Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

'In Australia, farming can be easier because it doesn't rain all the time'


Aisling Neville, Waterford IT
Aisling Neville, Waterford IT

Sorcha O'Connor

When Aisling Neville opened her Leaving Cert results, she didn't think she would find herself in Australia three years later pursuing her dream of becoming a dairy farmer.

The former student at Sacred Heart School, Tullamore, Co Offaly, was a mere five points shy of her top CAO choice, the BAgrSc Dairy Business in UCD.

Aisling's second choice was the BSc (Hons) in Agricultural Science in WIT. But because she had always thought that she would get her place in Dublin, which had the benefit of being closer to home, she "hadn't considered it as much".

She decided to go to an open day in Waterford IT which was being held after the CAO first round.

During the visit to Waterford, she had the opportunity to chat to other students who were doing the course and felt it would work for her.

Now she is delighted, as it opened the door to Australia.

The course offered a third year placement of 15 weeks, with the opportunity to go abroad. "A lecturer suggested Australia to me as there are many good farms here," says Aisling (21).

She went to Australia in January, to work on a farm in Victoria, run by a Northern Irish couple, Harper and Oonagh Kilpatrick, who take Irish students on a regular basis.

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She also decided to take the option to extend the placement "because, when you're coming this far, you may as well stick around.

"It was a big opportunity and I was given the role of head calf rearer on the farm, an opportunity I wouldn't have gotten at home."

Aisling has also learned a lot about irrigation since arriving in Australia in January when the fields were scorched from the summer sun. Once the hot Australian summer ended, Aisling found it easier to farm Down Under than in Ireland as rain didn't hamper her work.

"The weather isn't as harsh on farmers here and you get used to the heat. It doesn't rain all the time like back home."

Aisling has a great sense of independence on the farm and feels that her decision to take the course offered by WIT has given her a really broad education.

After some travelling with her Irish boyfriend, who got a placement on a farm nearby, Aisling returns to Waterford IT next month for her fourth and final year.

Asked what she will do after graduating, she is positive that returning to Australia could give her the opportunity to manage her own dairy farm one day.

While Aisling is doing the four-year BSC in Agricultural Science, Waterford IT also has three-year, Level 7 BSC in Agriculture, where there is an option to enter via a Level 5 or 6 further education course.

Irish Independent

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