Ryan Prendergast

Steven Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Agriculture 

Agriculture is Ireland’s largest indigenous sector with more than 300,000 people employed directly or indirectly in the agri-food industry, offering excellent opportunities for graduates in this field. Ryan Prendergast, from Swinford, Co. Mayo comes from a farming background and always knew that his future career would be in this industry.

The Agriculture course at ATU Donegal was a natural progression for Ryan. “I applied for agriculture courses and got accepted to ATU Donegal, and as it turns out they had exact course that I was looking for. To begin, I was apprehensive as I didn’t know Letterkenny or ATU Donegal very well. It far exceeded my expectations. The course was excellent, and I am delighted that I chose to study at ATU Donegal”

“The class sizes were ideal as it allowed for an effective dialogue between students and lecturers . This really helped myself and my classmates get very engaged in the course work and group discussions. The lecturers were approachable and friendly and always open to questions”.

Making the move from Mayo to Donegal went smoothly for Ryan. “There was plenty of accommodation available and at a very reasonable price. I had a lot of fun in Letterkenny and there was a vibrant nightlife within walking distance to the accommodation.

“Day trips were a large part of course. We were able to visit a large variety farms of different enterprises, from large scale tillage and intensive dairy farms to farms that focus on sustainability and organic production with an environmental focus. We were also brought on tours to feed mills and Agri-engineering companies, which really helped students who had an interest outside of farming and more towards agri-business/engineering. This was a great opportunity for myself and other students to explore different sectors and learn more about the broad industry of agriculture”.

“ATU Donegal has so many different enterprises and farms within a 30-minute drive that I could visit. That is one of the great things about Donegal”.

The work placement was another enjoyable part of the course. I had the opportunity to do two 6-week work placements in the second year of the course. This allowed me the opportunity of hands on experience in other sectors, as well as developing valuable work skills for the future, which I really enjoyed.

Since graduation Ryan has continued to further his studies and is now undertaking a PhD. "I work at the Teagasc Moorepark facility, located just outside of Fermoy, Co. Cork”. The title of the PhD is 'Increasing Milking Efficiency through the application of optimization and automation techniques’. “My research will involve going to different dairy farms that have a variety of milking systems in place, from Herringbone to Rotary to AMS, and documenting the infrastructure on each farm as well as observing the performance of the farms milking process.

"It is an excellent opportunity to work for a research body as indigenous and as well reputed as Teagasc, I owe this in no small part to the great teaching I received at ATU Donegal""