In this article we are looking at two of our students who are studying for their degree in Horticulture in the Teagasc College national Botanic Gardens. Zack Meehan and Bartek Wojcik.
Both these students are part of a first year class of 18 students taking their degree which is run in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology and Teagasc National Botanic Gardens.The students complete three years in their degree , 6 semesters in total one of which is a full work experience semester which can be conducted in Ireland or abroad.The degree is based entirely in the Teagasc College which is bi located between National Botanic Gardens and Ashtown.
Qualified students from this course end up in a wide variety of careers in the Hort sector from Landscaping to Nursery to Turfgrass to Food production.
Our next College careers event is on March 7th in the Teagasc education building in the National Botanic Gardens.We will have up to 20 of the top Horticultural companies in the sector attending the event who are actively recruiting. It’s a great opportunity for current and intending students to meet with potential employers and discuss job opportunities and what skill sets are required within the sector.
The following conversation was held recently with the students :
Zack Meehan Year 1, Level 7 Degree in Horticulture
How is your course going?
My course is going well and I have learnt a good bit since starting the course. We attend for work experience on one day per week in Teagasc Ashtown as part of practical work experience for the course. This also involves me having to filling out a diary to go along with this experience. Our course is divided between The National Botanic Gardens and Teagasc Ashtown.
How many subjects are you undertaking this year?
I am currently doing six subjects this semester. These subjects include Plant knowledge , plant propagation , Hort mechanisation , Hort Building Construction , Hort skills training and Chemistry for land scientists. Exams are complete data the end of each semester and you move onto new subjects in the next semester . Each semester is 12 weeks of teaching so the time is very short.
What is your favourite of these subjects?
I would have to say Hort Building Construction.
What would you say are the main points you are learning in horticulture?
I find that the course is giving me a steady background which will help me to improve my skills which will give me the tools to help build up my skills which will help me be part of the family business.
What is your background in Horticulture?
My background in horticulture is linked to previous generation being involved in Horticulture. My great great grand-father had a nursery in Kimmage called Irish Nurseries. My grandfather would have worked with the Queen on her gardens and at present I work alongside my father in his tree surgeons business when not at college.
If you were to recommend the course what would you say?
The Level 7 course is full on but you learn so much from it.
Did you get any career guidance when you were at School on Horticultural course?
I got some guidance from my career guidance teacher at St Wilsons School, Mullingar. From my family background I knew what I wanted to do.
Bartek Wojcik Year 1, Level 7 Degree in Horticulture
Why are you doing the course?
I was looking to do a course to help me gain knowledge on plants. I saw that this course was in the National Botanic Gardens where you are surrounded by plants all the time. This would give me a good knowledge base which will help me to work in the field of landscape architecture. When this course is finished I plan to hopefully go to UCD or to stick with Landscape Design within this course.
What draws you to becoming a Landscape Designer?
I like to work outdoors where I can do peoples gardens in developing and to maintain them. To work on projects and to see the reward from works completed.
You are currently working on Section Wednesday. What particular skills or task do you feel are particularly good?
We work on a board range of skills and tasks from planting trees to working and taking care of machinery. So when I go into my second year of work placement I will have a head start because I will know how the machines work so I won’t need that much assistance and perhaps a company will take me on.
If you were to sell this course to a young person coming in terms of the benefits from it are, what would you say?
I would say it’s a full on course but there is a lot you will take in even in the first semester. I have learnt a lot having no background knowledge in Horticulture.
Where did you find an interest in doing horticulture?
I started to like it in school at St Declan’s College, Cabra.
Was there an interest in the school in horticulture?
The school has a small garden which is maintained. Our Principal actually told me that the National Botanic Gardens did courses in Horticulture. After looking into I put it on my CAO application straight away after it.