Student Success Progress Reports | Ontario Agricultural College

Student Success Progress Reports

Progress on elevating "Student Success"

Fall 2021 & Winter 2022

  • A pathway for the diploma in equine care and management to the bachelor of bio-resource management in equine management was approved. Graduates from the diploma program may be eligible to receive transfer credits for the degree program.
  • Co-op options for the associate diplomas in agriculture, equine care and management and horticulture have been added at Ridgetown Campus. 
  • OAC released its first graduate studies viewbook to promote graduate programs and support recruitment. 
  • The Departments of Food Science and Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics created a new master of dairy technology management program, beginning fall 2022. 
  • In partnership with the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, OAC secured a full-time position to provide statistical consulting services and teaching of the new course UNIV*6020 Applied Ag Stats. This position was previously a temporary role.
  • Sarah Labatt was hired as the Manager of the Equine Teaching Herd. In this role, she will provide support and expertise for courses offered as part of the BBRM Equine Management Program.
  • The Department of Food Science supported several undergraduate students in creating content for a new alternative proteins course. The students approached the department with their idea and were matched with a faculty advisor for support. They received course credit for their work and the content developed will be used to create a new elective course for undergraduate students.

Winter & Summer 2021

  • To support further experiential learning opportunities the OAC Dean’s Office piloted a new course (ENVS*3330 Flexible Environmental Internship) for a group of undergraduate and graduate students in environmental sciences. Students were required to complete a 40-hour flexible, unpaid internship that were done remotely and in-person, across North America. 
  • The Ridgetown Campus hosted their first Virtual Career Fair. They welcomed industry employers to discuss career possibilities for students.
  • The Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics upgraded the third-floor lounge of the J.D. Maclachlan Building into a student learning space.
  • The Department of Food Science launched a new online Cheese Maker Certificate for professional cheesemakers. The first course, Introduction to Cheese Making Technology, was offered in April 2021. 
  • Studio classes for landscape architecture students were converted to a digital collaboration platform, that fostered a greater community of participation and professional sector interactions were heightened.
  • The Dean’s Office partnered with the Student Federation of the OAC and the Alumni Association to host a virtual mentoring night for undergraduate and diploma students. Alumni mentors from different programs in OAC held breakout room sessions for students, shared their journey and answered questions.
  • The OAC Learning Trust (Richards Trust) supported the inaugural Impact Case Competition, which challenged teams of students to present solutions to a real-world sustainability problem. The competition was led by a team of OAC graduate students.
  • The Department of Animal Biosciences modified the required graduate course, ANSC*6610 Thesis Proposal and Professional Development, to foster skill and professional development.
  • The School of Environmental Design and Rural Development renovated the senior BLA and MLA studios in the Landscape Architecture building. The complete refurbishing included the integration of new technology (smartboards, electrified desks) and the modernization of collaborative environments and independent workstations. 
  • The Ridgetown Campus launched the new Agri-Food Entrance Scholarship program for students considering studies in agriculture, horticulture, or environmental management.

Summer & Fall 2020

  • The School of Environmental Sciences will be offering the new Bachelor of Indigenous Environmental Science and Practice (BIESP) program beginning in fall 2021. 
  • Co-op options for the B.Sc. Plant Science major, the Diploma in Turfgrass Management, and the B.B.R.M. Environmental Management and Equine Management majors have been added. 
  • The Department of Plant Agriculture modified the existing Crop, Horticultural and Turfgrass Sciences major of the B.Sc. (Agr.) into two majors: Horticulture and Crop Science. This modification to the major will make it easier for prospective students to identify areas of study and align their studies with their goals and career aspirations. 
  • The Department of Animal Biosciences set-up a biweekly teaching forum to exchange ideas and develop best practices for online teaching in response to COVID-19. The majority of academic units in OAC held similar meetings and brainstorming sessions in hopes of supporting student success in the Fall semester. 
  • The OAC Dean’s Office mailed a check-in note and gift card to all first year OAC students at the end of the Fall 2020 semester. The goal was to connect with our new students, congratulate them on making it through their first semester, and encourage a sense of community and support. 
  • For the Fall 2020 semester, the Department of Plant Agriculture facilitated in-person instruction for all courses they offer in the Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management, a significant undertaking for the 26 courses offered.  
  • The Department of Food Science launched a new distance delivery option of their MSc in Food Safety and Quality Assurance. The pilot offers an additional option where students can do complete a workplace practicum in place of a research project with a faculty member. 
  • The School of Environmental Design and Rural Development started several new initiatives to support their graduate students. These include a Rural Planning and Development Research Guide and Capacity Development and Extension Pathways Series of webinars featuring careers of alumni.
  • The OAC Program Counselling Office pivoted their offerings to virtual formats, including orientation sessions, recruitment events and individual appointments, ensuring students’ continued access to their support services. 
  • The School of Environmental Sciences initiated a new mentorship program, which matched up third- and fourth-year students with first-year incoming students. The program seeks to ease the transition of first-year students into university life and empower them to utilize all the resources and services offered by the University. 

Winter 2020

  • In early March 2020 we helped to host the Improve Life Challenge: Hack the Farm in a Climate of Change. The event was a one-day immersive experience where interdisciplinary student teams worked with community partners to develop solutions to challenges facing the agriculture and food sector including aging demographics, advancements in technology, and pressure for sustainable practices. Over half of the students involved were OAC students.
  • The Department of Animal Biosciences has made significant progress in bringing a teaching herd of eight horses to campus for exclusive use by equine management students. Renovations to accommodate the herd are now complete, and the horses will be brought to campus once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Special thanks to Prof. Wendy Pearson for all the additional effort she invested into making this happen for our students!
  • Work in many of our units continues on the development of online program and course offerings. Our Depts. of Food Science and Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics are working on a new online Master in Dairy Tech Management program. The Dept. of Food Science is also working on moving their FSQA program fully online and developing an online certificate in cheesemaking. Ridgetown Campus is also moving forward with plans to develop online certificates and diplomas.
  • The School of Environmental Sciences completed work to improve the work-integrated opportunities available for its B.Sc. (Env.) students.
  • Dean’s office staff supported graduate students through various new initiatives, including information sessions on applying to scholarships and 3MT preparation.
  • In March 2020, Jong Liu, a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resources Economics, was hired directly into a faculty role at Texas A&M University, one of the top American colleges for agricultural economics.

Fall 2019

  • The OAC Student Liaison Program began partnering with the Ministry of Education to host themed Specialist High School Major (SHSM) conferences for educators. After the 2018 Agriculture SHSM Professional Development Conference, there was an unprecedented growth of nine new SHSM – Agriculture programs. In October 2019 the program hosted a food-processing focused conference with 30 high school educators attending. 
  • Ridgetown Campus staff facilitated several local learning events for the Soil and Crop Club providing students with additional information to enhance academic lectures and labs. 25-100 students toured seven innovative farms and local agribusinesses. 
  • The School of Environmental Sciences launched a new CREATE Climate-Smart Soils training program. This is the first soil-centered program to address the need for highly qualified personnel training in sustainable agriculture in Canada. Led by Prof. Claudia Wagner-Riddle, the program trains undergraduate and graduate student scholars through research projects, courses, internships and professional skills workshops. 
  • The Department of Plant Agriculture and School of Environmental Sciences both launched new undergraduate courses focused on important emerging industry topics: AGR*4020 Precision Techniques for Plant Agriculture and PBIO*4290 Cannabis Production.
  • Experiential learning continues to be a focus across the college, including significant progress on a revision of the college's experiential learning strategy. The Dean’s Office has taken a leadership role within the University by providing all U of G students access to facilitated internships in the agri-food sector. This is done through a new course (UNIV 340 Flexible Internships in Agrifood) where work-integrated learning and professional development are key outcomes. A new Internship Specialist position has also been created in the Dean’s Office to facilitate connections between students and industry through internships and summer employment opportunities.
  • The Ridgetown Campus hosted over 40 local and regional employers to provide their diploma and certificate students with the opportunity to investigate diverse career paths and meet industry leaders. 

Summer 2019

  • The OAC Student Liaison Program was expanded in the summer of 2019 to meet the growing demand for its program offerings. The promotion of Carleigh Johnston and the hiring of Christine Wilkinson, in a new coordinator role, has enabled the program to expand its offerings and engage more high school students. The program is funded completely by fundraised dollars, making it unique to the university system in Canada, and a $500,00 donation made by the Grand River Agricultural Society this fall is the largest commitment to the program since its inception.
  • The first co-hort of students studying in our new Food Industry Management major of the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management degree began in Fall 2018. Six students entered the new program, offered by the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Department of Food Science. 
  • The Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics worked to increase experiential learning components in its course offerings, such as collaborative group projects with external stakeholders and research partners. For the Food Industry Management major, three new courses with such components were introduced. 

Winter 2019

  • Through 730 unique awards, OAC distributed over $1.3 million in student scholarships and awards to diploma, undergraduate and graduate students in OAC in 2018. 
  • In the spring of 2018, OAC’s graduate recruitment staff launched two social media marketing campaigns to attract potential PhD students, one specifically targeted at students interested in pursuing research with the Department of Plant Agriculture. These PhD promotion campaigns reached over 340,000 people and generated over 5,200 unique visits to OAC’s website. 

Updated March 20, 2023.