Agriculture plays a critical role in the lives of Albertans. While it is a vital part of the provincial economy, it is also steeped in myths and misconceptions. Ag for Life’s mission is to help separate fact from fiction while promoting agricultural literacy. One way it is helping to do this is through programs delivered through the school system.
“As we look toward the future of feeding the world, it is crucial to know where our food comes from, and to fully and correctly understand the options we have available to us. Education is our best path to accomplishing this,” says Alison Jonk, Agriculture Education Manager with Ag for Life. “It is also an exciting time to choose a career in agriculture, and we are more commited than ever to exposing students to the wide variety of exciting and lucrative opportunities.”
Students see food production in the news and on social media but can be exposed to a lot of misinformation about what they’re eating and where it came from. Bringing agriculture into the classroom allows the topic to be explored accurately, and connects it to relevant issues while connecting to the curriculum.
Some of the current Ag for Life programs in Alberta classrooms include:
See Yourself In Agriculture Careers Program – The agriculture industry in Alberta employees over 60,000 people. This half or full day career explorative experience for junior or high school students allows teens to travel in small groups through a series of stations, participating in hands-on activities while learning about career options in the agriculture industry.
Education Symposium – A bi-annual event in its 3rd year, the Education Symposium is a two-day event for teachers and students, focused on a particular theme in agriculture education. With a keynote address, break out sessions, tours and collaborative lesson planning opportunities, the Education Symposium prepares both teachers and students to integrate topics in agriculture into their everyday classes.
Know Your Food – This in-school program for Junior and Senior high school students focuses heavily on production – where food comes from, what goes into its production and how those factors can affect human health, the environment and animal welfare. This program is tailored to meet the needs of the current curriculum, with teachers choosing from topics such as genetic engineering, environmental sustainability, pesticide use and more.
Classroom Agriculture Program – This highly respected educational program currently reaches over 20,000 grade four students in Alberta annually. Through storytelling, engaging props and fun activities, students learn about food and production in Alberta.
Coming Soon….. Watch for these new programs being launched during the 2019-20 school year!
Sustainable Development Youth Challenge – This program examines the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals through the lens of agriculture. Each year Junior and Senior high school students will apply research and design processes to develop an innovative solution to a complex problem related to sustainability in agriculture. For the 2019/20 kick-off year, students will be challenged to tackle FOOD EXTREMES. Why are there so many hungry people when so much food is being wasted? Winning innovations will earn cash awards for students and schools.
Junior Reporter – Aligned with grade 9 curricular outcomes, Junior Reporters will engage in real world investigative journalism strategies to objectively research, analyze, and communicate findings on numerous public trust issues related to agriculture. Students will critically evaluate a variety of research sources, and engage first hand with industry stakeholders to investigate issues. Students will engage with local media, and learn to discern honest media practices as they craft and communicate their stories. The 2019 theme – “Farming for the 21st Century” – will examine the impact of technologies related to food security.