Agricultural campus about more than just farming

Annual open house promotes fun and learning

Harry Sullivan
Published on July 24, 2014

BIBLE HILL - Grinning from ear to ear and covered in soap bubbles from head to toe, Jeremy O'Connell, couldn't seem to get enough of the Bubble Barn.

"It's really fun," said the 12-year-old, in between repeated belly slides down the bubbly slope, one of the featured attractions for children during the annual open house at the Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus.

"You get wet and I think every kid enjoys a good slip and slide."

And who knows, perhaps one day he just may decide to become a student here.

"Yeah maybe," he said, before launching himself into yet another face-first slide through the mass of white bubbles.

A short while later, over in the ruminant animal barn, little Ian Grant, 3, stood mesmerized, at times smiling widely, or staring intently as a sheep shearer quickly zipped off a thick coat of wool from the placid animal at her feet.

"Sheep is fuzzy," he said, when asked what he thought of the process.

Ian's mother Allison, an alumni of the AC, said she comes to the open house each year, in large part because of the day's light-hearted festivities.

"Because it's always a good time," she said. "It's a chance for me to see old friends and professors.

And in large part, that is precisely what the day is all about, said event organizer and campus marketing manager Mary-Eleanor Walker.

"So it is a very strong tradition on campus," she said, of the open houses that have been held for more than 20 years. "And we really want people to have fun and really get to know us as a campus."

But the day is also an opportunity to show what the campus is all about and what agriculture can really mean, Walker said.

"And it means a range of things. Often people think of farming but it's certainly more than that," she said, of the research work and related activities that occur there. "The message we want to get out there is the range of what agriculture means."

And while farming makes up a big part of that, she said, "there's a lot more to learn and see and do."

Walker said about 1,000 people, from adults to young children, participated in the day's many events.

Twitter: @tdnharry