodologies and rapid adoption of blended learning by our staff.
Our part time and distance education students will be glad to get back on track with skills training once Covid-19 restrictions allow.
In Ireland we are in the process of developing agriculture, equine and horticulture higher education apprenticeships. This hasn’t been done before in Ireland, so there is a good deal of work involved in development and the application processes. Once in place, it will give an additional route for learners with more input from employers.
We wish all of our EUROPEA partners the very best, and look forward to being in contact soon.
By James Maher and Carmel Finlay, Teagasc, Ireland
Acknowledgements: many thanks to EUROPEA-Ireland, James and Carmel 🙂
Photo: from James and Carmel
Featured image: Pixabay Free Images