National Award For Students Farm Safety Tool

Three students from Drumshanbo Vocational School won the junior category of the 21st Student Enterprise Programme National Finals in Croke Park on May 5, for ‘Grasper’, their hand-held farm safety tool which assists farmers with the opening of slurry tank covers.

Created by first-year students Freya Whitney, Alex O’Looney and Amy Keaveney, the Grasper tool helps farmers to lift the lid of slatted tanks, boosting farm safety.

The Leitrim students with Longford YouTube star Farmer Phil, who is using their Grasper product

Alex was worried when she saw her grandad bending down to try to open a slatted tank cover with his fingers and a pitchfork.

She raised her concern with the group and the trio brainstormed to come up with a solution which resulted in Grasper being developed by their company, Handled With Hearts.

Grasper was devised by the Leitrim students under the guidance of their teachers, Sharon Feeney and Yvonne Traynor. The lift mechanism saves the farmer or agricultural contractor the need to bend over and lift the slatted tank agitation cover by hand, and can also be used to close the cover afterwards.

Farm Safety Tool Welcomed

Grasper, which costs €25/unit, was warmly welcomed by farmers around the country. They promoted Grasper through their Handled With Hearts social media platforms, with a video demonstration on FacebookInstagram and TikTok.

“Our enterprise journey since September 2022 took us to the final stage in Croke Park where we were interviewed by three judges from the junior judging panel,” they said.

“We received great feedback from other students, teachers and members of the public at how innovative, simple to use and effective our Grasper product is.

“In the category awards, we were thrilled to win the ‘most effective social media campaign’. Next up, the main awards were announced.

“We jumped for joy to hear the words ‘Handled with Hearts first-place winners in the National Junior Student Enterprise Programme Awards 2023’ which was presented by Minister of State for Employment Affairs and Retail Business, Neale Richmond,” they said.

“Our journey is not over yet and people can still DM (direct message) us on our social media platform for sales of the Grasper,” the students said.

“We won two trophies and a €300 me2you voucher. We started our journey in September 2022 with 25,000 other students from 500 schools.

“To get to Croke Park and be in the top 82 student enterprises in the country was a massive achievement, but we were ecstatic to hear our names called out as number one in the junior category,” they said.

“We are so proud to bring back our two national awards to our school in Drumshanbo and to Leitrim where we represented our Local Enterprise Board. Hard work really does pay off.

The winning trio with Minister Martin Heydon in Leinster House.

“We also have a super proud grandad JJ O Looney in Clare, who was the first piece of the jigsaw that started our journey and catapulted us onto the social media stage with his TikTok video demonstrating our Grasper.”

Future Cast, an innovation, education, and research and development centre focused on the construction and quarrying industries, has invited Handled With Hearts to its facility to discuss the girls’ success since they got second place in the Future Cast Young Entrepreneur Competition in Manorhamilton during the Winter Fest 2022.

“We would love if an engineering company would come onboard with us and develop our product. We have our 500,000 views on our TikTok of our Grasper product in action,” the students said.

Other Winners

In the intermediate category, Clip Clop Designs from Co. Longford, took first place. Caitlin Morris from Moyne Community School created the business, repurposing horseshoes to make colourful decorations for the home.

Two students from Co. Roscommon came away with first prize in the senior category. Joshua McCormack and Evan McNeil’s business, McCompactors, features a device that enables users to easily compact rubbish in standard wheelie bins.

Minister Martin Heydon and John Magee, head of the Network of Local Enterprises Offices of Ireland congratulating the students on their big win.

Joshua and Evan from Roscommon Community College were inspired after seeing people climbing into wheelie bins to try and compact their rubbish manually, and created the McCompactor to solve the issue. The steel-fabricated device will work on all standard household wheelie bins and they have sold over 100 to date through their social media channels.

Minister Neale Richmond commended the students: “Congratulations to everyone who made it to the national finals. With over 25,000 students taking part in this year’s programme, it is a huge achievement to make it to the finals and shows a real flair for entrepreneurship.

“Some amazing businesses and entrepreneurs have come from this programme – the majority did not win any prizes, but are still running successful businesses today.

“To those of you who won something, a huge congratulations, but most importantly, to you all, this is the first step on the path. You are the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future and everyone is excited to see what you do next.”

Michael Nevin, chair of the Local Enterprise Office’s enterprise education committee, said that year-on-year, the Student Enterprise Programme continues to showcase the very best of Irish ingenuity and entrepreneurship among secondary school students.

“This year produced a varied selection of businesses, from agricultural products and homemade gifts to products that were built on our unique ability to tell compelling stories,” he said.

“We see every year that the national finals are not an end point for our student entrepreneurs, but a stepping stone on the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey. From our class of 22/23 we will see some business leaders and global entrepreneurs of the future emerge.”

The victorious trio leaving Croke Park.

The national final students who competed across junior, intermediate, and senior categories were challenged with creating, setting up and running their own business, which must show sales of their service or product. The judging panel included business owners and representatives from enterprise agencies and associated bodies.

Last year’s winner of the Student Enterprise Programme was Barrelda, an eco-innovation created by two young farmers from Co. Meath.

Barrelda specialise in revamping old blue polythene drums and recycling them to create meal silos and teat feeders. The young entrepreneurs won high praise from eco organisations and farming organisations nationwide for their sustainability-focused project, which also addresses the rising costs of farming equipment.

(Source – Agriland – Caroline Allen – 14/05/2023)

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Rural Enterprise Skillnet
Rural Enterprise Skillnet

The Rural Enterprise Skillnet is funded by member companies and the Training Networks Programme, an initiative of Skillnets Ltd. funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Education and Skills.

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