Bill McGrath (21) received two round-one CAO offers in 2015 - Waterford Institute of Technology’s level-7 B.Sc. in Agriculture and Primary Teaching at Mary Immaculate College - Limerick (Level 8).
“My mother wanted me to become a primary school teacher but thinking about it, I knew in my heart and soul I wouldn’t love teaching as much as I love agriculture.” Bill McGrath told Catherina Cunnane - That’s Farming.
The Youghal, Co. Cork native opted to study the level-7 B.Sc. in Agriculture - a three-year degree that is delivered at Kildalton Agricultural College and WIT’s main campus.
“This course is a good mixture between practical and theory-based modules and it gave me a good knowledge of other sectors in agriculture besides dairy,” Bill explained.
“The programme also consists of a few of science modules which I found very interesting especially the lab-based work.”
The course also helped the 21-year-old to work towards his ultimate goal of establishing his own enterprise in the future. “I completed a number of business modules which I enjoyed as it will help me to run my own business after I finish my studies.”
“My father has leased the land, so someday I would like to use it myself and turn it into a viable dairy farm which would be a dream come true for me.” He added.
Although he does not live on a farm, Bill hails from a strong farming background; his grandparents are dairy farmers in Clashmore Co.Waterford.
“When I was young, I spent a lot of time out on the farm; this sparked my interest in agriculture.”
“It was mainly my father James, my grandfather Rennie and my uncle Patrick who taught me about farming and they showed me just how enjoyable it can be.” He said.
The degree programme also involves a 12-week work placement in second semester of second year. Instead of jetting off overseas to complete this component of his degree, Bill developed new skills whilst working on a dairy farm in Lismore, Co. Waterford.
“The opportunity was made available to us to go to New Zealand but at the time I felt I was not ready to leave home. I regret not going abroad for placement hearing others talk about their experience abroad.”
“I think work placement got me out of my comfort zone and it helped me develop as a person. It helped me to shape my career.”
Bill recently graduated from this course and began a Level 8 B.Sc. (Hons) in Land Management - a one-year add-on from the Agriculture degree.
“I love learning and I felt like it was a great opportunity to carry on with my education. The modules are again based around the main sectors in Agriculture mainly crops and livestock production.”
Candidates that enrol in this course are required to undertake a project; Bill is reviewing the effects of dry cow tubes versus teat sealant only and the effects on subsequent animal health and performance in the following lactation.
“I decided to select this topic because I believe it will be a big area of interest in the future with the increase of microbial resistance on antibiotics.”
“This course is a step-up from the level-7 in terms of scientific research but it is enjoyable to come into college and learn,” Bill added.
Looking ahead, the 21-year-old - who is set to graduate later this year - hopes to further his education a step further by undertaking a Masters degree.
“I really enjoy learning and when I progress from third-level to the workplace, I want to have as much knowledge as possible and be confident in my own ability.”
Travel is also on his buck list, with intentions to explore various farming practices in other countries and in terms of a career after he finishes his studies, Bill has no plans set in stone as of yet.
“It is such a broad industry and I want to keep all my options open. All I do know is that as long as I am working or involved in agriculture in some way or another, I’ll be happy!” Bill McGrath concluded.