Dal Agriculture

Agriculture alumni are a close-knit bunch – especially when it comes to family connections. Just ask Dwayne Mellish (BSc (Agriculture)’75), whose wife, brother, sister, sister-in-law, cousin, nephew, and two nieces have all graduated from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, now Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture.

As it turns out, the Agricultural Campus, is well-known for bringing in multiple generations from the same families. Reflecting on how agriculture families could support future generations, Mellish decided it would be nice to start a bursary that celebrated the sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren of alumni. The Alumni Family Bursary, which was launched in 2009, does just that.

Mellish graduated with a Degree Course Diploma in 1975, and fondly remembers the small class sizes and attentive instructors. When he and several other students travelled to the University of Guelph to continue their education, he says it quickly became clear that not every school offered such personalized attention.

“The students who had come from larger universities had that ‘deer in the headlights’ look,” says Mellish. “But the classes were much easier for us, because we had such a strong foundation and were better prepared for that next step.”

Following family footsteps

Mellish hopes that the Alumni Family Bursary will inspire plenty of other students to follow in their family’s footsteps, as students from his own family have done. To date, the bursary fund has awarded close to $60,000 to more than 75 students with familial connections to the campus. The bursaries of $500, $1,000, and $1,500 are awarded to students who are related to a former graduate of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College or Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture, and who also excel academically and demonstrate financial need.

So far, they’ve raised more than $85,000 for the fund through more than 600 individual gifts. These have been added to a previously-existing alumni association fund, and the Alumni Family Bursary now has a total of nearly $270,000 – generating funds for approximately $9,000 in awards each year.

“I’ve had the opportunity to sit with recipients and discuss their plans at our annual scholarship banquet, and they’re all so bright and articulate — which is wonderful, because they’re the next generation of alumni,” says Mellish. “We, as alumni, feel very good about being able to help them out as they work towards their goals.”