AITC is Bringing Agriculture to Life in Canada's Classrooms
Development and Innovation While Canada's a hub of incredible innovation, we’re also a country where one in eight jobs are connected to the agriculture industry — so why not combine the two?
Canada’s tech leadership and agriculture stewardship are two sides of the same coin. Unfortunately, this reality is too rarely reflected in curriculums across the country.
Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC-C) is a national charitable organization, with nine provincial AITC-C member groups, that is tackling this challenge head-on. “It’s truly about inspiring students and teachers to be interested in the agriculture sector as a whole, from the soil to the grocery store,” says AITC-C Executive Director Johanne Ross.
The goal of AITC-C and its member organizations is to bring agriculture to life for teachers and students by supplying accurate and balanced curriculum-linked teaching tools that illuminate the sector’s vital role in Canada’s economy, both now and in the future. AITC-C has a wide range of initiatives that help educate young Canadians about the realities of agri-food so that they can make informed decisions as consumers, while also making them aware of the exciting and diverse employment opportunities in the sector.
“There aren’t many careers that don’t connect back to agriculture in some way,” says Ross. “We need chemists in agriculture. We need graphic designers. We need doctors and lawyers and engineers. We know we’re not going to inspire every kid in Canada to choose agriculture as a career, but we do want them to consider the possibilities. We’d love to hear career counsellors saying to students, you’re so brilliant, have you considered agriculture?”
The Business of Food
One flagship initiative, spearheaded by AITC-C’s Ontario member organization AgScape, is the Business of Food e-Learning Platform, which is designed to enhance educators’ knowledge and understanding of agriculture and food. The e-learning tool offers 25 modules on 12 agri-food topics such as conventional and organic agriculture, food security, and environmental initiatives.
“Advancing agriculture requires collaborating with organizations like AITC-C to engage the next generation and inspire innovation.”
– Al Driver, Bayer CropScience
“Over the years, we’ve heard feedback from our educator partners that approaching complex issues like food production and the environment can be daunting,” says AgScape Program and Resource Manager Mercedes Unwin.
“We know that there’s a need for the Business of Food to provide relevant training to educators. Our hope is that the training will result in educators feeling confident and inspired to create powerful learning experiences about food and agriculture, in and outside of the classroom.”
Building partnerships for nationwide learning
Delivering on agriculture learning initiatives across our vast nation requires considerable resources and manpower. “We need a sector-wide collaborative approach to make this truly work,” says Ross. “That means volunteers, donors, partners, and experts at every level. It’s an all-hands-on-deck effort. As an example, Bayer has been a very strong and creative partner in agriculture education nationally.”
As AITC-C executes its nationwide mandate, industry partners like Bayer provide essential funding and support. Bayer has, for example, recently funded a series of scholarships through the Business of Food Program. “Advancing agriculture requires collaborating with organizations like AITC-C to engage the next generation and inspire innovation and a passion for modern and sustainable agriculture,” says Al Driver, Country Division Head of Bayer CropScience. “If we can raise awareness about how our food gets from crop to table, and encourage more people to further their education and build careers in agriculture, then we can move the needle.”
It’s a narrative that’s gaining traction coast to coast, and Ross wants to make it clear that everyone is welcome in the writing room: “Canada has the greatest agricultural story to tell and we invite you to help us tell it.”