MY name is Alex Irvine and I am from Castlewellan, County Down. Growing up on the family sheep farm I have always had a keen interest in agriculture.
At home I am mainly responsible for the farm’s paperwork, alongside lambing duties in the spring. I also undertake some relief milking for a neighbouring farmer, which I particularly enjoy as it is completely different from my home farm.
After studying my A Levels at Down High School, I enrolled on the Foundation Degree in Agriculture and Technology course at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus to further develop my interest in agriculture, achieve a qualification and gain valuable skills for my future career.
I have really enjoyed my time at CAFRE to date. First year had a great range of practical sessions, alongside informative lectures and interesting industry visits. I particularly enjoyed the enterprise module where I choose the dairy option.
This involved a mix of practical classes on the college farm, along with talks from key industry figures. At the end of the semester my class had to present different topics at the Advisory Board meeting, where I was given the role of chairperson. This helped to develop my interpersonal skills and I really relished organising this event.
Since I came to CAFRE I have also enjoyed being surrounded by those who had a similar interest in agriculture to myself and have made many new friends. There is a really good social side to the campus with lots of activities throughout the year for students.
My studies to date have offered great links with the agricultural industry throughout Northern Ireland and abroad. With a keen interest in the red meat sector I applied for, and was successful in securing, a year-long work placement with the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC).
During this placement I had a varied role within the company, including answering enquiries from farmers, alongside working with the marketing team. I was actively involved in creating promotional videos for social media, which included giving a cooking demonstration on beef and lamb.
I was also involved in events such as ‘Love Lamb Week’, which involved tasting events in Victoria Square, Belfast. I really enjoyed getting to meet the public and promoting Northern Ireland food and farming.
I am really looking forward to completing the various final year modules of my course and using new skills developed through work placement in preparation for my future career. I am also looking forward to catching up with members of my class who have also been on work placement and finding out how they have got on. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who has a keen interest in a career in the agri-food industry.