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Better Together

Posted by stephanie rogers on April 6, 2020 in News

Close to 200 alumni, family and friends gathered virtually to celebrate the Class of 2020 as they received their Barley Rings – a symbol of graduation from the Faculty of Agriculture that’s, in some ways, more coveted than the graduation ceremony itself.

From as far away as Pakistan, South Korea and British Columbia, viewers interacted with host Dean David Gray, dressed in his Cornish kilt, as well as with Rocky The Ram – the campus’ mascot who is self-quarantining with the Dean during the current pandemic.

“We had a fantastic virtual Barley Party on Friday evening, thanks to so many who joined in and made it so much fun!” said Dean Gray.  “The feedback we have received thus far is incredible…with 4000+ views it has certainly been much appreciated by our students, but also our alumni and friends of the campus right across the globe.”

Barley swag was given to a variety of viewers, recognizing those calling in  from the furthest away (Pakistan); the oldest Class member (1956) and the first to post their Barley Ring photos (Erin and Mark MacPherson) and much more.

Graduates viewed a video message from members of the Agriculture Alumni Association and previous honorary ring recipients and were treated to a slightly altered version of ‘Better Together’ performed by alum, Jason Grant (Class of ’11 & ‘13) and Murdo Messer.

"Wearing my Barley Ring gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride," said Julia Vosman, Class of 2020. "It is a symbol of all the hard work that went into my degree and reminds me of the amazing alumni family I am now a part of.  My brother and sister-in-law were recipients of the first Barley Rings 10 years ago and I am very proud to don a ring alongside them.  Although the Barley Party was not held in its traditional fashion this year, I really appreciated the Faculty putting time and effort into making the Class of 2020 feel special during this difficult time. I loved how it involved several graduating classes and showcased the photos of their rings - and of course, Dean Gray never disappoints!"

Unveiled 10-years-ago, the Barley ring is the official graduation ring of the Faculty of Agriculture.  Since its launch in 2010, it has become a highly recognized symbol for the Faculty.  As of February 2020, there are 1225 rings worn by alumni around the world!  Rings were mailed to each recipient once the event was cancelled.

The textured design features a pattern of barley around the band of the ring, handmade by jeweler, Donna Hiebert. She came up with the initial concept while walking her dog from her studio in Halifax, NS. Donna continues to make every Barley Ring by hand.

Thanks to the ring, barley has quickly become an unofficial symbol on the Agricultural Campus. Alumni, staff and students are now wearing barley belt buckles, pendants and tie clips and a larger than life Barley arch was installed in the Alumni Gardens inspired by an arch at a public garden near the FAFU campus, in China.

A special display in the Student Learning Commons is also being curated by Library staff in honour of the 10th anniversary and will be available for viewing at a later date.

A replay of the event and both videos can be viewed on the @dalagriculture Facebook page