Agri Aware CEO to join Devenish as Director of Communication

12th May 2016

Dr. Vanessa Woods, CEO of Agri Aware, has been appointed as the new Director of Communication with Devenish.

Woods has headed up Agri Aware for the past five years, being the longest serving and first female CEO. She comes from a beef and tillage farm outside Athboy in Co. Meath and has great passion for farming.

Some notable achievements during her term at the helm of Agri Aware include the development of significant networks with key officials in the European Commission, having hosted two European Agriculture Commissioners in the Agri Aware and Dublin Zoo Family Farm. She also secured four consecutive bids (worth €1.7 million) for funding to the European Commission. Agri Aware also secured agreement from government to update the Agricultural Science syllabus for leaving certificate students after some forty years and Vanessa has been a key driver of this, having being appointed by the NCCA in a formal role for this purpose. Indeed, she was also appointed as the first Chair of Examiners for the new GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use in Northern Ireland.

The equine industry has also recently joined Agri Aware’s growing patron base for the first time and Woods was the driver of this. Equine now forms a key part of the new draft Agricultural Science specification for leaving certificate students for the first time. Indeed, the activity in the Agri Aware and Dublin Zoo Family Farm has also been transformed under her leadership, now an award-winning venue to communicate the importance of farming and the Irish agri-food industry to more than one million annual visitors.

Woods' vision for Agri Aware was always to work on an all-island basis and Agri Aware communicated CAP across the island of Ireland last year. The organisation will do so once again, having just won a bid worth €562k from the European Commission.

Commenting on her new appointment, she said "I am hugely passionate about farming and our agri-food industry and I am really looking forward to joining the team at Devenish, a key patron of Agri Aware. The Devenish business spans right across the globe and they have bold ambitions for growth. Having just won the Queens' Award for Enterprise and International Trade, I am hugely excited about joining this thriving and progressive company."

"It has been my pleasure and privilege to work with my Chairmen, Richard Moeran and Bernard Donohue, my Board of Directors, my team, the five founding patrons of Agri Aware and the seventy patrons from across the Irish agri-food industry, who have supported Agri Aware over the past five years. I have truly enjoyed my time with Agri Aware and I wish to thank each and every one of these people for taking the organisation to where it is today. I look forward to continuing my work with the agri-food industry in my new role as Director of Communication with Devenish. My successor and Board will have my full support and the support of Devenish, to ensure a smooth transition and I have no doubt that Agri Aware will continue to play a pivotal role in engaging the general public in the importance of Irish agriculture."

Chairman of Agri Aware, Mr. Richard Moeran said "Vanessa's announced departure from Agri Aware will be a loss for the organisation, she has headed up the independent trust for the past five years, winning four consecutive funding bids from Brussels to communicate the importance of CAP to the Irish consumer. Vanessa’s background has allowed her to bring a science-based approach to Agri Aware for the first time. Her involvement with the introduction and delivery of the new industry-relevant specification for leaving certificate Agricultural Science has been hugely significant and this process is nearing completion, with the new course being expected to reach schools by 2017."

"As Chairman of the Board and on a personal level, I wish Vanessa every success in her new role at Devenish, a valued patron of Agri Aware. Looking to the future, I am confident that Agri Aware will continue its nineteen year successful track record of communicating the importance of farming, agriculture and the agri-food industry to the general public."

Executive Chairman of Devenish, Mr. Owen Brennan, said "Devenish is delighted to welcome Vanessa to our team and share her commitment to a smooth transition for Agri Aware in their important work on all our behalf".

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