The Mentorship Spot
Agricultural Science at uGuelph
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Written By Emily Robins
Hi everyone! My name is Emily Robins and I just completed my fourth year in the agricultural science program at the University of Guelph. From growing up on my family farm, agriculture is in my roots, and I knew this was where I was meant to be. With the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) as the founding college at the University, there is no better place to study agriculture.
Agricultural science sounds broad — what can you study?
Under the agricultural science stream, there are three different majors you can choose from in your second year: honours, animal science, and crop horticulture and turfgrass science (CHAT). In first year, students are not required to decide on a major, which allows you to take generic science classes similar to other science programs. In second year, everyone is also required to take classes studying plants, animals, and soil, which helps you decide on what you’re more interested in. The animal science program is focused on animal production, nutrition, and physiology. This major can lead into career paths such as nutritionists and veterinary medicine. The CHATs program is focused around plants and their development and can lead into a future in agronomy or plant breeding. The honours program is a combination of the two. There is more flexibility in the courses you can take, which allows you to study the animal science and plant courses at once.
I don’t live on a farm — why should I study agriculture?
Living on a farm is not a part of the admission requirements! There are many students in my program that did not grow up on a farm. From first year, everyone in the program takes the same courses to be at the same level. Although students who are from a farm might have more personal experiences with agricultural practices, my professor once said that “the students who aren’t from a farm learn more, as they do not have any biases.”
A major reason to consider studying agriculture is the job sector for after University. For every graduate there are FOUR jobs in the agriculture sector. There is such a high demand for graduates of this program, which will be increasing over time due to the increasing population.
What types of extra-curriculars are available to those in the OAC?
There are many agricultural clubs to get involved with to further your education. From dairy science, beef club, College Royal, horticulture club and the soil and crop club, you can quickly fill up your schedule going to every meeting. At most club meetings, there are guest speakers who come and talk about industry problems or practices related to the type of club. This is a great opportunity to meet industry professionals as well as gain real-world education from the speakers. If that doesn’t interest you, then the free food at most meetings will!
What’s one thing you wish you knew before going into first year?
Once arriving to university, I think it’s important to recognize your mistakes and learn from them. The transition from high school to university can be difficult, especially with learning as there is no one around to make sure you’re completing homework and assignments and to make sure you’re studying for that midterm. The first midterm season can be difficult for some, and many students not getting the marks they used to achieve in high school, and that is OKAY. Grades do not define who you are or what your potential is, but it’s important to look back on why you didn’t get a great mark, and make changes to improve. There are many resources on campus such as supported learning groups (SLG) at the library, tutors, and your TAs and profs. By making these changes to understand the course content, you can be better prepared for the next assignment and the final exam.
If you have any questions about agricultural science or the University of Guelph, please feel free to reach out to me!
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