Posted by: colleenoshea | April 3, 2009

In Thanks…

This past Thursday marked my last class of Agriculture Communications, and I’m pretty sad it’s over. Agri-Communications part one and two defiantly have been the best two courses throughout my entire four years here at the University of Guelph. Although I am in Child Youth and Family development and have completely loved all my courses for my degree, I am SO grateful that I got the opportunity to connect with my agricultural roots and take this class. I have learned so much this past year and am taking so many new skills with me. This is a class that I will actually remember when I look back at my university career, and know I will apply my skills from it in the “real world”. For me, the highlights of both Ag-Communications one and two were the radio assignment (mine is posted two posts below), the speech competition, and the video assignment we did at the Royal Winter Fair. Watch my video below which I did with two very good friends Aric Bos and Kimberly Van Der Sluis 🙂

I’d like to thank my professor, Owen Roberts for leading us through this amazing course. Owen has been an inspiration to me to possibly re-route my plan of becoming a teacher and walk down the path of ag-communications. He has been one of the best profs I have had in University. If I do become a teacher, I only hope I will be half the teacher that he has been for me. I also want to thank my fellow students for all the laughs during our time together in this class, and making this such an enjoyable year. I will never forget you all!

a look at my farm from the road....

a look at my farm from the road....

This coming week, I will attend my last lecture of my University career and end my past 17 years of school. The upcoming months certainly will be a major transition and although it will be very hard to leave my life I have created here at the University of Guelph, I am quite excited for the challenges that lay ahead.

My sister, cousin, friend and I showing off our pumpkins just a few years ago!

My sister, cousin, friend and I showing off our pumpkins just a few years ago!

It feels like a very long time has passed since I let go of my Mom and Dads hands at the end of our driveway and stepped onto that big yellow bus for my very first time. And now, here I am today, finishing up my 4th year in Child Youth and Family Development at University. I certainly have grown a whole lot from 17 years ago, but looking back on all my education I am confident in saying some of the greatest lessons I have learned have come from growing up on a farm.

Being raised as the youngest of four children I have learned from my siblings and parents the real meaning of hard work, commitment and dedication. I know what it feels like to get up early in the morning to get chores done, or to work well into the night to plant crops before the rain comes. I have seen the teamwork that comes during harvest time, the sweat and fatigue that comes with picking rocks all day in the hot sun, and the stubbornness or “dedication” some may call it of my father picking that last row of sweet corn by the headlights of our pickup truck the night before market, ensuring he picks just the right cob.

Showing my Hereford beef heifer at the National Junior Hereford Show Bonanza in 2005

Showing my hereford beef heifer at the National Junior Hereford Show Bonanza in 2005

Growing up on a farm has taught me to care for our environment in every way possible. Farmers are stewards of our earth, and I have seen that first hand, watching my family members care for their crops and our land so diligently. I have learned to extend this care to animals as well. From raising 4-H beef projects, to bottle feeding a baby lamb whose mother passed away during birth, I know the importance of nurturing these animals.

I have learned to live a balanced lifestyle including a healthy diet and a plentiful amount of exercise. I know to be sure to get my fair share of fruits and veggies, and walk the fields regularly to check that the irrigation system is set up right, or if the beans are ready for harvest.

Growing up on a family farm I have learned to be kind to one another, especially your neighbors. I have learned that a strong, caring community is one of the most invaluable assets one can be blessed with. When its 4am and a neighbors barn roof is about to collapse because of the mass amounts of snow on it, it is important to reach out and lend a hand with a shovel in it. I’ve learned that if you are kind to others, they will turn around and be kind back.

I have learned that life isn’t an easy and smooth road. Obstacles will come up that you will have no control over, and that you will need to overcome. Be it bad weather for crops or the border being closed to Canadian beef exports, farming and life in general has its fair share of hardships. However it is vital to be resilient and recognize that these challenges present us with an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop for the better.

two of the most amazing people in my parents.

two of the most amazing people in my parents.

From a young age I have learned that the family farm truly dues nurture close family ties and that my family is the most precious gift in my life. I know that I can’t put a price on the quality, bonding time I get to spend selling produce at the local farmers market with my Dad, caring for the flower beds with my Mom, or working on 4-H animals with my siblings.

Overall, one of the greatest lessons I have learned from growing up on a farm is to enjoy the simple things in life. To take time to appreciate the miracle of the birth of that new baby calf. To smile at the sight of the first blossom popping through on the strawberry plant. To run and jump in the mud puddles in bare feet with my siblings, or to just be grateful to look up at the stars on a clear, dark night.

Although my plan right now is to go on to teachers college to expand my passion for children, I will never forget the lessons that I have learned because of my ties to agriculture. I know I will make ag-education front and centre in my classroom one day. And I only hope I can instill the values I have gained from growing up on a family farm in my students, and spread the passion of an industry that I have been so blessed to be connected with.

my brother looking out over our strawberry fields...he is the next generation to own our family farm...

my brother looking out over our strawberry fields...he is the next generation to own our family farm...

Have a listen! Hear this post as a podcast by clicking >here< Enjoy!

Posted by: colleenoshea | March 27, 2009

Making Connections between Stress and Disease

This semester I had the privilege of working with Prof. Jeff Caswell of the Pathobiology department at the University of Guelph. He is a researcher currently studying how stress leads to bacterial pneumonia in beef cattle. Listen to my radio piece I created on his research by clicking here. Enjoy!


The 85th annual College Royal Open House is finally here! University students have been working like busy bees to organize last minute details and put the final touches on preparations for the weekend.

College Royal is the largest student run open house in all of North America, involving over 3000 student volunteers. It’s a perfect event for families to end of the March break with, and the best part is it’s an absolute FREE weekend!

I can remember attending the open house weekend when I was younger and my oldest brother was in University. Holding my Mom by the hand I was blown away by everything I could see and do. I’m confident that the young and young at heart who attend this year will have similar feelings.

There really is something for EVERYONE to see during the College Royal open house this weekend. If you haven’t done so already, click here to download a booklet and decide which events you will attend! To help you out, I have comprised a list of my favorite top 5 things to do during open house weekend!

cr08-0221#1) The Live stock Show- this is held in the Gryphon Dome starting at 9am. Here you can watch student participants in both novice and experienced divisions show beef cattle, swine, dairy cattle, horses and my favorite- ducks! The duck show is especially entertaining, involving costumes and an abundant amount of team spirit!

#2) The Pancake Flip- this is held in the University Centre courtyard and runs both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30-11:30am. Not only can you enjoy delicious varieties of pancakes for only $0.75/ pancake, but you can be entertained by teams showing their team spirit and unbelievable pancake flipping skills.


The College Royal Officers from 2008 after their square dancing set!

#3) Square Dancing- this is held in the main gym of the athletic centre and runs both Saturday and Sunday. A true U of G tradition, come out and watch students competitions and open competitors as they swing their partner round and round.

#4) Food Science Club- go check out this clubs display in the Food Science Building, room 241 where you can indulge in delicious MILKSHAKES! In my opinion, these are the best milkshakes in the world- coming in a variety of colors. Get there quick as these milkshakes are a hot item!

#5) Old MacDonald’s NEW farm- held in the dairy barns on the east side of Gordon Street both Saturday and Sunday all day. The young and the young at heart can meet many farm animals on display. The barn is full of educational displays and information. As well, don’t miss Jim Atkinsons “rumen with a view” demonstration at 11am, 1pm and 3pm both Saturday and Sunday.

There really is SO much to see and do at the College Royal Open House, and I encourage everyone to check it out. If I had my choice I would write a “my favorite top 50 things to do at open house” list, but I think I would loose your attention. However, I think you can sense my enthusiasm for this remarkable event and get my point that you will not be disappointed if you attend College Royal 2009!

If you need any help, look for a smiling student such as myself bouncing around campus over the next few days in a bright blue College Royal coat, and we will be sure to help you out!

Posted by: colleenoshea | March 18, 2009

Support Local by Eating Local at the Woolwich Arms in Guelph!

On the weekend my parents came up for a visit, and took my roommate and I out to dinner to give us a break from our “student cooking”. We headed off to our favorite spot, The Woolwich Arms. My roommate had never heard of this place, and I’m afraid it is too much of a hidden secret in Guelph. Thus, I wanted to write this post to spread the word of this charming pub.

Every time I eat at this restaurant I am continually impressed by the service, reasonable prices and above all, their mission and commitment to support the local food movement.This quaint little pub has an incredibly unique atmosphere. As I have spent my past two summers in Ireland, and have spent my fair share of time in pubs there, I can undoubtedly say it is parallel to the warm environment that is found in pubs on the green isle.

What makes this pub most unique however is their menu, which involves food and drinks comprised of almost entirely locally grown ingredients. For example, their fries are made with fresh cut Ontario grown potatoes, their hummus is made with Ontario grown peanuts, and their “Elk Bangers and Mash” include Ontario Harvest Farm’s succulent game sausages. My favorite dish is their shepherds pie, topped with Ontario grown mashed potatoes. My parent’s enjoy their Ontario bison burgers.

The beers on tap at the Woolwich Arms also support the local food movement. The majority of thtap-2eir beers are from right here in Guelph Ontario. In fact, their house draught and “signature” beer is the first beer in 30 years to be made with Ontario grown barley. It’s described as well-balanced ale, a superb session beer with rich copper color, full of malt flavor and a perfectly balanced hop finish. The remaining beers on the menu come from within Canada including Burlington and Creemore Canada, Montreal and Chambly Quebec, St. Johns New Brunswick and Calgary Alberta. The only two which don’t originate in Canada include Guinness from Ireland and Strongbow Cider from Britian—both which I consider staples for pubs.

If you haven’t eaten or gone for a pint to this exquisite place, I strongly encourage you to do so. Not only will you get a brilliant meal or tasty ale, but also you will be doing your part to support local farmers. You will be giving back to your local economy while satisfying your taste buds all in one!

The pub is located at 176 Woolwich St. (corner of Yarmouth and Woolwich) Guelph, Ontario and their phone number is 519-836-2875. Check them out on the web at


Posted by: colleenoshea | March 15, 2009

First Weekend of College Royal a Huge Success!

This past weekend marked the first weekend of events for College Royal 2009 and it certainly was a huge success!

Christina and I having some fun introducing the next act for the fashion show on Friday night!

Chrstina and I having some fun at the fashion show on Friday night!

On Friday night I had the pleasure, along with my friend Christina Crowley of being the Emcee’s for the fashion show. Christina and I simply had a blast! The theme of the show was “Summertime” and we took full advantage of this,

wearing our flips flops and sundresses to present in. Our main role was to fill the time in-between acts to allow the models to get ready. In addition we gave out over $400.00 worth of door prizes which were donated to College Royal. Door prizes

ranged from athletic shirts, to manicure gift certificates to hair dressing packages. On top of door prize donations, local business from the Guelph area also donated the clothes the models wore. Some of the stores which were showcased included Dino’s Athletics, Art of Denim, Earth Soul Apparel, Tip Top Tailors, Dressings and the University of Guelph Bookstore.

The models did a fantastic job strutting down the isle and showing off their choreographed dances. The entire show was very professionally done, and very special as it was entirely put on by student volunteers. The models, hair dressers, make up artists, choreographer, and show organizer – all students—deserve a very big pat on the back for a job well done.

On Saturday night, the year long anticipated College Royal Ball was held in the University Center and certainly was the cherry on top to the sensational first weekend of College Royal 2009.

A view from the stairs of the courtyard decorations in process!

A view from the top of the UC as the decorations go up during the decorating journey....

   After 10 hours of decorating on Saturday, the UC defiantly was transformed into an “Eastern elegant journey through China”. The decorations simply were incredible. In my opinion the main courtyard was the highlight for decorations. Murals were hung with pictures of the Chinese New Year, accompanied by balloon arches and brightly colored lights, and even a dragon winding its way down a large set of stairs. Throughout the rest of the UC very detailed and intricate murals were hung just about everywhere capturing the light of eastern culture. Chinese lanterns and lights were strung from many ceilings, adding to the Chinese night time feel.

The music was superb, offering guests a little of everything. Downstairs in Peter Clarke Hall, The Bareback Riders played country in the “Forbidden City” room. In the courtyard, where “Chinese New Year” was celebrated the Test Icicles rocked out. Just around the corner in through the “Chinese Countryside”, ball goers could try their own hand in music by singing karaoke with John McGlone. Upstairs in the Brass Taps where the “Terracotta Warriors” were in place a DJ was available for guest’s requests. Up on the 4th floor in the “Chinese Village” the Dave Huber Trio played their tune, while the Grad Lounge housed a DJ for “Fan Dancing”. Finally, the University Club was transformed into the “Imperial Gardens” where DJs Ian Gromes and Shane Gautreau entertained the crowds.

Overall, the organization of the ball this year couldn’t have been any better. The entrance into the ball and coat checks ran smoothly, the decorations looked great and the music had everyone tapping their toes. Congrats to everyone involved in College Royal for an extremely successful first weekend!


Ready to have a BALL on Saturday night!

Ready to have a BALL on Saturday night!

Posted by: colleenoshea | March 4, 2009

College Royal 2009 Kicks Off Next Week!

The 85th annual College Royal at the University of Guelph will kick off in just one week, and the excitement certainly is building! If you haven’t checked out this incredible 12 day event in the past, be sure not to miss out on the opportunity to this year. “Continuing the Royal Legacy” is the theme of this years event, and what a perfect fit this is, as this esteemed tradition is one that many people from near and far are sure to attend every year.

On March 11 College Royal will officially begin with the “Kick off Pub” held on campus in Peter Clarke Hall. Tickets are just $5.00 to attend this entertaining night, one which celebrates the start of a 12 day roller coaster of adventures.

Sick of winter? Is fashion up your alley? Then be sure to catch a glimpse of hotter weather at the College Royal Fashion Show themed “Summertime” on March 13th.. This show features U of G students modeling clothes from local business. As well, the College Royal officers will have a number in the show which has proven to be one of the highlights in previous years. The show starts at 7pm and tickets are just $5.

One of my personal favorite events of College Royal is the ball which will be held on March 14th at the University Centre. This year’s ball will have a unique twist, inspired by the ball decorator’s previous semester in China. The theme is “Eastern Elegance- a Journey through China”, and the decorations that have been prepared have been quoted as “absolutely amazing, authentic and ethnic”. Walking through the 5 floors of the UC you very well may feel like you are strolling through the Chinese village, climbing over the Chinese mountains, or amongst the celebrations of Chinese New Year. The ball defiantly appeals to musical tastes of everyone, providing a wide variety of music style from country, to hip hop to karaoke, to rock. Tickets are still available and are $30.

The main event of College Royal, the open house weekend, will take place March 21-22 all across campus. There truly is something for everyone this weekend including pancake flipping, tug of war, logging, livestock shows, dog and cat shows, lecture series, milkshakes, square dancing, displays and exhibits by clubs from the University, Old Macs Farm, junior tractor rodeo, photography competition, flower arranging competition and SO much more. Stayed tuned to my blog next week to find out more details on this weekend, including my top 10 recommended things to see and do during open house weekend.

Click here to go to the page which will allow you to download the CR2009 booklet. Using this booklet you can get a head start and circle the events you defiantly don’t want to miss out on!

Overall, College Royal is truly an incredible event. It is the largest student run open house in North America, and that’s what I feel makes it so special. Its exclusively students, coming together to put on a free weekend for the public and their peers to showcase the University of Guelph and all that it has to offer. I’m incredibly grateful for having been involved with organizing this esteemed event, and am so proud of the hard work, time and dedication our entire executive does to pull off this event without a hitch. Be sure to get in on the action….I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!

For more information, take a look at the College Royal website at or call the CR office at 824-4120 ext. 58366

Posted by: colleenoshea | March 1, 2009

Farmers Markets Proven to be a Benefit Across the Country

    fmcbannerv51 The most comprehensive study of its kind in Canada was released to farmer’s markets vendors last week at the first annual Farmers Markets Canada conference and annual general meeting. The National Farmers Markets Impact Study was conducted in 2008 to “assess trends and highlight opportunities for growth in farmers’ markets in Canada”. Unfortunately I was not in attendance at this year’s conference; however my father was there taking notes for me. He commented that it was a very exciting time to see the results unveiled to farmers from across the country.

Overall, the combined economic impact of farmers’ markets in Canada is estimated in a range between $2 billion and $3 billion. Profiles of average market shoppers were included in the study, including details on how these average shoppers spend their money. Some main key points that the study reveled include:

• Farmers’ markets remain strong contributors both to the economy and to the fabric of Canadian communities.

• Farmers’ markets continue to show growth on an annual basis.

• Farmers’ markets play a key role in the marketing of Canadian agricultural products; they play a significant role in generating farm incomes.

• Strong growth opportunities in this sector focus on more aggressive marketing and promotion of markets; on encouraging additional vendors and vendor capabilities; on improved access to labour; and on the development of more and improved facilities.

• The need for a National Association is recognized, in order to focus on and represent growth opportunities and to provide strong support for farmers’ market stakeholders.


 I think it’s pretty safe to say that farmers’ markets across the country are a definite benefit to the Canadian agricultural industry. From personal experience, I can certainly say that farmers markets truly are a setting where what I like to call “the magic” happens. That magic includes education, awareness, and entertainment. Farmers markets are the perfect time for consumers to meet their farmers, talk with them face to face and gain that trust that their food is being produced safely and locally. It is the perfect time for education and awareness on current agriculture related topics and on the importance of healthy food. Farmers markets are a time for the community to come together, to work in unison to improve their local economy, to do their part for the environment and of course, to have a visit and a laugh with neighbors. I am so thankful for having the opportunity to attend farmers’ markets as a vendor with my parents for the past 21 years of my life. I am proud that I have and continue to talk with customers, gain respect, raise issues and overall do my part to bridge the gap between city and country.




My Dad and I at the Grand Bend Farmers Market

My Dad and I at the Grand Bend Farmers Market

Posted by: colleenoshea | February 15, 2009

Ag-Education a Hot Topic


Recently, I was privileged enough to attend an inspiring seminar put on by CanACT (Canadian Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow) at the University of Guelph. At this presentation, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) President Bette Jean Crews and Ontario Agri-Food Education (OAFE) Executive Director Colleen Smith were the two guest speakers- telling their stories of their involvement in the agricultural industry. It was a very powerful evening as they are both very driven and determined women, and defiantly left the students in the room with new motivation

     Although many things interested me during the presentations, one thing that I was intrigued by was the constant theme in both presenters to “buy local. In particular, I was extra intrigued at Colleen’s views of integrating the local food movement into the classroom, as my future career path is in teaching. Colleen shared with us thoughts on how our education system has been improving when it comes to being informed about agricultural issues- especially food. She stated that more and more teachers are focusing in on the importance of healthy, local food.

     She distributed “education packs” to each of us, which OAFE handed out at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair this year. One resource in this pack was an OAFE pamphlet on the local food movement. Included on this pamphlet was the definition of the new word for 2007; “locavore”. A locavore is defined as a person who wants to make a difference in their environment by making an effort to eat food that has been grown and harvested within a 100mile radius of where they live. As well, the pamphlet included sample lesson plans of how teachers could integrate the importance of healthy

     I was particularly drawn to this and thought it was an excellent resource for teachers. I asked my mother, a family studies teacher if she had heard of this resource, or used any of the resources OAFE has available and she proudly commented that she does indeed use them, and that they are excellent assets to lessons. I strongly feel that MORE teachers need to use these resources. They are perfect ways to bridge the gap between urban and rural, to instill in young children the value of buying locally and in turn, to gain more support for our local farmers. As I will be graduating in April, and hopefully one day will be standing in front of a class of children, I know I will use OAFE’s resources and will be sure that Ag-Education is front and centre in my classroom.

Posted by: colleenoshea | February 10, 2009

“Canada’s Premier Horticultural Event” Approaches!

     Brock University in St Catherines Ontario will yet again be the host site of The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention next week. Otherwise known as “Canada’s Premier Horticultural Event” the conference will take place from Feb 18 to 19th. This leading horticulture show will include two “jammed packed” days of learning, networking and entertainment. According to the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention website, the highlights of this years event will include:

• Speakers from across Canada and the United States

• Two full days of learning sessions covering key horticultural issues

• Great networking opportunities with fellow growers and industry experts

• Trade show featuring industry leading suppliers

• Fine Food & Wine evening reception

• Sessions including: Apples, Berries, China, Direct Farm Marketing, Energy, Farmers’ Markets, Grapes, Organic, Pest Management, Tender fruit, Vegetables, Winery and many more (sessions subject to change).

In addition, a historical event will be held in conjunction with the conference- one which I am very excited for. The first annual Farmers Markets Canada Conference and Annual General Meeting will take place from February 16-17. During this exciting event, informative working and educating sessions will take place and the election of the first board of directors for Farmers Markets Canada will be named from across the country. As well, a major highlight will be the release of the 2008 Economic Impact Study of Canadian Farmers Markets- a study which farmers markets from every province participated in and thus will be quite intriguing to everyone. Immediately following the Farmers Market Ontario 19th Annual Networking Symposium will take place.


      For many horticulture enthusiasts this event is a nice change of pace from busy farm life to meet with other growers, or others involved in the horticulture business and share in their successes and challenges over the past year. I know my father will be in attendance again this year and this is an event which he looks forward to annually. Usually, this is a tradition for him and I to go to together and make the most of “father-daughter bonding time”, but unfortunately I will not be able to attend this year. As a youngster this conference simply was a chance for me to get off of school for a few days, spend some time with my Dad while staying in a hotel with a pool and to “terrorize the trade show” with my ‘Uncle’ Bob Chorny for free stuff. However, since my younger years I have learned that this event is so much more. It really is in a league of its own- bringing together some of the top researchers in the country, the greatest speakers, and experts in the fields of horticulture. It’s a time for horticultural enthusiasts to get together and share their thoughts, ideas and future plans for their operations and work together to improve the agricultural industry. It certainly will be an event in which many issues and topics on Ag-Communications will come forth, unfortunately I won’t be able to report on them…but will make sure Dad takes great notes for me.

To hear this blog post as a podcast click here

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