Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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Steps towards horticulture career

Hi there, I am Cormac Walls, a student currently studying for a Foundation Degree in Horticulture at CAFRE, Greenmount campus, Antrim.

I am from Belfast but have spent a lot of time in the country growing up. I have been interested in nature since I was very young, volunteering with a charity called Arboretum Regeneration Castlewellan (ARC) since I was seven.

When picking my work experience in school I saw a flyer for the National Trust and applied to do my week there. Thanks to the great people I worked with in the National Trust I found out about the horticulture courses offered at Greenmount campus.

I applied and was accepted into the Level 2 Diploma course. Applying to the Level 2 course was the best decision of my life. The course showed me what I could expect to experience if I continued to study and work in horticulture.

From the Level 2 course I continued on to the Level 3 where I got to experience a more academically challenging course, especially in my second year. However, it was even more fun and I met some amazing people who remain some of my best friends to this day.

On completion of the Level 3 course I decided that I wanted more of a challenge and to gain more knowledge and experience in horticulture.

Therefore, I applied to progress to the Foundation Degree in Horticulture and started my first year in September 2020, which unfortunately meant Covid got in the way! However, the lecturers were amazing and supportive as always and there to help.

During the year I applied for and was accepted for an exchange programme to Michigan State University in spring 2022 – what an opportunity! I have also had the opportunity to be a part of a sustainability panel for the environmental future of Northern Ireland where a group of young people, including myself, helped develop a survey and from the findings we gave options on what can be done to improve the environmental future of Northern Ireland.

Greenmount is an amazing place with brilliant facilities, beautiful grounds and provides excellent personal development opportunities, but by far the best part of studying in Greenmount is the dedicated staff and other committed students you meet.

The staff are brilliant. Each lecturer has their own style of teaching and know so much about their specialist fields and are always there to help. The students are great also; I have met so many like-minded people that are not alone great craic but also great to work alongside.

I hope to continue to the Honours Degree in Horticulture and eventually work with the National Trust. I am definitely looking forward to the next few years.

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