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This is ag: A life-changing experience

Holly Fisher has grown a lot since beginning Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill. Her studies and participation in Cultiv8 is only the beginning for her.
Holly Fisher has grown a lot since beginning Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill. Her studies and participation in Cultiv8 is only the beginning for her.

If you had asked Holly Fisher four years ago to stand in front of hundreds of people and speak on behalf of her graduating class, she probably would have said no.

But that’s exactly what she did at the Faculty of Agriculture graduation ceremony Friday, May 12 as her class valedictorian.

 Nervous? Not at all: instead, she was overcome with a sense of pride and accomplishment for overcoming the obstacles that stood in her way.



Holly’s dream to study animal science at the Agricultural Campus was overshadowed by one major detail — at 25 years old, she didn’t have a high school diploma.

 Holly, from Masstown, enrolled in the Adult Learning Program at the Nova Scotia Community College and earned her high school diploma.  She then set her sights on the Faculty of Agriculture. After upgrading courses over the summer she began her bachelor of science in agriculture program.
 
Four years later, she was voted valedictorian by her classmates and addressed the Class of 2017 during its convocation ceremony. 

In the past, Holly explains, her speech impediment, oral dyslexia, kept her from public speaking. She admits she wouldn’t have perfected her public speaking skills if it wasn’t for her involvement with Cultiv8.

Entrepreneurial experience

Holly has been involved with Cultiv8 for two years. Cultiv8, a collaborative program that is offered to both Dalhousie and Acadia students, offers students access to business mentors and entrepreneurial resources. Through Cultiv8, students are given the opportunity to learn entrepreneurship through programs, mentoring and interactive programming.

 Holly has competed in a number of pitching competitions and business development workshops allowing her to work on her business idea using the business model canvas while earning credits towards her degree.  It was through Cultiv8 that Holly developed the idea for her business, 3Meals, which Holly plans to produce a protein supplement from mealworms, which are high in protein, full of nutrients and environmentally friendly.



“I have always had an interest in entomophagy and believe it will play a crucial role in agriculture in the future,” Holly explains. “The need for a reliable and cost efficient protein source is becoming important as the population grows and insects may prove to be the answer for this problem.”

Coming full circle

Holly has also taken part in pitching competitions through Cultiv8 such as Start It Up at Acadia University as well as Sprint Ag and Pitch Ag at Dal AC. She even had the opportunity to compete in the Canadian Business Model Competition which then led her to compete in the International Business Competition in Seattle, Washington.



“These events were fantastic learning and networking experiences and gave me an understanding of the amazing things going on in Nova Scotia and around the world,” Holly says.



This summer, Holly’s journey has come full circle as she will be working as assistant co-ordinator at Cultiv8.

“I have been so impressed and proud of Holly and her development over the past two years that I have worked with her,” says Jolene MacEachern, Cultiv8 co-ordinator. “I have watched her grow as a student and a professional and it’s a pleasure to have her commitment and talent as we further develop the Cultiv8 program.”

It was through her academics at Dal AC and Holly’s love of insects that led her to discover her true passions — teaching and research. Holly plans to continue her education and pursue a Master’s degree through Dal AC and Cape Breton University after graduation.

“I have been bitten by the teaching bug,” Holly laughs. “My dream is to one day be a professor teaching at a university and completing research.”



A sense of community

As Holly closes one chapter in her life, she can’t help but anxiously anticipate the adventure she faces as the next one begins. From not graduating high school to forging a path to becoming a teacher, Holly reflects on her time spent at Dal AC and admits the opportunities and experiences she was presented truly made her time on the agricultural ampus a life-changing experience.



“The best part about studying at Dal AC has been the sense of community on campus,” Holly says. “People here are always helpful and willing to take a minute to have a great conversation. I have made some great connections on this campus and friends that I will have for life, because of my time here and I don’t think you can find that on any other campus.”

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