Crossing the fence to greener pastures at College Royal 2012
Stephanie Rogers - October 25, 2012
It’s a celebration of the long-standing tradition of agricultural showmanship – and the unique character of Dal’s Agricultural Campus.
The theme of the 2012 College Royal competition, a beloved yearly event in Truro/Bible Hill, was “Crossing the Fence to Greener Pastures.” Demonstrations include livestock handling skills, knowledge of agricultural plants and the ever popular Farmers' Olympics, which are a myriad of events relating to "Good Ol' Life on the Farm” – think hay bale rolling, feed sack racing and of course the famous milk chug.
The event is a testament to generations of students dedicated to maintaining the culture of animal-husbandry and health, while continuing to improve public awareness of agricultural issues.
“I want to support our students in what I know firsthand is a very challenging endeavor,” said Dean and Campus Principal Harold Cook. “I was president of College Royal back in my day in 1966 and it was a leadership experience that set me on the path to where I am today.” He added that, “Show day is definitely the heart of the event and is a tradition for our students that is likely as old as the campus itself.”
Showcasing farming skills
Nearly 150 students participated in the livestock show on Friday afternoon – the highlight of the Royal – in showmanship classes such as Novice and Experienced Dairy, Novice and Experienced Sheep and Open Poultry. Twelve faculty and staff also participated in the same classes in their own category.
“College Royal celebrates the agricultural tradition of the campus and allows our students from farming families to demonstrate their expertise as well as provide an opportunity for our students who are not familiar with farms to learn new skills,” said Assistant Dean Students Keltie Jones.
“I participate in the staff and faculty class because it helps connect me to the students, giving them an opportunity to see me in a different context. The event provides a wonderful opportunity for all faculty and staff to engage with our students outside of our formal roles.”
Crossing the fence from Dal’s Halifax campuses to participate in the faculty and staff competition were Pam Williams and Meri-Kim Oliver, both with agricultural backgrounds. Oliver, assistant vice-president of student academic success services, grew up on a farm. Williams, director of Dal’s International Centre, is an “aggie” herself from Guelph. Bill Hart from Student Services also participated.
Meri-Kim Oliver prepares for competition.
"I find that each time I am on the Truro campus I develop a deeper appreciation of the campus itself and this is an opportunity to see first-hand one of the activities that gives the campus its energy and welcoming feel,” explained Oliver. “I also confess to a bit of nostalgia as a farm girl who has been away from the farm for too long. I welcome the opportunity to be reminded why this is such an important part of our Canadian and human culture.”
“I'm an aggie and any time I get the chance to get into a barn, muck out a stall or get close to farm animals I grab it,” added Williams. “I also felt it was important to show support from the Halifax campus for an event that is a long standing tradition at many agricultural campuses. As a result of the recent merger Dalhousie is very fortunate to have inherited such a rich tradition – one that is worth celebrating. It's a time for students, faculty and staff to showcase what they're all about, demonstrate pride in what they do and have some fun.”
Student leadership on display
College Royal doesn’t only involve students – the competition is actually student-organized.
“College Royal is a chance for everyone to come out, have some fun and try something new,” explained Heather Creamer, a former College Royal Overall Showman Champion, who served as co-chair for the event along with Leigh Sandwith.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to do some large animal handling and get some great experience. As a participant, it’s so much fun - everyone gets a good laugh because someone always ends up with a stubborn heifer that just won't move or drags you around the yard. Overall it’s an amazing experience and one I think everyone should try at least once.”
Matt MacMinn, first-year animal science student with Ramberghini, waiting for their turn in the Novice Sheep class.
Judges look for the best showman in each class. The individual who best presents his or her animal, has the most control and appears the most comfortable wins the class.
Also during the Royal, a team of 11 students from the Judging Club Team held an in-house judging competition and fundraiser to prepare for the Canadian Intercollegiate Judging Competition in March at the University of Guelph. The fundraiser? Cow Patty Bingo of course!
College Royal results
Champion dairy showman: Sarah MacDonnell
Champion Reserve dairy showman: Pascale MacLeod
Champion sheep showman: Vicki MacKintosh
Champion Reserve sheep showman: Margaret Sutherland
Champion poultry: Kate Dufresne
Champion Reserve poultry: Kayla Graham
Overall Champion showman: Kayla Graham
Overall Reserve Champion: Sarah MacDonnell
Faculty and Staff Results
Faculty winner was Marla McKay and second was Sarah Gatti-Yorke