Agriculture in the classroom

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay was in Rollo Bay recently to announce $1.5 million in Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding to Agriculture in the Classroom Canada to help the organization raise awareness of agriculture among young people and inspire them to consider a career in the industry. From left, Agriculture in the Classroom Canada Executive Director Johanne Ross, 11-year-old Evan Keenan, eight-year-old Hazel Keenan, six-year-old Hank Attwood, 14-year-old Katelyn Keenan, Minister MacAulay and Laurie Loane, Executive Director of the PEI Agriculture Sector Council

Delegates to the national meeting of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada held recently on Prince Edward Island had $1.5 million reasons to go home smiling.

While the weather was less than ideal for their late June visit to the Cradle of Confederation, the representatives from the nine provinces represented by the organization did receive a federal funding commitment from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership that Laurie Loane said will help the organization expand its programs.

Loane is both the national chair and the chair of the Island committee. While the program is national in scope, she explained each province has the flexibility to decide what programs to offer. Here in PEI, the volunteer committee spearheads Agriculture Literacy Month, which sees people involved with the industry read agriculture-related books to elementary students. It also sponsors Agriculture Adventure Days in Charlottetown and Mill River to help elementary students get a taste of life on the farm.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced the funding on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau during a tour stop by delegates at Rollo Bay Holdings. MacAulay also hosted a reception for the delegates at his barn in Midgell.

The organization will receive almost $1 million under the AgriCompetiveness program to help raise awareness of agriculture and increase youth engagement, develop new and expand existing online educational tools, and engage industry through ongoing information sessions and learning events.

Funding of more than $500,000 under the AgriDiversity program will enable AITC-C to create and further develop tools and programs related to agriculture to be used in Canadian classrooms at all grade levels, increasing educators’ capacity to teach agriculture literacy. Through this project, AITC-C will engage directly with students using in-person and online resources to foster a greater understanding of the agriculture and agri-food industry.

“Agriculture in the Classroom helps raise awareness and educate young Canadians on the role of our hard-working farm families and their important contribution to creating jobs and growing our economy," said MacAulay, who is a former farmer and federal agriculture minister. "Agriculture is one of Canada’s most important industries. Our government is proud to support projects like these that foster the next generation of farmers and processors.”

The executive director of Agriculture in the Classroom Canada said the money will help the organization to reach more students than ever before to share the story of agriculture and to hopefully develop a lifelong passion for agriculture and food.

Canadians have a strong and proud agricultural history, which extends far beyond farming and into science, technology, engineering, math, business and more," said Johanne Ross.

Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC-C) is a national charitable organization that operates from coast to coast with nine provincial AITC members to deliver accurate, balanced, and current curriculum-linked agri-food resources, programs, and initiatives that are based on science.

During their four days meeting in the province, delegates heard from a panel of Island educators as well as Flory Sanderson of Island Hill Farms, as well as holding a number of business meetings and farm tours.

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