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This is ag: Making the right choice

Christine Ellsworth made the right decision to attend Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Bible Hill. She didn’t have farming experience upon enrolling, but quickly fell in love with the campus and its education.
Christine Ellsworth made the right decision to attend Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture in Bible Hill. She didn’t have farming experience upon enrolling, but quickly fell in love with the campus and its education. - Contributed

By: EMMA GELDART

Born and raised in St. John’s, N.L., Faculty of Agriculture student Christine Ellsworth had no plans to move away from the place she has always called home.

With no background in farming, Ellsworth always had her eye on studying physiotherapy. It wasn’t until she realized her heart wasn’t in it that she began to look elsewhere, stumbling upon Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture.

“I knew nothing about farming or agriculture … when I came here. I had never heard of 4-H and I was pretty new to almost every experience. I milked and did barn chores for the very first time here in my first year,” she said.

Three years later, she hasn’t looked back. Now set to graduate in 2020, it was the opportunities made available to her through the Faculty of Agriculture that helped Ellsworth excel in a program that was otherwise foreign to her.

“Dal AC is so unique and provides amazing experiences. I believe that all starts with the very real concern that all professors and staff have for every student. Because of their caring nature, I've made a home.”

Earlier this spring, Ellsworth was one of 51 students to participate in the foundational year of the RBC Agricultural Internship Program. RBC announced an investment of $250,000 as part of RBC’s Future Launch Program which aims to empower Canadian youth with job experience, networking and skills development to enhance their chance of career success after graduation. Combined with classroom study, the 12-week internships enable students to gain the skills necessary to become knowledgeable professionals in the agricultural field.

Through RBC’s Agricultural Internship Program, Ellsworth completed an internship in Newfoundland at Country Ribbon Inc., a company that supplies Newfoundland and Labrador with high-quality, fresh and individually fresh frozen chicken products.

“In this time of unprecedented economic and technological change in the agriculture sector, Canada’s future prosperity will depend on our young people and their ability to lead us forward," said Bruce Young, RBC vice-president, Commercial Financial Services, Cape Breton and Eastern Nova Scotia, who graduated from what was then the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Economics and Business.

As one of two interns from Dal AC, Ellsworth was hired as a research student tasked with two projects that investigated areas in which the company could improve their practices. Not only did she conduct research to support the objectives of the company, but throughout the term Ellsworth was presented with opportunities to work in different areas of the company.

“One of my main projects was to look at the economic and nutritive aspects of making soybean meal on site, rather than having it shipped in,” Ellsworth says. “The second project was to look at ways to better deal with waste, such as manure and deceased birds.”

She is now applying knowledge learned through her work experience to the classroom.

“This internship experience allowed me to improve, both academically and professionally,” Ellsworth said. “I learned how to work hard and to work towards what I want. It allowed me to be introduced into a community I didn’t have access to previously.”

As Ellsworth focuses on the last year and a half of her degree, she is grateful for the opportunities Dal AC have offered her.

“The AC campus is phenomenal. You are a face and a person to the professors and not just a number like at many other campuses. If you have a farming or agricultural background then great, but if you don’t there’s no reason to be intimidated. I was completely clueless when I got here and now it’s certainly a place I call home.”

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