Federal gov’t backs Ag in the Classroom with $568,000 one-year commitment

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay with Ag in the Classroom's Laurie Loane and Christa Wright, and students at Montague Consolidated School in Montague, PEI. (Source: @AITCCanada; Twitter)

This article was updated June 13 with comments and an interview with Johanne Ross, executive director of Ag in the Classroom Canada.

The federal government is contributing more than half a million dollars to Agriculture in the Classroom Canada to bring lessons about the agriculture and the career opportunities in the sector into schools.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced a one-year commitment of up to $567,786 at Montague Consolidated School in Montague, PEI on Friday.

“Educating students about the importance of agriculture will contribute to a stronger, sustainable, Canadian agricultural industry. This initiative will provide students with information about the importance of agriculture in Canada and will help create opportunities to empower young future leaders in the sector,” said MacAulay.

The funding is coming from the AgriCompetitiveness program under the Growing Forward 2 framework, which expires in March 2018.

“We are absolutely delighted with this new partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, to champion agriculture education across the nation. AITC-C’s inquiry-based, curriculum -linked resources and initiatives, delivered through its provincial member organizations, will affect real advancement in the sharing of Canada’s agriculture and food story,” said Christa Wright, chair of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada and coordinator of AITC for Newfoundland and Labrador. “This funding will assist AITC-C to capitalize on Canadians’ interest in how their food is produced, by providing accurate, balanced and current teaching tools on our agri-food system.”

While provincial Ag in the Classroom organizations have been up and running for many years, the national, not-for-profit umbrella organization was formed in 2015, coordinating ag literacy programming in schools across the country.

As AITC-C executive director Johanne Ross explains in the interview below, they have some ambitious plans for this funding over the next year, including the following projects:

  • a national career initiative to introduce middle and high school students to career opportunities in agriculture, which will be led by Becky Parker;
  • an online searchable tool for teachers to find curriculum-linked material on agriculture and food;
  • Snap Ag — an online library of one-page information sheets for teachers on hot topics (eg. GMOs, biosecurity, antibiotics and livestock, etc);
  • a new storybook for Canadian Ag Literacy Week 2018;
  • a new resource for high school classrooms focusing on enquiry-based critical thinking around food choices and disseminating information about food;
  • bringing together provincial organizations and facilitate having Quebec join the national group (Quebec is currently the only province not represented); and
  • new website and social media communications to increase the profile of AITC-C.

Discussions surrounding the next federal/provincial ag policy framework, slated to replace Growing Forward 2 in April 2018, have included an emphasis on social license and building public trust. Ross says they’re confident Ag in Classroom will meet the criteria for further funding after this one-year commitment.

Ag in the Classroom Canada executive director Johanne Ross joined Kelvin Heppner on RealAg Radio on Tuesday to discuss the federal funding and how it will be used — listen here:

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